This past month, one of the most driven members of our student body, Shameesha Pryor ’17, organized the second Black Women’s Conference hosted at Conn with the assistance of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Board. Although the first conference was held in 1969, the need for this event has not diminished, just as the injustices and double standards black women face daily certainly have not. It goes without saying that the Earth is fortunate to be graced with the melanin of black women, but this is also a group often pushed into archetypal roles not representative of their humanity and actual experiences. Instead, they are viewed as the angry, strong, or sassy black woman. This conference shattered those narrow perceptions and stereotypes of black womanhood, and provided a space for people to discuss the complexities that come with being a black woman in today's world.
The Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den has served as my home away from home since my very first day at Conn. Living in Harkness House, I have the luxury of being able to leave my room and be right at the entrance of the Walk-in, located on the first floor of my building. The Walk-in has been my lifeline. They serve (in my opinion) the best drinks on campus, and they have a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and snacks that are always there for me when I don't feel like walking to Harris Refectory, the largest dining hall on campus. The Walk-in is also one of my favorite places to study because the atmosphere reminds me of my favorite coffee shop at home, and they have the comfiest chairs on campus.
After receiving my acceptance to Conn, I was extremely excited and completely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that needed to be completed before Move-In Day. My biggest priority was to fill out the housing questionnaire about living preferences. It seemed like where I lived was a do-or-die situation. I thought there could definitely be some wrong answers, but I also did not know which ones those would be. Now I understand that there is a place for everyone on campus, and each building/location has specific benefits.
There are moments when I look back with amazement at the many performances and lectures I have been to in my short time at Conn. Recently, I saw three powerful performances on campus all in one week: on Monday the Ammerman Center sponsored a visit by famed performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña. On Friday, I saw the theater department’s production of Mark Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock,” and on Saturday I went to the Women’s Empowerment Initiative performance of their 2017 show “She is a Tempest.” These three performances dealt with difficult themes, such as dividedness, inequality and oppression, and inspiring ones, such as effecting change, empowerment and living life to the fullest.
Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.
I was asked to purchase six books for a single class my first semester at Connecticut College. Being overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of assignments in my first week of classes, I decided to purchase the books for that class one-by-one. A couple of weeks later, I walked into the bookstore and discovered that the lovely piles of books had transformed into empty shelves featuring a couple of incredibly tattered, used copies and many order forms. I’m always a little averse to used books because I want my books to look nice; I don’t like having books that have been marked by other people or treated roughly. I chose to buy new copies of most of my books for that class online, which only cost a few extra dollars, something I could afford.
“You must be the change you wish to see.” – M. K. Ghandi
I live my life by this quote because it challenges me to take action to make the world a better place. Its philosophy is also a driving force behind Green Dot training here on campus, which I recently completed. Green Dot is a national organization that works to prevent power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking, in communities throughout the country. I’m glad that Connecticut College has a robust Green Dot chapter, with about a quarter of students who have undergone training. My friends who completed the training encouraged me to do it for months, so when I got an email about a session that worked with my schedule, I signed up for it.
Before I arrived at Connecticut College, I had never really been interested in hearing the sound of my own singing voice, perhaps because my older sisters never hesitated to tell me it was similar to a cat in heat. Even so, I decided to audition for an a cappella group last year, just for fun. I must say that I was EXTREMELY surprised when I was accepted into the amazing group that is Vox Cameli. I didn’t realize that a cappella is sort of a hot commodity on the East Coast, with groups frequently being the entertainment at Conn’s events. While I’m quite confident that only one-third of the notes I sing are ever right, that hasn’t stopped me from getting on a stage yet, and our performance for Green Dot Week was no exception.
My Sundays start like every other Conn student’s, with moving sweaty clothes from a large blue bin to a slightly smaller washing machine—only they’re not my clothes. How did I get myself into doing other people's laundry? The summer before my first semester at Conn I knew I was going to be involved in the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students who receive financial aid get jobs on campus to further reduce the cost of being a college student. I emailed Kelsey Lengyel-Jacovich, the manager of the Athletic Center, and asked her about available jobs for the upcoming semester. There were multiple jobs open so I decided to take on three different positions: ID checker, equipment room staff, and game crew. In my three roles, I work at the front desk greeting people and checking them in. I wash practice and gameday clothes for in-season athletes, and I assist with setup and other miscellaneous tasks to keep the games running smoothly.