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The Class of 2021 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 of 2021 as they reflect on their Conn experiences—including learning during a pandemic—and prepare for the future.

 

Headshot of Charlotte Williams, Class of 2021

Charlotte Williams

Psychology major, Chinese minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA)

Campus involvement: Varsity sailing team, WOCC Co-Community Outreach Coordinator and Concert Band

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My favorite course was the gateway course to the CISLA program, which I took during the spring of my sophomore year. This course was taught by several Conn faculty who brought a wide variety of perspectives on cross-cultural research and disciplines to the class. For example, Professors Shani Collins and David Dorfman taught a dance section on body and space, and Professor Marc Zimmer taught a section on the state and future of science and even brought his axolotls with him. We ended the course with a trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York City where we had the opportunity to sit in on several missions and speak with international diplomats. This course allowed me to examine the many avenues that can be taken to understand global issues.

Best takeaway from your internship: I was a research intern for The Learning Frontier in Beijing, China, that provides mental health and educational psychology services to local and expatriate families. Through this remote experience, I wrote articles for the company’s parent blog on topics such as ADHD and executive functioning. Additionally, I learned about the cultural stigma surrounding learning disabilities, which informed my thesis topic on Chinese American views toward special education.

Future plans: I will be teaching Mandarin at Chatham Hall, a private high school in Virginia, next year. I am so excited to be sharing my passion for learning world languages while gaining teaching experience.  

Headshot of Justin Nwafor, Class of 2021

Justin Nwafor

ACS-Certified Chemistry major, Mathematics and Physics double minor

Campus involvement: Varsity Men’s Basketball, Science Leaders, Umoja, Connecticut College Athletes of Color Coalition (CCACC), Holleran Center volunteer and co-founder of the Health Professions for Underrepresented Minorities (hPURM) committee through the Pre-Health Club

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My two favorite experiences were doing research in Professor Marc Zimmer’s lab and serving as a chemistry tutor, since I could share my love and fascination for chemistry with my peers.

Best takeaway from your internship: I worked in a computational chemistry lab at Pfizer in Connecticut using deep learning and machine learning methods to predict chemical properties. At Conn, I do computational chemistry research as a member of Professor Marc Zimmer’s lab, so the skills and experience I gained at Pfizer were directly applicable to the work I was doing in the lab this year. Career-wise, this internship gave me the chance to gain exposure to the more industrial side of chemistry.

Future plans: I will be doing a one- to two-year post-baccalaureate research program at Johns Hopkins University and then plan to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D.

Headshot of Ann Monk, Class of 2021

Ann Monk

International Relations and Global Islamic Studies double major, Arabic minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA)

Campus Involvement: Founder and president of Conn’s Student Refugee Alliance, Walter Commons fellow, 2020 Newman Civic Fellowship scholar, Winthrop Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite academic experience at Conn: I have many fond memories of my classes at Conn, particularly with those professors who challenged me to see the world from new perspectives. But perhaps my most memorable was a ConnCourse called "Religion and Ecology" with Professor Sufia Uddin. This class encouraged me to examine my major in Global Islamic Studies in a radically new way, through the lens of ecology and the natural world. Like this ConnCourse, my classes at Conn have provided an interdisciplinary foundation for my studies and a more well-rounded and holistic understanding of my majors.  

Best takeaway from your internship: I completed my internship with an organization called Paper Airplanes, which provides virtual, one-on-one tutoring to displaced Syrians. During my internship, I worked with a large team of staff members from around the world, including Chile, Jordan, Italy, Iraq, Germany, Lebanon, Ireland and Tunisia. Working in such an international environment during my internship helped me to appreciate the importance of intercultural fluency, language study and global engagement.  

Future plans: I received a Marshall Scholarship and will be pursuing research in diaspora studies and international development at SOAS University of London and University College London.   

Headshot of Jordyn Turin, Class of 2021

Jordyn Turin

Neuroscience major, Jewish Studies minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Public Health Pathway

Campus involvement: Vice President of the Class of 2021, member of the women’s varsity squash team, senior admissions fellow, lab assistant in the Chemistry Department, neuroscience representative in Women in STEM, member of the Pre-Health Club, member of Connecticut College Athletes of Color Coalition (CCACC), and active member of Zach’s Hillel House

Favorite academic experience at Conn: I actually have two. My first is when I declared my major. My first year at Conn, I met with Professor Joe Schroeder, now my adviser, to discuss neuroscience. I had not previously considered majoring in neuroscience, but I was curious to learn more about the topic. Professor Schroeder’s excitement for neuroscience was immediately contagious. I left his office that day with a newly inspired passion for neuroscience and research, and a completed major declaration certificate. During my sophomore year, I began my work with Professor Vicki Fontneau in the chemistry lab. As a first generation college Black woman in STEM, chemistry had always intimidated me. After my first semester of general chemistry, Professor Fontneau invited me to work with her in the laboratory. This opportunity completely changed my relationship with science. Professor Fontneau mentored me, expanding my lab skills and also teaching me how to use my chemistry knowledge to help others. Professors Schroeder and Fontneau have both been influential in my undergraduate career, and I cannot imagine my time at Conn without them.

Best takeaway from your internship: I had the pleasure of working as an intern at The Sasamani Foundation. I worked virtually on a daily basis to educate women and children in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, and measure the impact of the foundation’s education program. I had the opportunity to learn more about Tanzanian culture, empower and educate women and children, and be a part of an amazing team, all amidst a global pandemic. This work will stay with me throughout my life, as I aspire to become an OBGYN and work to educate and empower women and children.

Future plans: I plan to spend a year serving as a research assistant, continuing my work in the laboratory. I then plan to apply to medical school and eventually become an OB-GYN serving in underserved communities.

Headshot of Yuening Wang, Class of 2021

Yuening Wang

Psychology and Economics double major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Public Health Pathway

Campus involvement: Tutor for MAT 108 “Mathematics of Money,” Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite academic experience at Conn: I am incredibly thankful to have been able to work with Dean Jefferson Singer for three years on the study of self-defining memories (SDMs), the specific memories within the life script that provide individualized meaning to narrative identity. I received the ConnSSHarp fellowship to conduct a cross-cultural study, collecting SDMs from college students in the United States and People’s Republic of China. Our study has been presented at the New England Psychological Association and published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Best takeaway from your internship: I worked as a research assistant at the Social & Affective NeuroPharmacology Lab in China; as a student intern at a psychiatry department of a local polyclinic; and, most recently, as a Marriage and Family Therapy research intern at Beijing Normal University. Undoubtedly, working in a psychology lab and a psychiatric outpatient helped me refine my research interests, determine what I want to study in graduate school, and figure out which type of career might be best for me.

Future plans: After graduation, I will continue working with Dean Singer on follow-up studies in the field of SDMs, looking at differing emotion regulation strategies in the two countries, as well as at how the two different educational systems are affecting late adolescent identity formation processes. I then plan to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate of psychology and become a licensed counselor.

Headshot of Quinn Baity, Class of 2021

Quinn Baity

Economics major

Campus involvement: Vice President of the Peggotty Investment Club, pre-business career fellow and captain of the club soccer team

Favorite academic experience at Conn: I challenged myself to take courses in a new subject area each semester. I liked to think that I did mini-minors in statistics, government and history, which gave me new perspectives outside of my economics major.

Best takeaway from your internship: My internship experience at MetLife Investment Management opened my eyes to different areas of finance and I applied fundamental economics knowledge to my internship at MIM on a daily basis.

Future plans: I will be going back to MetLife Investment Management in a full-time capacity at the end of July as an analyst in the Institutional Client Group.

Headshot of Morgan Maccione, Class of 2021

Morgan Maccione

Anthropology and Environmental Studies double major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE)

Campus involvement: The College Voice newspaper, Relay for Life, WEI, and Residential Education and Living (REAL) staff member

Favorite academic experience at Conn: Working as a scholar in the Goodwin-Niering Center. The community I have found with the GNCE staff, faculty and students has been one of the best parts of my Conn experience.

Best takeaway from your internship: I interned at Blue Earth Compost in Hartford, Connecticut, where I learned about waste diversion and the issues occurring with existing waste management infrastructure in the state. I wrote a proposal to the Hartford City Council to adopt a municipal curbside compost program and I researched and interviewed municipalities with existing curbside organics pickup programs to understand how they function and the challenges they face during implementation. The internship helped me further develop my senior integrative project for GNCE, “Food Waste and the False Power of the Consumer.”

Future plans: I will be doing forestry and conservation work with the Bureau of Land Management through AmeriCorps.

Headshot of Max Whisnant, Class of 2021

Max Whisnant

Government and English double major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Peace and Conflict Pathway

Campus involvement: President of the club baseball team, vice president of the Roosevelt Chapter at Conn and staff writer for The College Voice newspaper

Favorite academic experience at Conn: The government class I took with Professor Mara Suttmann-Lea. We were split into groups and tasked with following a congressional race that was classified as a “toss-up.” Throughout the semester, we studied various aspects of a campaign, such as a candidate’s messaging and tone.

Best takeaway from your internship: I interned for U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy’s U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts and developed an interest in political rhetoric. Even in a Democratic primary, for a safe Democrat seat, I was able to see how conflict arises within party lines. The most valuable part was being surrounded by young people who are so engaged and passionate about what they are doing.

Future plans: I plan to move to Washington, D.C., to start my first job. My long-term plans include running for public office or working for a campaign or current member of Congress. I am excited to dive into policy and try to help solve some of our problems.

Headshot of Nicole Poole, Class of 2021

Nicole Poole

Biological Sciences major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Public Health Pathway

Campus involvement: Red Cross Blood Drive President, pre-paramedic internship program, chemistry tutor, Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite academic experience at Conn: Presenting at the All-College Symposium (ACS). During my time at Conn, I researched the ways in which racial disparities are perpetuated in society, specifically how chronic stress impacts the health outcomes of people in underserved communities. The ACS provided the opportunity for me to share this research with the campus community.

Best takeaway from your internship: I completed two internships during my time at Conn. One was as a liaison in the emergency room at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Massachusetts. I was able to independently round on patients and work on patient care teams. Additionally, I completed a remote internship with the Harvard Medical School Burdick Lab as a research trainee in their mood disorders lab, which exposed me to the processes behind psychiatric research. Both experiences were excellent preparation for medical school.

Future plans: I will be attending the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the fall to pursue my M.D. degree.

Headshot of Jack Rider-McGovern, Class of 2021

Jack Rider-McGovern

Slavic Studies major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA)

Campus involvement: Walter Commons fellow, Phi Beta Kappa

Future plans: I received a Watson Fellowship, and starting in August I plan to travel for a year to Peru, Bolivia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, India and Japan for my project, “Marginalized Languages: Preserving the World’s Linguistic Diversity.” It’s estimated that 90% of the world’s currently spoken languages will be dead in only 30 years. Using languages I know and learning new ones, I will investigate strategies that different societies implement to ensure marginalized languages’ continued survival.

Headshot of Abigail Schmitt, Class of 2021

Abigail Schmitt

International Relations and Anthropology double major, Hispanic Studies minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and Liberal Arts (CISLA)

Campus involvement: Principal flutist and piccoloist of the Connecticut College Orchestra and Flute Studio, English teacher through Community Partnerships, member of the Orchestra Executive Board, HerCampus Magazine executive board member, Global New London Summer Practicum participant, student adviser, after-school Spanish teacher at New London’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School and English/math classroom volunteer at New London’s Harbor Elementary School 

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My favorite classroom experience was Professor Rachel Black’s “Food and the Senses” course, which I took last spring. Even though the class was eventually taught remotely, I spent the first half of the spring learning about how we perceive the world around us through our bodies. The class met twice a week—one day was dedicated to theory and conversation, while the second was a hands-on cooking class in Cro’s Nest, where we considered topics such as apprenticeship, embodied knowledge, inequality, diversity and how food serves as an entry point into deeper social and cultural understandings of beings in the world. 

Best takeaway from your internship: I completed two remote internships. One was all in Spanish with the Peruvian branch of the international organization Action Against Hunger, where I analyzed survey data and translated crucial documents and technical reports. The other was as a family literacy intern with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) located in New Haven, Connecticut, where I taught English to migrants and refugees, put together American cultural presentations, and designed a weekly newsletter. From these experiences, I gained self-confidence—not only in my ability as a Spanish speaker, but also in my ability to work independently.

Future plans: I have received a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in the Canary Islands for a year. After my Fulbright year, I will be attending Cornell University to pursue a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in international development studies. Eventually, I’d like to work for the World Food Programme or United Nations Food and Agriculture Office.

Headshot of Ahmed AboHamad, Class of 2021

Ahmed AboHamad

Philosophy and Biological Sciences double major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Public Health Pathway

Campus involvement: Genesis ambassador with Race and Ethnicity Programs, student technology assistant with Media Services, peer tutor for Arabic and ESOL writing with the Academic Resource Center, QueerPeer mentor, floor governor, former president of the Muslim Student Association, Winthrop Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My favorite experience has been the freedom to explore and define my unique academic interests in biology and philosophy, which provided me with a truly distinctive academic trajectory. 

Best takeaway from your internship: I completed a 10-week internship with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, conducting research with the Center for Stem Cell and Therapeutic Imaging (CSTI) Lab of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts. CSTI has pioneered stem cells encapsulated in biodegradable, extracellular matrices as a delivery tool for targeted therapeutics of brain cancers and is using oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (oHSV), which are engineered to replicate and selectively induce the death of tumor cells, as a potential treatment for glioblastoma, the most common primary malignant brain tumors in adults. The purpose of my summer project was to enhance the efficacy of oHSV by using it in conjunction with other antitumor modalities. My project tested whether TGFB expression or inhibition could potentially enhance the oncolytic activity of oHSV. I learned a great deal about stem cells, immunology and cancer biology, and how to design and conduct experiments in vitro and in vivo. (AboHamad was awarded the 2019 Nada Anzak Award for his research).

Future plans: I will be starting a Ph.D. program in Philosophy at the University of Connecticut this fall. 

Headshot of Anthony Marcucci, Class of 2021

Anthony Marcucci

Mathematics major with a concentration in Statistics, Economics minor

Campus involvement: Varsity men’s soccer player, member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My favorite academic experience was my hip-hop dance class my first year. I’m not a dance major, so the class was outside my comfort zone. I made friends with students from so many different backgrounds and will keep in touch with them for years to come.

Best takeaway from your internship: I worked for J.J. White, Inc., a commercial and industrial contracting company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the biggest takeaways from my internship was networking with all the people I met in different fields. After my soccer career is over, I cannot wait to pursue the many connections I made.

Future plans: I am starting my professional soccer career this spring with the New York Red Bulls.

Headshot of Julia Whelan, Class of 2021

Julia Whelan

Behavioral Neuroscience major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE)

Campus involvement: President of Vox Cameli a cappella group, Johnson Housefellow, teaching assistant for PSY 201 “Psychological Statistics,” and varsity athlete on the women’s rowing team

Favorite academic experience at Conn: After finding out Professor Bob Askins was retiring, I made a case for why I should be allowed to take his course, “Animal Behavior,” even though it is usually reserved for upperclass students. My passion for the subject must have been obvious because Professor Askins allowed me into the course. I was by far the youngest in the class, but any apprehension I may have initially felt quickly vanished as I was drawn in by the course material. For my final project, a classmate and I spent weeks observing the spring peepers in the Arboretum and wrote a research paper on their calls and behaviors. It was this course that reaffirmed my passion for animal behavior and cognition.

Best takeaway from your internship: I had several; I was an animal care intern at Buttonwood Park Zoo in Massachusetts, a summer intern with the Connecticut Audubon society and, most recently, a remote research assistant with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. I had a few big takeaways. First, reach out to those who are doing work that interests you. I started doing this in my first year and was able to connect with Conn alumni, who then connected me to others in the field. This vast network of connections has been the source of all of my internship experiences. Second, pursue opportunities that excite you without worrying how they will translate to a career. Following your passions will lead you to bigger and better opportunities. Third, ask a lot of questions. By setting up informational meetings, I have learned so much from my mentors about their careers, the field I want to go into and the skills that I need to build.

Future plans: This summer, I am creating my own research project to be conducted at the field site GMERC in Issa Valley, Tanzania, with the chimpanzees that live there. I am also applying to graduate schools in the UK to try to turn this project into a master of research degree. I plan on getting my Ph.D. in animal behavior, primatology or anthropology in the near future.

Headshot of Kelley Spy Frumer, Class of 2021

Kelley Spy Frumer

East Asian Studies and Economics double major, Dance minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA)

Campus involvement: Coxswain on the women’s rowing team

Favorite academic experience at Conn: My favorite academic experience was “Topics in Health Economics” with Professor Mónika López-Anuarbe, or "Coach" as we all call her. Economics can be such a theoretical and intangible field, but this course was about applying our knowledge to real-world events. I learned so much about the health care systems of states and territories in the U.S., European nations and countries in Asia. The class was an incredible opportunity to have discussions with peers and fine-tune ideas and opinions on politics, economics and health care systems. I was able to merge my two fields of study and wrote my final research paper on nutritional and informational disparities in Tibet. This topic piqued my interest while I was studying abroad in China and traveled to Lhasa in 2019. When I wrote my project for "Health Economics," I was able to cite my own research paper from 2019. Coach made such a welcoming environment in our Zoom room and her classes were the perfect re-entry to Conn after a year of studying in China and New Zealand.

Future plans: This year I will complete a master’s degree in elementary education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and be an apprentice at the school’s Teacher Training Center. 

Headshot of Jessica-Lyn Sweet, Class of 2021

Jessica-Lyn Sweet

History major, Latin American and Latino Studies minor

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Global Capitalism Pathway

Campus involvement: Shain Library staff member, special education paraprofessional at New London Public Schools and hybrid substitute at Winthrop STEM Elementary

Favorite academic experience at Conn: The Global Capitalism Thematic Inquiry course that I took with Professor Sarah Queen during my sophomore year. We had such a great group of dedicated and curious students. I made some of my best friends in that class. The way that Professor Queen pushed us to think critically about capitalism and other structures that inform the world around us has completely changed how I perceive the world and my place in it.

Best takeaway from your internship: I used my career funding from Conn to study at Middlebury Language Schools during the summer of 2020. I completed a six-week intense and immersive study of Brazilian Portuguese. This class was a deciding factor in choosing to apply for a Fulbright fellowship to Brazil, because of how much I learned about the country and its culture.

Future plans: I received a Fulbright fellowship and will be teaching English at the university level in Brazil after I graduate. I also plan to take advanced Portuguese classes at the university where I am placed. After my Fulbright year, I plan to pursue a Master of Education degree, with a focus on bilingual education. I am specifically interested in Brown University’s Master of Arts in Portuguese Bilingual Education or ESL Education and Cross-Cultural Studies.

Headshot of Tashayla Borden, Class of 2021

Tashayla Borden

Africana Studies and Psychology double major

Campus involvement: Residential Education and Living (REAL) staff, previous Umoja president, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow

Favorite academic experience at Conn: Getting an A in a pandemic! I lived through a pandemic that left me, at times, mentally and emotionally drained. However, at Conn, I finished my responsibilities and I found inner peace. I had support and I was able to laugh. All of that is something to be proud of.

Best takeaway from your internship: I served as a legal intern with the De Novo Center for Justice and Healing, as a student intern with Forest Foundation, as a legal assistant with the United States Attorneys’ Offices in Boston, and as a Judge Reginald C. Lindsay Fellow with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. My biggest takeaway from these experiences is that collaboration is key. Also, it’s important to voice your mind and opinion, because it is as valuable as everyone else’s.

Future plans: I have received a Watson Fellowship and will travel for the forthcoming year to Canada, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, the United Kingdom and South Africa to examine—through a Black feminist and pan-African lens—how Black women experience post-colonial oppression and misogynoir through visual and performing arts. Following the Watson fellowship, I plan to go to law school.

Headshot of Benjamin Lewis, Class of 2021

Benjamin Lewis

Government major, Finance and Applied Statistics double minor

Campus involvement: Four-year member of Honor Council, admission fellow, captain and president of the club hockey and ski teams, student adviser, tour guide, secretary of the Finance Committee, Winthrop Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite academic experience at Conn: Studying abroad in the Czech Republic during the fall of my junior year. Getting the opportunity to learn and grow experientially, meet new friends, and see so many of the things I had learned about in college was invaluable. 

Best takeaway from your internship: At the start of my junior year, I had an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, which at the time was involved with prosecuting several high-profile celebrities involved in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal. I enjoyed working with assistant U.S. attorneys and spending time in court. In particular, I was able to observe how U.S. attorneys prepare for cases, as well as the humanity of the defendants represented.

Headshot of Lauren Munster, Class of 2021

Lauren Munster

Government and History double major

Center/Pathway Affiliation: Global Capitalism Pathway

Campus involvement: President and treasurer of Habitat for Humanity

Favorite academic experience at Conn: I cannot say enough good things about Connections. Without this integrative academic experience, I would not have had as many academic or professional opportunities post-graduation as I currently do. My pathway, Global Capitalism, allowed me to understand capitalism not just as an economic force, but also as a social, political and cultural one. After deepening my academic understanding, I felt ready to take on writing an honors thesis on the multidimensional layers of factors—local and global—that have informed contemporary Chinese state policies toward the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Best takeaway from your internship: I worked (virtually) as a research fellow for Rise to Peace, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. In this role I was able to publish articles, write grants for the Department of Homeland Security, and create media content to educate people about the impacts of digital extremism and online radicalization in 21st century America. From these experiences, I was able to solidify my interest in working with government agencies focused on reducing the causes and impacts of domestic terrorism.

Future plans: I plan on attending the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where I will pursue a Master of Arts in Strategic and Intelligence Studies. However, I may defer a year to be a fellow for Morningside College at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

 



May 17, 2021