With families traveling to the University from across the globe, Brown President Christina Paxson urged them to embrace the distinctive Brown experience where students engage in the “daring adventure” of learning.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Six weeks after saying farewell in September, more than 1,700 family members arrived on the Brown campus and braved rainy skies from Oct. 21 to 23 to reunite with students and sample a slice of campus life in full swing during the University’s annual Family Weekend.

A full schedule of campus activities offered families the chance to spend time with students while experiencing firsthand the University’s distinctive academic, extracurricular and social offerings.

Brown University President Christina Paxson welcomed student's families to Brown during Family Weekend. Photo: Nick Dentamaro/ Brown University

Brown’s distinctiveness in teaching, learning and research took center stage in University President Christina Paxson’s welcoming remarks to families on Friday evening, in which she called Brown an institution that believes that learning should be a “daring adventure, not a forced march.”

“Students do not come to Brown to be taught,” Paxson said. “They come here to learn. There is a difference. The former is passive. The latter is active. In so many innovative ways — from our Open Curriculum, to crafting independent studies, to combining concentrations in unique ways — Brown students are empowered to take control of their education.”

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Citing Brown’s trademark Open Curriculum, undergraduate research and engaged learning opportunities, Paxson maintained that a Brown education — rooted in self-discovery, interdisciplinary networks of relationships and a constant, clear focus on impact — creates graduates who are “wired to take on the most vexing societal challenges, locally and globally.”

In particular, Paxson highlighted the importance of diversity at Brown, a value that has created “an unmatched university-college environment where people look at ideas from many different perspectives — a quality that unequivocally makes us stronger and sharpens the academic excellence we seek.”

“You see, although Brown was built on a hill overlooking the city of Providence, the world around it was always very much in view,” she continued. “And so preparing people who are capable of navigating it, opening pathways to improve it and having profound impact on the greater good — well, Brown is really, really good at this.”

First-year Warren Alpert Medical School students show off their white coats, a symbol of their commitment to the field of medicine. Photo: Adam Mastoon

Paxson invited parents and families to see Family Weekend as a chance to take an “authentic, real-time glimpse of life at Brown” with a full slate of events that included lectures, activities, athletics, concerts, arts exhibits, open houses and more.

Highlights of the weekend included a Family Weekend dance concert; academic forums on topics ranging from interstellar life to Black Lives Matter; the Alpert Medical School’s white coat ceremony, in which students symbolically commit to their careers in medicine; and of course, the traditional Family Weekend football game, a very soggy double-overtime victory over Cornell. 

Parents Lisa Barca-Hall and Maureen Morant huddle under an umbrella during the Brown vs. Cornell football game. Photo: Nick Dentamaro/ Brown University

Arriving from Milan, Italy, Brown undergraduate Nicoletta Zinni’s parents braved the rain on Saturday to trek across campus for a number of Family Weekend events.

“Having my parents here this weekend was amazing,” said Zinni, a second-year applied mathematics and economics concentrator. “They came all the way only for two nights and having the opportunity to show them around as the semester is going — and not in the environment of moving in — was really important for me.”

For first-year student Yurema Perez-Hinojosa’s mother, Maria Hinojosa, the weekend offered a new perspective on Brown. Last year, before her daughter enrolled at the University, Hinojosa, a National Public Radio anchor of LatinoUSA, served as a panelist for a heavily attended Family Weekend discussion on race and journalism, where she and other journalists explored how their experiences with race inform their own reporting and how the news media shapes conversations on race relations. 

First-year student Nicoletta Zinni, center, poses for a photo with her parents Germano and Patricia during Family Weekend check-in. Photo: Nick Dentamaro/ Brown University

This time, her itinerary focused on her daughter’s experience of Brown and Providence — including Yurema’s performance in Production Workshop’s “3c2c: 3 chairs 2 cubes,” dinner at a local vegan restaurant and the requisite trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond for dorm supplies.

Hinojosa said she was interested to hear how issues of diversity and race were being navigated on campus and some of the most insightful moments during a weekend of events came over dinner with Yurema and her friends, where they discussed the challenges of creating a diverse university community.

“What I picked up from the students I talked to is that there is an emphasis on heart here, and there’s also a deep emphasis on an attempt to make a truly diverse campus,” she said. “And those are things I really appreciate, because those two things together are hugely important for the future of our country.”