Robert Jean-Gilles is most certainly a Renaissance man. The Huntington High School senior possesses so many talents it’s impossible to list them all in a short story. Among these is that he’s a deep thinker. So when an anonymous benefactor offered to fund a summer academic experience at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, the teenager jumped at the opportunity.
Mr. Jean-Gilles can sing, dance and act, but that just scratches the surface. He’s a musician and a leader. He earns stellar grades. He’s proved himself to be one of the best at engaging in research in multiple academic disciplines. A thoughtful young man, he’s articulate, well-informed and has an unbeatable sense of humor.
Huntington High School senior Robert Jean-Gilles
Always ready, willing and able to expand his intellectual horizons, Mr. Jean-Gilles enrolled in a deep thinker’s course this summer at Brown University. “Black Lives Matter Less: How Structural Racism Affects the Health of Black Lives and Communities” challenged participants to think at a high level.
“The course was very much discussion based and each day was devoted to a new topic revolving around institutionalized and structural racism,” Mr. Jean-Gilles said. “Usually the reading from the previous night would set up the class discussion. We talked about all things relating to this issue whether it be racism affecting healthcare or redlining. I adored everything the course had to offer. My classmates, whom I see as my friends now, are incredible people. The atmosphere was always positive, despite tackling difficult topics.”
Brown University is an Ivy League college and being accepted into the summer program if no easy feat. It required a stringent application process. The experience was valuable for Mr. Jean-Gilles and positions him well for later this year when he begins applying to colleges to continue his studies beyond high school.
Brown provided Mr. Jean-Gilles with a great environment in which to learn and grow intellectually and socially. It might have been the summer, but this was serious stuff. It was fun, too.
“Outside of class, I had a great time,” Mr. Jean-Gilles said. “Since my class was from 12:15-3:05 p.m., the rest of the day was mine to do as I pleased. “In addition to my classmates, I also made friends with students on my floor and we banded together every day to hang-out. We’d go out to Thayer Street, which is equivalent to going in town here and we would just explore. Sometimes we’d go out to dinner together or go to the bookstore, among other things. My friends and I made the most of our time. For the most part we were always outside doing something.”
Mr. Jean-Gilles’ anonymous benefactor is a Brown University graduate and Huntington UFSD resident who wanted a current high school student to enjoy the same great experience he had at the university.
Now back home in Huntington, the incoming high school senior is refreshed and ready for the new year. Mr. Jean-Gilles is one of the leaders of the Blue Devil marching band, which is currently in preparations for the coming competitive season. But he will always remember his summer on the Ivy League school’s campus.
“Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience at Brown this summer,” Mr. Jean-Gilles said. “I loved everything the campus had to offer.”