21 Questions With … Justine Drennan


Justine D - INK

Name: Justine Drennan

Age: 21

Major: History, with a Visual Arts Certificate

Hometown: San Mateo, Northern California

Eating club/residential college/affiliation: Wilson/International Food Co-op

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, dead or alive, real or fictional? Sam Seaborn from The West Wing (alive and real).

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten at Princeton? Ph.D. salads from Frist. I don’t what it is about them that makes them more delicious than any other salads.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Like, um, marginally, soulless, adventure, barren wasteland, post-ironic, awesome, uncivilized (generally ironically), yay!

When do you do your best thinking? The cliché is so true: the shower. Looking pensively out of my window in Patton also yields good results, as does walking back from 185 Nassau late at night.

In one sentence, what is it that you actually do all day? Fight evil.

What’s the background on your computer? A photo of a burrowing owl taken by my mother, who is an avid bird-watcher, or “twitcher,” as they often call them in England.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure? Eating an entire 1300-calorie bag of Schneiders cheddar cheese pretzel pieces in one sitting, usually during/after writing a long paper. Also, singing along to (equally) cheesy movie soundtracks, Lady Gaga, ‘Teenage Dream,’ and ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ from Mulan.

What was your reaction upon learning that you had won the Gates Scholarship? “What?” The email that notified me that I’d won was titled “Gates Cambridge Scholarships: interview results” and listed my full name, postal and email address, application number, and program at Cambridge before the “Dear Justine” and the “Thank you for being available for interview this weekend,” so by the time I got to “Congratulations,” I was kind of expecting bad news.

What do you hate most about Princeton? Sometimes I feel like people here are so intent on saving the world that they don’t take time to enjoy life.

What do you love most about Princeton? Ditto.

What’s your drink? Mead.

Quick! What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard? What would happen if we didn’t have a normal force? Journey to the Center of the Earth!

What’s the last student performance you saw? The first arch sing of 2011 in 1879 Arch.

What makes you cry? Most good books.

What makes you laugh? Friends.

What are you planning on studying at Cambridge? I’ll be doing an Master of Philosophy in International Relations, Track A, which has taught elements and a thesis. For the thesis, I’ll be focusing on Uighur and Han Chinese ethnic interactions in China ’s Xinjiang region, and on their relationship with the Chinese government’s policies.

What are you hoping to do in the future? In the long run, I’d like to work as a journalist in western China and the surrounding regions. My previous journalism experience with New America Media and my interest in the Uighurs has stoked my desire to cover underrepresented perspectives; at the same time, journalistic objectivity is really important to me, and I’m hoping that my studies next year will help me consider and relate to all sides of the topics I cover.  

Where do you go to catch up on news? BBC News online, NPR, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, New America Media, Thanassis Cambanis’ blog, Princeton FML.

Who or what is your mortal enemy? Death, by definition I suppose.

What makes someone a Princetonian? A peculiar willingness to make arm motions resembling the heil while singing the university anthem. An endearing fear of failure. And, frequently, awesomeness.