When I came to Conn, I was unsure about what I wanted to major in. I was considering biology as I had liked it in high school and had done well in it. But I was not ready to commit. I also knew that I loved Latin and classics, but I did not think that I wanted to major in those subjects because I thought I wouldn’t go into those fields after graduation. However, by the end of that semester, I changed my mind. I found myself leaning toward a biology and classics double major. The next semester I decided to officially declare those majors and made a plan to fit all the required courses into my next three years at Conn.
As I moved through my first year, I increasingly started exploring Conn’s surroundings. In the beginning, as I didn’t have a car, I thought it was going to be hard to run any errands or even leave campus, but the Camel Van made it easy to reach downtown New London, the train station, Target/Walmart and even the bank. I began to discover hidden nooks and crannies around the area with my friends, which made our weekends more eventful.
One of the fun parts about going to college in a different country is all the new food I can sample. A friend of mine was shocked to discover that, even after being in the United States for a year and a half, I had never tried lobster. Hence, a trip to Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London was planned.
During the summer following my first year at Conn, I embarked on a 14-state road trip with my friends Dani Maney ’20 and Samuel Piller ’20. We traveled great distances at once; at one point on the trip, we drove for 10 hours straight across the state of Pennsylvania. Since that road trip three years ago, I have not driven for longer than five hours nor have I rode shotgun or sat in the backseat for an extended period of time until now. Over Fall Break, my friends and I journeyed from Conn to Mount Desert Island in Maine. The drive was 6 1/2 hours each way, but the memories from the weekend were well worth it.
Since I was young, I have had a summer job to help pass the time and make some extra money. Last summer, I was accepted into a fellowship with Condé Nast. I was beyond excited because not only would it be my first professional experience for a large company, but it also required me to relocate to New York City, where I have always wanted to live.
Brett Stirling ’21 is majoring in Economics and minoring in Finance and Government at Conn. He is a member of the Entrepreneurship Pathway and is also a member of the Connecticut College men's ice hockey team.
It was a Sunday morning in early July on the southeast side of Hong Kong Island. I jumped on the MTR (the subway) and headed toward Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the busiest districts in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Upon arrival, I noticed the MTR was a little more crowded than usual. Thinking perhaps it was just a busy Sunday, I continued on my trip to the Ladies’ Market in search of a knockoff designer belt that my younger sister was in desperate need of. After spending an hour bartering with the locals and sweating in the Hong Kong heat, I decided it was time to lick my wounds and head back to Aberdeen, on the southwest side of Hong Kong, for the afternoon.
Last fall, prior to my arrival at Conn, I spent weeks browsing the College’s course catalog and reading the various major descriptions on the website. There were many interesting classes, but my curiosity was piqued by the College’s language requirement. Every student must complete at least two semesters of a foreign language, regardless of how many languages they already know. Over the summer, we received emails with a language study brochure (Connecticut College Language Study Brochure), which I read multiple times. The Dean of First Year Students, Emily Morash, told us that we were not required to take a language course in our first year but it is recommended so that we don’t have to worry about it in our junior or senior years. I studied French for five years and knew I wanted to start something new. But the question was: Which one? Currently, Conn offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.
I start most days with an abrupt kick of caffeine and the wafting smells of fresh baked goods around me. I do not bake unless it’s in the microwave. But it turns out that you don’t need much baking experience to manage the baked goods schedule at a coffee shop, so long as you have a group of really talented bakers behind you. That’s one of my roles at The Coffee Closet, a student-run cafe on campus. I manage baking, as well as events and communications.
In the spring of my first year, I was hired as a barista at The Coffee Closet. Two years later, I applied for a manager position and was accepted. A lot has changed since my first days serving coffee. For one thing, I only recently learned how to brew hot coffee. When I was a barista, I worked three two-hour shifts a week. Now I work triple that amount. My new role has given me the opportunity to hone my skills in business management, and as part of that role, I thought it was important to understand the process of how every drink is made, inside and out. I can’t manage a coffee shop if I can’t brew coffee.
My legs swing up as I try to move the top half of my body in a completely different motion than my legs. As I dance, I am listening carefully to the drums, waiting for the moment when the drummers play the break, which cues that the dance will transition to the next step. After an hour and 15 minutes of movement, our teacher, Associate Professor of Dance Shani Collins-Achille, tells us that class is over. We make our way over to the drummers and thank them by tapping the ground with our hands. Each day I leave class sweating, a little confused and smiling.
I started working when I turned 15 years old as a hostess at a Chinese-American restaurant and as a camp counselor at the YMCA Sports Camp. Although I really appreciate this work experience, which helped me learn many valuable skills, it was just the beginning of my professional career. Since then, I have graduated high school, completed three years of college and tried many positions in various fields as I continue to search for the best career path for me.