The Brainy Bunch
After persevering through a global pandemic, Conn’s graduating seniors are ready to make their mark on the world.T
hey arrived on campus full of promise and potential—with maybe a few first-day jitters—on a beautifully sunny August day in 2019. The newest Camels, the members of Class of 2023, had read the brochures, browsed the website, visited campus and attended open houses. They had heard all about the Connections curriculum, and had already been invited to the inaugural All-College Symposium that November. On that seasonably warm Arrival Day, they carried their bedding and posters and giant boxes of late-night snacks into their new rooms, eager to begin their four years at Conn.
They had no idea what was ahead. None of us did.
By March, they were back home, struggling to figure out Zoom in their high-school bedrooms. Some would return in the fall of their sophomore year to a campus with a very different feel than the one that welcomed them just one year before, with mandatory quarantines, universal masking and twice-a-week COVID testing. Some would complete their whole second year from afar.
And yet, they persevered, not only adjusting to a “new normal,” but finding ways to thrive. As the world opened back up, they approached opportunities with a heightened sense of gratitude and newfound grit. They joined Pathways and Centers; interned with Microsoft, Google, David Dorfman Dance and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center; and studied abroad in Brazil, Cameroon, Belgium and Japan. They conducted research with faculty on artificial intelligence and biodegradable 3D-printed reefs, and partnered with community organizations to address homelessness in New London and poverty in Peru. They debated in Arabic in Türkiye, played chess in Seattle and won an NCAA Championship in men’s soccer in North Carolina.
This past November, 240 members of the class presented at their own All-College Symposium, highlighting the connections they made among their courses and research, their jobs and internships, and their work in local communities and around the globe—as well as the questions that animated their choices along the way. With their resiliency and brilliance on full display, they shared all they had learned about racial and gender disparities in health care, cultural xenophilia in the context of war, the anthropological evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, bias in machine learning algorithms, the economics of food access, inequities in the American foster care system, the role of women in the IRA, the future of addiction recovery and COVID’s impact on plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
Since then, they’ve won Watson and Fulbright fellowships and Beinecke and Critical Language scholarships. They’ve been accepted to graduate programs at Harvard, Yale and Oxford, and will soon begin careers at Microsoft, Disney, Bank of America and the National Institutes of Health.
Despite the immense impact of the first global pandemic in nearly a century, these tenacious seniors are leaving Conn with the liberal education they came for and the skills they need to make their mark on the world, just as they have on our campus.
Life, as they’ve learned all too well, is full of twists and turns. They’re ready.
We’d introduce you to the whole class, but we don’t have quite enough pages in this magazine. So, please meet five of the indomitable seniors from the Connecticut College Class of 2023.