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Cult and Camp

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

I used to think that sophomore year was my favorite at Conn. That was the year I discovered the Department of Film Studies and gained invaluable tools for film analysis, as well as incredible insight into the world of film in general. Then, I thought junior year was my favorite year at Conn. I continued on in the film studies major and finally got to enroll in “Screenwriting,” arguably my favorite class I’ve taken both at Conn and abroad. Now, having just passed the 100 days until graduation mark, I have become more sentimental about the film department and my current opportunities within it. I am in a senior seminar, titled “Studies in Cult and Camp,” which is the perfect culmination of my learning. The class is an opportunity to think critically with my fellow majors and one of my favorite professors, Dr. M.

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Cinematography and Me

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

If you were to ask me what defines my experience at Conn I would most likely turn to my Film Studies major. I cannot imagine graduating without the invaluable knowledge and experience I have gained from this department. This semester, I took “Cinematography I” where I learned about the importance of meaningful execution with a camera.

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Auditing a Class

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

A plate of honey roasted chicken and joffof rice
Honey roasted chicken and jollof rice courtesy of Professor Ballah

During my first year at Conn, I took “Introduction to Film” and I noticed one of the students looked a little different than everybody else. This student was an older gentleman who was not registered as a student at Conn. He was actually a professor of film at a local community college. He decided to audit our class to learn more about film and improve his teaching skills. When our professor told us that this man was auditing the class I did not know what that meant so I did what most people would do, I looked it up. The Connecticut College website defines auditors as “special students or alumni of the College who attend the meetings of a course but receive no credit for such attendance. Students who wish to attend certain courses may do so as auditors by securing the approval of the instructor concerned.” There is also a section that states that regular undergraduates, like me, are not normally allowed to audit a class.

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Decoding Connections

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

When an admission representative from Connecticut College came to my high school, two things struck me about their talk: the College’s Honor Code and the Integrative Pathways in the Connections curriculum. I remember thinking how cool it would be to self-schedule an exam and learn about sustainability without necessarily majoring in it. When I later figured out that I no longer wanted to major in STEM, I was pleased to find out that Conn’s curriculum is flexible for everyone to find and construct their own niche. Connections is Conn’s liberal arts curriculum which aims to give its students an integrated approach to learning.

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A Balancing Act

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

One skill that I have cultivated at Conn throughout my four years is the ability to hold several spinning plates without letting a single one of them drop. Between three classes, an honors thesis, two jobs and being in an improv group, it is safe to say that every day of the semester is filled with challenges and commitments. Each year at Conn has added another layer of responsibilities. Whether it is taking on a new leadership position, searching for an internship, developing my writing skills or honing my career path, I keep myself busy. Having a full schedule comes at the cost of letting a few of those spinning plates go, so I have to find new ways to stop those plates from crashing.

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Promotional Filmmaking

- Guest Blogger  Alex Bernardo ’20 - Guest Blogger

On Nov. 7, I presented on my experience in the Entrepreneurship Pathway at the first-ever All-College Symposium at Connecticut College. Sharing my academic journey at the symposium brought back memories of my sophomore year when I decided to enroll in the Pathway. As a sophomore, I was interested in combining my major in film studies and my minor in economics. By attending information sessions I learned about the Entrepreneurship Pathway. The Pathway combined my interests in film and economics through the field of corporate video and allowed me to study the value that films bring to businesses when used as a marketing tool.

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Eye of the Mind

- Guest Blogger  Hannah Megathlin - Guest Blogger

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.

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Learning My Fourth Language

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

Arabic text on paper

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. 

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Finding My Rhythm

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

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.

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Finding My Rhythm

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani's classmates pose for a photo in front of their standing drums at the dance studio
My classmates from left to right: Buki James, Shay Quinn, Joseline Urbana.

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.

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Finding Your Nook

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21  - The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

A photo taken from the study space on the upper floor of New London Hall showing the sidewalks below and Fanning Hall across the way
New London Hall
This has become my favorite day-time studying nook. Whether I have journaling to do for my Pathway course or I need to outline a paper, it’s the perfect spot to do some work while also enjoying the view of everyone walking between classes. For me, it’s a good thinking spot where I can brainstorm and look around. It’s also usually quite easy to find a quiet spot as classes are not always taking place on each floor. 

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To London

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

A portrait of Jane Austen from the National Portrait Gallery
Jane Austen’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery

During spring break, most people want to go to a warm place to get away from the cold winters in New England. Rather than flying this typical route south, I went east to London with my senior seminar for spring break. My senior seminar in the English department is on Jane Austen. When I signed up for the class, taught by Professor of English Jeff Strabone, I knew that there was a trip to the United Kingdom planned for our two-week spring break. While this was not a determining factor in choosing the class for me, it certainly did not hurt.

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Shameless Networking

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

Earlier this semester, I wrote a post about the importance of connections and how they can spark exciting opportunities. It is all about who you know and what you’re willing to do with that knowledge. On the contrary, who you are willing to know is equally important. I am applying for a couple of internships at Showtime Networks, a highly coveted position. I knew that merely submitting my application materials was not going to help me stand out. Based on my workshop experience with the Office of Career and Professional Development, my job experiences and the advice of family members, I decided to put myself on the line. And I was pleased with the results.

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In Sickness and In Academia

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

It was a sad day in the middle of February 2018 when I was diagnosed with the flu. I sulked from Student Health Services back to my room in Freeman House and was left to my own devices for the rest of the week. I was required to isolate myself, so as to not spread the virus and recover in the most expedient way possible. I was initially worried about missing class, falling behind on work and just not being able to entertain myself for that long. Before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole of internet conspiracy theories that culminated with my discovery of perhaps the most fascinating, interesting topic.

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Declan Rockett ‘20, Scarlett Diaz-Power ‘20, me, Morgan Grant ‘20, Mia Barbuto ‘22, Becca Collins ‘21, Carly Sponzo ‘21 and Sonia Joffe ‘19 pose in their costumes on the set of No Exit
Clockwise from L-R: Declan Rockett ‘20, Scarlett Diaz-Power ‘20, me, Morgan Grant ‘20, Mia Barbuto ‘22, Becca Collins ‘21, Carly Sponzo ‘21 and Sonia Joffe ‘19

It’s opening night. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., while the team and I arrived in the theater at 6 p.m. The cast warmed up then changed into costume while Morgan, Declan and I placed furniture, decor and did checks for lights and sound. As the hour approached, people began to arrive and wait in the lobby. Around 7 p.m., Morgan and I started pacing, anxiously floating between the lobby, theater space and the “hobbit hole”, a room in which the actors stay before the show.

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Flipping Trajectories

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

Two pieces of paper. One declaring a major. The other declaring a minor.
I've declared a major and minor!

When I was 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At the age of 8, I declared to my mother that I would be as famous as Demi Lovato, disregarding the fact that I could not sing to save my life. As my career aspirations went from astronaut to black hole specialist to journalist, I entered high school and got into the sciences. If someone looked at my high school transcript, they would assume that I was headed toward a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. They would be correct. In high school, I took advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. I wanted to be a materials scientist. Back then, nothing excited me more than spending hours in a chemistry laboratory seeing what obscure material could oxidize lead.

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Students sleeping/lounging on sofas or the floor
The cast during the beginning of each rehearsal I called “chill out” where they would enter the world of the play through song.

After getting back to campus from winter break, there was one major thing on my to-do list: hold auditions. The thought of auditions didn’t stir up any anxiety, but the thought of having to select a cast from a group of amazingly talented students did. For about three hours, my team and I scribbled notes on random pieces of paper as students traipsed in and out of the room with their monologues. Halfway through the evening, I got the same feeling I get during a class when I’m the only student not taking notes. I realized I was writing without a clue about what I was supposed to be writing down. I was just scribbling because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?

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Bad Day Turned Great

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

View of Horizon House from a dorm room in JA
The view from my dorm room, where I woke up in a panic.

I woke up one Thursday and almost screamed when I saw the time on my alarm clock. It was 11:45 a.m., and I had class at 11:50 a.m.

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On My Way to My Senior Recital

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

Handwritten notes on paper
My handwritten notes from my meeting with Professor Elmer

This semester has been busy and challenging for me. I’m preparing a senior recital for the Department of Music to be presented Sunday, April 14, and I’m planning to perform my Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Senior Integrative Project as part of that recital. This decision has set a major deadline for when the majority of the projects I’m working on for senior year need to be ready to be presented. While it's daunting to realize that I’ll soon be on the stage of Evans Hall performing an hour of clarinet music and my finished project for the Ammerman Center, I’ve realized as the recital nears that preparation comes in baby steps.

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Teaching Bengali

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

Red, purple, and blue poster with info on Samirah's Bengali course
I put up posters around campus to promote my class

Growing up bilingual, I don’t remember learning to speak either English or Bengali. I don’t know if I learned the alphabet first or how I knew to tell the difference between the words for a lamp and a lightbulb or how the two languages differed phonetically from one another. I don’t know how I learned and I could surely not advise someone trying to acquire a new language.

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