Hometown: New York City, New York Major: American Studies Minor: Dance, History Activities: Senior Admissions Fellow, Hillel House, Tennis Club Focus:
Politics, Society, and Policy
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: Opportunities! I completed my funded internship at a nonprofit with an alumna of the College but also took part in a semester abroad. I have received mentoring and education from outstanding professors, and staff who will always have your best interest in mind. At Conn, the opportunities are endless and sometimes they hide in the most unlikely places.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: During my first week back on campus after going abroad, I camped out in Harris Refectory (the largest dining hall on campus) with challah bread on Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest) and recruited students to join our Hillel chapter. My friend joined me later in the evening and between the two of us, we probably ate more challah than we actually gave away. It was a very delicious evening, to say the least!
Favorite activity in New London or the region: If eating counts as an activity, I'd be happy to be the champion. Going to the Oyster Club in Mystic on a Saturday night, and diving into a bowl of clam chowder. It’s simply perfect.
The bowl of assorted chocolates greets me as I walk into the second-floor office of Student Accessibility Services in Shain Library. It is a sweet, and sometimes bitter reminder of my struggles with a Non-Verbal Learning Difference. I always wanted to be a “normal” kid but as I advanced in my education and sought out accommodations, my perspective changed.
I declared my major, American Studies, the week after Thanksgiving in 2015. A week earlier, I found myself attempting to answer the question on many of my family members minds, “Now Julesy, how will you explain to an employer down the road what the heck American Studies is?” To put it quite simply, American Studies is not just American History. My major is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of America through history, culture, theater, food, and historical figures. As Professor Jim Downs, chair of the program, would say, “American Studies is the bottom-up story of American History. It tells the story of all peoples, and makes sense of where there are holes in the stories we tell.” That means that my classes have ranged from an American Drama course to my Globalization Senior Seminar about the growth of globalization following World War Two.
I got bit by a travel bug during my semester abroad in Haifa, Israel. It happened during the flight home to New York as I looked through the pages of my passport. These pages felt empty and I wondered when I would be able to stamp it once more – perhaps numerous times.
Because I am not the biggest fan of spending my winter break at the beach, I have always, for the most part, opted for a ski vacation. Recently, the weather in New York City, my hometown, has been bone chilling and I wondered before my flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, took off if I wasn’t better off visiting a beach.
I recently contemplated making my first donation to my grade school, The Churchill School and Center in New York City. I attended Churchill from kindergarten until my high school graduation in spring 2014. I was known as a lifer* in the Churchill community and have remained involved. I now see the importance of giving back to Churchill through donations and visiting as much as possible to offer advice to future graduates. It is strange to think that, this June, it will be four years since I walked across the stage with my high school diploma. Those who positively informed my Churchill years will always remain a part of my life.
My Uncle Harvey Abramowitz inspires me. To me, he is more than his email signature URGHA (for those who maybe outside our small, close-knit femily*) that stands for Uncle-Rabbi-General-Harvey-Abramowitz. In over 75 years, my uncle has held many careers. But if you ask me he is the most proud of his time as a rabbi and the connections he’s made throughout his life. To some he is their rabbi and an aid during a time of loss. To others he is the man about his small town of Huntington, Long Island. If you ask me, he is my mentor who enjoys bowls and bowls of my Aunt Joanie’s signature “savory” cottage cheese while we write together. He would write sermons and I would write my blog posts! Except now, he has traded writing sermons for assisting me in figuring out my next chapter as he relaxes during his.
In my time at Conn, I have fallen in love with the theater department. I don’t consider myself an actress, but a scholar of American playwriting and musical theater. Before I went abroad last spring, I took a class called American Drama in the department and loved reading plays for homework. Sometimes, my class would act out the assigned plays and critically examine them from top to bottom. Professor Ken Prestininzi guided us through the classic American canon of plays written by playwrights such as Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, and Sophie Treadwell. My favorite play we read as a class was “Machinal” by Sophie Treadwell which critically examined the effects of a capitalist society on a character. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation to Treadwell’s own playwriting. I sat down at my computer and attempted to write a play that examined my own relationship with society and my family members.
Recently, I read through my planner and discovered (to my surprise) that I have taken on more responsibility both in the classroom and in my extra-curricular activities. On a given Wednesday, I wake up early and end my day close to midnight. The 24 hours in one day go quickly and it makes me wish for a day free of nothing to do. If you gave me 12 hours, I think this is how I would spend them.
I’ve got a secret that I recently decided to come forward and divulge. I do not have a valid driver's license nor a permit. The closest thing to a car that I’ve ever driven was a go-kart! Recently, I picked up the “New York State Driver's Manual” at my home library in New York City and read it cover to cover, but doing that did not give me the confidence to take the wheel. As a 21-year-old college student, not knowing how to drive is not much of a nuisance as many expect it to be.
In March 2013, I visited Conn for the first time as a high school junior and fell in love at first sight with the school. Back then, I was leaning toward applying to a small school with academic support and Conn certainly felt like the right fit for me.
As I sat with my feet shoulder-width apart, Rabbi Susan Schein led our Hillel group in meditation. As Jews, we are in the midst the month of Elul. Elul is the month leading up to the High Holy Days, of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is also during this time that I am drawn to exploring meditations and thinking about the year ahead of me even as I reflect on the past year. At our most recent home-cooked Shabbat dinner, I took a liking to a unique part of the Shabbat service. After all, the Shabbat meal is the beginning of the day of rest and I wanted to explore my spirituality within Judaism. This meditative exercise came from Psalm 27 in which, the kingdom of G-d is proposed and challenged.
On the morning of Feb. 10, I awoke with nerves the size of the Boeing 777 plane I was about to board. My fears might have been large enough to hold me back, but now I see that my plane-sized anxiety came from fearing the unknown. That day, I left for a four-month semester abroad in Haifa, Israel. It did not occur to me then that spending time away from Conn would be an opportunity to grow in ways I had not imagined.
My high school did not have a football team, nor did it have cheerleaders. The closest thing we had to a pep rally was Blue and Gold Week, a celebration of school spirit and the seniors, who were six months away from graduation. Following winter break, my school had its version of homecoming where alumni would come back for an advice panel, snacks, and a basketball game. This January I will return to homecoming for the third time as an alumnus, and I am excited to share my college experience with students and parents who are about to embark on their own college journeys and post-high school careers.
Over Thanksgiving break, I spent some time at home and decided to binge-watch a Netflix series. With my busy schedule at school, watching television can be rather tricky. Since it was a holiday weekend, I decided to treat myself to a quiet night in with the “Gilmore Girls," a tv classic from the early 2000s . As I watched the show, I found myself drawn to the character Rory, played by Alexis Bledel. Rory sees the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the setting of the show, as her home. Even with her crazy schedule, she always finds herself returning to Stars Hollow, Connecticut. On that night in particular, I found myself in a position quite similar to Rory’s: I am in a period of transition. A place in Connecticut has also come to be my home and I am getting ready to leave this place in three weeks for my semester abroad in Israel.
I’m getting ready to go abroad. Just today (Friday, November 18), I applied for a visa to live and study in Israel for four months next semester. Following my trip to the Israeli Consulate, my mom and I ventured to Aroma, our favorite Israeli coffee chain in New York City and sipped on a cappuccino for her and an iced chai latte for me. When we sat down, my mom asked me about my plans for my summer internship and if I had thought about remaining in Israel over the summer. This is where I drew a blank, and told my mom, the news most parents struggle to hear, “I don’t have plans BUT... I do have a few ideas. Don’t worry, I’ve got the funding from Conn secured and will start gathering ideas over Thanksgiving.”
Taking a cue from a friend, well actually many friends, I decided to take Introduction to Improvisation this semester. The class is instructed by Visiting Professor of Dance Shura Baryshnikov from Brown University and, so far, it has been one of the most challenging dance classes I’ve taken in my time at Conn. It may well be the hardest because it has pushed me to think about my relationship with touch, but also the Earth.
This is a secret I’ve been hiding for an hour. I'm sitting in my room now, after watching David Dorfman Dance rehearse new material. It's super top secret, but I can reveal one thing: It’s awesome! Since declaring as a dance minor in March, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the dance studios and with the faculty, while I complete my department support. Today, I got to watch the company and take photos of them for their social media page. What I saw was art in the making, an unfinished piece.
When I start summer break, I will miss running up the stairs to the Dance Department. It feels like home and the wicker chairs in the office will not be the cushions for creative discussions of work in the company. I have found my support at Conn, and can’t wait to see what the rest of my department support will look like in the fall!
On April 19, the Connecticut College Hillel and Yalla Bina, the Arabic Language and Culture Club at the College, hosted the most delicious event on campus: The Jerusalem Food Tour. Because I recognize my own bias (I salivate if something is covered in tahini), I did not expect to see many people at the event. However, when I arrived at Cro, I was surprised. The room was like a falafel in pita—stuffed.
I came to college having taken one dance class at 4 years old. Since then, I have avoided dance classes—but when I came to Conn, a lightbulb went off! My first year seminar, Embodied Resistance, was rooted in dance and I have been officially hooked on dance classes since. My experience with that course motivated me to take four dance classes at Conn. Unlike previous semesters that were filled with modern and West African dance, this semester I am taking a hip-hop class. Hip-hop is not just a form of dance—it’s a culture.
Nina Flagg is loud, excited, passionate, expressive and has great taste in music. She is also a faculty member at Connecticut College, and I am excited to say that I had the opportunity to sit down with her for a one-on-one interview. Nina Flagg has inspired me, and I am excited to share our podcast with you!
Everyone in the Jewish faith has his or her way of ringing in the Sabbath. At Connecticut College Hillel, we try our best to accommodate everyone and their respective traditions. That said, on April 1, our Hillel group was invited to celebrate the Sabbath with President Bergeron. We dined, wined (using Kosher wine), sang, and ate so much that some of my friends and I joked about moving into the president’s house. Why is there no alternative housing option for such?
After completing a crazy busy week at Hillel, we craved the Sabbath dinner and its luxurious flavors. The salmon, sesame noodles, green beans and sweet potatoes were delicious, but did not compare to the cake that followed the meal.
Simon Luxemburg, president of Connecticut College Hillel said, “The purpose of the dinner was to celebrate Shabbat with community and delicious food.”