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The Class of 2019 is ready to put the liberal arts into action. Since their arrival at Conn, the students in this graduating class have explored a wide array of interests, excelled inside and outside the classroom, completed internships, studied abroad and collaborated on research with their professors—all while making a difference in their communities and beyond.

Meet some of the members of the class as they reflect on their Conn experiences and prepare for the future.


Headshot of John Pearson, Class of 2019

John Pearson

International Relations major, with a double minor in East Asian Studies and Architectural Studies

Center/Pathway affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’ve served as executive producer for The LOOK Magazine, a student adviser coordinator and a Reunion Weekend manager, as well as on the Toor Cummings Center’s Student Advisory Board. As for my best classroom experiences, I have to give a nod to the small class sizes at Conn. My favorite class was “Ceramic Sculpture: Object as Idea,” a 3-D media class in the Art Department. I learned the basics and tools needed to create some amazing pieces of work. After that course, I was hooked on sculpture.

Best takeaway from my internship: I interned at Time Out Shanghai, where I had a taste of what it means to work for an international company. The best part about this job was being thrown into many different and unique situations. I could be out in the city doing a roundup of Shanghai’s best gyms and then go shoot video footage about the next viral food trend.

Post-graduation plans: I will be moving to New York City and working at the tech startup BetterCloud as an account development representative.

Headshot of Ben Guan, Class of 2019

Ben Guan

Double major in Physics and Math, with a minor in Computer Science

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’m a Posse Scholar and involved in the Science Leaders Program. I loved taking classes from Professor of Physics Michael Monce and Assistant Professor of Physics Michael Seifert, and talking to my classmates and professors about quantum physics in the physics lounge.

Best takeaway from my internship: Last summer, I conducted research in the Department of Applied Physics at Yale University. During my two-year research experience at Conn with Professor Seifert, I improved my critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As a researcher, I developed strong programming and mathematical modeling skills.

Post-graduation plans: I will be joining the B.S./M.S. dual-degree program at Washington University in St. Louis, where I will pursue a master’s degree in computer engineering.

Headshot of Franceine Welcome , Class of 2019

Franceine Welcome

Double major in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a minor in Africana Studies

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’m in the Science Leaders Program, and I have to say, one of my favorite experiences at Conn was my First-Year Seminar, “Illuminating Disease,” where I learned about the role of fluorescent proteins in revolutionizing the way diseases are diagnosed and treated. The faculty adviser, Marc Zimmer, inspired me by displaying his passion and excitement in the classroom every day.

Best takeaway from my internship: I had an internship in Tanzania, where I worked for a women’s empowerment nonprofit organization, the Sasamani Foundation. There, I spent roughly two months teaching chemistry and biology labs in rural government secondary schools in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. This experience changed my life. I learned how important diversity and representation are in higher education. Simply seeing me as a scientist showed others that it is possible for them to pursue science. Through this internship I became familiar with the unique challenges that young women in East Africa face when pursuing higher education, especially in science.

Post-graduation plans: I’ll be attending Stony Brook University to earn my doctorate in biochemistry and structural biology.

Headshot of Jocelyn Navarro , Class of 2019

Jocelyn Navarro

Botany major and winner of the 2018 Sally L. Taylor Prize for consistent excellence in the field of botany

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I stay busy working at Blue Camel Café, Community Partnerships and Camel Catering. I’m also involved with the Science Leaders Program. But if I have to name my favorite experience of Conn, it’s using the campus as a classroom. As a Botany major, a lot of my classes have utilized the Arboretum as a classroom, exposing students to the various plant families in New England. Now I can go to the Arbo, point at a plant, and state the scientific name, common name, and medicinal or economical uses of the species, thanks to the botany courses I’ve taken.

Best takeaway from my internship: I was awarded a Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation, at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) last summer. At RMBL, I researched the effects of different summer precipitation patterns and snowmelt dates on a perennial herb, Ipomopsis aggregata. My summer consisted of hiking in the Rocky Mountains, collecting plants and fighting off biting flies. My research experience made it crystal clear that graduate school is the next step for me and that I’m truly passionate about plant science.

Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I will return to Colorado and conduct plant research in the Rocky Mountains. I will also be applying to doctoral programs in plant science.

Headshot of Max Chesky, Class of 2019

Max Chesky

Economics major, with a minor in East Asian Studies

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’ve really been able to focus on my interest in finance and economics at Conn. On campus, I’ve served as president of the Peggotty Investment Club. I also participated in Study Away Teach Away in Hanoi, Vietnam. While there, I studied the effects that Doi Moi (Vietnam’s economic reforms in the 1980s) had on rural craft villages in the Red River Delta. I evaluated income differences between craft villages and strictly agricultural villages, and showed that market liberalization, including religious reforms, foreign investment and elimination of output targets, have allowed traditional craft industries to reemerge. I visited with producers who sell products to companies as big as Walmart and as small as single-family artisans. This valuable learning experience is unique to Conn.

Best takeaway from my internship: I interned in the Investment Banking Division of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). I was on the Asian Corporate Transaction Banking Team, where we helped manage liquidity and working capital for Asian subsidiaries in the Americas. Over the course of the internship, I participated in projects for my team and for the internship class as a whole.

Post-graduation plans: After graduation I will return to MUFG as an analyst on the Liquidity Team of the Transaction Banking Division.

Headshot of Rebecca Smith, Class of 2019

Rebecca Smith

Double major in Psychology and Human Development

Center/Pathway affiliation: Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: During my time at Conn, I’ve been a career fellow in the Office of Career and Professional Development, president of Connecticut College Hillel and a psychology tutor in the Academic Resource Center. I’m also active with the Women’s Empowerment Initiative and the Connecticut College Children’s Program. One of my defining experiences at Conn occurred during spring of my junior year when I took “Education Policy Analysis and Theory,” taught by attorney Mike Doyle of New London’s Immigration Advocacy and Support Center. Students were tasked with revisiting historic Supreme Court cases related to education and bringing their arguments to life within the modern-day context of immigration policy. We learned how to write policy memoranda and make sophisticated legal arguments on both sides of policy issues. This class introduced to me the intersection of education policy with other forms of social policy, and confirmed my passion for pursuing a career in the field of research-informed education policy.

Best takeaway from my internship: I interned at Strategies for Children, an early-childhood-education policy and advocacy nonprofit in Boston. This internship opened my eyes to the complexities within local and state systems of early-childhood education and the relationship-building side of policy and advocacy. My biggest takeaway was the importance of local coalition building in producing informed and meaningful change for communities.

Post-graduation plans: I will be working as a research assistant in early-childhood education at the American Institutes for Research, a premier social science research organization in Washington, D.C. I eventually plan to attend graduate school for education policy.

Headshot of Ricardo Olea, Class of 2019

Ricardo Olea

Double major in Sociology and Latin American/ Latino Studies

Center/Pathway affiliation: Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: Some of my favorite classroom experiences were in the course “Introduction to Botany,” where we often took walks in the Arboretum to study plants and other organisms. I also really enjoyed my sociology courses, where we not only theorized but also applied those theories to current social phenomena. In the Goodwin-Niering Center, I am researching the environmental impacts of the logistics industry on communities in Southern California. Outside of coursework, I served on the executive board for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.) as chair during my sophomore and junior years.

Best takeaway from my internship: Last summer, I interned as a community organizer for the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice in Jurupa Valley, California. Working with an organization that combats environmental injustices in marginalized communities spoke to me and to my academic interests. It gave me a glimpse of what I hope to do as a professional.

Post-graduation plans: I will be pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. In becoming a planner, I hope to work toward improving the living conditions of low-income communities and communities of color.

Headshot of Brandy Darling , Class of 2019

Brandy Darling

Double major in Economics and East Asian Studies, with a minor in Applied Statistics

Center/Pathway affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts and the Social Innovators program

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’m a Posse Scholar, and during my four years at Conn I’ve also been involved with organizations on campus such as the Bias Incident Report Committee, UMOJA (Black Student Union), Intervarsity and SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism). As a first-year student, I joined the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board and worked as a tutor for a local Chinese-speaking elementary-school student. I also presented in Mandarin at the annual World Languages Conference at New London’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School.

Best takeaway from my internship: I studied abroad in China and did an internship in Shanghai, working for the African Chamber of Commerce. My senior integrative project is on “African Scholars in China’s Higher Education.”

Post-graduation plans: I have been awarded a 2019 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. One of the U.S. Department of State’s most competitive and prestigious programs, the Pickering Fellowship will provide me with two years of financial support for graduate study as well as professional development and mentoring. I have chosen to attend Johns Hopkins University for graduate school. I will travel to their campus in Nanjing, China, for one year to study in Chinese and receive a certificate in Chinese and American studies. Upon my return, I will continue at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies to study French. There, I will also pursue a master’s degree concentrated on international economics and African studies.

Headshot of Olivia Domowitz , Class of 2019

Olivia Domowitz

Double major in International Relations and French

Center/Pathway affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: On campus, I’ve been involved with Women’s Track and Field and as a senior admissions fellow. But beyond New London, my interest in the international community led me to study abroad in Morocco, where I learned about the country’s large migrant population. I was fascinated by the stories of francophone African migrants who were leaving their home countries for Europe by way of Morocco.

Best takeaway from my internship: After conducting significant research, I interned at the Fondation Orient-Occident in Rabat, Morocco, where I worked on a project with the International Organization for Migration to help migrants who are victims of abuse and trafficking. In one particular case, I was part of a team that helped an 18-year-old Nigerian woman voluntarily return to Nigeria. Working with this young woman from the beginning of her experience at our organization to her return to Nigeria helped me better understand the system of migrant aid.

Post-graduation plans: I have been selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for a Fulbright award to Côte d’Ivoire. After my Fulbright fellowship, I will pursue a master’s degree at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Headshot of Delilah Fairclough-Stewart , Class of 2019

Delilah Fairclough-Stewart

Double major in French and Environmental Studies

Center/Pathway affiliation: Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I’ve served on the Student Advisory Boards for both the Environmental Studies Department and the Goodwin-Niering Center, where I’ve developed an interest in trash!

Best takeaway from my internship: After studying abroad in France and interning with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), I worked on a two-part project to study Amazon’s use and distribution of cardboard and to conduct a waste audit of three Connecticut towns—Stonington, East Lyme and New London. By looking at both the industrial and production side and the consumer and residential aspects of waste production, I hope to have a much better understanding of the possibilities for long-term solutions for waste reduction and management.

Post-graduation plans: I want to shed light on the hyper-consumerism and mass waste production in our society. I plan to use this study as an explanation of human behaviors—our consumption habits and our tie to material objects—and how those have an effect on our society and natural environment.

Headshot of Saadya Chevan , Class of 2019

Saadya Chevan

Philosophy major, with a minor in Music Performance

Center/Pathway affiliation: Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: A defining moment came for me when, as a first-year student, I attended two concerts at the Ammerman Center’s Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology. I was instantly impressed by the innovative artists and scholars in attendance. I knew it was a community I wanted to join. I’m interested in the cross section between art and political systems, as well as in arts journalism. After joining the Ammerman Center, I began to write music and theater reviews for The College Voice, Conn’s student newspaper, eventually serving as arts editor and managing editor. I’m also involved in the Philosophy Club and with Hillel House.

Best takeaway from my internship: I studied away in Vienna, Austria, and completed two internships, conducting research with a professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, and working as an assistant editor for the record company Paladino Media Gmbh.

Post-graduation plans: I plan to pursue career opportunities in both journalism and performing arts.

Headshot of Ted Kasper, Class of 2019

Ted Kasper

Government major

Center/Pathway affiliation: Connections: Public Health Pathway

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I came to Conn thinking I wanted to be a doctor, but I quickly discovered I have more of a knack for public policy than chemistry. I joined the Public Health Pathway and discovered a passion for health-care administration. I attended a talk by guest lecturer Dr. Michael Wagner ’81, then-CEO of Tufts Medical Center, which inspired me to begin research on my animating question: How does a multibillion-dollar health-care company make decisions about race, privilege, access and socioeconomic status?

Best takeaway from my internship: I completed an internship in business marketing and development with Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Community Division, where I got a firsthand look at hospital research, patient data analytics and health-care policy. After learning that simple tooth pain is one of the top five reasons patients go to the emergency department in Baltimore, I completed a semester-long senior project examining access to dental care for underprivileged populations and its impact on health systems and hospitals.

Post-graduation plans: This fall I will attend Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, where I will pursue a master’s degree in health-care administration. I look forward to a future in health-care administration.

Headshot of Johnathan Evanilla, Class of 2019

Johnathan Evanilla

Double major in Biology and Computer Science

Center/Pathway affiliation: Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment

Favorite classroom experience at Conn: I have been involved with Varsity Men’s Water Polo, Student Activities Council, Firewood Splitter, Student Support Network, and the Print Shop. Through the Goodwin-Niering Center, I met Dr. Karina Mrakovcich, a professor of marine and environmental sciences at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. I took her class, “Fisheries Management,” as it fits in perfectly with my interest in fisheries management. Through this class, I also met Captain Mike Theiler, a local commercial fisherman who I have been working for part-time to gain experience in the commercial fishing industry.

Best takeaway from my internship: My internship was at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. Here, I learned that I could follow my passion and turn it into a career. I was a fisherman before I became interested in science. Through my internship, I realized that I could continue to study what I love and also positively influence the environment.

Post-graduation plans: Next year I will be working as a research associate at the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. In this position, I will be working on initiatives including implementation of conservation gear engineering and oceanographic research projects in collaboration with local commercial fishermen.


Four years to your career. Learn more

May 16, 2018