This past month, one of the most driven members of our student body, Shameesha Pryor ’17, organized the second Black Women’s Conference hosted at Conn with the assistance of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Board. Although the first conference was held in 1969, the need for this event has not diminished, just as the injustices and double standards black women face daily certainly have not. It goes without saying that the Earth is fortunate to be graced with the melanin of black women, but this is also a group often pushed into archetypal roles not representative of their humanity and actual experiences. Instead, they are viewed as the angry, strong, or sassy black woman. This conference shattered those narrow perceptions and stereotypes of black womanhood, and provided a space for people to discuss the complexities that come with being a black woman in today's world.
I have a tendency to overpack. The first time I took the Amtrak back home from Conn I lugged two giant bags and my backpack onto the train and squeezed them into the luggage space. I am now a self-proclaimed Amtrak expert, zipping back and forth from the New London to Boston with reasonably sized bags that fit easily aboard the train.
This past fall I was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology as a student scholar. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus, which provide resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. This is the fifth in a regular series of posts I’ll be writing during spring semester about finding my path as a new member of the Center.
This past summer, I had an amazing opportunity to write program notes for the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (ECSO), a professional symphony orchestra that performs at the Garde Arts Center in downtown New London. Program notes are typically blurbs in the programs classical music concerts that tell the audience the history of the music they’re about to hear, and what they should look out for when listening to it. Through my work with the symphony, I’ve been able to make important professional connections and learn more about the world of arts administration, all while writing about and listening to some great music.
Back in November, my mom gave me two concert tickets for my birthday. My favorite band, Bastille, was going on their “Wild, Wild World” tour and they happened to be playing at Mohegan Sun Casino, which is a 20-minute drive from campus. It was the perfect opportunity for me and my friend, fellow blogger Dani Maney, to get off campus and venture to this place in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den has served as my home away from home since my very first day at Conn. Living in Harkness House, I have the luxury of being able to leave my room and be right at the entrance of the Walk-in, located on the first floor of my building. The Walk-in has been my lifeline. They serve (in my opinion) the best drinks on campus, and they have a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and snacks that are always there for me when I don't feel like walking to Harris Refectory, the largest dining hall on campus. The Walk-in is also one of my favorite places to study because the atmosphere reminds me of my favorite coffee shop at home, and they have the comfiest chairs on campus.
After receiving my acceptance to Conn, I was extremely excited and completely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that needed to be completed before Move-In Day. My biggest priority was to fill out the housing questionnaire about living preferences. It seemed like where I lived was a do-or-die situation. I thought there could definitely be some wrong answers, but I also did not know which ones those would be. Now I understand that there is a place for everyone on campus, and each building/location has specific benefits.
This semester I decided to compete in the Concerto Competition, which gives one winning student the opportunity to be featured in the Connecticut College Orchestra Spring Concert performing a concerto or vocal piece every year. My clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, and I had made a somewhat spur-of-the-moment decision in late January that I should enter it this year, so I could experience competing in it.
In my senior year of high school, as I was receiving responses to my college applications, I logged once more into the Common App website and used the download feature to save copies of all my applications for future reference. Looking back at my application, I see a very different person than I am now. Perhaps the most dramatic change came from my answer about my top two choices for my major. I said I was interested in majoring in government and English although what I really wanted to say was undeclared and undeclared.
Despite my enthusiastic participation in it, I will never hesitate to say that a cappella is probably the weirdest extracurricular I have done in my life, excluding my scarring musical theater days. The universal love of singing attracts unlikely groups of people, and although it’s not quite as dramatic as the movie “Pitch Perfect,” a cappella culture is fascinating. I got an in-depth look at this phenomenon during spring break when I visited Williams College and Brown University with my group, Vox Cameli, during our “Premiere Tour.” While we graced these campuses with our lovely voices, I realized my favorite part of a cappella occurs once the performances are over; a cappella after dark. I’ve found that the only thing that can be expected to occur after a performance is a sing-off, the result of two singing groups realizing they’re too awkward to socialize.