October 30, 2013
As a sophomore, I did not think I’d already have to be considering what my senior thesis might be.
However, when you are applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment (GNCE,) part of your application mandates a proposed thesis or senior project.
This means thinking about my future A LOT.
Thankfully I am a future-oriented person who knows what she wants to do with her life. But all of those ideas only existed in my head, and putting them down on paper with a plan for the next two and half years of college are solidifying them in a way that is a little intimidating.
On a optimistic note, you can’t say that college is not preparing students for the future, since through this process I have thought seriously about long-term goals, have had to prepare for interviews, reached out to superiors and learned how to craft a serious proposal. These are all skills you need to have in the world after college.
One of the great aspects of GNCE is that not all of the students in it are environmental majors. There are chemistry, anthropology, philosophy, even English majors, and all want to connect the environment to their major or interest.
Applying to the Goodwin-Niering Center is a great example of what most of what extracurriculars at Conn are like; a lot of hard work, but all in preparation for opportunities you would not have access to anywhere else.
October 29, 2013
Pictured is Wai Ying Zhao, a senior art major here at Connecticut College working late night on an installation piece for our construction and installation class. You can find students just like Wai Ying in Cummings Arts Center working on projects at all hours of the day. We make jokes about “living” in Cummings and having a bed installed somewhere for each of us because we actually spend more time in Cummings than we do in our own rooms... it’s like our second home. The great thing about Cummings is that the building is accessible to art students 24/7, meaning we can work as late as we’d like.
October 29, 2013
What role do designers play in social movements? I dashed from my cross-country meet to hear Lee Davis ’88 give an answer.
Davis majored in studio art and his passion for design has led him around the world and through various careers. He studied alongside design gurus in Switzerland and Japan through a Thomas J. Watson fellowship, worked as a graphic designer for CARE (a humanitarian organization which fights global poverty), co-founded NESsT (a business which stabilizes and grows social enterprises), and traveled to Eastern Europe to conduct projects related to NESsT.
Davis now works as a Fellow at Yale School of Management and as a scholar-in-residence in the Center for Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). At MICA, his students design for social causes such as the urban Real Food Farm of Baltimore, which improves residents’ access to healthy food and boosts Baltimore’s local economy.
He flashed us photos of their flashy work: a decorated vegetable truck that brings produce to the people, gorgeous graphic logos, top-notch t-shirts.
Evidently, design brings social causes into view; design sets them ablaze. If I learned anything else from Davis’s presentation, it’s the value of a versatile liberal arts degree to give its holders freedom to enter (and — as Davis has done — combine!) various fields. Before we left, he fed us more explicit design-related wisdom: “Increase the size of the Connecticut College diploma.” The diploma design must, after all, reflect the quality of the degree.
October 28, 2013
On Friday the 18th, on the cusp of Fall Weekend, I jumped in the car and drove to the train station to pick up Emma, one of my best friends from high school.
We had decided over the summer that she was going to come visit me over Fall Weekend at Conn, in part because I knew my family wasn’t going to come visit me, but also because I knew there would be plenty of stuff for us to do.
Plenty doesn’t even begin cover it.
On Friday night the festivities began with lively a cappella concerts from the seven groups on campus. These were followed by a jaw-dropping performance by America’s Got Talent finalists Fighting Gravity, a black-light dance troupe displaying (wait for it) gravity-defying illusions. A dance ended the night in the giant tent. I asked Emma if she had fun as we walked back to my dorm, and she replied with an enthusiastic “Of course! How could I not?”
On Saturday we took a tour of the campus, watched the soccer game, and explored Harvestfest, where all the clubs on campus set up tables in the giant tent to sell merchandise as a fundraising opportunity. After dinner at the dance, I introduced Emma to other friends from around campus and also took several priceless pictures in the photo booth.
Sunday, after walking back from a lazy start in Harris dining hall, I asked Emma about her impressions of Conn. As a student who lives in New York City, she was awed by the fact that even on our small campus we remained busy, how there was always something to do.
At the train station I hugged Emma good-bye and she told me to come visit her in NYC. She then said that she hoped to come back to Conn and visit again, maybe next semester. I said, “Yes! Totally!” but I’m not sure how I can top another visit as great as this one.
October 25, 2013
What do vaginas mean to you? It’s a simple question at first sight, if you’re just thinking on the surface. Vaginas are so much more than the surface, especially for me. I am an only child, and my mother was a single mother. There, I said it. I hope you feel the emotion I have towards vaginas through the computer screen, and what they mean. This year, Alia Roth ’14 is producing the Vagina Monologues. It is a show that happens annually at the college during the spring semester, this year on February 20-22.
To promote the show, Alia decided upon a video. She reached out to a group of us students via email. She asked if we wanted to participate in this video. She told us she was going to ask us each a question when we arrived to do the filming, and it was going to be a surprise. I immediately accepted. Never have I been so thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this type of project.
The day of recording came, and I told the camera-no, the world-what vaginas truly mean to me. After I was done I left Alia and John, the videographer in shock. They were amazed at what I had to say. Everything I said was true. We were emailed and told to prepare ourselves for the release. I was sitting in my room watching the video alone, and there was a smile from ear to ear on my face. I was happy.
The video was posted on major media websites and YouTube the following day. It has over 100,000 views at this very moment. The world and our campus really got to see what other students and I had to say. I have always been proud of the role my mother has played in my life. For being able to deal with me and be successful, but now I am also proud of Alia. I am proud of her for showing the world that there are men who really do understand that there is more than a face value to a vaginal treasure, which the world must learn to respect.
October 25, 2013
This year we had one of the biggest Fall Weekends that Connecticut College has ever seen, as we celebrated the completion of our $211 million Campaign for Connecticut College that President Higdon started publicly in October of 2008. The weekend started off with the bright blue illumination of the tent, complete with the College’s tree logo projected on it. The first event of the weekend was ONE.EPIC.NIGHT, which was a night filled with exciting performances by the a cappella groups, dancers, two very funny MC’s, a speed painter and Fighting Gravity. This was followed by food trucks of all sorts and a dance. Day two started with Harvestfest and brunch under the tent where clubs and organizations on campus got to sell all sorts of great stuff including t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, phone cases, raffle tickets and baked goods for the clubs to raise money. This was followed by an exciting soccer game against Bowdoin College on Harkness Green. The night culminated with a green-screen photo booth, performance by Bear Mountain and a dance under the tent.
October 25, 2013
I check my mailbox twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Usually, I'm most excited to receive a package, but receiving an invitation to a luncheon was even better. The invitation was from the Connecticut College Alumni of Color group and the Trustees of Color, for students of color to network with alumni of color. As a student, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to learn something about previous members of our campus community and how their experiences could positively influence mine.
Of the many things I learned from the alumni in attendance, one thing really stood out. Everyone tells you to get good grades while having a social life. This time, the entire Connecticut College experience was stressed. Taking advantage of every resource and being involved on campus really makes a difference. It is very easy to be the student who goes to class, does their homework and hangs out with a few friends on the weekend. To be the student who, at the end of the day, experiences the college, requires effort. Conn has so much to offer its students.
I was encouraged to find something I'm passionate about and stick with it. Doing everything on campus is one way to experience the college, but another is make your own unique path. Find what you enjoy and take it where no one has before. It's all possible, you just need to make it happen.
October 25, 2013
I recently worked on an essay for a theater class questioning what makes a strong liberal arts education. This really made me think about the history of the liberal arts and where we are today.
The liberal arts came from classical antiquity and was considered to be the education any informed and responsible citizen must have. In the fifth century, there were seven basic areas of study: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. These areas connected with each other and provided a student with advanced critical thinking skills as well as a broad understanding of society. Today, these values haven’t really changed although the topics covered have been renamed.
In 2013, what makes a strong liberal arts education? To me, it’s an education that challenges our preconceived notions and educates us as to the complexities of our world, all while pushing us into new social situations.
Not surprisingly then, I think a lot of what makes a strong liberal arts education can be boiled down to one word: stress. Your mind is stressed in class, your body is stressed in athletics, and your identity is stressed as you go through social situations. Having to study so many areas, many of which may not be your calling, is very stressful.
You should be pushed to your limits and you should be allowed to fall so that you learn to get back up; only then can a strong liberal arts education truly teach us how to navigate the complex world we live in today. This is the way engineers build bridges and rockets and the way scientists test theories.
After all, if there was ever a time to think about who you are, what you want and where you will go, such a time is in college. Not only are classes supposed to teach you life skills, but the simple act of being social in a college situation, especially one where there is such a diverse spread of ideas, helps define who you are.
October 23, 2013
On October 15, I was seated in Evans Hall waiting to hear from one of my favorite writers. As soon as someone mentioned in my English class, weeks earlier, that David Sedaris might be coming to Connecticut College, I immediately began getting fan-girl-excited and geeked out a little about his arrival.
What transpired in Evans Hall can only described as “hilarious.” David Sedaris opened with a never-before-read story about being an unpopular thirteen-year-old who would do anything to get out of gym class. Sedaris also read from his new book, "Let’s Talk About Diabetes With Owls," including an essay in which he describes the characters he meets while waiting in a standby line at the airport.
At the end of the night, I waited in line to get two books signed. (Students were still in line at 11 p.m., as Sedaris is notorious for waiting patiently until each person has been greeted.) This was one of the most amazing opportunities the College has given me.
October 23, 2013
I hated open house in high school. Mom always had to come with me to all the classes I really didn’t want her at, and it was super boring. All I can think of is disgusting stale cookies, and cold coffee. Things have changed… at Connecticut College’s open house this year, I was chosen by the admission office to give an opening address.
So I sat down and wrote my speech, corrected the grammar, and asked my best friend to read it a couple times before I sent it back to the admission office. After a short time, I got a very calm reply from them asking for me to come in and talk about my speech. I had a very eye-opening conversation: “It wasn’t me,” they said. I had written a story that was out of my character, and had a lack of my personal charisma. I wasn’t surprised. I had lied to myself. They asked me a couple questions about my experiences to pick at my brain, and I began to talk. I spoke of love, laughter, happiness, all my friends, and the tears began to flow. I had written my speech in real time.
I didn’t immediately write what was the second, revised edition of my speech. I waited a while for the emotions to cool, and I began again, this time alone. I didn't ask my best friend to read it for me, but instead I read it to her. I had to trust myself that what I had written was my voice.
All weekend, I read my speech over and over to myself to draw out my tears, and make sure I didn’t cry on that stage. The last thing I wanted was pity from the crowd of parents and prospective students with whom I wanted to connect in a much deeper way.
By Monday morning I was ready to speak. I was very nervous leading up to the moment of performance, but I know it didn’t show during the speech. To get myself through it I just imagined no one was in the crowd. I just wanted to get on that stage and tell my Conn Coll story. I’m not perfect. I’m no superstar. I learned a lot about myself, how I deal with my emotions, but most importantly, I learned that open house now means something else to me; even if the cookies aren't great.