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.
I start most days with an abrupt kick of caffeine and the wafting smells of fresh baked goods around me. I do not bake unless it’s in the microwave. But it turns out that you don’t need much baking experience to manage the baked goods schedule at a coffee shop, so long as you have a group of really talented bakers behind you. That’s one of my roles at The Coffee Closet, a student-run cafe on campus. I manage baking, as well as events and communications.
In the spring of my first year, I was hired as a barista at The Coffee Closet. Two years later, I applied for a manager position and was accepted. A lot has changed since my first days serving coffee. For one thing, I only recently learned how to brew hot coffee. When I was a barista, I worked three two-hour shifts a week. Now I work triple that amount. My new role has given me the opportunity to hone my skills in business management, and as part of that role, I thought it was important to understand the process of how every drink is made, inside and out. I can’t manage a coffee shop if I can’t brew coffee.
It’s hard to believe I am mere weeks away from being a rising senior at Conn. After a few more papers and classes, I will be entering my last year at this place I have called home for three years. One of the bittersweet parts of my transition from junior to senior is less about me and more about the people I spend my time with. I’m in a short-form improv group on campus called N20. We meet three times a week to practice our performances. Two members of the group are seniors and this month they will perform their last show at Conn. I will miss their energy and presence but am excited for them too.
The email came the Monday before my senior recital, as I began preparing in earnest to stage my Ammerman Senior Integrative Project in addition to rehearsing with piano instructor Patrice Newman, my accompanist. “Dear Saadya, I am wondering if you might play your Carl Stamitz: Reimagined concerto for Clarinet and Audience at the [Camel Day] Music Forum on April 22 at 9:15 a.m. in Oliva Hall?” Admitted students are invited to Camel Days each year to help them get better acquainted with the College.
One of the more time-consuming activities I’ve been engaged in as I prepare to graduate and move to Colorado for the summer has been changing banks. The last time I did this was four years ago as I was preparing to enter Connecticut College, when I switched my main account from a local bank in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Citizens Bank. Connecticut College has a Citizens Bank ATM. So it made sense for me to switch to this particular bank to avoid any potential ATM fees.
In June 2016, my mother and I went to the Citizens branch in Northampton to open a new checking account. After about an hour of work with a bank representative, I had a folder with details about my new checking account and other Citizens products, reminder card with my new bank account and routing numbers and receipt for a checkbook order that would arrive a week later. I was in business.
As I prepare to move to Colorado, I have realized I can’t keep banking with Citizens. The company’s westernmost branches are located in Michigan and Ohio, so withdrawing any cash while I’m in Colorado would incur needless ATM and bank fees. Before and during spring break, I started analyzing various online banking products as well as the benefits I have from bank accounts already open in my name, including one at Florence Bank, my local bank at home. I eventually settled on depositing my money with two different Internet-based financial institutions. I’ve mainly interacted with Citizens through Internet and phone-based services rather than going into any of their branches. So working with banks that do not have any public offices isn’t too concerning to me. All of these banks have little to no minimum funding requirements and usually allow me to withdraw money from anywhere in the nation without penalty. As someone who’s just getting out of College and trying to build a nest egg while also wanting easy access to my funds, this sort of set up is a relief.
I’ve also started to set up methods to save long-term including a small Roth IRA account, which allows me to start saving for buying a house and/or retirement while earning interest. One of the benefits of the Roth IRA plan over traditional IRAs is that I can withdraw money I initially put into the account (but not money earned in the account) tax-free anytime. While banking and making sure to save money can at times feel scary–knowing that I have a plan makes me feel secure about my future.
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.
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.
Mondays are THE BEST. Actually, Mondays are generally the worst, but my Mondays this semester are always a highlight of my week. My schedule on Mondays is definitely hectic. The day starts at 9 a.m. with a lecture and then I have obligations with short breaks throughout the day until 8 p.m., when I finally get to rest. You may be wondering, “Daniella, what is so great about having a Monday that's packed with things to do?” Well, like every good story this one involves a dog.
On a beautiful, sunny day in Sydney, Australia, I met some of my greatest friends. While I was studying abroad at the University of Sydney, my friend Isaac from my program knew other Americans studying abroad nearby and we made plans to converge at Watson’s Bay, a popular island near the University. It was the first warm day we had seen in a while and we felt there would be no better place to spend it than at the beach. The crisp water, fish and chips by the shore and breezy ferry ride to and from the island made it was one of my favorite days abroad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the old adage goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve always remembered this hackneyed phrase because one of my main goals in life is to have a career that allows me to do what I love so that I never get tired of it. Although I plan to go into performing arts, I have always been passionate about all things related to wellness and wellbeing. Having a position in the Office of Wellbeing and Health Promotion on campus allows me to work in a place with a mission to promote something I’m passionate about, both in my own and others’ lives. It’s work that has never actually felt like work.
I went to a small, private high school in East Providence, Rhode Island, where I had countless tools and people who helped me and guided me through the college process. I am forever grateful for their support. Despite this, I could not seem to figure out what I wanted and what I didn’t want in a college. I had toured multiple schools and thought they were all fine, but I hadn’t had that “falling in love” feeling every high school senior talks about when they find their new home.
I skim every email I receive, even newsletters that seem to come into my inbox solely for me to delete them. However, in a recent copy of “What's New at Shain Library,” a weekly newsletter detailing events, lectures and exhibits taking place at the College’s library, an announcement for a community reading of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in honor of Banned Books Week piqued my interest. I contacted Carrie Kent, who organized the reading, and volunteered to read for 20 minutes near the end of the day.
Anyone who knows me knows I have never really been a cat lover. Cats are incredibly unpredictable and more aloof than dogs. I’m also highly allergic to them, and that basically has given me the only reason I needed to never be near them. Last weekend, however, I was provided with the opportunity to catsit for my faculty adviser, Alison Andersen, a professor in the theater department.
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.
On my very first night at Conn I found myself in The Barn, a student-run practice and performance space for musicians on campus. I’m no music major, nor do I sing well or play an instrument with any measure of talent. But one thing that I am is musically aware. That first night in The Barn initiated me to Conn’s robust music scene, which blossomed throughout my four years here. I spoke with Matt Allen ‘20, who has made a large impact in all things music, about how the music scene has changed at Conn. The following is our interview: