Presidential Hosts: Bios

Presidential Host

David Eugene Johnson ’16

David was born in Harlem, New York and grew up in a town called Greenwood Lake, located in upstate New York. He is concentrating in Neuroscience with a focus in education. His dream is to attend medical school and conduct autism-related research. To have a deeper understanding of his interest in autism, Mr. Johnson started assisting in research in Downtown Providence at Woman and Infants Center, as this was his first real step in autism related research. At Brown, he participates in various groups, such as the Black Student Union (this year, he holds Community Service Chair), the Brotherhood, the Cognitive Neuroscience Departmental Undergraduate Group (DUG), and the Minority Peer Counselor Program at the Third World Center. He has also participated in the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM). He credits his strong drive and willingness to succeed with his mother's consistent encouragement to be humble. He firmly believes that humility is an essential human trait and a major component of personal and professional success.

Presidential Host

Erin Kelley ’15

Erin Kelley '15 grew up in and often talks about San Antonio, Texas. Now an Environmental Studies concentrator at Brown, Erin can routinely be found at the Urban Environmental Laboratory, the cozy building on Angell Street that houses the Center for Environmental Studies, where she works as a TA. On Thursdays, though, Erin is more likely to be at the Brown/RISD Hillel building, helping to coordinate food distribution with Brown Market Shares. Her involvement in that program since her first year at Brown is rooted in her interest in food systems, a subject she studies academically as an important complement to her primary focus on environmental health. Erin also loves to go backpacking and has enjoyed doing so as a leader for Brown's Outdoor Leadership Training program. (Abroad)

Presidential Host

Dakotah Blue Rice ’14

Dakotah Blue Rice ‘16 is originally from Huntsville, Alabama. At the age of twelve, Dakotah moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he resides with both his mother and grandmother. Dakotah intends to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He hopes to morph his studies into a career first in investment banking and eventually in venture capital focusing on developing economies. Outside of Econ, Dakotah’s passions include watching reality television and helping students at a local Providence High School learn and compete as policy debaters as a coaching assistant and coordinator with the Rhode Island Urban Debate League. In addition to being a member of the Undergraduate Finance Board, he serves as the finance chair for BSU and the production chair for the Queer Alliance.

Presidential Host

Liliana Sykes ’15

Liliana is from Seekonk, MA. She is concentrating in Art History. On campus, she is involved with the Bruin Club, where she gives tours and helps plan ADOCH, as well as Brown Lecture Board, and Brown's fashion magazine "Unhemmed." Additionally, she loves working her job at the Admission Office. Liliana studied abroad in Florence, Italy where she fostered her love of art and Italian food. She loves Brown so much and is excited to be on campus.

Presidential Host

Yen Tran ’14

Yen was born in Vietnam and raised in Southern California. At Brown, he concentrates in Ethnic Studies, but has soft spots for social science and applied science fields as well. Outside of academics, Yen works as an archivist and office assistant for the Department of Modern Culture and Media and as an event coordinator for the Sarah Doyle Women's Center. He enjoys cooking, running, watching films, and doing collaborative works in his free time. He also loves traveling and meeting new people, and is very grateful to have had the opportunities to live in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Granada (Spain) and, of course, Providence within the last few years.

Presidential Host

Mark Villanueva ’15

Mark Villanueva was born in Warwick, Rhode Island to Filipino parents and raised in the adjoining town of West Warwick. Grafted into the Brown community at a young age, he learned to play piano at Steinert and wandered the halls of the Anthropology department, long before college was a consideration. In 2011, he graduated from West Warwick High School after holding multiple positions within and participating in a wide variety of extracurricular activities including drama, choir, and student government. As a Brown University student, Mark is currently pursuing a Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations degree. In his spare time on campus, he works for Media Services, and has taken part in activities with Brown’s Fantasy Gaming Society and the Branch Campus Ministry as well as Sacred Harp Singing. Off campus, he enjoys time with his family, continues playing music recreationally, and is an active member of his community.

Presidential Host

Jonathan Vu ’15

Jonathan is a Public Policy concentrator from York, Pennsylvania, and a member of Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education. In his time at Brown, Jonathan has been actively involved with student government and has served on UCS, the Strategic Planning Committee for Financial Aid, the BUCC, and as President of the Class of 2015. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys martial arts, weight lifting, cooking, and getting involved with his church back home. He is blessed to have a loving family and amazing friends, and is thoroughly enjoying his Brown experience.

Presidential Host

Robert Weiner ’16

Rob grew up among the rich mix of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, he developed a deep appreciation for the vast landscapes, diverse ways of life, and Pre-Columbian ruins scattered throughout his birthplace. At Brown, these interests have manifested in Rob’s dual concentration in Archaeology and Anthropology, where his interests range from the Late Bronze Age Collapse in the Mediterranean to the practice of indigenous archaeology alongside local populations. Rob is a dedicated practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism in the Shangpa Kagyu lineage and actively seeks to integrate the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and compassion into his daily life. He is also a leader with the Brown Meditation Community. Additionally, he enjoys hiking, traveling, reading and writing poetry, and training with kettle bells.

Presidential Host

Ivania Zepeda ’16

Ivania was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She intends to double concentrate in Ethnic Studies and in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. Currently, Ivania works for the Third World Center as a Minority Peer Counselor, providing mentoring and support for first-year students of color. Aside from hosting events for President Paxson, Ivania also volunteers for the Sarah Doyle Women Center and manages Brown's Salsa Club. In her spare time, Ivania blogs for ‘I’m First,’ an online community founded by the Center for Student Opportunity to provide first-generation college students with information and support on their path to and through college. Her other interests include: dancing Salsa and running marathons with her mother. After Brown, Ivania hopes to attend law school to serve as an advocate for her community.