Student Spotlight: Kenzie Levy ’18

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.

Campaign for Community Timeline

Campaign for Community Timeline

Alicia ’18 and Tyler ’19 have spent their summer working on a timeline for Campaign for Community, that will debut this September. I interviewed them to learn more about it, how the Trinity community helped them bring it to life, and what it has been like for them to spend the summer with one another. 

What is the project you’re working on? Tyler: Our project is a timeline of Trinity’s diversity, and we aim to display how the Trinity community has changed and developed to what we see today from what the first class looked like in 1823.​

Alicia: Our goal is to show the Trinity community how we’ve undergone many changes throughout the years, and how those changes have been brought to fruition thanks to students, faculty, and administration working together. We want students to be inspired when they read about our history and also feel empowered to continue to improve our community.

How has Trinity College helped you bring this project to life?

Tyler: This project would not have been possible without the resources we accessed at the Watkinson, the books of Peter J. Knapp and Glenn Weaver on Trinity’s history, and the very experienced and insightful faculty at Trinity. The Watkinson was especially helpful and we are very grateful to all of the librarians there.

Alicia: One of the best parts of this project has been getting to connect with different faculty, staff and alumni. Everyone who hears about the project is immediately interested and excited to help out, and it’s been great getting to sit down with some members of our community who have been instrumental in bringing about some of the changes we now take for granted at Trinity.

What has it been like to work with each other?

Tyler: Without Alicia, I would have struggled to finish this project in its entire glory. It was a lot to take on and she helped me stay afloat. I would not have wanted to do this project with anyone else. I am so grateful for Alicia’s insight, creative contributions and friendship.

Alicia: I’ve loved working with Tyler! I think we both have our own strengths — he’s able to keep a million dates in his head and has a strong grasp on Hartford history, and I try to be really deliberate about every word that we use on the timeline and making sure each entry has a context and narrative. I’ve enjoyed seeing our strengths come together for this project and learning all the random Hartford facts that Tyler knows.

When will this project be debuting? Where can students, and the community at large, see it?

Tyler:  The project should be debuting in September. We are very excited for the unveiling and plan to invite everyone involved in forming it, whether that be if we got information from them or they are actually on it themselves, and a nice ceremony will commemorate all of our hard work. 

Alicia: Unveiling all of our research will be the highlight of this project! This will be a permanent exhibit in the Cave, so any member of the community will be able to enjoy it and learn about our history.

What are your own personal involvements here at Trinity, outside of Campaign for Community? 

Tyler: My own personal involvements besides Campaign includes Newman Club, Neuroscience Club, Club Soccer, Club Basketball, Club Tennis, and what I’m also especially proud of besides Campaign is being a part of Charleston House of Interfaith.

Alicia: Other than working on this, I have spent my summer helping with the programming of Orientation and transforming the first-year experience from the moment first-years step foot onto Trinity — it’s been so exciting seeing all the improvements from since we were first-years! During the year, I’m involved with Amnesty International, the Chapel Community, and the Beacon Newsmagazine. 

Interview with Michael Acosta ’13

Interview with Michael Acosta ’13

I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Acosta ’13, who is a co-owner of Story and Soil, Hartford’s newest coffee shop. In addition to coffee, we had the chance to discuss his time at Trinity, his favorite thing to order, and the wonderful city of Hartford. 

When did you graduate from Trinity? What did you study, and what was your experience there like?

I graduated Trinity College in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Philosophy. By design most of my classes were multidisciplinary since I love the intersections of neuroscience and analytic and existential philosophy. I found my niche at Trinity very early on in the Underground coffeehouse, where I would eventually be manager as a Graduate Assistant, and Cleo of Alpha where I’m currently alumni treasurer. I loved my professors and always kept a busy and diverse class load. Being part of multiple groups on campus meant that many more people to discuss life and current events with.

Story and Soil just opened, and you’re a co-owner—what was the process like, of conceiving of this idea and then bringing it to life?

Before Story and Soil Coffee I started another coffee project called N2 Coffee. N2 Coffee was a way for me to introduce local Connecticut specialty coffee in an approachable and fun way. Mobile nitro cold brew was certainly a great way to start the conversation about interesting coffees and the awesome people behind them. I ran N2 Coffee part-time while also studying at Trinity College and then working as a research technician at a biomedical company in Hartford.

Story and Soil Coffee came about when Sarah and Michael McCoy approached me about starting a coffee business in Hartford back in October 2016. In preparation for launching and finding funding for Story and Soil I joined the Social Enterprise Incubator at reSET in Hartford. I had a specific idea of what kind of coffee, service and hospitality program I wanted, but the three of us had to conceptually and at many points literally build the physical space from the ground up. The shop is located in a 128 year old historic building and needed an incredible amount of structural work.

Most of our time was spent finding funding and building a strong business plan. The actual build-out took about four months from floor boards and studs, to final design and equipment. It was important to test our branding and model within our Hartford community and so we participated in a number of events during the build-out, including the first KNOW GOOD Market of the 2017 season, which is run by fellow alumnus Jeffrey Devereux.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Story and Soil’?

The name was directly inspired by the Bright Eyes album titled Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground. My partners and I also had multiple inspirations for the name during our endless discussions since it quietly spoke to our emphasis on the origin of coffee, the terroir and agricultural component of specialty coffee, as well as the beauty of the communities that coffee shops find themselves in, and the stories and common ground they stimulate.

Why did you choose Hartford as its’ location?

As a foodie and through N2 Coffee I met many of the creatives, restaurateurs, farmers, organizers, and passionate Hartford residents that make our Capital city beat and whom are leading the movement to revitalize Hartford. This community and economic and cultural outlook made Hartford a great city to set up shop. This vibrancy and enterprising spirit has also been through out the specialty coffee community in Connecticut over the past 5 years. A number of shops run by young and passionate entrepreneurs have popped up and made a real imprint in the coffee industry and their communities. Hartford and Frog Hollow in particular needed a quality driven community shop that was committed to providing an inclusive and fun space.

And since opening, how has Hartford taken to Story and Soil?

So far Hartford has embraced Story and Soil with grace, curiosity and open arms. Our guests include city workers, local business owners, residents, students, and friends. There is certainly more excitement than confusion on any given day (albeit we are on our fourth day of soft opening). We get more questions about our flights and cocktail inspired coffee drinks than our business model, and our guests are definitely getting savvy to the tasting portions of our coffee menu. Guests have loved our vinyl record selection.

How did your time at Trinity help bring you to where you are today?

Even while taking a number of labs a semester, Trinity made it easy to include exciting classes that provided respite, stimulation and perspective. Professors at Trinity reward critical thought, and breadth of knowledge and interests, allowing for deep dives into a variety of subjects throughout your four years of study. While building my potential career in biotechnology, I never felt shy about continuing to pursue my passion in coffee. I traveled to Colombia, attended conferences and built a rapport in the coffee community that helped me launch N2 Coffee, and eventually Story and Soil Coffee.

Finally: what’s your favorite coffee and food order? Any recommendations for Story and Soil first-timers?

I would begin with an espresso float, and then order a flight of the seasonal espresso and pour over, pairing it with the avocado toast (smashed avocado, roasted garlic, salt and pepper). A glass of hibiscus ginger kombucha or mineral water would be a great finisher.

Guests should feel welcomed to explore our menu or order their regular drink. We promise to have something for everyone, and strive to welcome you into our shop with warmth and gratitude.