At the recent Mellon Undergraduate Research Symposium, I celebrated a milestone of a year-long process. In front of faculty, staff and fellow students, I gave a presentation driven equally by academic pursuits and personal passion. The process behind the research I presented was one of the most valuable experiences I have gained at Conn thus far.
The Mellon Undergraduate Research Program encourages and sponsors students to pursue research in the arts and humanities. This program enables the existence of sophomore seminars that are centered on this kind of research. In Professor David Jaffe’s “Art of Protest: Occupy ____” sophomore seminar, I learned about how art and protests have historically merged to bring about change. Simultaneously, I explored the impact of contemporary protests through current events and studied the ever-changing definition of what qualifies as protest. “Carry That Weight,” a performance art piece by Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, inspired my final project for the class. Emma used art as a medium to protest her alleged rape. I was struck by how this piece allowed Emma to take ownership of her survival, and enabled people to become involved in fighting against sexual assault. I wanted to explore this idea further, so at the end of the semester I took the opportunity to apply for a Mellon grant to support my research. I was lucky enough to be awarded the grant that winter.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which can mean only one thing...
No, I’m not talking about decadent turkey dinners or a break from academic pursuits. I'm speaking of the ritualistic procedure of choosing college courses for the coming semester.
In many ways, this process is akin to the Black Friday rush. Hunching over my computer days, even weeks before the servers actually open, I’m compiling spreadsheet after spreadsheet of courses that pique my interest, fulfill a general education area, and/or bring me one step closer to completing the basic requirements for majors I’m eyeing but have yet to declare. I have to formulate and stick to a tight budget of time commitments, factoring in how much homework each class carries and the intensity of the work itself.
By the time I’ve finally come up with a plan of attack, I’m counting down until the scheduling servers open. When they do, I frantically log on to Self-Service, PIN in hand, navigating through cluttered menus and clicking “OK” to whatever prompts stand between myself and my target. Every millisecond counts, especially when it comes to the more popular items—once those 14 or so slots are filled up by peers, they’re gone for good (unless someone drops out, of course). If my timing is impeccable, then I’ll come out of the chaos with a guaranteed slot in every class I wanted; if I’m just a few moments too late, I’ll be lucky just to occupy a high-ranking slot on the waitlist. What fun!
That’s not even considering all the prerequisites one may need to gain access to special offers in the first place. Sending emails to professors I’ve never spoken with and gushing about how much I want to take their class and to please, please,please let me know if there’s anything I could do to improve my chances of getting in is par for the course. So is consulting with upperclassmen advisors who have been through the rigmarole enough times to give you solid advice on what options sound good but are actually a bit of a rip-off, what totally lives up to the hype and the best deals that no one knows about. But even then, no matter how much I’ve prepared and planned, I might not be able to get everything I want.
That’s the way life works, I suppose, but it doesn’t make it easier, does it?
“I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!”
The crowd roared in fight songs atop the hill hovering over Tempel Green as Graham Koval (’18) slide-kicked the ball into the goal, officially sending the NESCAC men’s soccer quarterfinals into penalty kicks.
In all four years of my Conn experience, I have never been to a sporting event with so much of the student body there for support. You can normally expect a big turnout for the annual a capella challenge concert—this year’s was ABBA-themed—or the MOBROC (a student-run organization for bands on campus) shows in the Barn. But the crowd at this sporting event kept growing, snaking around most of soccer field.
If you have to go to the Health Center, chances are you’re probably not chipper. Maybe you’re waddling in with a stuffy nose and a cough, or maybe you’re going to get a flu shot. Fortunately, here at Conn, we have a bit of a pick-me-up at the health center: two massage chairs.
I heard about these chairs prior to coming to Conn from a friend, who told me that he and his roommate would leave ample time to get to their classes so that they could take a break in the Health Center to use the massage chairs. Sometimes, they’d even build in enough time for massage chair naps. Personally, I’ve never had the gusto to visit the Health Center for the sole purpose of using the massage chairs, but I always utilize them when I visit for health-related reasons (which, when living with 2,000 other germy people, is relatively often). I have, however, been known to show up to appointments early so that I can thoroughly enjoy the benefits of the massage chairs.
Six weeks ago, my roommate Elena and my friend Claire decided to train for a half-marathon that happened on Halloween. Claire ran cross-country in high school and Elena enjoys long-distance running, so they decided to train together to motivate each other. We all followed their progress closely, I gave them advice about where to run on campus and helped pick them up when they completed their long runs. They trained without a coach or even a program; they just figured out when and where to run, and asked Claire’s sister—a marathoner herself—about the specific distances.
In the past week, new details emerged about a new play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” I bet every kid who grew up reading the Harry Potter books and watching the movies strongly considered buying tickets and flying to London next summer. “How,” you ask? Because all of these kids are now in their 20s and can afford to recklessly fly halfway across the world for a continuing story that was as memorable in their childhoods as birthday parties and Halloween costumes.
Pursuing an honors thesis simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. The English Department requires students who choose to conduct a thesis to develop an idea for a study, submit a proposal for review by the department, write at least 50 pages on the topic, and present on the topic at the end of the year for the campus community. Although the College does not require all seniors to conduct honors theses, I decided to do one in order to delve into a topic of particular interest to me.
Hiking the Long Trail in five inches of snow is cold—a “wake up every morning to frozen shoes you have to pry open” kind of cold. Eleven members from the Outdoors Club braved the less-than-ideal weather conditions to backpack in Vermont during Fall Break. We traveled a total of 23 miles, beginning in Lincoln and ending at Camel’s Hump in Hunnington. It was definitely a workout. The terrain is steep—we summited six different peaks—and the snow made for slow going. Most of the time I was really cold. But every time I thought my legs were too tired or my toes too frozen, all I had to do was look around me. The landscape was absolutely stunning. Because of the early snowfall, you could see the snowy trees at the summit transition back into fall in the valley. We were in two seasons at once.
Did you know Picasso dedicated a larger portion of his career to sculpting? As an art lover, I’m disappointed to say I didn’t. Recently, the Hispanic Studies Department went to see an exhibit of his sculptures at the MoMa in New York City. It spanned several rooms as each was dedicated to a certain period in his life. What stuck out to me most was the diversity of his work. The rooms varied greatly between material and subject matter. We traveled through his early works, which were heavily influenced by African figures and made from wood and bronze, to his somber period during World War II; to a reinvigoration of somewhat erotic plaster faces and bodies inspired by his lover, to metal and cardboard cubist sculptures. It was quite the journey.
It's 4 p.m. on a Wednesday and I am in a frantic hurry to put on my tennis sneakers. I have signed the consent form, dressed in my tennis whites and I'm hustling to the Athletic Center for club tennis practice. Today, we expect 10 students to play—maybe more, as there are over 111 on our mailing list. As I make my way across the bridge to the indoor courts, I can feel my heart racing and wonder if this is how Serena Williams feels before a big match. Maybe, I think, but she is a pro and I am someone who plays recreationally.
Conn is known for its sports teams but people often forget that we have club sports, too. Club tennis is a community of tennis players who want to play tennis and, most importantly, have fun!