The Experience, Calli Reynolds '17
Calli Reynolds ‘17 is new to campus but is already involved in several student-run organizations, including La Unidad and QPOC. In addition, she attends a variety of campus events pertaining to diversity, school spirit and current events. Calli intends to major in environmental studies and potentially double minor in Italian and gender and women's studies. Calli also loves marine biology and enjoys teaching the general public, especially children, what they can do to improve the environment.
September 10, 2014
A few weeks ago, as I headed out the door to college for the second time, a few things ran through my mind. "OMG, I'm a sophomore … can time stop moving so quickly?!" I probably had that thought a few times, actually. It is scary when you realize how quickly time passes and how fast your four years go. After I came to peace with the notion that time stops for no one, I thought of all the positive things this year would have in store for me.
Your first year is a time to explore (and learn … but you are always learning). You go to almost every club meeting on campus at least once and you can try activities and courses just to see if you like them. By your second year, you find a few projects that interest you and you are able to hone your passions. It is an amazing feeling to come back to campus and know what you are excited for.
I arrived back to campus feeling just exuberant. I was ready to be a Student Adviser, to be a more active member of the clubs I really connected with my first year, and, especially, to be on the executive board of the largest student-produced performance on campus. I'm now a student leader, an active learner and an engaged member of the student body. Now, I attend lectures and go to the events hosted by the Student Activities Council with excitement. These activities, I’ve realized, keep me busier than ever.
The first few hours on campus reminded me of what I missed over the summer. The year is only just beginning and I can't wait to see what sophomore year will bring.
August 27, 2014
“Once a Camel, always a Camel.” The return to Camel Land, as we lovingly call campus, is always anxiously awaited. This year, I moved in early because I completed a week of training to prepare me to be a student leader on campus. While there are several ways to be a student leader on campus, I chose to be a Student Adviser, an important part of Orientation.
Being a Student Adviser entails working closely with a handful of first-year students to help them acclimate to campus, both during Orientation and in the days and weeks that follow. I went through a week of training to be sure that I would best be able to help our newest Camels.
Preparing for Orientation is just as much fun than the actual events. Watching and participating in all of the hard work that goes into Orientation was incredible: There’s the beautiful summer weather, productive meetings in which everyone is working toward a common goal, and good friends who make an early return to campus exciting. All student leaders who were back on campus early had a chance to bond as we all excitedly awaited the arrival of the first-year students. We discussed Orientation events over dinner and spent our free time enjoying the sun. As a student leader, you really get to know the campus in ways that you might not otherwise.
Returning to campus and helping new students get adjusted was a great way to end the summer. I was able to move in early, get settled and then give back to new students, answering their questions and helping them get around campus. I gave them the same royal treatment that I was given a year ago when I arrived on campus for the first time.
May 12, 2014
When I came to Conn, I didn’t know what to expect at Relay for Life. Here, it’s an event spearheaded by students, but open to faculty, staff and the New London community. In fact, many of the walkers are teams from New London.
I have participated in Relay for Life for the past three years and, although I was away at college for the first time, I continued walking with the same mission. I walked for my grandpa, my friend’s mom, for those I don’t know personally, for those who survived and for those who did not.
It's more than just walking; our Relay has dance workshops and live music to keep people upbeat and energized and snacks to keep us fed. My favorite concessions included Chipotle and Girl Scout Cookies. The local food trucks also made appearances.
To see so many people walking was wonderful. This was my first Relay experience at Conn and I really enjoyed it. I'll be back at it next year, too.
May 7, 2014
Eclipse is one of the longest-running student-produced events at Connecticut College. For over 40 years, students have been coming together to showcase their talents as a means of raising cultural awareness. This year, Eclipse returned to its roots by taking place over the course of an entire weekend. As a new student on campus, being a part of something so historic was empowering and felt quite amazing. I have quickly found myself helping to pull off a spectacular weekend.
Thursday: the cast dinner
On the Thursday leading up to the big weekend, the entire Eclipse cast took over Harris, our main dining hall. The tables in the dining hall were covered with information and music filled the room and set an upbeat mood. Yes, there was even a flash mob which was surely my favorite part of the dinner. I was tasked with controlling the music. When you have a full dining hall and you are the one who cuts the music playing to change the song, everyone notices you. They also notice when you fall off of your chair trying to find the right track. As an Eclipse member, I certainly felt ready for what the weekend had in store.
Friday: the fashion show
For the first time in many years, a fashion show was reintroduced to the Eclipse program. Although 120 seats were set up, almost 200 people attended. They cheered for the models who -- let me tell you -- looked better than the models from New York Fashion Week. Clothes were made, donated and borrowed for this show and all of the collections were flawless. The fashion show also included the Kporma Collection, a cause that works to better educational options in rural Liberia. From our one event, Kporma representatives raised enough money to start building schools.
April 29, 2014
Sometimes it is easy to forget what life was like before college. Once you're acclimated to college life and get a schedule going, the past is a distant memory.
The past few weeks have been full of tours and overnight visits for both accepted and prospective students. Having spent this spring hosting some of these overnight visitors, I’ve been reminded of what life felt like for me just a few years ago, as senior in high school. I remember the stress of high school report cards and college applications like it was yesterday.
With all these flashbacks come memories of the many people who helped me along the way. Friends who were already in college gave me advice about ways to improve my essays and relax for interviews. My college counselor, teachers and family members made sure I handed everything in on time and wrote my recommendations.
To be honest, after it all ends, you forget about the stress you felt. You only remember the excitement and relief of it all. You remember how happy you were to finally be done with the essays, tests, and applications. You remember senior spring because you were finally free and just waiting for responses.
The most important memory from last year is the day I chose to attend Conn. In that moment, all my hard work had finally paid off.
These past few weeks have been a very nostalgic time. While I wouldn't choose to do the process over, it certainly feels good to remember those days. To the Class of 2018 who will be on campus next year, congratulations!
April 9, 2014
This past weekend, Student Activities Council organized a free trip to New York City. At 8 a.m., sleepy Camels made their way to Cro to take a bus to the city. It was a day filled with lots of walking, lots of food and like any good visit, an unexpected pillow fight in Washington Square Park.
I went on this trip with three friends. One is from New York, as am I, and the other two are from Boston. We wanted to give our Boston friends a general idea of what the Big Apple is like, so we tried to go to all the tourist spots, including Times Square and Soho. When you live near the city, you often forget how amazing it is, especially for someone who has never have visited.
Of course, the city is full of surprises and we stumbled into a massive pillow fight in Washington Square Park. It looked like everyone in the city had come outdoors to join in.
Trips like this are not uncommon for Camels. The Student Activities Council and the art history department often offer free or cheap busses to New York, Providence and Boston. It was a nice change of pace to be able to experience a dose of city life with my fellow New London Camels.
March 21, 2014
Orientation isn't just for Conn’s newest students. A big part of what makes that week in August, the week before classes, so much fun is how students from all class years come together to help the newest Camels get to know campus. Student advisers are among the many student groups that return to campus early and help make the transition easy. Since I had a really good experience with my own student adviser earlier this year, I applied to become one for the Class of 2018.
When I found out that I was offered the position, I was thrilled. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ll play a part in a week so many students look forward to. I’m getting more and more excited for summer now, knowing that I’ll be back on campus earlier in August. I’ll be there to help the new Camels with orientation activities, picking their first classes, and getting to know campus. Welcome, 2018!
March 4, 2014
Sometimes we forget how much of our studies in the classroom relate to what’s happening on campus or in the world around us. My English class, for instance, has been analyzing different themes in Homer’s The Odyssey. We have discussed the role of violence in the text; whether or not Odysseus, the main character, is truly a hero in our modern sense of the word; and how Homer often creates stories within the epic work. Coincidentally, it seems, at the same time we’ve been reading The Odyssey, there have been several lectures on campus that relate to the exact themes and ideas we have been researching. Our professor suggested that we go to the lectures to see how what we learn in class applies to the world.
This past week, there were at least three lectures that correlated to our class. These lectures included topics like poetry interpretation, Ancient Greek education and violence in the Roman Arena. Having so many ways to explore what we have learned in the classroom encourages more active learning. We can experience the very things we have been discussing. It's always really cool when a lecture relates to my coursework. It allows us as students to see the application of that which we have learned.
February 28, 2014
In high school, it can be very easy to tell your peers apart by their various ages. In college, I have realized, even if you know the ages of your peers, it is very easy to forget.
College life isn't determined by class year. Students of all years will be in your 9 a.m. class or in your 4:30 p.m. practice, and often, they become close friends.
Rarely do you realize the person from your science class who you eat lunch with might actually be two class years above you. The person who agreed with your point during that club meeting is actually a senior, but you both share similar interests and experiences.
The beautiful thing about college is that the friends you make are not dependent on your age. You share moments, develop bonds, and create friendships based on similarities. Friendships originate from a shared love of animal rights or a good lab experience. College let's you explore your interests, and it brings you near the people who want to explore, too.
February 18, 2014
Think about a few of your favorite things to do when it is cold outside. Did staying inside make the list? There will always be reasons why we must trek out into the cold: class, meetings, activities, etc. For the ever so lucky ‘Plex-dwellers,’ meals don't have to be one.
The Plex (officially the “North Complex,” but no one calls it that... ever) consists of six dorms, connected by a dining hall (Harris Refectory) in the center. There are other dining halls around campus, but Harris is the largest. During the winter, it becomes my favorite place on campus. Having a dining hall connected to your dorm means breakfast in pajamas and slippers. It is always easy to tell who lives in the plex when you go to Harris. If it's winter, usually someone in shorts is a nice hint. The other students come in from the cold with boots and gloves.
The occasional snow day can be exciting because you can easily hangout with friends without braving the cold and the mounds of snow. Movie days and the occasional snowball fight become a norm in the dead of winter.
Every part of campus has a special perk or fun aspect, but I must say, the Plex life is the best life.
February 3, 2014
Do you remember in high school when you were finally old enough to understand what made the "big kids" so cool? Those secret after-school festivities and late-night parties…
Every spring, the annual student-directed, all-inclusive dance show, Eclipse, takes place at Conn. It is one of the highest attended dance events, and it showcases underrepresented art forms, specifically African American and Latino art. This year the theme is “Basement Party,” drawing from high school memories of those “big kids” and the music they listened to.
After my first rehearsal, I am more excited than ever to be a part of this annual production. My group is dancing to Katy Perry's Dark Horse, 23 by Mike Will Made It and Flawless by Beyonce, among other songs. Working with such an energetic group of Camels to produce something amazing has proven to be fun, but also challenging. Sometimes an hour and a half in the studio doesn't seem long enough. Once everyone starts dancing, you can't help but want to continue. I can already imagine the greatness to come, and I am thrilled to be a part of this tradition.
The 38th annual Eclipse takes place April 26 at 7 p.m.
December 25, 2013
I'm a planner. I schedule everything I can think of and I try to plan so far ahead that, besides an occasional monthly update, I only change my calendar for last minute events.
What am I majoring in, you ask? Well, I plan to major in environmental studies with a focus on water (because I would like to be a marine biologist) and minor in Italian Studies. Still, I realize it can change at a moment’s notice. Most first year students like myself aren’t ready to make these sorts of decisions just yet.
People often ask me how I have it all planned out so soon. For me, it’s feels right to plan my academic schedule and declare as a first year, even though the declaration isn’t required until second semester of sophomore year. I love knowing where I would like my path to lead and how to reach my goals. It makes the obstacles along the way that much more manageable.
December 18, 2013
I’ve read the Hunger Games series religiously and when my friends and I heard that Conn was sponsoring a trip to see the latest movie, Catching Fire, I do remember squealing loudly. We had already planned to buy tickets to the premiere, but going with Conn made it easier.
Seeing the movie through the College’s trip was really helpful. For starters, it made our tickets cheaper and guaranteed us entry. It is usually my luck that premiere tickets are sold out when I go to buy them… even in advance. Then, transportation was included to and from the theater, making our movie viewing experience tress free. I really didn't think I could be much happier about this endeavor until we showed up at Cro to board the bus for the theater.
As I got on the bus, I discovered several other friends were also signed up to see this movie, in addition to the friends I had purchased tickets with. For movies, a big group is always more fun. In my mind, this outing was going to be rated 7 out of 10 in terms of fun anyway, but between the Conn transportation, cheap tickets and additional friends, the rating scale just broke. It was incredibly fun!
December 9, 2013
Thanksgiving break is probably one of the most anticipated breaks of the academic year. While everyone's break is different, I'm sure we can all agree that it is still too short.
Before my train even pulled in to the station on my ride home, I had received more than 5 different text messages from friends asking me when I'd be arriving and when I’d be around for a meal or to catch up. These texts served as a pleasant reminder that I was "officially" home... and that my presence was missed. After squeezing in as many catch-up sessions as possible, Turkey-Day awaited. There is no better smell than that of dinner in the early afternoon.
On Thanksgiving, a blissful sleep ensues after dinner. No one in my house wakes up early to go to a hectic shopping center, instead we all sleep for as long as we wish. The sleep is fueled by satisfaction, drawn equally from the previous meal and from the friends I've reconnected with. Uninterrupted and stress-free is the best way to sleep.
December 2, 2013
Ever notice that you're never really "normal" when hanging out with friends? Your inside jokes and secret ways of communicating set you apart. People might give you confused looks if you all randomly burst into laughter when nothing really happened. I'd like to call this “comfortable strangeness.” Once you reach this with a group of people, you'll find that it is difficult to be anything but a little weird.
I always eat late breakfast/early lunch in Smith with two classmates — very close friends — before my 11:50 class. We share a comfortable strangeness over sandwiches and bagels. We recently sat with a friend we don't often see and shared the same realization; we were struggling to be normal. It actually made lunch even more hilariously awkward. Our friend departed before we did and we laughed about how we never realized how strange we were. It wasn't until we were around other people that we felt the need to tone down our overly-excited interactions. It's a nice connection to have with friends; this comfortable strangeness.
November 22, 2013
I have always wanted to study abroad in Australia. I imagined studying marine biology in the Great Barrier Reef while exploring the coasts. I'm a planner: I like things to be scheduled far in advance with few variations in the plan. Let's just say things are always subject to change.
I intend to be an environmental studies major and an Italian minor. I recently went to an event where several students presented about their study abroad experiences in Italy. Everything from the food to the scenery made me want to be there. As the students discussed what they enjoyed from the country's rich culture, I began to rethink my plans. What if I did a summer abroad in Italy? There is so much to learn about the country’s history and culture.
These presentations piqued my interests so much that I may change when and where I would like to study abroad. While this sudden desire for change surprised me, I can't say that it is unexpected: College is all about exploring. Why not change your mind a few times? Who knows where you might end up.
November 19, 2013
Course selection is one time where everyone on campus has the same problem. One could say that the severity of this issue varies by year and that first year students have it the worst. Since you don't have to declare your major until the spring semester of your sophomore year, the early semesters are perfect for exploration. There are tons of classes to choose from, and your studies aren’t necessarily refined yet. The possibilities are endless and, well, that can be very overwhelming. Picking courses makes me feel like a little kid exploring a new playground, you just don't know what to try first or in what order.
The good thing about being a first year student with many options comes in when it’s time to register. Since our class select their classes last, there's a chance that the class you want to take will be full. After you spend about 30 seconds being sad that you didn't get into one class, you can be excited because now you can take the other class that seemed really interesting but didn't fit into the schedule.
Course selection is so stressful. So many classes, and only 4 of them can win. It's like the Hunger Games but with more victors. Every time I think I'm ready for registration, friends keep telling me about yet another interesting class I might like. Looks like I might need to rearrange my schedule again...
November 12, 2013
In the context of human development, a few questions arise. What impact did his/her culture have? How did this affect his/her experiences? These are a few topics that are often discussed in my first-year seminar. We analyze cultures and how people develop as a result of them. To create a more enriching lesson, our professor assigned an oral history project: each student was to cover a different region in the world, and, essentially, capture an immigrant experience. With people from all over the world coming to the United States everyday, learning about their now-bicultural experience would add a new layer to our analysis.
I interviewed a student who I now consider to be a close friend. The act of interviewing led me to a lot of self-reflection. As she told me about her family's journey from Colombia, I saw a different side of her. There was so much pride in her tone, in her story. I was able to learn about her perspective as someone who grew up in two different cultures. After the interview, I started to analyze my own family's history. Where was my deeply rooted pride? Why didn't I have the same bicultural perspective and sense of understanding?
College is where many people say that they discover a lot about themselves. They become more interested in the history behind who they are. They wonder more about what this history means to them and how it has impacted who they have become. These questions we are asked in class are the same questions we ask ourselves throughout our lives. We find the things that make us happy, the things we really enjoy doing, but only after we have found many things we don't like. Every new experience becomes a way to explore and figure out more of where we would like to go in life. If people say they do a lot of this soul searching and finding in college, then I have one question: At the end of all of this, what will I say was my college experience?
November 7, 2013
At Conn, every new first-year student enrolls in a first-year seminar. I am taking a very interesting course on culture and human development, but I find myself doing the work of two classes.
My best friend is in a seminar about feminism and, although I’m not enrolled, I love it. I do the homework for my class and then, for fun, I do the homework for her course. I get the experience of two different seminars just by doing the readings and analyzing them with the assigned questions. How did this all start, you ask? Let me explain...
After doing her own homework one day, my friend asked me my thoughts on something she and classmates had read. She and I ended up having a very long discussion about feminism and how it relates to us on a personal level. This made me even more curious and I began to read the books she was assigned for class. Now, I think I might be more excited about her coursework than she is. My interest in this class even led me to attend a lecture and performance by Sabrina Chap, an author being studied by the class. Anyone who has read Chap’s “Live Through This” can attest to how amazing the compilation of stories about self-destruction is.
Call it a little weird, but I consider myself to be in two first-year seminars … and it is awesome.
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 10, 2013
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Unity House hosted a dinner discussion about how gender roles and stereotypes present themselves in the Latino culture. This dinner was one of many events to honor Latino Heritage Month, and as an attendee I was pretty excited to learn more about this culture that I knew very little about. The discussion started off by addressing intersectionalities of identity and how gender, race and socioeconomic status play an important part in how we, as Americans, view Latinos/Latinas.
America is a country rooted in binaries (black vs. white, rich vs. poor, able-bodied vs. disabled), which doesn't leave much room for those who do not easily fit a binary. Those who fit in multiple groups may experience identity in a more complex way. For example, when someone assumes that those with Latino/Latina heritage aren't educated because America is exceptional and Latin America is "backwards" in the context of a nation (the U.S.) where many women are intellectually oppressed, how does this affect women from Latin America?
Issues of class complicate this even more. The issue of an assumed lower socioeconomic status comes into play in a culture that prides itself on wealth. How do you address gender issues without discussing race and class issues? What becomes more relevant, culture or color? Does sexism/racism become a driving force for interactions and experiences?
I don't quite know what I was expecting when I engaged in this deep and powerful discussion, but as ideas were exchanged and opinions were shared, a student felt comfortable enough to share a story about how her culture impacted her experience in a classroom. This student shared a time when she felt a classroom was not a safe space, and we all felt like we were a part of her experience. Touching on stereotypes, oppression and gender inequalities, we all agreed that an injustice had been committed. After sharing possible solutions, the groundwork was placed for a student movement to create safer spaces on campus.
To me, this is one of the most beautiful things about Conn: The fact that we could all come together in support of one another's feelings and experiences to improve our community, shows our strength and compassion. A student protest was held several days later outside of Olin to commemorate a new movement. While I couldn't attend the protest, a fascinating discussion turned into something that the whole campus could learn from. Once Camels get going, there is no stopping them.