It’s funny how graduation—"the G word," as many college seniors prefer to call it, as not to draw too blatant attention to their looming and terrifying futures—necessitates a completely different kind of uncertainty, unlike any other prior graduation ceremony. High school graduation brings its own vast amounts of anxieties and worries, but there is some certainty in that the expectation of what college will be is somewhat a reliable picture. However, once graduation day comes for college students, heading out into “the real world” brings a brand new kind of uncertainty. With the second semester halfway over, I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk with a senior here a Conn to see firsthand how his experiences have prepared him for the seemingly terrifying world that looms just beyond May 22.
Parker Veroff, a senior here at Connecticut College, exemplifies a fulfilling four-year College experience. Parker is an American studies and elementary education double major. This past summer, Parker put his studies into action with an Education Policy Research Internship at the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teacher's College, Columbia University (NYC). Throughout his time at Connecticut College, Parker has been a representative for the Sustainability House, a communications intern in the Office of Sustainability, as well as a tour guide and tour guide coordinator for the Office of Admissions. Currently, Parker is a Senior Admissions Fellow for the Office of Admissions and one of the captains for the school’s ski team.
Taking advantage of the many opportunities outside the classroom is an important part of the College experience. In the following interview, Parker elaborates on this very point.
As a high school senior, how and why did you decide to attend Conn?
Like many Conn hopefuls, I knew from the start of my college search process that I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college, preferably in the northeast. A New Englander at heart (Boston born and raised), I felt strongly about being at a distance from home while still immersed in the landscape I love so much. After visiting and applying to most of the NESCAC schools, I found the sense of community at Conn to be unparalleled to that of any other school I toured. When I first stepped foot on campus, I was struck by a strong sense of belonging; Conn immediately felt like home. The Gothic-style gray stone buildings, long-ranging vistas out to the ocean and seemingly endless amounts of nature bound trails to get lost in demonstrated to me Conn’s idyllic beauty. I knew I would thrive here.
What accomplishments in your four years here have given you the most satisfaction?
I am most satisfied and proud with how much of myself I found through the nurture of this institution. Whether academically, socially or even personally, I truly grew into my own here. Conn’s liberal arts mentality and academic structure allowed me to explore my interests and feel comfortable with my indecisiveness as I tested the areas I felt passion towards. Ultimately, I found home within the American Studies and Elementary Education departments, in which I have discovered purpose through the ongoing challenge to examine the world through varying theoretical and critical lenses.
On a different note, I feel my self-growth has been astronomical here. Conn has a special way of making you feel comfortable in your own skin while simultaneously pushing you to learn more about yourself. I am not the same person I was freshman year—and I am so much better for it!
Is there one mistake or one particular moment that you experienced as a college student that you wish you could erase?
If there is one thing that I have learned at Conn, it is to love my mistakes for the perspective they give me. For that reason, I don’t really have regrets or desires to “erase” or change college experiences. College is beautiful, but also challenging. I strongly believe that if mistakes aren’t happening during these four years, something isn’t right!
Even though I’m sure it will be hard, can you recall your absolute favorite moment at Connecticut College?
One of my favorite moments at Conn has happened almost every year during my time at the College. Each winter, after a huge snowstorm hits New London and the College cancels classes for the day, the Ski Team ventures into the Arbo with all of our gear for a little snow day practice session. This is always SO much fun. We ski, we play, we jump. The Ski Team has been a huge part of my life here at Conn and moments like these have been seared into my memory as some of my happiest of college days!
How has Conn prepared you, as an individual, for your next chapter in life?
In too many ways to count, Conn incubates its students to become compassionate, critical and conscientious adults. Specifically, I feel Conn has prepared me to participate as an intellectual in the pressing conversations of today’s globalized world. This fall, I will be beginning my teaching career in the New York City public schools. Conn and its Education Department have equipped me with the theoretical and practical tools necessary to best teach my future students. In general, I think this institution instills in its students a desire to serve and engage in the world around them. After four years of intellectual, social and personal development, I have a fire within to take Conn and its values out with me into the professional realm. I know I have been prepared well enough to succeed and find happiness in my upcoming pursuits!
Moving in new directions will always be difficult, but Parker has experienced firsthand how this incredible institution, which nurtures yet forces its students to find their own paths, can make transitions like graduation a graceful road lined with much opportunity.