On a seasonably hot mid-July day in Conn’s Blaustein 213, members of the Venture Incubator Summer@Conn program listened intently as they learned about Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economic Theory. Meanwhile, less than 100 yards away, high school students participating in the Dance Intensive program were moving their way through a remix of Britney Spears’ seminal classic “Toxic,” led by Conn’s company-in-residence David Dorfman Dance.
The students, rising 9th-12th graders hailing from as far away as Richards, California, were the first to participate in Conn’s inaugural Summer@Conn pre-college programs. The immersive two-week residential programs allow high school students to explore their passions, collaborate with experienced faculty and current Conn students, and live and learn on campus to get an early feel for the residential liberal arts college experience.
Zach Zaurov, who participated in Global Focus, a third Summer@Conn program offered later in July, said he relished the opportunity to spend a few weeks with like-minded students interested in learning about the relationship between pressing global issues and the role of diplomacy.
“I go to school with lots of smart people, but we’re not always interested in the same thing or want to be studying what we’re studying. Here, everyone is so smart, and we all are really interested in talking about and learning about all of this,” he said.
Director of Summer Programs Ashlyn Healey ’20 said one of her goals when developing Summer@Conn was to make sure that pre-college students would walk away from Conn with the same sense of awe and gratitude for the community that she did when she graduated.
“The feedback from participants and parents, and, more importantly, the smiles, laughs and friendships shared and formed among participants prove to me that we absolutely provided participants with the true pre-Connecticut College experience.”
When they weren’t in the classroom or in the studio, the participants enjoyed recreational activities including tennis, swimming, bowling and kayaking on the Thames River (right from the boat launch on Conn’s campus), as well as summer camp staples like scavenger hunts, karaoke, water balloon fights, arts and crafts, and, of course, s’mores by the campfire. They also participated in a variety of skill-building workshops focused on college essay writing, interview preparation and networking, and learned more about the college admission process from the pros.
“We are sharing Conn’s specialness with a whole new population,” Healey said.