Inside Being a Public Policy Major

Inside Being a Public Policy Major

Public policy and law is one of the more popular majors on Trinity’s campus. But, what exactly is it and how is it different from political science?

Before coming to Trinity and becoming a public policy major, I asked myself all of these questions. I would soon learn that public policy and law is an interdisciplinary version of political science. This means that rather than only taking public policy courses, students take approved courses in various departments to complete their requirements in order to be successful in fields relating to policy, law, or non-profit organizations and advocacy.

The major starts off with core classes such as “Introduction to American Public Policy,” “Fundamentals of American Law,” “Research & Evaluation,” and “Law, Argument & Public Policy.” Beyond these core classes found in the Public Policy Department, students are given general requirements such as ethics, quantitative, or legal history, which allows them to take courses in departments such as political science; women, gender, and sexuality; and economics.

The benefit of the public policy and law major, much like that of liberal arts schools in general, is that students are learning a variety of skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking in various disciplines. The result: students graduate with a large toolkit of skills and abilities.

Another key component of the major is the internship requirement. This can be fulfilled through Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program, or through any other relevant internship in Hartford. This requirement puts students in in good standing to get summer internships or jobs after graduation.

Brooke in front of the Supreme Court building
Brooke LePage ’19 at The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., on the Washington Semester Program through American University. This study-away experience included an internship component. In addition to taking classes, exploring the city, meeting and hearing from supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I spent my semester interning in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA) at the U.S. Department of Education. During my internship, my work was focused on higher education policy.

Public policy and law majors pick a concentration within the major in order to tailor their studies and show preference and expertise in an area of policy. These concentrations range from law and society, to education policy or urban policy. Ultimately, the concentration component acts as a built-in minor for the program.

Public policy and law students can be found burning the midnight oil reading and writing case briefs, policy memos, or preparing for an oral argument. They are a dedicated group of students who enjoy the library, the cookies Professor Fulco often brings to class, Mock Trial, and avoiding their science requirement for the college like the plague.

Ever since I attended the public policy and law open house before choosing to attend Trinity, the program has felt like a family. The students bond by taking the core classes together and working on projects such as the public policy blog, The Policy Voice, to showcase the program. The public policy professors are witty, insightful, experts in their fields, and care about their students.

I am grateful that I was able to find a program that allows me to take classes in various disciplines in order to learn many skills that are valuable in the policy, law, and non-profit job markets. I am also grateful for my fellow public policy majors and professors for becoming my family away from home.

My Experience in Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program

My Experience in Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program

Connecticut State Capitol

This semester, I am taking part in Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program. This is a full- or part-time program that places students with Connecticut state legislators. I’m doing the program part-time, and I get to spend my days at the Connecticut State Capitol and Legislative Office Building. I applied to the program last semester, and 14 students were given the opportunity to be interns this year, most of whom are majoring in political science or public policy and law. The program is selective, and the application process was somewhat long and a bit stressful, considering that I applied during finals. However, in the end everything worked out, and thanks to Trinity I am gaining unforgettable work experience and learning so much about local and state politics.

The job of an intern at the State Capitol might sound like easy work, since one would assume this is regular office jobs. Sure you have to make copies, file stuff, and do other tasks that might seem tedious,  but there is so much more than that. For starters, as an intern you get see some of the meetings that happen behind closed doors between legislators. You get to attend hearing and forums regarding legislation that directly impacts all state residents. Furthermore, you get to meet so many interesting and nice people that care about the state of Connecticut.

I am currently working for the Senate Majority Leader, Bob Duff. I can truly say that this has been an unforgettable experience. I have seen how Senator Duff meets with people and interacts with the public. In addition, I have learned on how he fights for legislation that he thinks is important. This is legislation that will help the people of Connecticut, as well as towns like Norwalk and Darien, which are the towns within his district. He has definitely taught me a lot about government and how much time and dedication public service requires. Since Connecticut has a part-time state legislature, Senator Duff drives all the way from his district, which can be almost an hour a day with traffic. Every day he comes into the office ready to talk to people that are interested in passing legislation that can help Connecticut.

However, the internship is not done once I step out of the Capitol. As part of the Trinity Legislative Internship program, we have to analyze and study all of the politics that happen within the Connecticut State Capitol. Every Tuesday evening, from 6:30 to 9:00, all of the interns meet for a seminar. We have readings assigned, and we also have to type weekly analytical reports that relate to legislation and or issues that our assigned legislators are facing. Furthermore, we have to give an update on what we did during the week and explain are our current projects within the Capitol.

I would recommend this program to any student who is interested in working in the government or politics. You get an exclusive look at how state government operates, what it takes to create legislation—including what happens behind closed doors and the debates that rage on over specific legislation that you might care about. This of course is great work experience and will give you an edge if you plan to go into this field. For this reason, I urge students interested in politics to apply.

The Film Community at Trinity College

The Film Community at Trinity College

I always knew I wanted to be a film major ever since I was in middle school. I grew up watching movies from all eras, all qualities, and all languages. Film has been one of my favorite hobbies for such a long time. When I was in high school, I even made my own movies. Therefore, when I was seeking colleges, I knew that film would have to be a big part. Well, I am glad that I came to Trinity because Trinity can boast of a vibrant film community.

The film community begins with taking film classes. Here you will meet many students that are already film majors, or students that are interested in film as a major. I would recommend taking many production classes because those can be very time consuming, so its best to get them out of the way if you are planning to become a film major. The production classes allow you to meet people who love movies as much as you do. Furthermore, the film production classes allow you to get hands on experience using high quality equipment such as DSLR cameras or high-end audio equipment. This all becomes more fun when you start learning with some of your friends and eventually start making movies for class together. Finally, another reason why film studies is a great major is because its simply fun! You get to make movies about anything you want. You get to meet interesting people who are currently working in the industry. Finally, you make great friends that spend most of the time with you talking about movies. For this reason, I think that film studies should always be considered as a potential major.

Trinity also has an on-campus movie theater called, Cinestudio. How many other colleges can say that? Students that love film often volunteer to sell tickets, or manage the theater, making sure that everything runs smoothly. This movie theater is open to the public and often you will see people from outside Trinity come to enjoy movies with students. Trinity students along with other college students get discount tickets to the movies. However, if you volunteer, you actually get rewarded with free movie tickets for you and your friends. Overall, this is a great place to enjoy watching movies and meet other people that enjoy watching movies, too. Volunteer here if you definitely love movies.

What about discussing film? Well theory classes actually offer a platform for discussion. The film professors are very engaging and some of the most fun people you will meet at Trinity. They know so much about the history and theory of film and their classes are always interesting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch a movie every week and then talk about it? For example, last semester I took a film theory class where we saw a James Bond movie. After the class, I did not expect to know so much about psychoanalytic theory and all the things that go into making a James Bond movie. Some professors also assign movies that are shown at Cinestudio for class assignments! How about having class in an old fashioned movie theater?

The Trinity College library can boast of one of the best collections of films from all over the world. You can check the DVDs out and watch them in one of the many rooms that have a projector or TV within the library. Many of the Criterion Collection DVDs are here, and of course all film lovers love the Criterion Collection. Therefore, try watching a movie in the library with your friends. Bring popcorn, and I guarantee you can have fun.

Finally, one of the best things about the film community at Trinity is the Trinity Film Festival. This is an annual event where undergraduate students from all over the country submit 10 minute films to the festival that are then judged by celebrity judges from the film industry. There is a red carpet rolled out for this event and after the screenings of the films there is a black-tie reception where all the filmmakers get dressed up and are awarded prizes for their films. The event is open to the public. This year, the Film Festival will be held on May 5, 2018 at 5 pm. Hope to see you there!

Raether Library and its Benefits

Raether Library and its Benefits

Raether Library and Information Technology Center is one of the best academic places on campus. Students often come here to get their work done. Aside from being a place that holds books, the library actually provides many great services to help students get their work done.

One of the services offered is the ability to reserve rooms within the library to hold group study sessions. On their website, a student can find the schedule to reserve the space. This allows for a secure way on getting a quiet space to get work done. In addition, many of the rooms include computers, projectors, televisions, or any technological devices that can help with research. These rooms are useful when it comes to viewing movies for film classes. Reserving spaces works for getting work done.

Within the library exists another library. Watkinson Library and College Archives is a section of the library that specializes in documents and archives. Sometimes, professors will ask for primary source documents for an assignment. The staff at Watkinson Library is ready to help you and guide you in the right direction. As a student, you have access to documents from the American Civil War! All of these archives are held in quiet level C, which also acts as great place to study and read when you absolutely must get work done.

The staff at the library is also a great resource. When writing research papers, looking for sources can be a daunting task. However, students at Trinity are able to schedule appointments with librarians. They are a helpful source of information. They will not do your work for you, but they will definitely point you in the right direction. They will either recommend a book that can contain helpful information or they can show you a specific database that deals with a very specific topic. They are a great help.

In addition, level B of the Library holds the technology center. Students can come here to get their technological questions answered. Student workers who know about computers can instruct you on how to set up your laptop to print from the colleges printer. In addition, they can also show you more about your own devices. Students can even come here if they want to set up an Xbox One or Apple TV to the wi-fi network. These guys know what they are talking about when it comes to technology.

Finally, the library is a great place to relax. Sure, you might not believe me after I discussed how much students use this building as a resource to get their work done. However, its true, the library is a aesthetically pleasing location to go and read a novel. You can pick one out from the many leisure reading books from the library’s collection, which also contains graphic novels and manga. Also, throughout the building there are many puzzles that can be used to take stress away. Finally, how can I not mention Peter B’s which is the coffee shop with pastries and great drinks inside the library. Why not come and enjoy a cup?

Tips for Finals

Tips for Finals

As we leave Thanksgiving behind, finals season creeps in. We are now at the end of the semester and finals are about to start on December 14th! As work starts to pile up, students wind up spending an unfortunate amount of time in the library. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help students get through finals with some ease.

First, find your niche in the library. We are lucky to have a big library with many study spaces. Some students study well sitting at the big tables in the middle of the library. Others find it easier to focus at the cubbies. The library gets progressively quieter the higher up you go. Level 3 is a silent level, while people on levels A and B are free to talk. However, the quietest place in the library is level C, which many people don’t know about. Even further underground than level B, level C is a silent level where students can go to do their work in complete silence. Another feature of the library that should be explored is the study rooms. If there is a group project that requires input by multiple people, or a topic that is easier to understand if it is talked about out loud, students can book the study rooms. These are rooms on each level of the library that have white board walls, where students can collaborate, study and learn together.

Another feature to take advantage of is the office hours and student TA sessions. Professors are always willing to help students with material that they didn’t understand, whether by answering questions, or reiterating part of a lecture. They are also often willing to tell students the format of their exams so that students know how to prepare for their particular test. TAs, or Teacher’s Assistants, are a huge resource for students. The TA for each class has already taken the course, so they know exactly what the exam is going to look like. While they are always willing to help students with homework and with concepts from class, they are especially helpful when exams roll around. They will usually help students by advising them on how to study for the exam, telling them what kind of questions (the format and concepts) they are likely to see on the test. They also often have old exams from their class, or they prepare mock exams for the students to take to gage their preparedness.

Some students, especially English majors, face many more papers during the finals period then written exams. Trinity has a writing center, where students can have their work peer-reviewed. Professors nominate students who have outstanding writing ability to work at the center. Students can make appointments and have a fellow student help them with their papers. The reason this is such an awesome resource is because a student can walk in with as much of the paper as they want – an entire draft, or even just a prompt – and ask for help with whatever they need. Some students have their grammar checked, while others need help starting the paper and organizing their ideas. Whatever the request, the writing associates will help.

My last tip would be to take full advantage of the student run cafes on campus. The Underground Cafe is located right next to the post office, in the basement of Mather. It has a nice, usually quiet, space, with tables where students can grab a coffee or a milkshake and do their work. The other cafe is called Peter B’s and is located on the ground floor of the library. In the morning, Peter B’s serves pastries from First and Last, an outstanding bakery near campus. Their house blend is also extra caffeinated, which provides that extra push to get through finals. Both places are great spaces to study on your own, with friends, or meet with a TA or Professor.

Finals season is never pleasant but these few tips will hopefully make it a little more bearable as we count down to Winter break!!

Being a First-Year Seminar Mentor at Trinity

Being a First-Year Seminar Mentor at Trinity

I believe a very strong piece of Trinity is our First-Year Seminars and First-Year Programs. I remember mine well. I interviewed my roommate, Chandler Solimine ’19, on what it is like being a First-Year Seminar Mentor.

What is a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-A mentor is an upperclassmen who assists a professor in running their first-year seminar. My role is to help the students with their work for the seminar as well as their work for other classes, but more importantly, to guide them through their first semester at Trinity and answer any questions they have about all aspects of life on campus.

What is your seminar about? Who teaches it?

-My seminar is titled “Mind, Body, and the Concept of Mindfulness,” taught by Dr. Randy Lee. Over the semester we have and will continue to look at a number of different aspects of the relationship between mind and body, and understanding the difference (or lack thereof) between them. We look at some interesting questions and issues about mind and body and their interrelationship such as: exactly where in the “body” does the “mind” reside? What are hallucinations? Is depression physical or psychological? What really happens in hypnosis? Is meditation an effective way to stay physically healthy? How does stress affect us? Can the brain really rewire itself throughout our lives? Can stress cause cancer and other health issues? We also examine different practices of mindfulness and experiment with them ourselves to learn how we as individuals can be more mindful in our everyday lives.

How did you get this position?

– I was in this exact seminar with Professor Lee when I was a freshman, and I continued to have a great relationship with him after the class was over and into my sophomore year. Last winter he reached out to me and asked if I was interested in the mentor position and I didn’t hesitate for a second to accept.

What kind of responsibilities does it entail?

-My main responsibilities are to take part and facilitate class discussions, meet with students outside the class to help them prepare their classwork, talk to them about how they are assimilating onto a campus and Trinity’s culture, etc.

What is your favorite part about being a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-My favorite part is being about to meet so many new students and build relationships with freshmen that I probably never would’ve met otherwise. I enjoy being in a mentor sort of role and taking what I struggled with as a freshmen and turning it into advice for them.

What is most challenging about being a First-Year Seminar Mentor?

-Sometimes it is challenging to help the students find answers to questions I am unsure of because it is out of my realm of knowledge.

How is your seminar unique from the others?

-I would consider my seminar to have a very relaxed and friendly environment because the topic we are studying itself as well as the open environment that Professor Lee creates. There is a never a lecture, but always a group discussion where everyone chimes in with whatever is on their mind. While I am sure most first-year seminars foster this sort of environment, I feel that the lack of “black and whiteness” of the topic we are focused on allows for even more back and forth discussions to flow.

 

Washington Semester Program Guest Speakers

Washington Semester Program Guest Speakers

A key part of American University’s Washington Semester Program is the guest speakers. Sometimes my class travels downtown to the office of the speaker while other times they travel to American’s campus to speak to us in the classroom. Our speakers range from a partner of the media firm that produced all of Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign advertisements, to Republican and Democratic Congressmen, to people from lobbying and advocacy groups in various areas of policy.

The speaker’s organization is usually related to what we are learning about in class. They typically talk about their career and their organization and its mission. Usually the speaker will end by providing their contact information. People in Washington are always looking for the next generation that will be replacing them so they can ensure their goals and messages will persist. Students walk out of these class sessions with a new knowledge about the way Washington works, new career paths not previously known, and specific organizations they can contact to get involved.

I myself have gotten numerous business cards from speakers in organizations I found inspiring. I have also explored new parts of Washington. Such as the bookstore Politics & Prose owned by the class speaker and former speech writer for Hillary Clinton. I have also learned about different ways to get involved and influence policy.

The Washington Semester Program does an excellent job combining experiential learning through internships, traditional learning through seminars and lectures, and career development through guest speakers. I believe I will be leaving this program with growth in so many different areas that I may not have expected, which I am very grateful for!

Designing Your Own Major or Minor

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.

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

“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.

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.