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Interview with women's basketball coach Jackie Smith

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20  - The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Headshot of coach Jackie Smith
Coach Jackie Smith

When you picture a coach, you might picture a one like Sue Sylvester from the TV show “Glee,” Jimmy Dugan from “A League of Their Own,” or even a coach you’ve once had. I think of one of Conn’s newest members to the Camel Athletics family, women’s basketball coach Jackie Smith. Her kindness toward everyone she meets, dedication to the success and growth of the team, and gumption to showcase the team’s talent has helped the team improve both on and off the court. I interviewed Jackie to learn more about her background, love for basketball and dreams for her team. 

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Conn is Forever

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20  - The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

View of the beach in Sydney
A beach day in Sydney

Last semester was the first time in two years that I spent the fall months away from Connecticut College. I was anxious to embark on a new adventure but nonetheless ecstatic to explore a new country and schooling system at the University of Sydney. My semester was atypical from the start—I left for my semester abroad on July 19 and returned November 18. A typical fall semester at Conn begins in late August and ends in the third week of December. When I returned from Australia, my peers back at Conn were still engaged in their studies. I had some time to reflect and anticipate what was ahead of me. It was not easy to return from studying abroad. Life had gone on and people expected me to be the same, but I wasn't. My transition period from Conn to the University of Sydney exemplified and elucidated the ways I changed and the things I missed.

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The Touring Clarinetist of Southern New England

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19  - The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor poses for a photo with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.
Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.

I’m afforded plenty of opportunities to hear my clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, perform at Connecticut College. Most recently, she played in two pieces in the music department’s February faculty recital, including Mozart’s well-known “Kegelstatt” Trio, and last December she was a featured soloist with the orchestra’s string section during our fall concert.

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One Step to Trinity Rep

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20  - The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

A.T. and the class pose with Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep
We posed with Nina Papathanasopoulou's class and Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep

Many of our staff and faculty members live close to school, so anytime I’m off campus, I think about the possibility of running into a professor or other employee. It isn’t a bad occurrence, but it’s somewhat cringey to think about what to say to a professor outside of the classroom or context of a class. Even if it’s someone you admire or are very familiar with, there’s always a moment of silence where neither the student nor the adult knows quite what to say. However, this isn’t always the case. I saw a professor outside of the classroom and instead of it being awkward, it was invigorating. I saw him on a stage, in a costume, transformed into one of the most well-known gods of Greek literature: Zeus. Kinda cool, right?

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The Last Semester

- The Experience, David Johnston '19  - The Experience, David Johnston '19

A copy of David's major declaration slip
When I declared my majors in the fall of my sophomore year

To register for classes at Connecticut College, we have to meet with our adviser and discuss our ideas for what we want to take for the next semester. I meet with two advisers because I am a double major in American studies and English. This fall when I met with my advisers, Professor Catherine Stock for American Studies and Professor Michelle Neely for English, it started off as a regular meeting. We discussed what was going on in my life and academics during the past semester. We looked at my Degree Works page, the webpage that shows what requirements you have completed for your major and your graduation requirements. To see the page with almost all of my requirements completed was liberating. I had been taking classes in my majors of study pretty much exclusively since my sophomore year. During my first year, I took classes to discover what I was interested in and to complete my general education requirements. To see that I was done with my general education requirements and my American Studies major was a strange feeling. This thing that I had been working on for so long was finished. I did still have a few more requirements to fulfill for my English major but aside from that, I was free to take something else that interested me, a feeling that excited me.

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Connections Matter

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20  - The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

The front facade of the RNN office building
The front facade of the RNN

Connections matter. The line has retained relevance my entire life. From the day I entered the workforce at age 17, my mom emphasized just how far a connection can take you in life. Little did I know I would end up at a college where connections are integrated into the fabric of the school’s community. In both the curriculum and Conn’s career office, faculty and staff highlight the value of a connection: academic connections, such as cross-listed classes or concepts; employment connections, such as your mom’s co-worker’s cousin. Connections can be big or small but how you utilize them determines their importance.

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Playing with the Best

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19  - The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

A view of the orchestra playing on stage at Conn.
The orchestra playing a dramatic passage at last fall’s concert.

The end of the semester is always a busy time for me, and, as I’ve previously written, one of the highlights of this period are the various music department end-of-semester concerts and recitals that I participate in. No matter how intense it gets, the end of semester orchestra concert is still a great highlight and culmination of my hard work. This past semester’s performance was particularly special for me as it presented an impromptu opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the country—three members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Band’s trombone section led by Sean Nelson, who is the music department’s trombone professor, in addition to Connecticut College’s own Gary Buttery on tuba, who served as the Band’s principal tubist from 1976-1998. The group constituted our orchestra’s low brass section for our performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony.

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First Semester Reflections

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22  - The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

11 members of the International Camels Association memebers pose for a photo together in Unity House
International Students at ISA’s winter get together

Sitting on the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport, I was frustrated, tired and jetlagged. I had been traveling for nearly 27 hours and plane food has never cheered me up. I was heading back to Conn after one month of winter break and my plane had been diverted to Philadelphia because of the winter storm. I was supposed to land at JFK by 8:30 a.m. and catch the Flying Camel (the College bus between JFK International Airport and Conn) at 1 p.m. It was now 11 a.m. Would I even make it?

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First Flurries

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22  - The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah and her two friends pose for a photo together outside in the snow
My friends and I after my first snowball fight

Experiencing any phenomenon for the first time is always fascinating. However, experiencing something for the first time and being cognizant of it comes with its own set of feelings. For me, this happened when I first saw snow. Growing up in Bangladesh and then eSwatini, I have experienced temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to 110 Fahrenheit. But I had never seen snow.

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Passing the Torch

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19  - The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Saadya and Jack stand next to each other and pose for a photo together
Me with my former student advisor Jack Beal ‘18 who came to the fall orchestra concert to play with us.

As a sophomore, I applied and was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus that provide resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. Learn more about my journey as an Ammerman Scholar.

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