With the start of a new year, I would like to reflect on 2015. The year flew by faster than most because I traveled to various locations. Through a program conducted by Middlebury College, I studied in Paris from January to May. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to visit other countries in the European Union. For the summer, I remained in Paris to intern at a human rights organization. I then returned to the U.S. for senior year.
This isn’t the usual type of article that one would see on The Experience. I feel that it would be wrong, however, not to pay homage to Anique on a forum that he helped create and mold.
Anique Ashraf, class of 2017, died this week after being struck by a vehicle in front of the college entrance. Anique was a fellow blogger and one of the first people I met here at Conn.
When I first came to college, I was not in a very good place. The excitement I’d felt in the summer turned to terror. I didn’t even understand why I was so afraid. The only person I found myself being able to talk to was the director (at the time) of The Experience blog, Andrew, who was aware of my adjustment issues. One day, I managed to get out of my room to attend one of the orientation events. I saw Andrew across the room and he motioned me over. He pointed to someone a few feet away and said, “That’s Anique. He’s a good person to know. He’ll be working on the blog with you. You’ll like him.” Andrew then motioned Anique over, and he introduced us.
I was recently invited to a very special dinner that took place at the Earth House, one of the specialty houses on campus. The dinner is a semi-annual dinner called The Sprout Dinner. Sprout is our on-campus, student-run garden. They grow all types of seasonal edible plants, some of which are served in our dining hall. They have also recently collaborated with FRESH New London, a non-profit that aims to involve local children and the community in gardening.
Many alumni have used their influence from Connecticut College to incorporate the liberal arts in their exploration of creative endeavors and career paths after graduation. One outstanding example is poet, author, editor and blogger E. Kristin Anderson '05. Upon the release of her new poetry collection, "PRAY, PRAY, PRAY: poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night," we decided to interview Anderson about Prince, her variety of inventive interests, and her skills and insight as a former Camel.
I’ll admit it: I have a sweet tooth. Rather, I have sweet teeth. Fortunately, I have located many of the spots on campus with free candy. So, if you’re like me, here is a list of where to go to get your sugar fix. These places also happen to offer a lot more than candy.
1. The Academic Resource Center (ARC) To be honest, the services here are far better than the mint candies. The ARC provides academic support to students such as tutoring, time management strategies, study skills—and, most recently, stress relief goodie bags! I meet with Sam Siegel-Wallace weekly to devise a plan of action to successfully complete my various assignments as a senior.
2. The Office of Career and Professional Development Located across the street from the academic buildings, the office helps students make their next steps after college. Counselors in the office advise students on choosing their courses of study, searching for internships and jobs, preparing for interviews, applying to graduate school and more! I meet with my wonderful advisor, Dot Wang, a couple of times per month to discuss and approach my career and life goals.
I have a special prejudice against art classes. In French class, you have to learn vocabulary and grammar before you can read a book in French. In math class, you have to know how to add and subtract before you can multiply or divide. It makes sense. One has to have a solid foundation before they can delve into a subject. Yet, in art, I get so frustrated when I have to learn about technique. I want to dream up a project and run with it; I want to create subversive drawings; I want to materialize my feelings into art. I want to paint with all the colors of the wind! I know I have to learn about the foundations of each medium, but I don’t want to.
The new topper of my “Super Stressful But Rewarding Things I’ve Done” list is helping to host the recent Student Sustainability Leadership Symposium. The Office of Sustainability had been planning this symposium all summer and this fall semester, and I had been helping since my return to school this fall. The two-day event had me up at 9 a.m. on Saturday, running around to hang posters, mingling with students from about 20 different schools, and mixing hot chocolate with coffee to get a sugar and caffeine boost. It also gave me the opportunity to exchange ideas and projects with students from other colleges, provide a tour of the library and speak with Conn alumna—and fellow runner—Amanda King ’02, and attend workshops held by our office and offices from other schools focused on sustainability. Amidst all of the stress and running around, I enjoyed being surrounded by students who nerd out over sustainable clothing swaps, lending libraries and finding ways to encourage peers to take shorter showers.
This is my second year living in Central campus and I have no regrets. I spent a few months last year in North campus and found it to be far from academic buildings and many of my friends. This year, I live in Burdick—the quiet house. I’m in the same building as the Smith dining hall, I’m close to Cro and Shain Library, and I’m not far from classes or Harris, the main dining hall. Plus, living in a quiet dorm means that I can take undisturbed naps at any time. I’m living the dream.
There’s another benefit of living in Burdick that I didn’t foresee: Practically all of my friends live in the dorm next door. Burdick and Larrabee residence halls are next to each other, separated by Larrabee Green. I can take a stroll across the green and visit a whole group of friends in one short trip. The beautiful thing is that when I’m done with said socialization, I can crawl back into my dorm and hide until my introversion hibernation fades and the next socialization period begins.
While I like to engage in new experiences, I don’t think I’d like to experience South campus, North campus or independent housing. Central campus fits my needs perfectly. It may sounds strange, but I also think Central campus fits my personality. Each section of campus seems to have a personality of sorts. For example, South campus is known as one of the louder areas of campus. Apart from some definable traits like noise level, the areas’ personalities are difficult to define. Whatever it is, I’ve found my niche in Central campus.
The Foreign Language Fellows program organizes a Languages in Life series, which invites alumni to campus that have used or currently use foreign language(s) in their careers. Rebecca Salmaso ’08 majored in Hispanic studies and minored in economics at the College. After graduating, she engaged in business operations and global program management at EMC, a company active in cloud computing, big data, IT security and data storage. As the liaison for the Latin America team, Rebecca used her Spanish and learned Portuguese while traveling to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Chile. She currently works as a sales enablement manager at TripAdvisor.
When she visited campus, Rebecca had few tidbits of wisdom to share for those interesting in business careers:
When at Connecticut College
Embrace challenging academic subjects. Though frustrating at times, the process of problem-solving and figuring out how to learn complex information is an incredibly useful and applicable skill in the workforce.
Learn how to intelligently ask for help as an undergraduate student. Understanding how to ask insightful questions is an essential part of successfully performing one’s work at a job.
Get involved in extracurricular activities that serve your current and future interests. Also, get to know New London by working or volunteering in the city.
The Student Government Association (SGA) Diversity Committee holds regular events on campus. Often when students attend these discussions, talks or dinners, they gravitate towards people they know and discuss familiar topics. This was not the case, however, during a recent intercultural dinner. What was different—a pleasant surprise, really—was the insistence on structure. From the random assigned seating (based on a simple process of different colored ribbons given to random people) to the questions provided, this dinner forced me to expand upon my usual dinner conversation.
I sat at a table with five students, a member of the Connecticut College staff and a professor. At the table next to me sat President Bergeron, amongst students and staff members. Each table was evenly divided between staff members, professors and students. Every class year was represented around the tables. It was jarring to see: We were all a part of the same College community, but each of us played a unique role on our campus.