Trin Alums are Everywhere!

Last Wednesday, I was attending an education policy event at the National Press Club. After taking the elevator up to the 13th floor, the doors opened up to a magnificent lobby. After checking in, grabbing my name tag, and picking up the event literature, I found my seat. I mingled with my table mates for a few minutes until the warm, inviting aroma of coffee wafted to my nose. I looked at the breakfast table and saw an array of coffee and pastries. Exhausted and hungry at 8 in the morning, I made my way over to the refreshments table. To my surprise, another woman at the refreshment table turned to me and asked, “Did I hear you say you attend Trinity College?”

After confirming that I do attend Trinity, the woman remarked that she was an alumnus of Trinity. Turns out the alumnus was Catherine Millett, Senior Research Scientist at Policy Evaluation & Research Center, and she was organizing the whole event. I was incredibly surprised to meet an alumnus at such a random event. But, as I turned back to the room from the refreshment table I realized that I now knew one person and felt much more confident and comfortable. Catherine and I were able to connect over our love for both Trinity and education policy. After the event, I got a picture with Catherine and sent her an email congratulating her on such a wonderful event, and thanking her for mentioning that she also went to Trinity.

After my last blog was posted on the Trinity College Admissions Instagram, an alum in D.C. commented on the post. Kristin Duquette ’13 works at FEMA right behind the U.S. Department of Education building that I work in. She was interested in connecting and I followed her up on her offer. The next week, Kristin and I met for lunch at the cafeteria of the American Indian Museum near both of our offices. Kristin and I connected over our Trinity experiences and affinity for all things D.C. She emphasized how important it is to speak up for yourself, find things you are passionate about and know that it is okay to not have a plan. Kristin has an extensive resume, and I was honored to get words of wisdom from such an amazing woman.

It is no surprise to anyone that Trinity has such an incredible alumni network. This week, I got to experience it firsthand and meet two wonderful alumni that took time out of their day to speak to me. Trinity alums show up in the most random places and are always willing to create a connection with students and help them in any way they can. At the least, students and alums have the opportunity to bond over their great experiences ‘neath the elms.

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Trinity Days

Trinity Days, or Trin days as they are better known to students, is the first break students get after the commencement of the first semester back at school. Usually taking place in the fall around the beginning or middle of October, it is the equivalent to ‘fall break’ at other schools. Trinity Days take place in the spring semester as well. Though there is an additional week in March for spring break, students get to enjoy Trinity Days in February. In essence, Trinity Days is when classes for Monday and Tuesday are canceled, so students take the entire weekend to go home and spend time with family or take a break from classes. Many students leave as soon as weekly classes are over, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, to take advantage of the time they spend away from school.

Though many students (especially from the New England area) take the opportunity to go home, many others do not have the luxury. This is why campus is still completely functional during the break. Cinestudio continues to play movies, the dining halls remain open, the shuttle service (which takes students off campus) continues to operate and Vernon Social stays open. There are also rock climbing activities that take place, and every once in a while a faculty member chaperones a Trinity trip to a pumpkin patch or apple picking. In addition, many sporting events take place during this weekend, and these are particularly enjoyable to attend in the blossoming fall weather.

Athletes make up a large portion of the students who stay on campus for Trinity Days. Though some get to go home a little bit later (on Sunday, or Monday), many spend the entire break at school. Many sports teams have games on Saturday or Sunday. This year, for instance, men and women’s soccer had games, the cross-country team had an invitational, and the football team had a game. Even some teams that don’t have competitions, such as the rowing team, stay on campus for practice.

Some students take this short break as an opportunity to visit somewhere new. Many students who live far from campus go home with friends for the break. It gives those students a chance to visit others’ hometowns and spend time with friends in a relaxed setting. Some are lucky enough to take the time to explore big cities, and they spend the weekend discovering DC, NYC, Boston, or even Montreal and Quebec. Others take the chance, at home or elsewhere, to catch up on homework, and focus on upcoming assignments. With midterms looming just around the corner from Trinity Days, work tends to pick up around this time. Regardless of how each student spends their Trinity Days, everyone can agree that it is a much needed and relaxing breath as work will soon begin to pile up.

 

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Designing Your Own Major or Minor

One of the best things about Trinity College is the wide variety of majors and minors that students can choose from. Trinity offers 41 pre-existing majors from Engineering to Women, Gender, and Sexuality. There are also almost as many minors in 11 different departments.

Students have until their second semester sophomore year to declare a major (and a minor, if they so desire). When a student begins this process, they choose an advisor in that particular department, and that professor becomes their academic guide for the next two or three years. They will help the student navigate through course selections and completing all the requirements that constitute the major.

However, Trinity’s academic opportunities are not limited to the 41 department majors, nor are they limited to the minors listed within those departments. Trinity offers an opportunity for students that is relatively unique to the liberal arts education. Among the majors and minors available, there is also the option of designing your own Interdisciplinary Major or declaring one of the Interdisciplinary Minors, separate from a specific department.

The process of designing your own major, especially as a sophomore, might appear daunting. But in reality, though the process is involved and requires a fair amount of research, it is not too difficult to accomplish. In addition, the benefits of this interdisciplinary opportunity are worth it.

When designing your own Interdisciplinary Major, you must have an idea that combines multiple areas of study into one cohesive educational objective. The difficult or tedious part of this process is deliberately choosing the 12-14 courses that constitute the major. You must be able to argue why these courses in combination allow you to fulfill the academic objective of your major. Though it is time-consuming to go through the entirety of the college’s academic catalog, it does offer students the benefit of learning about courses that Trinity offers that they might have never known about otherwise.

In addition to Interdisciplinary Majors, students can also choose from over 20 Interdisciplinary Minors. These minors have a little bit more of a structure to them, however, the ultimate objective is controlled by the student. For these minors, students can choose up to 5-6 courses from a list of department courses offered at Trinity. This way, the student can build the perfect combination of courses that enable them to fulfill their educational aspirations.

Ultimately, these opportunities that Trinity offers allow for fully interdisciplinary areas of study. They allow students to take full control of their academic and educational objectives and graduate from Trinity having accomplished exactly what they desired during their undergraduate years. The interdisciplinary areas of study inspire students to be motivated, to be creative, and to push themselves to their full potential. They are just another example of how Trinity fosters an environment where students can Engage, Connect and Transform.

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Safety in Hartford

Recently, I was helping a prospective student find his way around campus. He commented on how beautiful campus was and his mother was asking questions. One of the questions she asked, and one that is a source of worry for many parents is, “How safe is campus?” and “Do you feel safe on campus?” My immediate response was that I always feel safe on campus, and Trinity does everything in their power to make this the safest campus for its students. However, her question made me think about what makes this campus feel so safe?

Our campus and our direct community have gone above and beyond in creating a safe campus within an urban environment. Every student on campus is extremely protected by the trained campus police (Campo) specifically hired to look after Trinity’s campus and Trinity students. They understand the Trinity scene and the culture of the school, and they are there not to get anyone in trouble, but instead to make sure that every student on our campus is taken care of when needed, and protected at all times.

In a recent email to the student body, the school informed us that even more precautions were going to be taken to protect us from any potential harm, even (and especially) unforeseen harms. They have hired more Hartford Police officers to be stationed on campus on the weekend when the most students are out on the outskirts of campus. They have increased the training of the current Campo officers, and they have developed a new and improved staffing matrix for incoming recommendations. They are conducting building audits to make sure that each building on campus is a safe as possible for students, and they have required certain events to hire outside (and professional) staff at the door to make sure every event is entirely Trinity students only. They have increased awareness about activities happening around campus, and they are in the process of preparing electronic alert devices for campus that will immediately alert campo when a student is in need of assistance. With each passing year, campus becomes safer, and Trinity takes continuous precautions to keep it that way.

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“Washington is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm.” – John F. Kennedy

Prior to starting my internship in D.C., I had to fill out a questionnaire about myself so the office could get to know me. One of the questions asked what was the coolest place I had traveled to. My answer was Washington D.C. I figured this would seem like I was somehow trying to suck up, but it was entirely the truth. For me, Washington has always been the hub of leadership, dreams, and inspiration, and there is no other place I would rather be.

While many of my friends are either abroad in Europe or at Trinity enjoying the perks of being upperclassmen, I am just down the coast in Washington D.C. For my ‘study abroad,’ I chose to do a Washington Semester Program through American University. When considering different study away options, I came to the conclusion that there was nowhere else I would rather spend a semester away from Trinity than Washington.

Through my program, I take classes two days a week (an American Politics seminar and Political Communication elective) and intern three days a week. When looking for an internship, I knew that I wanted to do something distinctly “D.C.” in order to make the most of my opportunity. I ended up deciding to intern in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA) at the United States Department of Education.There are four interns in my office, and each of us has an area of education policy that is our specialty. I have the pleasure of focusing on higher education policy.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I get to take the metro into the heart of D.C. Because my office is right behind the Air and Space Museum alongside The Mall, I always get a quick peek at the Capitol as I walk there. There is no view that could be more inspiring as I walk into my office.

So far during my internship, I have been able to attend an event at The Brookings Institute, both House and Senate hearings, a briefing, the Department’s Constitution Day celebration event that Secretary DeVos gave the opening remarks at, and met some pretty incredible people.

During my classes, I have gone to a live taping of Meet the Press and met Chuck Todd, walked past Joe Biden just close enough to get a smile, gone to the Newseum, and had guest speakers that range from Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter at one point to a partner at the media firm that created all of Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign advertisements.

I have only been in Washington for nearly four and a half weeks, and I’ve already gotten to do so many incredible things, and have the time to do much more. Washington is all about making connections, and I am thrilled to see who I will meet next.

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Fun Events in the Connecticut Area

THE BIG E

The Big E is the largest fair in New England. Trinity allows you to buy tickets at their front desk and you could always come and enjoy several fun food items such as Fried Oreos or even Fried Kool-Aid if that is your thing. When you are done eating, why not head over and go pet some goats? The Big E provides fun for all people and you can always bond with fellow bantams that attend the event.

Riverside Dragon Boat Race

This yearly event is held during the summer right on the Connecticut River. When you attend, you get to enjoy cheering the Dragon Boats race each other. The event also contains dance routines and an opportunity to learn about Asian cultures. If you get thirsty, pick up some refreshing Bubble tea. This event is a fun opportunity to learn about some of the oldest cultures in the world.

ConnectiCon

Interested in comics? Are you a complete anime nerd? Why not attend ConnectiCon? This even is held every year in the Connecticut Convention Center in Downtown Hartford. Many workshops are offered regarding the art of comics. You can meet your favorite comic book artists and writers. Sometimes special guests from your favorite nerdy TV shows attend. While you attend, you can always pick up extra comics, or Magic the Gathering Cards. If you are nerd, you will love attending this place where you can meet fellow geeks.

Fruit Picking

As another New England State, Connecticut offers great vineyards and other farms where you can go and pick up apples during the fall. Also, if you are doing research during the summer, then you can attend any of these farms to be able to pick up other fruit such as blueberries and strawberries. These events work well to bond with fellow students, and you get to enjoy delicious healthy fruit afterward.

The Haunted Graveyard

During Halloween time, amusement Park Lake Compounce offers one of the biggest scary attractions in New England. One side of the park is completely turned into a graveyard full of zombies, vampires, and other ghouls. Buy a couple of tickets and come ready to take one of the scariest tours. When done being terrified by the Graveyard, you can be thrilled on the many roller coasters and rides offered at the park. Riding them at night provides for a fun experience.

Wine Trail (21+)

Connecticut has great vineyards. After all, the state flag features grapes. So if you are of the legal drinking age, then you will be able to taste many different types and flavors of wine from grapes grown here in Connecticut. Even if you are not 21, learning about the cultivation and wine tasting is fun, so going on the Connecticut Wine trail is always a great experience.

Hartford Jazz Festival

Are you a fan of Glenn Miller and Miles Davies? Well the city of Hartford is happy to host an international jazz festival every year. Come and enjoy great music that ranges from Latin Jazz to classic Jazz. Food from around the world is also available at this event. Finally, you can purchase cool artisan items such as a woven beanie or a dream catcher at one of the many vendors found on the site.

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Greek Life Alternatives at Trinity College

Trinity College offers a great variety of Greek Life Organizations if you are interested in pursuing a fraternity or sorority. However, what about people who do not think Greek life is for them? Well, Trinity hosts other great organizations that can provide an alternative for anyone who might not be as interested in receiving a bid. Therefore, here are some alternative on-campus organizations that provide a great social experience outside of Greek Life.

The Mill

The Mill is the on-campus arts organization. They are responsible for hosting many events that range from open mics to art galleries. Many great artists have visited the Mill through this organization. Some of the great bands and artists that have come to the Mill include Ripe, Duckworth, Twin Peaks, and Savoir Adore. The Mill is located at 79 Vernon Street, and their facilities include an art gallery, an art studio, a music venue, a bar for students who are of drinking age, and a working recording studio. This organization provides a great social experience where it is possible to meet friends. No rushing is required to join the organization and there are minimal dues involved.

La Voz Latina

La Voz Latina, or LVL for short, is the Latino/Hispanic Organization on campus. They provide a variety of events for people interested in partaking in events that range from enjoying a delicious ethnic dinner, to a hosting a panel about culture in Latin America. The best part is that to join this organization, you do not even have to know any Spanish. LVL is hosted at la Elacra on 69 Vernon Street. The organization also hosts Latin Dance parties and their big event of the year is Salsarengue, a night of maximum fun and salsa. Again this provides a great social alternative to Greek Life.

Hillel 

Hillel House is the Jewish organization on campus. If you are interested in learning about Israel and Jewish Culture, this is the place for you. Hillel is involved in the Challah for Hunger program in which Challah bread is sold and the money earned donated towards great causes. One does not have to be Jewish or convert to Judaism in order to join the organization, therefore it is opened to anyone interested. Everyone is welcome to Shabbat Services and they provide for a great time to learn and enjoy food while also learning about Jewish culture.

The Underground

The Underground is one of the best places to hang out on campus! As a coffee shop located in the Mather Basement, the place is always great to go to and hang out and drink some Lattes, Mochas, or a simple Iced Coffee. The Underground also hosts many open mics in which students are able to go on stage and sing. Student art is displayed on the walls of the coffee shop. Finally, movie nights are held. Therefore, if you come for the coffee, it is easy to stay and do homework. Most of the time you will end up meeting someone down here.

CONNPirg

This organization is oriented towards people who are interested in politics and government. CONNpirg meets to talk about the environment and current policies that could be changed. They also drive a great “Get Out to VOTE” campaign during elections. Their meetings are very social and provide an opportunity to meet like-minded people interested in changing the world in a positive manner.

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Welcome Back, A Cappella

Given the size of Trinity’s campus (2,350 students), the a cappella community is extremely prevalent. In total, there are 5 groups on campus. The Accidentals, better known as the Dents, are the only all-male group. They were founded in 1993, and have performed at some cool events, including the 1996 presidential debates. The Pipes are the oldest group on campus. They originated as an all-male group in 1938 in the library of St. Anthony’s Hall, and became co-ed in 1970. They also perform ‘Neath the Elms, Trinity’s school song, at the end of graduation every year. The Trinitones are the oldest all-female group on campus. Founded in 1978, they have performed at some impressive gigs, including annually singing at the governor’s Christmas party. Famous alumna Racheal Platten was also a Trinitone! Last year they recorded an album, which is now available on Spotify and iTunes. They also sing the National Anthem at the beginning of the football games in the fall, and during the opening ceremony at graduation.

The Quirks are the other all-female group on campus. They were founded in 2004 as part of a senior project and were once featured on NBC Connecticut. The last group on campus is the Dischords. Created in 2005, the Dischords pride themselves on having a ‘Grand Ol’ time’ and making music and memories together.

All the a cappella groups on campus have auditions twice a year at the beginning of each semester. When students come back on campus, usually the second or third Friday of the semester, all the groups hold a joint concert in Hamlin Hall called the “Welcome Back” concert. Each group chooses two songs to sing (some groups sing traditional songs, others choose new music). Then in an order that changes every year, the groups sing their songs one by one. It is an incredibly helpful concert because new students who want to audition for groups get to hear all of them sing in one place at one time.

Additionally, all the groups hold auditions directly after the concert. Each year, the new president or music director steps out and announces where each group will be holding auditions. Traditionally, the Trinitones hold auditions in Hamlin Hall, right where the concert took place, the Quirks are in the Alumni Lounge (which is right next to the Washington Room), the Dents are in the chapel, the pipes are in Terrace C, and the Dischords are in the Faculty Lounge right next to Hamlin Hall. Auditions go until pretty late, and all the groups stay around a little bit later than their last audition to make sure everyone has a chance to audition for as many groups as they want. After the audition process, the groups decide who they want to hear again and they call the auditionees on Friday night (around midnight) to invite them to callbacks.

Callbacks take place on Saturday, from about 9am until about 4pm. Each group has callbacks in a different place, but they are staggered so that the auditionees can attend as many as they were invited to. Usually, the Quirks hold their callbacks early at 9am, Pipes are at 11am, Dischords are at 1pm and Trinitones are at 3pm. The Dents sometimes do their callbacks in the evening, or they can do them when one of the all-female groups is holding them since their pool of potential new members does not overlap. When I was a freshman, the callbacks took the entire 2 hours they were allotted, which can make it a very busy day for the students who are auditioning.

Although it is a tough process and can feel stressful because it occurs in one weekend, it is beyond worth it. My group is truly a second family, and I love the girls like sisters. It is such a good form of stress relief and such a great (and sometimes extremely necessary) break from the fast-paced nature of Trinity. It is amazing to be able to make music with people you love and to have people you can always count on.

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My Summer Before Junior Year

College students are notorious for being balancing acts: school, friends, family, work, downtime, and extracurricular activities. While college summers offer a little more flexibility to the tracks that students often see placed in front of them, a lot of pressure can be placed on how college students spend their time off. I have many friends that spent the summer going into their junior year working 40 hours a week at an internship, or making great amounts of cash babysitting in luxury homes, or some other type of hustle and bustle job in their hometown, or simply relaxing with family. I wanted to push myself to do something a little bit different, and this past summer, I worked on a guest ranch in Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho.

I visited the Diamond D Ranch first in 2008 as a guest with twenty-one of my paternal family members. The remote location and exquisite beauty were unlike any other place I’d been. The Diamond D is an all-inclusive ranch that offers a wide range of activities from hiking, to horseback riding, to guided fly-fishing, and more. After being there for a week as a guest, I knew I wanted to return when I was older as an employee.

I’m proud to say I made that goal happen this past summer. I moved to Idaho for just under three months and spent my summer in the mountains without cell phone service. I had many different responsibilities on the ranch, which always kept me very busy. I worked primarily with three other girls my age in the kitchen: prepping meals, setting tables, serving the food and cleaning dishes. We also cleaned the guests’ rooms and cabins, along with other daily chores like cleaning the pool and managing the upkeep of the lodge building. We led guest activities like arts and crafts, gold panning, and kickball games as well. This job was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever challenged myself to do, and it was extremely rewarding.

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Student Spotlight: Kenzie Levy ’18

What is it like to be a BuzzFeed intern? 

Being an intern at BuzzFeed is one of the most incredible opportunities that any individual who is looking to enter either the media or tech industries can be fortunate enough to attain. During the internship program, an intern will have a designated manager who he or she will shadow throughout the internship, in addition to various group projects with the other interns within a designated department. No day is exactly the same, but each day will present a different learning experience.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do so far?

In addition to seeing Ken Burns speak, watching MisterWives and ZZ Ward perform, attending a talk between interns and Jonah (BF’s CEO), meeting the fashion director of Saks, and attending both the company and business All Hands meetings, on the first day of my internship, I got to attend the world premiere of the movie Rough Night with my manager and saw ScarJo and Zoe Kravitz from afar. I also got to be featured in a BuzzFeed video… which was pretty awesome. Although these are incredible opportunities that I never would have gotten to experience if I wasn’t accepted into the BuzzFeed Summer Internship Program, my favorite part of working at the company is interacting with the multitude of intelligent and talented individuals who are not only working full-time at the organization, but are also interning beside me. My manager is incredible, and she has made this experience so worthwhile by onboarding me in the realm of Client Services, and fully encouraging me to immerse myself in every opportunity possible. From letting me attend a speaker series with BuzzFeed’s president, to volunteering for me to be in a BuzzFeed video, to inviting me to team lunches and dinners, she has made me feel extremely included and valued. Additionally, my assigned “buddy,” who used to intern at BuzzFeed and now works in the company’s Client Services department, has constantly provided me with insight about the company, and has acted as a supportive sounding board during my short time here. This synthesis of BuzzFeed’s employees’ genuine care combined with additional benefits has made this summer at BuzzFeed one of the best experiences of my life.

How has a school like Trinity helped prepare you for this opportunity? 

I will never forget sitting with twenty-five other interns around a conference table at my internship last summer as everyone went around and introduced themselves and announced where they attended college. After a hearing a series of large schools such as, “University of Michigan,” “Colorado State,” and “University of Florida,” I sheepishly said, “Trinity College… In Hartford, Connecticut.” I am always proud to divulge that I attend Trinity, but I’m also always prepared that people may or may not know where it is, or which Trinity I’m talking about. After stating my school, my fellow interns immediately whipped their heads toward me and said, “Oh my gosh do you know *insert name of Trinity student or alum here*!?” Roughly half of the table knew someone who attended Trinity, which I feel is remarkable given the school’s student population, and speaks to the community and its reputation. What I learned from that summer (and have continued to learn since that moment) was to never underestimate Trinity’s network. When I first started at Trinity, I was a little apprehensive about how I could possibly incorporate my love of media at a liberal arts college that didn’t technically provide the opportunity to major in “Communications” or “Marketing.” However, I turned down multiple communications and media programs to come to Trinity because I knew that the school’s smallness would provide me with the opportunity to build relationships with my professors and classmates. I hoped that I could mold my college experience and curate it towards my interests in a way that would eventually help me to build my resume. This summer at BuzzFeed, my manager has reiterated, “You’re so involved at your school!” As rising senior at Trinity, my advice would be to explore which clubs, classes, and jobs or internships both on and off campus relate to your interests, and don’t be afraid to get involved. If a platform for your passion doesn’t exist on campus, most likely, the school and the student body will support you and allow you to create it.

Do you hope to continue working in a similar field post-graduation? 

Absolutely. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I have been fascinated by the ways that textual and visual narrative (and combinations of the two types) can both explicitly and subliminally affect human interaction.

What’s your favorite BuzzFeed quiz to take? 

Ohhh good question. I don’t have a specific favorite per say, but anything with baby animals is definitely a good bet.

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