When community adviser Sara Dean ’17 isn’t sending you e-mails about the upcoming weekend’s events, she’s probably writing her American Studies thesis about “Sesame Street,” listening to strangers talk about their problems, or making plans (which she’ll probably cancel) to attend the Wednesday night telescope viewings. Dean sat down with The Argus to chat about being a Capricorn, her Instagram battle with a “Jane the Virgin” star, and conspiracy theories.
The Argus: Why are you a WesCeleb?
Sara Dean: I don’t know. Probably because I send out a lot of emails. That’s mostly a joke, but also probably real. I forward the emails to Wood Frames and Fauver, because I’m a community adviser. So I get a lot of responses from people thinking I actually have power and control what’s in them, and I just forward them.
Also, I introduce myself to people sometimes, and they’re like, “Oh my God! You’re the one who sends all the emails!”
A: What are you involved in on campus?
SD: So I’m a community adviser for ResLife. I’m in an a cappella group on campus, Onomatopoeia. I’ve done a majority of things throughout my time at Wesleyan, but I’ve narrowed it down in my final semester. I’m in the cognitive development lab, which is fun. I worked last year with the Kindergarten Kickstart, which is a program with Wesleyan and the Middletown Board of Education. I’m double-majoring in psychology and American Studies, and I’m writing a thesis in American Studies.
A: Where are you usually found on campus?
SD: I would say Pi. Microforms in Olin, one of Wesleyan’s best-kept secrets—also significantly better heated than the rest of Olin, which is significant in winter. Center for the Americas. My bed. I spend a lot of time in my house.
A: I heard that you’re writing your thesis on “Sesame Street.”
SD: I am! It’s fun. I actually just went to New York yesterday to visit the Sesame Workshop, which was a lot of fun. It’s hard because I’m supposed to be really critical of them, but I’m also low-key star-struck whenever I see a picture of Big Bird. But it’s fun. I’m doing my thesis on sort of a comparison between the early show of “Sesame Street” and the show’s goals, specifically how they handled issues of representation in their set and their show content and comparing that to where the show is now. There’s been a lot of news about “Sesame Street” because it switched over to HBO. And so I’m doing a little analysis of how their goals have changed and what the difference is between what they say they’re doing and what they’re actually doing—and how that difference has or has not stayed the same over time.
A: How have you changed since freshman year?
SD: I say that since freshman year I’ve gotten better at picking which things to worry about. My priorities in terms of what things to be stressed about and what things not to be stressed about have changed. I’m a lot more comfortable knowing that I’m an O.K. person on campus. I’m more comfortable staying in and knowing that’s a choice I’m making and knowing that I’m not a social reject. But I’m also comfortable going out.
When I first came into Wesleyan, I was very into trying absolutely everything, and I hadn’t narrowed down what I wanted to do at all, and my academic trajectory has gone in a direction now, kind of by accident: education and childhood, in American Studies and psychology. I think that’s something I’m comfortable with now.
A: What’s still on your Wesleyan bucket list?
SD: I was literally just thinking about this yesterday. Stargazing on Wednesday night thing. It’s not a particularly risqué bucket list item, but literally every Wednesday since freshman year I’ve been planning on going and have not gone. And I really want to look through a big telescope.
A: What’s your sign?
SD: I’m a Capricorn.
A: Do you believe in astrology? Is being a Capricorn an important part of your identity?
SD: I don’t know. But I’m friends with a lot of people who are very passionate about astrology, my mom included. I’ve had people explain Capricorns to me in a way that seems kind of cool and very much in line with my identity, but I’ve also had people explain it in ways that it’s not. I guess it’s whether or not it seems like a good thing—like, people talk about Capricorns as being controlling and boring, which might be true sometimes [laughs].
A: Aren’t we all a little controlling and boring, though?
SD: Yeah. I don’t think about it a lot.
A: Who’s your celebrity crush?
SD: I want to be best friends with Gina Rodriguez from “Jane the Virgin.” But that’s mostly because of the show. Pretty much any character on the show except for Brett Dier, who plays Michael, because one time I contributed to an Instagram fight with him, and now I don’t like him anymore.
A: What was the fight about?
SD: He posted this really stupid Insta photo of a note he’d written out talking about how we all need to be friends and let stuff roll off our backs. And he posted it on Martin Luther King Day, and someone else commented and pointed out how problematic it was to say, “Let’s all be friends” on Martin Luther King Day and telling people to just be friends. And then he got in a fight telling them they were being reverse-racist. Basically, he deleted the comment after I posted my comment, so I don’t know if he ever saw it or not, but if he did, I may have been the one who made him take it down. It’s fine.
A: What are your favorite things to get at Weshop?
SD: Seltzer. Depending on the vibe of the day, I get either a seltzer or the coconut water that has the pulp chunks in it. Or one of those really bougie Yerba Mate energy drinks. I would say those are my top three drinks that I would get there. And I also love the ginger matcha tea ice cream. But I think it’s ridiculously overpriced, but because it’s points, it’s slightly more O.K. to eat it. So I’m enjoying it while I can.
A: Do you have any allergies?
SD: No. Maybe to really fragrant laundry detergent. But my brother is allergic to everything and has glasses, and I’m not allergic to anything and don’t have glasses, and he told me recently that he doesn’t believe that I’m our parents’ biological child because I don’t have any allergies or glasses.
A: If that were true, who would you want your birth parents to be?
SD: Yikes. I don’t know. Someone else who’s really cool, so then if we found out they were my biological parents, we could all be friends, and I could have two sets of parents. I would be down for that.
A: Do you believe in conspiracy theories?
SD: Yes. Some of them. I don’t actively seek out conspiracy theories, but I think they’re really fun. The one I think is exciting is the one about the Denver Airport—how there are scary bunkers beneath it to hold the world’s elite during global crises. And also weird, apocalyptic murals.
The other conspiracy theory that I got excited about briefly was the one that American Studies majors had been discriminated against during the supposedly random lottery of thesis carrel distribution. Someone told me some numbers on it, and I was like, “Hmm, doesn’t sound random!” I was all ready to buckle down and run some statistical analyses and publish a tell-all piece about it, but then I was lazy and didn’t do that. But I still fervently believe that there was discrimination at play in the library lotteries.
A: Do you have a lot of secrets?
SD: No. I think that I’m a person who’s annoying because I tell every single thing I think about to every single person I’m talking to.
A: Do people confide in you a lot?
SD: Oh, yeah. Strangers come up to me and talk to me about their feelings sometimes.
A: Is that a burden, or do you enjoy it?
SD: I enjoy it. I don’t know what it is, but both my mom and my grandma, whose faces look a lot like mine, have and have had people come up to them and randomly tell them about their lives. I’m not good enough at looking like I don’t care.
A: Did you go abroad?
SD: I went abroad in the spring of last year. I went to Nicaragua. It was great.