Isa Amaro Varas ’23 awarded distinguished Watson Fellowship
Just a few weeks after Conn’s seniors presented the results of four years of exploration through Connections at the annual All-College Symposium, 68% of the sophomore class signed up to follow in their footsteps.
More than 300 members of the Class of 2023 enrolled in 11 Integrative Pathways and four Centers for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, representing a 15% increase over the previous two classes.
“This significant leap in Pathway and Center enrollment is a testament to the excitement generated by our Connections curriculum and its commitment to integrative education,” said Dean of the College Jefferson Singer. “Building on the impressive and pioneering classes before them, these students will take on some of the most challenging questions in contemporary society through interdisciplinary study, off-campus learning, research, internships and professional development. They will engage in passionate and thoughtful inquiry, supported by faculty, staff and a community of peers.”
The Integrative Pathways and Centers are the cornerstone of Connections, Conn’s reinvention of the liberal arts. They allow students to explore issues they are passionate about by combining their academic major with a set of courses and experiences organized around a central theme. The experience culminates in the senior year with the annual All-College Symposium, where students present the results of their integrative studies with the larger campus community through talks, poster sessions, performances, screenings and exhibitions.
The Class of 2023 will be the fourth cohort to complete Connections, which was launched in 2016 with the Class of 2020. While 38% of the inaugural class enrolled in Pathways or Centers, that number rose to 53% with the Classes of 2021 and 2022, and now stands at nearly 70%.
That’s not surprising, Singer says, since more than 90% of all incoming students in the last three years cited Connections as one of the main reasons they chose to enroll at Conn.
Admirabilis Kalolella ’23, a biochemistry major who hopes to one day develop new medicines to treat the diseases that impact his home country of Tanzania, is one of those students.
“Connections appealed to me because of the diverse topics I could study that would prepare me for my career and allow me to make a difference in my community,” he said.
Midway through his sophomore year, Kalolella, now enrolled in the Toor Cummings Center for International Study and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), has completed a first-year seminar on robotics that sparked a new interest in computer science, worked as a Civic Engagement Fellow to educate clients at New London’s Homeless Hospitality Center on COVID-19 prevention, and made connections between the mechanisms of power that reproduce inequality in different settings around the world and inequitable drug development and access.
“Africa is burdened with so many diseases, many of which don’t get much attention from the drug discovery industry because they don’t impact many people outside of Africa. And when there are drugs, the people who need them often can’t afford them,” he said.
Now, Kalolella is exploring opportunities for internships at drug discovery and development companies, and is looking forward to conducting research with Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry Marc Zimmer and embarking on his CISLA journey.
“Connections allows you to fully develop as an individual, and I want to take advantage of every opportunity I can at Conn so that I can go out into the world and make people’s lives better,” he said.