Elevate: Conn hosts second annual social justice conference
The senior class is the first to experience all four years of Connections, Conn’s interdisciplinary education initiative that encourages students to create deeper linkages between the work they do in courses, in internships, in the community, and around the globe, to prepare them for leadership in an era of change.
“The All-College Symposium is an extraordinary celebration of our seniors’ passionate engagement with questions that matter to them and to the larger world,” said Dean of the College Jefferson Singer. “Our whole community—faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents—has learned so much from this pioneering group of students, the first graduating class that embraced four years of our Connections curriculum.”
The student presentations, which took place in multiple locations across campus, covered a diverse range of topics, including the ethics of advertising pharmaceutical drugs, the politics of black women’s fashion, innovation in corporation, gender representation in New York City public art and sustainable agriculture in New London.
Ken Colombe ’20, an economics major and finance minor, joined the Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change Pathway to learn how to apply his liberal arts education to everyday life. He interned in the front office of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, and for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, experiences that were critical to informing his animating question: How is the entrepreneurial mindset and approach used in NBA front offices for the development of team rosters?
“I became fascinated by the cultures of the organizations I was able to intern for. I really wanted to see what made them successful and found there were a lot of the thought processes used, explicitly or not, that we learned about in the [Pathway],” Colombe said.
Other presentations included: Margaret Davey ’20, a psychology major and sociology minor and scholar in the Bodies/Embodiment Pathway, gave an interactive presentation, “Life Behind a Screen: How Technology Is Changing the World,” that utilized everyday technology like personal smartphones to demonstrate technology’s impact on the mind and body. Cameron Segal ’20, an American studies major and scholar in the Cities and Schools Pathway spoke about the exclusionary roots of hockey and the steps he has taken to make the sport more inclusive in the New London community. Viridiana Villalva Salas ’20, an English major and scholar in the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, gave a PowerPoint presentation about how text selection can be improved to better serve today’s diverse community of U.S. college students.
“We are so proud of the way this first group of students embraced Connections and made it their own. They have won prestigious research grants, engaged with local and global communities, and grappled with so many important issues facing our global society,” said Assistant Dean of the College for Connections Libby Friedman ’80.
The milestone event ended with a celebration in Charles E. Shain Library featuring remarks by Bergeron, Singer, Director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and Professor of Psychology Audrey L. Zakriski, Associate Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies Chad Jones, Sophia McLaughlin ’20 and Kaya Blumenthal-Rothchild ’20.
“Today was a day to not only reflect on the opportunities and paths I have undertaken, but also to witness the incredible achievements of my peers,” said Kaya Blumenthal-Rothchild ’20. “I’m in awe of all of my senior Pathway and Center peers and the diversity of their projects, subject matter and dedication to reflecting on how they have chosen to engage with the world in their own ways. I’m excited to see how this newfound tradition will grow and expand in the coming years.”