I was the first to arrive at Tansill Theater. This black box performing space on Conn’s campus is also home to many of the classes available in the theater department. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. it is home to me and the other 10 members of my Acting II class. Our first project this semester was a monologue from Jose Rivera’s “Sonnets from an Old Century.” We have been working on them for about a month now and the final showing was approaching.
It was an exceptionally busy day Wednesday: I had two classes, rehearsal for improv and a film screening. On top of all of that, I had a looming 5-6 page sociology essay that was due promptly at 1:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Luckily, I found time in a break in my schedule around noon to craft the bare bones of my introduction. Unfortunately, I was not able to continue my paper until 9:10 p.m. when I returned to the library after my film screening. This is when the bulk of my work began and I started to understand that the only way this paper would get done was with caffeine, motivation and a little help from my friends.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be taking another art class—especially not in college. I took my first one in third grade, and I remember two things about it: struggling with every assignment and learning that I never shook the inability to color (or paint, for that matter) inside any kind of line. After that experience, I pledged to my 8-year-old self that I would avoid every art class for as long as possible.
Not many students at Conn are taught by the women’s rowing coach, but I was. Midway through last semester I started a class called Sports Leadership taught by coach Eva Kovach. This class was part of Conn’s Career Informed Learning courses, which bring alumni or community members to class to discuss how the concepts we learn about play out in the world. The dean of sophomores, Carmela Patton, recommended that I take the class because of my interest in sports. In high school, I competed year-round and ended my high school career as the captain of my cross country team and track and field team. I have always enjoyed spearheading groups that I have been a part of. That added with my ability to be loud and make friends has so far served as a good formula for molding me into a leader. During my first year of high school, I always respected my captains but I also thought that the biggest part of the job was simply being nice to everyone. After leading the teams myself and dealing with issues within my teams I understand that ‘leading’ is multifaceted. Being a part of this class gave me the opportunity to look retrospectively at my past roles as a leader and learn what I did well, but also learn what I can improve upon.
When I discuss writing essays with my friends in other majors, one of the things we talk about is the style and conventions expected from our professors and department. This can be something as basic as what sort of citation style we use, such as Turabian (my personal favorite), MLA, APA or ASA to specific grammatical and structural issues we encounter when writing our papers. For example, in music, there is a difference between a piece that is “for oboe and clarinet” and “for clarinet and oboe”; the first instrument plays higher than the second. One of the subjects I really enjoy writing for is my major: philosophy. Part of what I enjoy about writing papers for philosophy is that I’m allowed to write in the first person, which is unusual in academic writing.
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.
In my time at Conn, I have fallen in love with the theater department. I don’t consider myself an actress, but a scholar of American playwriting and musical theater. Before I went abroad last spring, I took a class called American Drama in the department and loved reading plays for homework. Sometimes, my class would act out the assigned plays and critically examine them from top to bottom. Professor Ken Prestininzi guided us through the classic American canon of plays written by playwrights such as Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, and Sophie Treadwell. My favorite play we read as a class was “Machinal” by Sophie Treadwell which critically examined the effects of a capitalist society on a character. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation to Treadwell’s own playwriting. I sat down at my computer and attempted to write a play that examined my own relationship with society and my family members.
No puedo hablar español fluido porque mi madre no me enseñó. (I can not speak Spanish fluently because my mother never taught me). My mom and her entire family are from Bogotá, Colombia, which means that half of my family speaks Spanish (some only speak Spanish). Meanwhile, I only speak English. All through middle school and high school, I tried to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with my family but I never became proficient. That's why I was excited to learn about The Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, lovingly referred to as ‘CISLA’, at Conn. CISLA is one of the five academic centers on campus; it focuses on the globalization of citizenship through language fluency and study abroad opportunities.
I have been involved in theater for as long as I can remember. My first official production was in the second grade and I have been in countless shows since then. At Conn specifically, I was cast in the show “Twelfth Night” last year. I had my share of interesting experiences working on the production, including adjusting to four-hour rehearsals and a much more intensive process than I was used to.
I recently had the opportunity to go on a field trip to New York City with other students, faculty and staff from the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, one of the five academic centers on campus, which fosters students, faculty and staff doing interdisciplinary work in arts and technology. We began our day in the city with a visit to Flavor Lab, a New York-based audio production company. We met with Eric Stern ’13, an Ammerman Center alumnus who works there. He showed us around the company’s studios and described his work editing audio for TV shows and films. Given my interests in sound and music, it was fascinating to see this space as a potential place where I could work at with my Ammerman Certificate after graduation.
Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Jade Hui ’20 is pursuing an English major and a sociology minor at Connecticut College. As part of Connections, Conn’s new curriculum, she will declare her Pathway, Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change, this fall. Jade works as a tour guide for the Office of Admission and as a student adviser to first-years. She is a member of the a cappella group The Connartists, and treasurer of the Ski and Snowboard Club.
Hanna Bobrowicz ‘20 of Burlingame, California, is a history major and theater minor at Connecticut College. She is on the Leadership Committee of HerCampus, a member of the PR committee for the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, a member of Connecticut College Democrats and a Tour Guide. She plans on declaring her Peace and Conflict Pathway this fall.
As a first year, I was one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted to major in. History has always been a passion of mine, particularly social movements. Before college, I would often spend hours watching documentaries and interrogating my parents about life during the ‘60s. I was also extremely passionate about social events and community service. In high school, I was a part of the Young Dreamer organization that allowed me to work in communities in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and India. So while I was determined to major in history, I also wanted to make sure I would use my degree to impact the world in a positive way.
Before coming to Conn, my mind was already set on a major. I had told all of my family and friends that I was going to major in behavioral neuroscience. There was no doubt in my mind that was the degree I wanted to pursue. Of course, I had other interests like acting, photography and writing, but I never considered pursuing any one of them as a major or minor.
Editor's Note: Guest blogger Ashley Myers '19 of Winchester, Massachusetts, is majoring in English with a concentration in fiction writing, and minoring in Classics and Psychology. She is the president of Cadenza, the literary magazine on campus, a member of Relay for Life, and an editor-in-chief and writer for the Odyssey Online. Writing is her passion, and she wouldn't want to pursue it anywhere other than Conn.
I recently completed an art history ConnCourse called Mona Lisa to Instagram, taught by Professor Karen Gonzalez-Rice, which focused on historical artists such as Leonardo da Vinci to contemporary artists like Kara Walker. In the final weeks of class, we studied Impressionism and Postimpressionism, and instead of viewing the examples on a projector, which can alter the coloration and size of art, Professor Gonzalez-Rice took us to view The Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s permanent collection of 18th through 20th century art.
Editor’s Note: Anne Holly ’17 of York, Pennsylvania, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minors in mathematics. She was a captain of the Connecticut College women’s squash team, which is ranked No. 28 in the country. At Conn, she was also a member of the Peggotty Investment Club, Outdoors Club, Tennis Club, and is Green Dot-trained. She thinks Conn has a great mascot and loves being a Camel. She was a guest blogger for The Experience this spring.
One recent Thursday morning, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we’re playing in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
This semester I decided to compete in the Concerto Competition, which gives one winning student the opportunity to be featured in the Connecticut College Orchestra Spring Concert performing a concerto or vocal piece every year. My clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, and I had made a somewhat spur-of-the-moment decision in late January that I should enter it this year, so I could experience competing in it.
For my History of Arts and Technology lab, we created and performed exciting group improvisations in the span of just two hours. To prepare, Professor Nadav Assor told us to bring one to three things to class that we thought might be useful in a group improvisation session. He asked us to post what we were going to bring to Moodle, a website used in many classes to foster dialogue outside of class time, so that we could see what everyone was planning to work with. The section on Moodle included some videos with examples of improvisational systems, but even after watching these I wasn’t quite sure about the exact nature of the exercise. After looking through others’ posts, I noticed that my classmates collections of objects tended to include at least one or two things that a person can easily perform with, along with something completely random. Imitating them, I decided to bring my clarinet, sheet music for Willson Osborne’s “Rhapsody for Clarinet” and an Amtrak timetable.