Photo by Clayton Cotterell
Brenna Intemann-Milligan 19
Hometown: Sacramento, California
How Reed changed me: Reed encouraged me to ask a lot of questions and accept that the answers are always changing. I grew a lot, made lifelong friends, and learned to recognize what was important and then prioritize it.
Financial aid: A lot of generous alumni made it possible for me to have the amazing formative experience I did at this institution, for which I am forever grateful. As a big foodie, I was particularly delighted to be the recipient of the James Beard Memorial Scholarship.
Thesis adviser: Prof. Joshua Howe [history]
Thesis: A Hitch In The American Dream: Travel Trailers, Mobile Homes, and American Class Anxieties 1930–1970
What it’s about: What can mobile homes surrounded by a white picket fence, or Airstreams in driveways, tell us about the American middle class? My thesis looks at the invention, popularization, and changing uses of travel trailers and mobile homes. I argue that middle-class Americans problematized mobile homes because they represented downward mobility. The ways that mobile-home owners decorated, lived in, and talked about their homes reveal their aspirations to an elusive middle-class identity.
What it’s really about: How affluent Americans stigmatized mobile homes to protect their own status as members of a unified, moral, suburban white middle-class.
In high school: I was always on the run—a girl with a seven-year plan she definitely did not stick to.
Influential professor: Sophomore year, Prof. Pancho Savery [English] let me take his Contemporary African American Fiction—a great class with a rich syllabus. As important, it was full of hardworking, engaged upperclassmen who showed me what a Reed conference should feel like.
Influential book: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.
Concept that blew my mind: Toni Morrison’s concept of rememory—offered as a way to make and remake the past and present, the knowable and the unknowable—has come up countless times at Reed.
Cool stuff: I wouldn’t have made it through Reed without the rugby team, which I was honored to captain for two years, personally disproving the myth that Reedies aren’t sporty. I was involved with the Peer Mentor Program, the Model UN team, and the mock trial team, served on the J Board/Title IX Board, and was a Renn Fayre Czar.
Challenges I faced: I was a house advisor for 3 years and always had a side job. Balancing school, sports, and a social life was often a challenge.
What’s next: Law school, but for now I'm sticking around Portland to play Rugby on ORSU's Women's Premier League squad.