This semester, I’m taking a Sophomore Research Seminar called “Secrecy: Power Privilege and the Invisible,” taught by Lucy C. McDannel ‘22, Professor of Art History and Anthropology and Director of Museum Studies Christopher Steiner. The Sophomore Research Seminars are a set of classes at Conn designed to let students get a head start at doing in-depth research by giving us demanding inquisitive assignments and culminating in a 15-page original research paper.
My seminar is an interesting interdisciplinary look into the many different topics and perceptions surrounding secrecy; some topics we’ve covered include secret societies, magic, and surveillance. Recently, we had the exciting opportunity to curate a small exhibit in the display cases outside the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives titled “Photography, Trickery, and the Invisible.” The exhibit focused on three types of photographs common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: hidden mother, spirit, and trick photography. Most of us had never curated an exhibit before, so it was a new and fun experience for the class.
This election year is an incredibly important and educational moment for the country and in my Conn experience. Like many of my fellow Camels, this is my first time voting in a major election, and I enjoy the support that we as students give each other as we make important decisions about casting our ballots. If you have the opportunity to vote this election you may feel, like I do, that selecting candidates who will do the things that you want them to do is tough, no matter how clear the outcomes appear. I have had several conversations with friends about the importance of learning about the candidates and issues when voting, no matter how polarized our politics. These conversations are important as I learn about becoming an informed and responsible citizen.
I’ve always loved singing and did chorus during junior year of high school, but I was way too nervous to ever audition for an a cappella group. Having never taken voice lessons, I usually practice my vocals on long car rides and in the shower. But when you go to college, people tell you to try new things. Also my mom made me promise I would audition for a group.
There are seven a cappella groups at Connecticut College. I signed up to audition for the three all-female groups: the Swiffs, the ConnChords and Miss Connduct. I don’t like performing in front of other people, so singing in front of the first two groups was nerve-wracking. Also, the competition was fierce. By my third audition I felt a little more experienced and a lot less nervous. I walked into the room and I immediately felt the warmness radiating from all the people in it. They started by asking me a couple of questions about my singing background and then the audition began. I sang scales and harmonies before the group had me perform a solo. The last thing the group asked me to sing was an improvisation. A few of the girls got up and we all stood in a circle. One person started by singing a beat or making some sort of noise and then the others joined in one by one. I was so nervous because I had no idea what I should add. I finally figured it out and in the end, all of us together sounded so cool! I knew from that moment I finally found something I loved doing even though I didn't even want to audition in the first place.
As I sat in my dorm room, waiting for the editorial assistant at Woman’s Day Magazine to call me for my interview, I remember reflecting on my desire to understand how the professional world worked. Perhaps, looking back, it was not a great time to question my lack of knowledge on professionalism. Being a 21-year-old college sophomore, I hadn’t truly experienced the serious working realm of things. Of course, I’d held summer jobs at restaurants and as a babysitter, but the prospect of launching a career felt like a distant world. As I waited nervously. I imagined sitting in a whirling office not understanding the buzz and the commotion that goes into running any kind of company or business. And then the phone rang.
I was writing the first of many final papers for my fall courses when I received an email. Thinking it was just another fake "leadership conference" spam email, I almost deleted it. But my love of procrastination got the best of me and I opened it to discover that the Career Office wanted to send me to The Washington Center, an academic seminar hosted in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.
Fast-forward eight months: It is the last day of the convention and I am feeling an odd mix of exhaustion and excitement. I had never had the opportunity to watch so many of my role models speak or given out so many business cards in my life.
I have always been passionate about politics and economics. This summer, I had the unique privilege of attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which was provided by Connecticut College. I was first approached by my government professor Dorothy James and was honored when I was awarded the opportunity to attend one of the conventions. Although the experience of the convention itself has furthered my interest in the political process, I was also able to take part in a lecture and academic seminar through the Washington Center on topics surrounding political parties, campaigns and elections from distinguished faculty in the field. This education opportunity has helped to shape my outlook on our current election cycle and coursework for the fall semester, and will provide me with a new perspective as I continue my studies on political science and economics.
The first day of Mythology class began like any other first day of class: Professor Papathanasopoulou introduced herself before outlining the syllabus. I eagerly fingered through it, half-listening to the introduction while making mental notes of written assignments, tests and readings we were expected to complete. Everything seemed standard until I came across two listed field trips. I was intrigued.
Professor Papathanasopoulou explained that we were all expected to attend one of the two performances listed on the syllabus; we had a choice between attending an opera or a Martha Graham dance performance. This was a no-brainer; I had to see the Martha Graham Company perform. Now, you have to know—I was especially excited for this opportunity because I danced for 13 years of my life. While I no longer dance, I still hold it near and dear to my heart and this field trip was a unique opportunity to see an influential and revered dance company perform in New York City.
This is a secret I’ve been hiding for an hour. I'm sitting in my room now, after watching David Dorfman Dance rehearse new material. It's super top secret, but I can reveal one thing: It’s awesome! Since declaring as a dance minor in March, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the dance studios and with the faculty, while I complete my department support. Today, I got to watch the company and take photos of them for their social media page. What I saw was art in the making, an unfinished piece.
When I start summer break, I will miss running up the stairs to the Dance Department. It feels like home and the wicker chairs in the office will not be the cushions for creative discussions of work in the company. I have found my support at Conn, and can’t wait to see what the rest of my department support will look like in the fall!
Starting in early February, I was a part of a workshop group working with Maia Draper-Reich on her dance honors thesis on non-verbal communication through dance movement and improv. This essay is a self-reflection of the entire process.
My movement history has mainly been sports-related. I played soccer until I was 17, even playing on a club team for a couple years. I began running track in 6th grade, and I haven’t stopped since. I did do ballet and gymnastics when I was younger, but competitive sports have always been my movement, my performance and my way of expressing myself.
Recently, I accompanied classics professor Nina Papathanasopoulou and her "Classical Mythology" class on a field trip to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to see Richard Strauss’ opera "Elektra." As a music nerd and active student in the Music Department, I really enjoyed getting to see the work of some of the greatest performers in the world; I find that watching other people play is the greatest teaching tool in music, and I’m fortunate to see a lot of performances on and off campus.