Hometown: Wethersfield, Connecticut Majors: English and American Studies double major with a focus on politics, society, and policy Activities: RefleXion, Wig and Candle, Roosevelt Institute
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: Friendly people! When I walk around campus I always see someone I know. It is not hard to meet new people. The same can be said for professors. They really want to help you succeed and are very open to meet with you and to talk about what they do. I have made some great connections with professors, and they have really helped me succeed in and outside of the classroom.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: Last fall I was involved in a Wig and Candle (the student-run theater organization) show called “Steel Magnolias.” I was the stage manager for the show which was something I had not done before. I learned a lot from being involved in the production, including how to be a part of a team and contribute to a product. Productions are not just for actors anymore! Plus, working with a great cast and director allowed me to make tons of new friends and have a rewarding and enriching experience.
Favorite activity in New London or the region: Visiting Washington Street Coffee House in downtown New London. It is a really cozy coffee shop with great coffee, food and pastries. It is a nice spot to get off campus for a little while with friends and get a change of scenery while loading up on much-needed caffeine!
Each year the College celebrates the beginning of fall with Fall Weekend, when parents of current students, as well as many alumni, visit campus for a weekend full of events, performances, lectures and more. This year I helped run a booth at HarvestFest, an annual event where clubs and organizations on campus raise money by selling apparel, baked goods, or crafty items. My dad was able to come on Saturday and my mom came on Sunday. It was nice to be able to see both of them and to catch up in person instead of just on the phone. I was also able to reconnect with friends who graduated, it is always nice to see them as well. I was not the only one who appreciated the weekend. Check out this video of students, parents, alumni and friends who enjoyed it as well.
As I drive back onto campus for the first time in the new academic year, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of familiarity and of returning home. It feels strange to be back. I have been away for an entire summer but it feels like I never left at all. I park my car and pick up the key to my room this year. I live in Smith House, which is in central campus across the street from Shain Library and the College Center at Crozier-Williams (Cro).
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.
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.
A dramaturg is someone who reads plays and musicals and does an analysis of the texts to help convey messages and historical context to the cast as well as the audience. In November, I worked as the dramaturg for “Life Is a Dream,” the theater department show at Conn. I came on board in September. Most of the work I did early on was independent research, but I went to some early rehearsals when I was able to go. The show was written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca in 1635, the Spanish Golden Age. My initial research about the time period uncovered themes that were also present in the production–the basic themes of which involve religious ideals, honor and the role of women.
Tuesday, February 12, was a snow day at Connecticut College; the campus closed at 11 a.m. I do not have morning classes on Tuesdays, so it was in effect a full snow day for me. I was still in my room in Jane Addams House when I heard the good news and was elated. I soon got a message from my friends asking if I wanted to do an early soup and bread lunch, a Tuesday and Thursday lunch tradition in Jane Addams Dining Hall. I was able to walk down the hall to the dining hall without having to step outside at all, which is a blessing on a snowy day. After a warm soup and bread meal, we went to the Walk-In Coffee Closet, my personal favorite coffee shop on campus conveniently located next to my residence hall. We sat down on the comfy couches and did homework. I find rotating my working locations between Shain Library and the various coffee shops on campus to be helpful—it provides a change of scenery. As we were doing homework we began to talk and time flew by. Later, we smelled an intoxicating aroma coming out of the bakery: someone was making cinnamon buns. The sweet cinnamon smell filled up the small coffee shop and soon I was really craving one. It felt like forever before they were ready but, eventually, I and almost everyone else in the Walk-In indulged. The sweet treat was a perfect complement to the cold day outside. I did not get a lot of my homework done but having a midweek day off and enjoying time with friends was definitely worth it.
Connecticut College students put a lot of work into maintaining and improving our on-campus community and culture. But what about our local community? The Office of Community Partnerships connects students to volunteer opportunities with local businesses in New London and the surrounding area. I visited the office looking for more ways to get involved in the local community. I explained my interest in history and was introduced to the New London County Historical Society. The historical society headquarters is in downtown New London in a colonial-era house once owned by Nathaniel Shaw Perkins. It houses documents and records from all of New London County. Working there is a great way to learn more about the city and its history. New London was a large whaling port for many years and many captains made their money here.
When I started looking at colleges in high school I did not really know where to start. Luckily, my high school had a strong college counseling program. My counselor and I began the college search by talking about what I enjoyed about my school. I really liked that my teachers and almost everyone in my class knew me well. I wanted a similar college experience where my professors took an interest in how I was doing in class.
The Connecticut College campus generally falls into two areas: north and south. The Charles E. Shain Library is in the middle. Last spring, as I began contemplating where I wanted to live on campus my senior year, I thought about the fact that I never lived in south campus. So during the housing lottery, I picked a room in Jane Addams (JA) House, the second southernmost residence house on campus. Since moving in I’ve noticed a lot of differences between north and south campus. South campus is close to many of the academic buildings, which helps if you are like me and are running late most of the time. It is also home to Tempel Green, as well as the dining halls in Jane Addams and Freeman House. I am not a morning person so having two dining halls close by makes getting breakfast, which is usually a struggle for me, much easier.
The LGBTQIA Center has always been a space at Conn where I feel comfortable and at home. As a first-year student, when I went to the Center’s annual ice cream social at the beginning of the fall semester, I walked in as a shy new student who knew no one and did not really know who he was yet. The Center’s orange walls made me feel warm inside and, while I met many new people that night, the thing I remember most was the community bond that came out of that orange space. I felt welcome. Even though I was not out at the time it did not matter. I still felt like a part of the community tightly gathered in the room. That feeling drove me to get involved with the Center more and more during my time at Conn. As a senior, I am still involved. I am in the peer mentorship program where first-years and sophomores are matched with juniors and seniors to help guide them through their college experience and answer questions. Being able to help other queer students through their college experience and being able to answer questions that I wish I could have asked someone has been rewarding, to say the least.
It’s that time of year when the leaves change, and the weather cools down. In New England, we are fortunate enough to experience four full seasons, and the College is located in the perfect area to appreciate it. I’ve created a list of places and things to do during the fall season at Conn both on campus and off. Here are some of my thoughts:
Last spring I began my search for a summer internship. I was studying in Vienna for the semester, which meant I was unable to meet potential employers for in-person interviews. I applied to several historic preservation organizations, which is something I am interested in pursuing after I graduate, and was offered an internship with Connecticut Landmarks, an organization based in Hartford, Connecticut, that runs several historic properties around the state.