Hometown: Rowayton, Connecticut Major: English Minor: Psychology Activities: Habitat for Humanity co-president, ski team member
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: After transferring to Conn my sophomore year, I knew I had found the perfect place for me. Though Conn is small, this to me is not a downside. I have learned that I thrive better in smaller communities, and I love that Conn is a school where I am able to recognize a continuous stream of faces and friends on a normal walk through campus. Small environments foster close friendships, and this has certainly been my experience at Conn. My second favorite thing would have to be the view from the top of Tempel Green. Being able to see Long Island Sound every day from campus can be a breath of fresh air during a hectic day.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: There are a lot of moments at Conn that will stick with me forever. But I would have to say that my favorite memory would be skiing in the arboretum with the ski team during a snow day last year. We lugged our skis all the way down to the Caroline Black Garden and then lugged them back up to campus afterward, but in the interim the skiing with good friends in our backyard was priceless.
Favorite activity in New London or the region: My friends and I love going to Harkness Memorial State Park (in Waterford—just a town away). During the warmer months we lounge in the sun on the beach and in colder months we bring a picnic dinner and bundle up for a sunset dinner on the beach. It’s a beautiful place.
The Lyman Allyn Art Museum, located just past the southern tip of Conn’s campus is a quiet little gem. At Conn, the kinds of external cultural experiences the students here cultivate are on a smaller, more intimate scale. This has always been special to me and The Lyman Allyn is a perfect example of this. The museum was donated to the City of New London by Harriet Allyn, the daughter of Captain Lyman Allyn. The family were long-time New London residents, and Harriet donated the museum in her father’s memory. Everything about this story is New London-esque, and it speaks well to our region of Connecticut: a richly historical area with prominent nods to the sea.
Recently, a dream of mine came true. Acclaimed author and journalist at The New Yorker David Grann (‘89) joined us in our "Narrative Nonfiction" class. Being able to speak to a writer for The New Yorker was a cool opportunity, but what made the day special was being able to sit with an author and inquire about their entire writing process. When reading, I often compile a long list of questions in my head asking why the author decided to make the decisions they made. The list usually stays unanswered. However, that particular day Grann answered certain questions I’d been eager to know, such as: what does the organizational process look like when writing about a subject laden with so much historical background? My classmates and I also asked him to talk about how he became a writer and how one knows what path to follow in such broad industry. Blanche Boyd, the writer in residence at Conn and the professor of my writing class, assigned The Lost City of Z by David Grann for us to read over spring break. Though not typically the kind of thing I read—a story about adventure, disease and death in the Amazon—I enjoyed this fast-paced tale. It made me want to ask questions.
Taste of Harris only comes once a year, but, like any holiday, its arrival is always met with anticipation and excitement. Each year, Harris, the main dining hall on campus, hosts different food vendors and restaurants in the area. They take over the dining hall and introduce new cuisine. The school brings some of the same vendors back each year. One that I am particularly fond of is locally made artisan bread. Arguably the most important part of this event is to get actual feedback from the students. During the Taste the dining hall is filled with surveys that students can fill out after they’ve tried each dish. The dishes with the most votes will likely make their way to Harris the following school year. Conn prides itself on shared governance. By asking students what they want to eat this practice is enacted in yet another corner of campus. This year at the Taste there was a falafel bar complete with tzatziki and all of the fixin’s, jalapeno tater tots, Philly cheesesteaks, an artisan bread car, plant-based dishes, delicious sesame noodles, fun salads, unique teas, watermelon cake, new ice cream flavors and so much more. The day is fun for obvious reasons (delicious food, exciting variety), but I also like it because the dining hall is abuzz. Everyone feels the same way: overwhelmed in the best way, filled with laughter about all of the weird combinations of food they have on their plates, eager to fill out the surveys in hopes that their favorite dish will make it onto Harris’ new menu, and thankful that dining services at Conn cares to enhance our eating experiences at college.
Sunday I went to visit my sister at her college. When I got to her suite she calmly told me to beware of their “cockroach problem,” as I looked down at the floor and let out a slight scream, my jaw opened wide and my eyes popped. There were at least 10 cockroaches on the floor. She laughed and picked one up, it’s plasticky sheen shined in the harsh dorm overhead lights—they were all fake. I asked to take one; I couldn’t wait get back to my apartment to prank my roommates. And this I did. When I got back I placed it in my bedroom and pretended to be frightened when I “found” it. They all screamed and immediately ran away when I frantically pointed it out; it was priceless.
In high school, I had a cozy little nook in my room for my desk. There was a small window where I could look out and daydream. That’s where I did my schoolwork every night, and I loved it. It was quiet and a place of my own. Flash forward to senior year in college and I couldn’t imagine doing my work in any other place than the library. Yes, occasionally I do some reading in my apartment or answer emails in my bed but the hours of hard work that I have put in here at Conn have happened in the Charles E. Shain Library. It’s my space, my college “nook.”
I remember sitting in my seventh-grade classroom and thinking about how much I loved grammar. When I think back and examine my life as a student, I’ve always known that my love for English was there. I was lucky enough to come to college already envisioning the next four years: books, words and a lot of discussions. I’ve always been enamored by the way writing is armed with the ability to change how one can feel. Words are subtly powerful and blatantly powerful all at once. The reason I have been feeling nostalgic about English is because class registration for next semester was last week, and I’ve recently come to the realization that, after this semester, I will be done with my English major. Though I have a lot more work to do before December 18 (the last day of finals), I feel this sudden urgency to remember and think back on all that I have learned about myself through my English classes here at Conn.
Casual biking has always been a passion of mine. It helps to clear my mind. Seeing the world from something other than a car window or the slowness of my own two feet is intoxicating to me. I’ve written about this before, how much I love having my bike on campus. I get to use my rusty old cruiser in times of needed mental reprieve or when the gym just seems too far away. I rarely bike into downtown New London because the surrounding hills are no match for my bike, which hails from the 1960s. After exploring campus and other nearby neighborhoods over the years by bike I’ve found enough road to keep my pedals churning without entering the hustle of the city. The windy feeling that brushes through my hair and the whirling pedals beneath my feet can do wonders for my psyche. There is good news for others at Conn who also yearn for this liberation: here, it’s called Spokespeople.
To learn more about Spokespeople, a club that manages all things bikes, I spoke with Connor Trapp ’18. He’s a senior here majoring in government, with East Asian and computer science minors. He’s also the club’s president. He gave me some information regarding the inner workings of how Spokespeople promotes bike use here at Conn and ways in which Connor has extended his love for biking to enhance bike culture on campus. Here’s what Connor told me:
It wasn’t a hard decision to study abroad. I always knew that I wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking place at some point in my life. I also always knew that I wanted the chance to explore Europe while I was still an undergrad and the severity of life’s responsibilities were not yet going to deter me from traveling around for four months. Conn’s study away options are plentiful, so I had many different choices. But, when it came down to it, I was drawn to Barcelona, Spain.
With each year that I’ve been at Conn I’ve continued to discover natural landmarks that surround our campus and make our living here even more exceptional. It wasn’t clear to me before I came to college how having a beautiful campus along with wonderful natural resources close by would be an essential part of my experience. These natural aspects of the College are perhaps not advertised widely enough. Conn is located right next to two fantastic beaches, Ocean Beach Park and Waterford Beach, and is home to the Connecticut College Arboretum, which runs throughout campus. I could go on and on listing our vast access to nature, but what I really want to touch on today is a special little island called Mamacoke.
There’s something special about the closing of the semester and the beginning of finals coinciding with the most wonderful time of the year. As I write this post, it is beginning to snow and campus feels wonderfully quiet—a silent beauty has taken over as finals season takes hold.
It’s Friday night, you’re in Olin basement and an improv show is about to begin. Whether it’s Scuds or N2O, the main improv groups at Connecticut College, going to an improv show at Conn is an intimate experience. The shows almost always take place on Friday nights— traditionally a night in which student activities are abundant. So, the scene is this: hanging out with your friends and undoubtedly lots of other people you know in a smallish lecture hall, cheering for your pals up there on stage.
As a residential college, weekly activities in the residence halls are a large part of the culture at Conn. The floor governors, student staff responsible for residential programming, make a concerted effort to create varied events every week. I’m a huge fan of this. It allows the residents to grow closer, which molds what was previously just a residence hall into an actual home. This is important, because living away from home— whether you’re a first-year or a senior— is often not as comfortable as being in your own familiar space. The events are an inclusive way to band together and become a surrogate family between the months of September and May.
I’ve said this a million times, and I’ll say it again: the community that makes up Conn is remarkably special. It’s something that I love about this college, being part of a community of people that cares for one another loudly enough that it’s unmistakably visible day in and day out. In an uncertain time, like the coming arrival of a soon-to-be president, it makes sense that levels of anxiety would rise and those affected by something so unknown could possibly rub off on others around them. In the wake of an unpredictable new era for the United States, Conn students gathered together and expressed their doubts, questions, hopes and concerns for our country.
On October 22, the Connecticut College Habitat for Humanity chapter celebrated World Habitat Day. Within the Habitat for Humanity community, this is a day to recognize the successful global network that this organization is. Like most other events that we host, it is intentionally inclusive and asks for the community’s help to spread awareness of our presence on campus and to encourage participation from our peers and friends. My own involvement in Habitat includes being a member of the executive board as the fundraising coordinator. I have found a dedicated and awesome community of students through my involvement in our Habitat chapter at Conn.
Something almost magical whips through the air each fall, and it is always most prominent in October. At Conn, this time of year is celebrated with the return of alumni as well as the welcoming of parents, family and friends all coming to enjoy the exceptional beauty of the season. Though the changing colors of the trees alone is enough of a reason to visit campus, people flock from all over for a different reason: Fall Weekend.
As I sat in my dorm room, waiting for the editorial assistant at Woman’s Day Magazine to call me for my interview, I remember reflecting on my desire to understand how the professional world worked. Perhaps, looking back, it was not a great time to question my lack of knowledge on professionalism. Being a 21-year-old college sophomore, I hadn’t truly experienced the serious working realm of things. Of course, I’d held summer jobs at restaurants and as a babysitter, but the prospect of launching a career felt like a distant world. As I waited nervously. I imagined sitting in a whirling office not understanding the buzz and the commotion that goes into running any kind of company or business. And then the phone rang.
So the school year is about to be over, you’re a college student and are at a loss for what to do this summer. I’ve been there—big time—and so have a lot of my friends. It can be overwhelming to be feeling this new kind of stress that a lot of college students find themselves feeling. Post freshman year, a lot of students feel pressure to do something wildly meaningful with their summers to gain valuable work experience. Both of these reasons to find worthwhile work are valid and certainly important. However, the panic that has been circling around my head for almost four months has been over the top at points. Everyone in college feels the looming presence of a world made for adults, and we are students learning how to be those very adults who thrive in the professional world. It can be daunting.
The kinds of schools that encourage, above all else, spreading thought-provoking ideas are the kinds of schools that produce thought-provoking adults. Fortunately, Connecticut College falls into this category because of the kinds of discussions and real-world problems that are discussed across campus every single day. It was appropriate, then, that last weekend Conn hosted a TEDx event, which carried the theme of “What’s Past is Prologue.” Each speaker examined a certain moment or decision from his or her past and talked about how it has shaped their present.
Our own TEDx event introduced numerous wonderful speakers (including some Conn students) that all had some pretty important ideas to share. My favorite speaker, however, was a woman named Ella Dawson. Ella is a 23-year-old social media manager and sex writer who happens to have genital herpes. She has made it her mission to educate, well, pretty much everyone on why the stigma that surrounds herpes has to cease. Her talk was one I felt lucky to witness. Not only did Ella explain how she has made it an important part of her life to define what herpes really is and how common it can be to contract, but Ella also made it clear that contracting herpes should not be the be-all and end-all. A woman like Ella was a fantastic addition to this year’s TEDx. Her confidence and her motivation to break down the stigma that the world has placed on herpes was an inspiring kind of bravery to listen to.
“It’s really not as far as you’d think.” I heard this numerous times before my first year at Conn, because I had explained to people my skepticism and doubts that the city of New London would be just out of reach for exploration and escape from the campus environment. I feared that I’d be trapped on campus with a small seaside city close enough to see from the top of Tempel Green, yet too far to get to without a car. Everyone told me that though New London is no New York City, it is an absolutely fine college town. In fact, odds are that if you’re at a small school like Conn you would probably rather not be located in a city like New York. New London is quaint and charming, an old fishing port which now services a few year-round ferries to local destinations. Coming to Conn I felt inspired to explore this little New England city which, with its interesting murals, whale sculptures and pretty buildings, begged for exploration.
Last week, on a typically “warm” late March afternoon, my friend and I got on our bikes and headed into town—an easy adventure that not enough people on campus take advantage of. We decided that lunch off campus at our favorite little cafe was a must on that particular afternoon. Because neither of us have cars, bikes were our only option besides walking would be too time consuming.