On why she chose UMD
“I had not even thought about Maryland. I don’t even think I had been in the state of Maryland at that point. One of my friends was going down for a Black high school student weekend where you can go down and spend the weekend with freshmen or sophomores at the university. I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll go too.” I went, and I had the time of my life. I was like, “This campus is beautiful. There’s all these Black people here.” I felt I was around these smart people that looked like me. They were having a good time. I got back and I was like, “Mom, I gotta go here.”
ORAL HISTORY TRANSCRIPT
Interview with Adrienne Stevenson (2004-2008 )
Interview Date: January 28, 2022
Interviewer: Francena Turner
Method: Zoom recording
Length: 25:54 minutes
Transcription software: otter.ai
Transcription edited by: Francena Turner
NARRATOR BIO: Adrienne Stevenson came to the University of Maryland from Long Island, New York in 2004. She graduated in 2008 with a psychology degree and earned a medical degree from Howard University in 2012. Stevenson completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) in 2016. She is currently an OBGYN for Kaiser Permanente in Washington, DC.
KEYWORDS: Long Island, New York, Catholic schools, Denton Hall, La Plata Hall, Courtyards Apartments, Kanye West, John Legend, Jook Joint, Barack Obama, McKeldin Library, Howard Medical School, Emory University Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, OBGYN, Covid-19, healthcare
Francena Turner 00:00
I’m Francena Turner, and I’m conducting an oral history interview with Adrienne Stephenson on Friday, January 28, 2022. Did I pronounce your first name correctly?
Adrienne Stevenson 0:12
Yes, you did.
Francena Turner 0:14
And was Stevenson your last name when you attended university?
Adrienne Stevenson 0:18
Francena Turner 0:19
When did you enter and then graduate from UMD?
Adrienne Stevenson 00:23
I entered in 2004, and I graduated in 2008.
Francena Turner 00:29
Okay. Um, what is your hometown?
Adrienne Stevenson 0:35
Hempstead, New York, upstate New York.
Francena Turner 0:38
Can you talk to me a little bit about your community, home background, community and family composition, and how that affected or didn’t affect your ending up at the University of Maryland?
Adrienne Stevenson 01:00
I grew up on Long Island—the suburbs. It was probably 99% Black, the community that I grew up in. I did go to Catholic school my entire life growing up. Up until about high school, I was one of two Black kids. In high school, there were a good amount of Black kids. That’s where I kind of had my Black circle, where I felt I had friends that looked like me. When it came time to choose a college, I, being from New York, I wanted to always go to NYU. I was an average student, maybe a little bit above average, and my guidance counselors were always like, “Have a wide range of types of schools.” I had not even thought about Maryland. I don’t even think I had been in the state of Maryland at that point. One of my friends was going down for a Black high school student weekend where you can go down and spend the weekend with freshmen or sophomores at the university. I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll go too.” I went, and I had the time of my life. I was like, “This campus is beautiful. There’s all these Black people here.” I felt I was around these smart people that looked like me. They were having a good time. I got back and I was like, “Mom, I gotta go here.” I think it felt similar to what I had been experiencing in high school. Even though being a Black high school student at my high school, we weren’t the majority. I still felt seen as a Black kid. Having that circle and then experiencing that weekend, I was like, “Oh, this is what I’m used to. This is great. That is kind of what drew me and how it compared to what I was used to.
Francena Turner 03:19
Would you say that in your home you going to college was a foregone conclusion, or was that something that was kind of left up to you? What was your family’s thoughts on higher education?
Adrienne Stevenson 03:33
It wasn’t even a conversation. It was expected that college is next. I think if I chose an alternative route, they would have been supportive. But for me, it wasn’t even a thought. My Mom went to college after we were probably in elementary school. My Dad didn’t go to college, but college education stuff now is expected.
Francena Turner 04:08
How did you come to decide what you were going to major in at the University of Maryland?
Adrienne Stevenson 04:22
Starting school, I knew I wanted to go to med school. I was like, “Okay, I’m sticking to it.” And I thought my options are biology or some sort of science. I thought psychology would have been—and that’s what I ended up choosing, psychology—an opportunity to do something different. I was like, “If this med school thing works out, I’m gonna be studying science my entire life. So let me I try to step away a little bit and I’ll still have to take my classes regardless.” I felt it would give me a little bit of edge, but also something that’s interesting and different than what I would be doing forever. I chose Psych and I stuck to it. It was okay.
Francena Turner 05:26
I think you did kind of answer this question a little bit when you talked about a visit you made to campus, but I’m interested in what it felt like to come to the campus as a freshman? Did you live on campus?
Adrienne Stevenson 05:43
As a student, I felt it was definitely little fish; big pond, but it felt like what I thought was the ultimate college experience, right? You have the campus, and you have the games, and you have the dining hall. It felt fun. I was free. I was on my own. I was pretty responsible. I just felt like a real adult doing my own thing. Even though it is a big campus, I never really felt overwhelmed with the size or the amount of people. But in the moment, I thought it was great. I was living my best little freshman life.
For the full transcript, please email university archivist, Lae’l Hughes-Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.