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Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Nora Jones ’12


Hometown: Columbus, Indiana

Who I was when I got to Reed: Growing up in Columbus, Indiana (population 35,000), I was surrounded by nothing but white people. When I came to Reed it felt like the most diverse place I’d ever been. When you get to know people, you realize there’s such a variance in life experiences. It’s not just about ethnicity, but also about sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or just the places you’ve traveled.

How Reed changed me: I hated confrontation and didn’t really feel comfortable expressing an opposing opinion. I would think, “I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, so I’ll just shut up.” But people at Reed are willing to listen to the reasoning behind the way I think about things, and are able to do so respectfully. It encouraged me to speak out and engage a little more fully. Now, if I’m talking politics with someone, I go at it, but I’ll leave them space. And if we disagree about something, both of us can take it as a learning opportunity.

Influential book: I loved Zadie Smith’s writing in On Beauty, which reminded me of the beauty in our obstacles.

Favorite spot: Probably because I shouldn’t know about it, I love being on the roof of MacNaughton.

Random thoughts: Three things can save the world: love, education, and rock ‘n’ roll. At Reed I’ve made some of the best friends ever and I really love my professors. Education is immersing yourself in something you love. Music makes people happy and perpetuates culture. You can’t listen to a rock band you love and feel sad.

Cool stuff I did: I fell in love with dance, hula hooping, and yoga. Nothing relieves stress faster than kicking up your heels to some loud music. 

Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: National Achievement Scholarship.

Advisor: Mark Burford [music 2007–]

Thesis: Men’s Space and Women’s Place: Sampling African American Female Singing Voices in Rap Music

What it’s about: The cultural and political implications of sampling African American female singing voices in rap music.

What it’s really about: The patriarchy.

What’s next: Music journalism.