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.

Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Trinity Days on Campus

Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Trinity Days on Campus

Although Trinity Days is a time in which many people go home or travel for the long weekend, it is also a pretty special time to spend on a much quieter campus. Whether you are here for sports or just staying, the often overlooked opportunities and ventures available around campus make for wonderful weekend plans for both those looking to relax and those seeking activity.

Not only does the holiday weekend seem to fall at the most perfect time each semester but whether you are home or staying on campus, the break serves as the chance to get ahead on work and get a much needed mental reset. It is hard to not get caught up in a whirlwind of work during the semester, so the chance to re-balance your sleep schedule is crucial during this time. Similarly, if you are one to get overwhelmed by course assignments during the school week, this four day weekend is the perfect opportunity for you to get caught up on your work so that you can return to the semester more comfortable and confident. The beautiful library at Trinity College is the perfect environment to do so, with its calming natural light and even more available seating in light of the holiday! My personal favorite area of the library, aside from Peter B’s (the student run coffee shop) of course, is on the second floor by the tennis courts overlooking the chapel and the sports fields. The plethora of windows allow for a surplus of light to come in, and the large tables are perfect for spreading out your work materials. But no matter where you find yourself in the library, there is always a comfortable place to be the true academic weapon you know you can be.

If you are someone who is looking more to relax during the long weekend, Hartford can help. Despite it being a bustling city, the surrounding areas of Hartford offer a great variety of restaurants, services and outings that can get you both off campus and refreshed. For example, if a good meal is what you are looking for, look no further than the restaurants and shops just down Broad Street. If you travel just a half mile or so off campus you’ll eventually come to an industrial looking square that actually is home to one of Hartford’s best restaurants, Firebox Kitchen. Firebox is a cool, local restaurant that has great food and a great ambiance. Even better, you can feel good about eating there too because Firebox has helped support the local youth and adult workforce of the surrounding communities. West Hartford also has some amazing restaurants to get lost in, such as Barcelona, Averte, Max’s Oyster Bar and more. If you are looking for something a little bit more chill, the plethora of more casual dining options such as Chipotle, Bruggers Bagels, Robek’s Juice Bar, and Hartford Baking Company are all great places to get something to eat without the wait. Additionally, the upstairs seating area in Hartford Baking Co. makes it the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a good book or doing some work. If you are looking more along the lines of true relaxation during the break, then West Hartford is also a great place to book a massage, get a manicure/pedicure, or catch a yoga or another group exercise class.

If instead you want to do something a little bit more adventurous during your break, then Hartford can help once again. Hartford is a perfectly walk-able city where you can find all sorts of parks, arts venues, museums, and hiking trails.

Getting Around Hartford

Getting Around Hartford

One of the great things about Trinity is its location. We are located just outside of Downtown Hartford, a thriving city with museums, amazing restaurants, art and performance venues, and its own identity and culture. Trinity has implemented many resources to help students get around Hartford as easily as possible. Trinity’s campus is located at the conjunction of four residential Hartford neighborhoods, so there are only a few restaurants and markets within walking distance of campus. But Trinity has made it pretty easy to get anywhere you might want to go around the city.

There are a variety of ways that Trinity has set up for students to get around the city, and even more ways provided directly by the city of Hartford. The first thing Trinity has done is secure a shuttle that drives around the perimeter of campus at all times. It stops at different locations around campus every 20 minutes. The shuttle will pick you up anywhere on the outside of campus, and drop you off anywhere along the route. You can also call campus safety and request the shuttle to your location. There is also another shuttle that runs off campus. This shuttle has specific times that change every once in a while, but the main time it runs is on Saturday afternoons, when it takes students to Walmart, Target or the Westfarms Mall, and then picks them up and brings them back to campus. Trinity also provides each student with a free Bantam Bus Pass every semester. These allow students to ride the Hartford city buses completely free all around the city. There are even some field trips that require students to take the bus, and there are chaperones who teach and show the students how to use the bus system. Bus schedules and routes are located in Mather Hall.

There are many festivals downtown throughout the semester, and the bus is the perfect way to get around during those times. Its a great time for students to get a chance to experience the cultures of the city. Students also love going to the local coffee shops to get a change of scenery when studying for tests or doing homework. Story and Soil is a local coffee shop co-owned by a Trinity alum who wanted to celebrate the Hartford culture through coffee and community. There are also amazing arts venues and performance spaces around the city like Real Art Ways, Playhouse on Park, The Hartford Stage and The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Hartford is there to take full advantage of and students can’t be more grateful that Trinity offers so many opportunities to do so.

Aside from public transportation and the shuttles, it is also incredibly easy to order Uber or Lyfts to campus. This is a quick and easy way to get downtown if necessary, or for a night out to the theater, to dinner, or to a movie. The nice thing about Ubers and Lyfts is that they pick you up and drop you off exactly when you need and where you want to be. The other forms of transportation have specific stops. However, all are easy and fun ways to get around Hartford, and it allows the students to break out of the Trinity bubble and explore the amazing city of Hartford.

ACES Thanksgiving Drive

ACES Thanksgiving Drive

Right before thanksgiving break every year, ACES, the community service club on campus, holds their annual thanksgiving drive. They ask for any donations people are willing to make, whether that be money, or food. They also ask students to donate their meal swipes at the end of the week (the swipes that are left over, and won’t be used).

Once they have collected all the donations and the money, the presidents, Alex Donald ’19 and Lexie Axon ’19, and a few other members of the club go to Stop & Shop and buy food to donate. Since the goal is to make 100 full Thanksgiving meals for people who cannot afford them this season, they buy whatever is still needed after people donate food. The goal is to have 100 of each item -turkey, juice, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, beans, peas, cranberry sauce, gravy, dinner rolls, pie crust and pie filling. The workers at Stop & Shop are extremely helpful in this process, since there is so much food to buy. This season, we wound up filling 9 carts full of food, and the workers helped us take it all to the front, check it all out and were even willing to store some of it in the back, so we could come back the next day.

Once all the food has been brought to the community service office, the presidents ask the members to spend just 30 minutes to an hour at the community service office on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The more members that come the more efficient the process, because the office is set up so that the members can make a chain and pack each of the bags efficiently and with all the ingredients. Trader Joe’s donates 200 bags so that each family can get a double bagged meal, since it is very heavy. Once all the bags are packed, the presidents, and their advisor, Joe Barber, take the bags to Hands on Hartford so that they can be donated to families without the means of providing their own Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday.

How I’m Breaking Barriers with My Hockey Internship

How I’m Breaking Barriers with My Hockey Internship

I don’t think there’s ever been a better example of how Trinity gets internships for students than my experience. I currently have an internship with the minor league hockey team downtown called the Wolf Pack. I’m doing PR and Media Relations with them, and though I’ve only been on the job for a few weeks, I’m loving it. But let me start from the beginning and walk you through how I got this amazing opportunity.

I’ve been writing for years and knew I wanted to major in English when coming to college. I loved that Trinity had a creative writing concentration within the English major so I knew I could really pursue what I wanted to do. I’ve also been going to hockey games since I was about seven, starting with the Lowell Lock Monsters, a minor league affiliate of various NHL teams over the years. So it was only natural that I would start writing for Trinity’s newspaper The Tripod my first semester here.

I loved covering for the hockey team and getting my stories in the paper, even if it was just a college newspaper.

Fast forward a year and a half to my sophomore year. I had been writing for the Tripod for almost four semesters and looking for internships.

I wanted to do something in the PR,  Communications, or Marketing field so I looked on the Trinity College Career Development Center website and found internship and job postings. Alums and local businesses, who have hired Trinity students in the past, tend to advertise there. One of the internships listed was with the Wolf Pack, who has different interns each semester, all of them from Trinity (and, unbeknownst to me, all of them male, but we’ll get back to that point in a minute). So I applied for the PR and Media Relations internship. I sent over my writing samples, and I went downtown to the XL Center for an interview. I aced the interview and during this time, my future boss told me that I was the first female to apply (and eventually be hired) for this job. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about myself. It’s a good feeling to achieve something you’ve really wanted, but it feels even better to be the first female to do so and to start breaking down that barrier.

So now, I have this amazing internship this semester where I’m writing game stories, interviewing players, and learning about what it takes to make it in this industry. Not only is my work getting regularly published, it’s an incredible experience and I’m so thankful I am the first woman to do so.

Safety in Hartford

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.

Fun Events in the Connecticut Area

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.

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.

Student Spotlight: Michael Zarra ’19

In our interview, Michael Zarra ’19 tells us how Trinity helped him find an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, what he does there, and what it is like to be one of Trinity’s Catalyst interns! 

Hometown: Cheshire, CT

Class year: Class of 2019

Major: Neuroscience

Involvement at school: Men’s Track, Research, Student Senate, Habitat for Humanity, Theater

How did Trinity help you find your internship at Boston Children’s Hospital? 

I found my internship at Boston Children’s Hospital through Trinity’s Career Link portal. The career development center was integral in helping me reach out to alumni at BCH, and writing a cover letter. I would have been far less successful without their support!

What made you want to intern there? 

I have been interested in healthcare for a long time, but my passion for pediatric neurology developed through my time volunteering at the Institute of Living in Hartford my Freshman year. I knew the chance to work in a children’s hospital with the reputation of BCH, and specifically in the Neurology Department, would be an invaluable opportunity to gain experience and exposure with a population I love.

What is a regular day there like?

I’ve learned there are no regular days in the BCH Quality Improvement Department. There are numerous projects ongoing simultaneously, and many team members from administers to doctors, nurses, and consultants whose ideas all need to be integrated into the patient care process. Most days I have a list of goals for a specific project that I set for myself with the help of my team. There are usually meetings with staff and physicians to incorporate clinical experience into our data analysis. Projects can take years to complete, so it’s a lot about monitoring and fine tweaking to shape the path towards a desired outcome.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far? 

Although there have been many surprises throughout the journey this experience has afforded me, one of the biggest revelations has been seeing what doctors do outside of the clinic. The amount of research, teaching, team building, and barbecues they host was unexpected. I have been fortunate to be able to interview applicants for positions within the QI Neurology Department, and I was very shocked to learn doctors were leaving clinical positions for administrative one because, “it allows them to better help the patients”. That was a perspective I had never considered.

How has being a Catalyst intern shaped your experience?

Being a Catalyst intern has helped in more ways than one. Although I still made the choice to get a second job while in Boston, the Catalyst program has afforded me the ability to live close to my internship. With that comes the ability to dedicate more hours to my internship and augment my experience. Paying for food, rent, and other living expenses has been much less of a burden then it would have been without the stipend that the Catalyst Initiative offered. However most importantly, the ongoing support I receive from the Career Development Center has undoubtedly given me the confidence to sculpt my experience not just into a transformative summer, but has guided the beginning of my career path invigorating me to get going.

On Moving to a City

On Moving to a City

For 18 years of my life I lived in a town with a population of about 10,000. My high school had about 200 kids per grade, kids that I had gone to kindergarten with and graduated high school with. It is a “quaint New England town”. And the one thing I knew I wanted when looking at college was to be in a city. I wanted to experience city living for a while and see what I was missing.

Riverfront Recapture connects Hartford business and organizations to the community.
Riverfront Recapture connects Hartford business and organizations to the community.

Hartford is about twelve times the size of my town, in terms of population. There’s a public transportation system, there’s more than just two restaurant, and the city has so much stuff to do. Connecticut has a rich history dating back beyond the Revolutionary War with many historical sites dedicated to different parts of history. Bushnell Park, the center of the city, is beautiful, especially the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial arch, which I got to go up in my first week on campus. Being from Massachusetts my only real experience with city halls was the Boston City Hall, which isn’t the prettiest. Hartford’s on the other hand is magnificent. When I round the bend on the highway coming back to school and see the stunning golden dome rising above everything else, I know I’m home.

One thing that I didn’t expect was the noise level. I knew it wouldn’t silent living in a city. It took a little while to get used to cars driving around all the time but I grew accustom to it and it doesn’t bother me now anymore. It’s almost like white noise. But when I went home for the first time after living in the city for a few months, it seemed like it was deafeningly quiet. At night the only sounds were the cicadas and the occasional call of a bird. I found myself missing my noisy city.

Another aspect of city life that I really love is not having a car. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving probably more than the average person, but living a city, you don’t need a car. In my town if you didn’t have a car, you didn’t have a life because the closest anything was always a 10 minute car ride away. In Hartford I can walk really anywhere I want to go. First-years aren’t allowed to have cars on campus but even as a sophomore, I don’t feel the need to bring a car down. Getting off campus is easy without a car and like most cities, it’s difficult to find parking.

Sometimes I do miss home and the simpler “country” living but I wouldn’t trade my city school for anything and I can’t wait to keep living here for at least a few more years.