Flipping Trajectories

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Two pieces of paper. One declaring a major. The other declaring a minor.
I've declared a major and minor!

When I was 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At the age of 8, I declared to my mother that I would be as famous as Demi Lovato, disregarding the fact that I could not sing to save my life. As my career aspirations went from astronaut to black hole specialist to journalist, I entered high school and got into the sciences. If someone looked at my high school transcript, they would assume that I was headed toward a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. They would be correct. In high school, I took advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. I wanted to be a materials scientist. Back then, nothing excited me more than spending hours in a chemistry laboratory seeing what obscure material could oxidize lead.

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Students sleeping/lounging on sofas or the floor
The cast during the beginning of each rehearsal I called “chill out” where they would enter the world of the play through song.

After getting back to campus from winter break, there was one major thing on my to-do list: hold auditions. The thought of auditions didn’t stir up any anxiety, but the thought of having to select a cast from a group of amazingly talented students did. For about three hours, my team and I scribbled notes on random pieces of paper as students traipsed in and out of the room with their monologues. Halfway through the evening, I got the same feeling I get during a class when I’m the only student not taking notes. I realized I was writing without a clue about what I was supposed to be writing down. I was just scribbling because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?

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Bad Day Turned Great

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

View of Horizon House from a dorm room in JA
The view from my dorm room, where I woke up in a panic.

I woke up one Thursday and almost screamed when I saw the time on my alarm clock. It was 11:45 a.m., and I had class at 11:50 a.m.

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On My Way to My Senior Recital

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Handwritten notes on paper
My handwritten notes from my meeting with Professor Elmer

This semester has been busy and challenging for me. I’m preparing a senior recital for the Department of Music to be presented Sunday, April 14, and I’m planning to perform my Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Senior Integrative Project as part of that recital. This decision has set a major deadline for when the majority of the projects I’m working on for senior year need to be ready to be presented. While it's daunting to realize that I’ll soon be on the stage of Evans Hall performing an hour of clarinet music and my finished project for the Ammerman Center, I’ve realized as the recital nears that preparation comes in baby steps.

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Teaching Bengali

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Red, purple, and blue poster with info on Samirah's Bengali course
I put up posters around campus to promote my class

Growing up bilingual, I don’t remember learning to speak either English or Bengali. I don’t know if I learned the alphabet first or how I knew to tell the difference between the words for a lamp and a lightbulb or how the two languages differed phonetically from one another. I don’t know how I learned and I could surely not advise someone trying to acquire a new language.

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Did Someone Say Four Day Weekend?!

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Every college student dreams of having a four-day weekend. In fact, most students try to plan out their schedules to avoid classes on Friday, just for that extra day. Speaking from experience, this can be harder than you’d think! I have never been one to care much about my schedule, as long as no classes overlap and I’m taking classes I enjoy. A few months ago, I sat down to plan this semester's classes with my adviser, professor Jillian Marshall. I selected all of my classes and then drew out my schedule on paper to help visualize my week. Professor Marshall read aloud the days and times each of my classes met while I color-coded my schedule, and that’s when we realized I had somehow managed to have no classes scheduled for Monday or Friday. I quickly looked back to check that I had written in all four courses, thinking perhaps I’d missed one. Nope, that was it! I was pleased with my choices and already looking forward to these continuous long weekends!

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

The graphic for the show features an eye with a keyhole in the middle surveying three figures in silhouette
The graphic for the show, designed by my friend Halley McArn (Brown University ’19)

This is the first of a collection of posts about my first time directing a play. I’ll take you through the pre-production process, rehearsals, and opening night.

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American (and Australian) Screenwriting

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

A picture of a cathedral-like building at the University of Sydney
The beautiful University of Sydney

When I first came to Conn, I thought I was going to double major in theater and psychology. I love acting, wanted to understand how people worked to better inform my characters, and most of all wanted to bring those two passions together.

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The Touring Clarinetist of Southern New England

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor poses for a photo with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.
Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.

I’m afforded plenty of opportunities to hear my clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, perform at Connecticut College. Most recently, she played in two pieces in the music department’s February faculty recital, including Mozart’s well-known “Kegelstatt” Trio, and last December she was a featured soloist with the orchestra’s string section during our fall concert.

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One Step to Trinity Rep

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

A.T. and the class pose with Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep
We posed with Nina Papathanasopoulou's class and Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep

Many of our staff and faculty members live close to school, so anytime I’m off campus, I think about the possibility of running into a professor or other employee. It isn’t a bad occurrence, but it’s somewhat cringey to think about what to say to a professor outside of the classroom or context of a class. Even if it’s someone you admire or are very familiar with, there’s always a moment of silence where neither the student nor the adult knows quite what to say. However, this isn’t always the case. I saw a professor outside of the classroom and instead of it being awkward, it was invigorating. I saw him on a stage, in a costume, transformed into one of the most well-known gods of Greek literature: Zeus. Kinda cool, right?

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The Last Semester

- The Experience, David Johnston '19

A copy of David's major declaration slip
When I declared my majors in the fall of my sophomore year

To register for classes at Connecticut College, we have to meet with our adviser and discuss our ideas for what we want to take for the next semester. I meet with two advisers because I am a double major in American studies and English. This fall when I met with my advisers, Professor Catherine Stock for American Studies and Professor Michelle Neely for English, it started off as a regular meeting. We discussed what was going on in my life and academics during the past semester. We looked at my Degree Works page, the webpage that shows what requirements you have completed for your major and your graduation requirements. To see the page with almost all of my requirements completed was liberating. I had been taking classes in my majors of study pretty much exclusively since my sophomore year. During my first year, I took classes to discover what I was interested in and to complete my general education requirements. To see that I was done with my general education requirements and my American Studies major was a strange feeling. This thing that I had been working on for so long was finished. I did still have a few more requirements to fulfill for my English major but aside from that, I was free to take something else that interested me, a feeling that excited me.

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Playing with the Best

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

A view of the orchestra playing on stage at Conn.
The orchestra playing a dramatic passage at last fall’s concert.

The end of the semester is always a busy time for me, and, as I’ve previously written, one of the highlights of this period are the various music department end-of-semester concerts and recitals that I participate in. No matter how intense it gets, the end of semester orchestra concert is still a great highlight and culmination of my hard work. This past semester’s performance was particularly special for me as it presented an impromptu opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the country—three members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Band’s trombone section led by Sean Nelson, who is the music department’s trombone professor, in addition to Connecticut College’s own Gary Buttery on tuba, who served as the Band’s principal tubist from 1976-1998. The group constituted our orchestra’s low brass section for our performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony.

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Passing the Torch

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Saadya and Jack stand next to each other and pose for a photo together
Me with my former student advisor Jack Beal ‘18 who came to the fall orchestra concert to play with us.

As a sophomore, I applied and was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus that provide resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. Learn more about my journey as an Ammerman Scholar.

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So, what does a dramaturg do?

- The Experience, David Johnston '19

A dramaturg is someone who reads plays and musicals and does an analysis of the texts to help convey messages and historical context to the cast as well as the audience. In November, I worked as the dramaturg for “Life Is a Dream,” the theater department show at Conn. I came on board in September. Most of the work I did early on was independent research, but I went to some early rehearsals when I was able to go. The show was written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca in 1635, the Spanish Golden Age. My initial research about the time period uncovered themes that were also present in the production–the basic themes of which involve religious ideals, honor and the role of women.

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Surviving my Ammerman Center Midterm

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Saadya explaining his project using the Visualization Wall in Shain Library
Delivering my midterm presentation at the Shain Visualization Wall. Photo by Assistant Professor of Dance Shawn Hove.

As a sophomore, I applied and was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, one of the five academic centers on campus that provides resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. This year I’m working on my Senior Integrative Project (SIP). SIPs are year-long independent studies for seniors in the College’s four center-certificate programs that culminates in a final performance or installation from each senior in the spring. My project is to develop a piece of classical music where audience members get to participate. Learn more about my journey as an Ammerman Scholar.

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Pressing Pause

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

A photo of the Connecticut College track at sunset
Getting a quick run in before sunset!

Even when you don’t have an important exam, it’s still important to reset your brain and take a break. This has been something I’ve been good at for the most part, but this year, with my schedule much heavier, it’s something I forget often. In my Psychology of Disorders and Dysfunctions class, we learned about Mindfulness Meditation— a type of meditation where you focus on nothing but the present and yourself in that moment. For a few weeks every class, we would take five minutes or so to do what was called a body scan. We all put our heads on our desks and listened to the voice of the women guiding the meditation, doing as she said, aware of our breathing and surrounding sounds. I found this to be a nice break, helping us to regain our focus for the remaining hour of class time. We were then assigned to practice this five-minute exercise, five days a week, for five weeks. After the five weeks was over I realized how helpful these types of exercises are for me, along with other breaks like running outside or going to yoga. It’s tempting to just climb in bed and take a nap after a long day of classes before starting some homework, but you end up being so much more productive if you take the time to get some fresh air or just do anything that works for you to reset your brain.

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Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Lexi and her group of five friends pose for a photo in the dance studio during their class
My group for our upcoming hip-hop performance!

I was excited to start my sophomore year, particularly academically. I thought I had it all figured out. I had begun to discover my passion for psychology and philosophy and planned on taking one philosophy course. But at the last minute, I decided to take two. I emailed Simon Feldman, my Introduction to Philosophy professor, and he encouraged me to join his Philosophy of Law course. I was excited, believing I was checking another box and that philosophy could become my minor.

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Looking Glass: A Photo Essay

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

The spring semester of my first year, I took a course called Building Culture. A course cross-listed in both the art history and architectural studies departments, it focused on the history of various art movements, how they were introduced by the social climate, and how they influenced architecture. One day in class we focused on modern architecture and Phillip Johnson, a renowned architect, for his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Last weekend, I got to travel to the Glass House with the Department of Architectural Studies for an in-depth tour. Here are some of best moments and features I was able to capture!

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Fall Weekend at Ammerman

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Saadya Chevan explains the computer program he is designing via mac computer to a parent who attended his project presentation
Presenting my composition to a parent during Fall Weekend. Photo by Assistant Professor of Dance Shawn Hove

As a sophomore, I applied and was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus that provides resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. Learn more about my journey as an Ammerman Scholar.

This semester I’m starting to produce my senior integrative project (SIP) for the Ammerman Center. SIPs are year-long independent study projects that seniors participating in the College’s four center-certificate programs undertake culminating in a final performance or installation from each senior every spring. My project is an attempt to develop a piece of classical music where audience members get to participate. It currently uses the working title “Democracy and Classical Music,” which stems from a challenge posed to me by professors who I have worked closely with developing this project. They posited that allowing audience members to interact raises problems similar to those raised by the challenge of satisfying people with different viewpoints in the democratic process.

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Discovering the Unknown

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

A photo of Lexi Pope's major declaration slip
Handing in my Declaration of a Psychology Major slip to make it official!

I chose Connecticut College for many reasons. One aspect that caught my eye when scrolling through the website my senior year of high school was the College’s Connections curriculum, specifically Pathways. Pathways help you build on your major by connecting the coursework in your major, the required coursework outside your major, your study abroad experience, your internship and your senior capstone. Pathways seemed right up my alley since they are an interesting way to connect multiple interests, and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. When I was in high school, talking about college, and going on college tours and having to introduce myself always freaked me out. I tended to be the only person in the group saying that I was “undeclared.” Everyone seemed to have a plan. Even at the start of my first-year at Conn, I felt everyone knew what they were doing but me. Turns out this wasn’t true at all and I soon met many other students who were undeclared as well.

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