Hometown: Marblehead, Ma Major: Africana Studies, Psychology Activities: The Women's Empowerment Initiative, Improv Comedy
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College:
My favorite aspect of Conn is how welcoming the community is to new members. Early in my first semester at Conn I was walking around the green with my friends and a group of seniors approached us. They asked us if we were excited about freshman year, told us what they study, and said that if we needed anything they could help us. They showed us around campus that night. I always laugh when I think about that moment. I am still friends with the seniors I met that day. One became the mom figure in my improv comedy group, another is my leader for the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, and the last senior I met is one of my favorite baristas at the Walk-In Coffee Closet. At Conn, there is no power dynamic between senior students and first years which allows students more experienced with academics and student life to share their knowledge. The community is also small enough where you can see people you meet frequently enough to get to know them easier.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College:
A couple of days after moving in I saw people playing frisbee on Tempel Green, right outside of my building. I decided to ask to join, as did some of my first-year peers, and we were all terrible. I had no frisbee experience and learned the basics of how to throw. I spent a couple of hours throwing terribly, dancing, singing and making some of my now-best friends. Although my throws are much better now, my first day of frisbee is irreplaceable because it sparked my love for the sport and my team members.
Favorite activity in New London or the region:
My best days in New London usually involve Washington Street Cafe.
Did you know there are 35 Godzilla movies? Well, I didn't either until a friend in my improv comedy group suggested going to see the 65th-anniversary screening of the first Godzilla film. My friend, who is a film major, has been consistently going to The Garde Arts Center in New London this year which is how he heard about this special screening. During my first semester at Conn, my first-year seminar “Music and Social Activism” went on a trip to The Garde to see a special screening of a Beatles film. I remember how shocked I was when I walked into this incredibly preserved movie palace. According to their website, The Garde was originally built in 1926. It was then restored and converted into a non-profit movie theater and performing arts center in 1985. Stepping into The Garde you immediately feel like you're transported back in time. The theater itself is really large. There are classic balcony seats above the general floor seats, and the ornate detailing throughout the theater makes it feel like a work of art. Sadly, I hadn't been back to the theater since my first year at Conn. So when my friend suggested going, I decided to join despite never having seen any Godzilla movies (what better way to start than at movie No. 1).
My favorite part about being a barista at The Coffee Closet in Harkness House is getting to experiment with different drinks. The good, the bad, the ugly—I will make it all. Aside from making my own drinks, I also love to support the other coffee shops on campus, such as the Blue Camel located in Shain Library and Coffee Grounds located a couple of steps away from my residence hall in the Katherine Blunt House. And sometimes when I have a little extra time I make coffee in my room. Needless to say, with all of these options I stay caffeinated. I get bored if I have the same drink every day so I like to order different things from each shop depending on my mood or needs for the day. And during my four years here I definitely have found favorite drinks at each shop.
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.
I was scrolling through Instagram to see what my friends were up to when my thumb immediately stopped on a photo of a giant coco de mer nut. Lola Pierson ’20 posted the image of the nut which was part of “Revisiting the Nut Museum: Visionary Art of Elizabeth Tashjian,” an art exhibit she was helping to construct. I didn't know much about this museum until a couple of days later when I walked into Shain Library and saw a poster that said the exhibit was going to be open to the public in the Cummings Arts Center. I texted my friends to tell them that we HAD to go. The week that it opened, I headed over to Cummings with my friend to see the museum. The first floor of Cummings is a rotating exhibit space curated by the art and art history departments. Sometimes the featured artist is a faculty member, outside artist or a student. It may shock you, but Connecticut College is actually not the birthplace of the Nut Museum. The original museum was created by artist Elizabeth Tashjian (1912 - 2007) who transformed the first floor of her mansion in Old Lyme, Connecticut, into an amazing eclectic ode to nuts. In 2002, Professor of Art History Chris Steiner saved Tashjian’s art/collection, which was then archived at the College. Now the museum has been brought back to life at Conn.
Since I was young, I have had a summer job to help pass the time and make some extra money. Last summer, I was accepted into a fellowship with Condé Nast. I was beyond excited because not only would it be my first professional experience for a large company, but it also required me to relocate to New York City, where I have always wanted to live.
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.
I started working when I turned 15 years old as a hostess at a Chinese-American restaurant and as a camp counselor at the YMCA Sports Camp. Although I really appreciate this work experience, which helped me learn many valuable skills, it was just the beginning of my professional career. Since then, I have graduated high school, completed three years of college and tried many positions in various fields as I continue to search for the best career path for me.
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.
Like many people my age, I can usually be found on my phone, texting, calling or staying updated on the lives of my Instagram followers. But when I was studying abroad in Havana, Cuba, I was rarely ever on my phone. Due to the Internet connectivity in the area where I was living, I was only able to communicate with my parents and friends by purchasing wifi cards and traveling to a wifi hotspot. The lack of Internet access was surprisingly one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad because I found myself experiencing each moment more. The downside was that I started to become a little homesick after a month of not being able to communicate consistently with my family and friends. My host family made me feel at home and like a member of their family, but I naturally still missed my friends and family.
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.
Each time I walk into an airport I get scared–heart-pounding kind of scared. I get nervous about all the possible things that could go wrong, like losing my passport, missing my flight and the inevitability of forgetting a full water bottle in my bag before going through security. I also don’t have a ton of experience flying; I can count the number of airports I have been through on one hand. Despite these things, I have loved the idea of traveling since I was a little kid. As I get older I have wanted to see more of the United States (outside of the North East) and also to travel outside the United States. My choice to study abroad in Latin America and the Caribbean was an easy one. I have always been curious about my mother’s experience living in Colombia before she moved to the United States.
I did not grow up speaking Spanish, but my household was always full of the Spanish language. My aunts, uncles, brother and grandmother, all of whom were born and raised in Colombia, were always around. Because of this, learning Spanish has always been a goal. In an attempt to combine my Africana studies major with my desire to learn Spanish, I applied to study abroad at the Autonomous University of Social Movements (AUSM) in Havana, Cuba. The program adopts a social justice framework for learning abroad. An integral component of the AUSM study abroad experience is the homestay with Cuban families, which was my favorite part of the whole experience.
After facing my fear and making the relatively short flight from Boston Logan International Airport to the José Martí International Airport in Havana, I was met by the director of the Cuban program Daisy Rojas who told me and my roommate, Essence, to follow her to a taxi outside. Essence and I were both wide-eyed during the short drive to the municipality Marianao, where we stayed for our whole trip. In Marianao, I met my host family. My host family was big. Not only did a lot of family members live in my house, but my host family was so popular that there was a constant influx of neighbors, relatives and hairstyling clients.
My host family consisted of nine people: grandparents Lidia and Ariel; their son Wilfredo and his partner Isver; Ariel and Lidia’s daughter, Mercedes, and her husband; along with their sons, Dariel and Liam, and Liam’s wife, Leidi. Almost every day I spent breakfast, lunch and dinner with my host family. At first, my roommate and I spoke minimal Spanish and although my host family was extremely welcoming, it was sometimes awkward not being able to communicate. I was encouraged every day to practice my Spanish, and eventually I was able to understand almost everything in my day-to-day conversations. After a couple of weeks, I truly felt like a member of the family. Not only would we eat meals together (the home-cooked meals were the best meals I had abroad) but we also watched TV together, walked along the streets in our city together, picked up groceries together, or just chatted about life and politics. Essence and I would often joke and say “Somos Cubanos!”, which means “We’re Cubans!”, to which the host family would reply “Somos Cubanos!”
My host family and I laughed together, cried together, danced together and celebrated birthdays together. We threw a send-off celebration for our host brother when he left to live in the United States and told stories about our lives. Although it is difficult to describe in a short post how much my Cuban family meant to me, I am certain that they are some of the biggest-hearted and hardest working people I have met. They are always there for each other, their neighbors, American students and whoever else happens upon their house on 100 and 61st Street. Leaving my host family, without knowing for certain when I can return, was difficult, to say the least, but I now feel that Soy Cubana (I am Cuban) and I can't wait to travel back soon.
Left to Right: Wilfredo, Isver, Leidi, Chino, Merci, my dad Charlie, my mom Martha, Me, Essence, Lidia, and Ariel
In high school, I joined the cross country and track and field teams initially in an attempt to find something to do between basketball seasons. I ended up loving running so much that I quit basketball to do winter and spring track. One of my favorite parts of being on the cross country team was the summer captain’s practices that would prepare us for the season. Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. we would drive from Marblehead to Lynn, Massachusetts, to run in the Lynn Woods Races. There is nothing not to like about the Lynn Woods weekly races. They are donation-optional races organized by local runners who set up a new course each week through a large section of woods in the middle of the city. Each race gets a huge turnout of friendly runners ranging from young kids to people much older than me. After each race, people usually stick around to chat and have some of the free post-race snacks, like Gatorade, oatmeal raisin cookies and fruit. Every summer I look forward to running these races, which embody the best aspects of cross country: running through woods and community.
On the first day of my first year at Conn I was intent on declaring a double major in Art and Chemistry. Things don’t always turn out how you planned. I am now a double major in Psychology and Africana Studies and minoring in Gender and Women’s Studies. This change was a result of finding interests I did not know I had and connecting with students and faculty in each major. Despite not being an Art major, there are still a lot of opportunities for me to produce art and share it around campus. I often draw in my room while I am (mildly) procrastinating or as a way to de-stress. If I like what I make, I sometimes post it on Instagram and Facebook. Three seniors at Conn, Gabby Schlein, Catherine Healey, and Katie Soricelli, saw some of my drawings and asked me to produce a few pieces for their senior theater capstone. Senior capstones are final projects that are the culmination of a senior’s work in their major. Capstones are great because they give people outside of the major an opportunity to be involved in and meet new people in different areas.
This winter I called my dad bragging that my normally weak immune system had beaten off whatever seasonal sickness was going around. I was convinced that I had miraculously improved my ability to fight off colds and the flu without changing anything about my lifestyle. Almost a week later I was in the Coffee Closet, doing homework with my friend Mark, when my head started feeling really groggy. So naturally, I bought three different teas and poured in significant amounts of honey and lemon to try to stop my impending sickness. The next day, I woke up with a fever, feeling like I had been smacked in the face. One of my friends took me to Student Health Services on campus. The nurses there told me I had the flu and prescribed me some medicine.
Not many students at Conn are taught by the women’s rowing coach, but I was. Midway through last semester I started a class called Sports Leadership taught by coach Eva Kovach. This class was part of Conn’s Career Informed Learning courses, which bring alumni or community members to class to discuss how the concepts we learn about play out in the world. The dean of sophomores, Carmela Patton, recommended that I take the class because of my interest in sports. In high school, I competed year-round and ended my high school career as the captain of my cross country team and track and field team. I have always enjoyed spearheading groups that I have been a part of. That added with my ability to be loud and make friends has so far served as a good formula for molding me into a leader. During my first year of high school, I always respected my captains but I also thought that the biggest part of the job was simply being nice to everyone. After leading the teams myself and dealing with issues within my teams I understand that ‘leading’ is multifaceted. Being a part of this class gave me the opportunity to look retrospectively at my past roles as a leader and learn what I did well, but also learn what I can improve upon.
My heart stopped when I looked at my friend, Julia Horowitz, and realized it was our time. “Oh God, here we go,” her expression seemed to say. She grabbed my hands as we turned to face our audience, full of our friends and friends of friends, to explain our next game. “Jarvis Can’t Rap is a game where we do a scene based on your suggestions,” she said, mildly laughing. “We start to rap whenever a beat is dropped by Mark [McPhillips] until it stops and exposes our lack of musical talents.”
No puedo hablar español fluido porque mi madre no me enseñó. (I can not speak Spanish fluently because my mother never taught me). My mom and her entire family are from Bogotá, Colombia, which means that half of my family speaks Spanish (some only speak Spanish). Meanwhile, I only speak English. All through middle school and high school, I tried to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with my family but I never became proficient. That's why I was excited to learn about The Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, lovingly referred to as ‘CISLA’, at Conn. CISLA is one of the five academic centers on campus; it focuses on the globalization of citizenship through language fluency and study abroad opportunities.
Recently, a senior came up to me and asked “How did you get a room here? Did you have an amazing number?” I laughed because in my first experience with the housing lottery I initially did not receive a room. In the first round of the housing lottery students receive a housing number. I was given the number 1266, incoming sophomores’ numbers normally span from 1000 - 1500 meaning I was about in the middle of the lottery. The numbers correspond to a time when the housing portal will be open for you to select a room. Higher numbers receive earlier time slots. I did not find housing that was right for me in the first round in December so I participated in the second round: the summer lottery. During the summer lottery, I was asked to indicate my top choices for where I would like to live allowing Residential Education and Living (REAL) staff to place me based on my preferences. I indicated Abbey House, which a lot of sophomores do not know is an option for housing, because my friend, a senior who was placed in Abbey House, recommended that I give it shot. Abbey House is an independent living option for upperclassmen who want to live in “The Village.” The Village consists of Abbey, Winchester Apartments, River Ridge Apartments, 191 House and Lazarus, most of which are located across the street from main campus.
Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. This is the final post in a series of pieces about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)
It was tough waking up with an achy back again but even tougher realizing that this was the final day of our road trip. All of our planning, saving, spending, and hanging out together was coming to an end. David had a shift at the vegan restaurant in the morning so we all thanked him and said goodbye. Then we got ready to leave mainly because it’s weird being in someone’s house when they're not there but also because we had to get a move on if we were going to experience our last taste of Nashville. It takes an estimated eight hours to drive from Nashville to Charlottesville, Virginia. After driving for twelve days you understand that Google Maps can’t account for all of the stops and traffic that you will hit so we knew it would take longer than that. We decided to go down to the tourist section of Nashville called Broadway Street before departing.
Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)
I woke up a little achy from our on-the-grounded sleeping setup. I hadn’t slept that much because I was uncomfortable so I needed to take a nap on David’s bed to recharge. I am a notoriously great sleeper. I take many short naps at Conn when I have downtime. But I ended up falling asleep for a majority of the day and woke up around dinner time.