LTO Swims onto Trin’s Campus

LTO Swims onto Trin’s Campus

SoMA Wendy Salto ’22 breaks down her thought process regarding joining Greek life at Trin, and how to go about branching out and bringing her connections to TrinColl. 

Wendy Salto ’22 wears her LTO swag, after helping bring the mermaids to Trin’s campus

I remember being a senior in high school, after being accepted to Trinity College, laying in my bed wondering if I would ever partake in Greek life on campus? The only concept I had about Greek life at that point, was what is illustrated in movies. By my sophomore year, I went through the Trin rush process, but there wasn’t an organization that ticked all of my boxes. I specifically wanted a sisterhood that would be with me beyond my college years, and that I could remain connected with when traveling home to Chicago. I wanted a sisterhood that purposefully would advocate for diversity and multiculturalism. A sisterhood that would open doors to meeting new people at other colleges.

Right when I was beginning to lose hope and becoming accustomed to the idea that maybe I would not be a part of Greek life at Trin, I learned about a sorority that was not on campus yet. Lambda Tau Omega Sorority, Incorporated (LTO) was looking to expand to schools in Connecticut. I made it a point to research as much as I could about this sisterhood online and reached out to one of the sisters that had come to host a general interest meeting. What intrigued me the most about LTO, founded in 1988, is that it is a sisterhood that was founded on the principles of womyn empowerment, multiculturalism, and commitment to service. As part of this, LTO uses “womyn” rather than “woman/women” to serve as a representation of the pride the group shares in accomplishments and strengths as womynkind.

“Enchanting the world since 1988, the strong, independent mermaids of Lambda Tau Omega aim to empower womyn, serve the community and be examples of excellence in all their endeavors. Independent and focused, the womyn of LTO represent style and grace. Come and take a dive to form bonds that last a lifetime and learn what it means to be a mermaid.”

Over last winter break, I was able to meet sisters in Chicago, my hometown, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Leviathan Lambda chapter. They took time out of their days to meet with me even though at that point I was unsure if I was going to dive into LTO myself. It was significant meeting these womyn because now I know that even when I am far from the east coast there are still mermaids out there that will be there for me. It was also encouraging to meet sisters that have been a part of this sisterhood for about the same length that I’ve existed on this earth (about 20 years). It truly showed that this was a sisterhood I would have beyond my years at Trinity. After meeting these womyn I knew that this was an organization that I wanted to bring to Trinity’s campus. I wanted to form part of something bigger than myself. This organization would not only provide a safe space for me but also offer an opportunity for womyn who typically would not see themselves as part of Greek life.

To say this endeavor was an easy one would be an understatement. Things happened that could not be foreseen (I see you COVID) but it all seems to have been for the best. I’ve met such amazing sisters ever since I became interested and I am so excited to meet even more. I have been bombarded with a huge amount of support and love. I am ecstatic about the impact that Lambda Tau Omega Sorority, Incorporated will have here in Hartford. Womyn from all walks of life are welcomed!

Any interested womyn can reach out to me via email (Wendy.Salto@trincoll.edu) to learn more about LTO!
Let’s Be Social: Greek Life at Trin: @trincollgreeks

LTO at Trin: @trinitymermaids
National LTO Account: @lambdatauomega 

Let’s Move! Bants Take Part in National Recreation Movement

Let’s Move! Bants Take Part in National Recreation Movement

SoMA, and peer, Annastazia Chin ‘22, recently spoke with Mia Conte ‘22 and Abel Ngala II ‘22 about what compelled them to be a part of the 2020 National Recreation Movement Project (fun fact: hundreds of colleges and universities are virtually a part of this movement this fall) on Trin’s campus, and how students can get involved and be active during the pandemic.

A little info: Mia Conte ‘22 is a double major in psychology and political science. Her interests are photography, reading books, exploring cities, and finding new coffee spots. Abel Ngala II ‘22 majors in studio arts and is a creative and brand owner. He designs clothes, websites, and experiences in pursuit of fulfilling one’s entertainment and happiness.

What is the Recreation Movement?

Bailey Hyland ’22; PC: Mia Conte ’22

The Recreation Movement is an initiative for people to remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the national movement is to keep students active together, even when students at different colleges and universities are miles apart. There are hundreds of classes to choose from so you can find the one that is best suited for you. The Recreation Movement platform even gives you the ability to log and track your workouts. Recreation Movements overall goal is to log five million minutes of movement, and we as Bants can contribute to that goal.

Here at Trin, the recreation department is having students compete against each other and whoever is on top of the leaderboard will be able to win prizes each week. (Nothing like a little friendly competition, right?)

There is an overall leaderboard for the Recreation Movement, which can be found on their website, and which shows the rankings of each school based on the amount of minutes of movement. Let’s get Trin up on the leaderboard! Here’s how we can do this—head to over Recreation Movement’s website to sign up for free and from there you can participate in any workout of your choice. Pretty easy!

Mia, what made you want to be a part of this project?

I was asked to be the photographer for the project. As an athlete, I know the importance of being active, and how it is beneficial in many other aspects of life (especially mental health and well-being). I chose to be apart of this project because I believe in its mission of promoting fitness and wellness amongst people in this very uncertain period.

Abel, what’s the purpose behind the photography of this project?

Julia Burdulis ’21; PC: Mia Conte ’22

Well, we wanted to highlight and depict what it means to be active. Mia and I figured out the best way to promote the program was by shooting our friends and teammates as they were being active around campus. We were able to spread the word around, and build a beautiful campaign.

Mia, what inspired the shots that you captured, and what inspired the spaces you used for the photoshoots?

Our goal was to get pictures of our friends being active, whether they were playing basketball, running or even boxing—we just truly wanted to capture the essence of fitness and what that could look like on campus or around Hartford. We didn’t limit our creative scope so wherever we felt like a good picture could be captured—we trusted our gut and just went for it and we got some really cool shots. Abel brought a speaker so there were a lot of positive vibrations around which resulted in us being able to capture those dynamic movements.

Abel, what was the creative inspiration behind this project?

As Mia said, we wanted to capture our friends being active and we were very intentional about which spaces we chose to use and the depth embodied in each shot. We wanted to make people excited about working out and moving their bodies.

Do you both see yourself getting involved with more photography projects on campus?

Abel: Yes I believe we’ll do more projects together on campus. I love working with Mia, she’s a great photographer and I only see her getting better.

You can see more of Abel’s and Mia’s work on Instagram at @abelnocain and @visualsbymiaa.conte and LET’S BE SOCIAL with @trinity.recreation 

Starting the week of 10/19, the recreation department will be awarding prizes to the top two Trin students who have logged the most points with the Recreation Movement platform each week! Register and start logging your fitness points! Use the hashtags: #recmovement #recathome #trincoll, when posting on your social feeds now through the program’s end in November.

And if you are looking for an awesome way to log those movement minutes, consider signing up for the CT Collegiate Virtual 5K, which starts 10/22 and runs through 10/25. Register, run/walk/jog, post a selfie using #CTRunsTogether, and submit your time. In other words, GET MOVING!

Why White Wants to Ensure TrinVotes!

Why White Wants to Ensure TrinVotes!

Bantam Maddy White ‘22, is a double major in human rights and French and a legal studies minor from Milton, Massachusetts. On-campus, she serves as Student Government Association (SGA) vice president of communications, is a member of Trin’s ConnPirg chapter, is involved with TrinVotes!, is the vice president of recruitment for Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), and sits on the JELLO (community service club) executive board. And as if that were not enough a busy enough schedule, she also works for Dream Camp.

SoMA, and class of 2022 peer, Wendy Salto ’22, recently spoke with White about her passion for voter’s rights and how Trin is helping students rock the vote this election year.

When did you first vote? What was your first voting experience like? 

I got involved in voter registration on Trin’s campus because, as a first-year, away from home for the first time, I was eligible to vote in my first midterm election, and I found the process hard. There are a lot of barriers to voting, and as members of a young population, we are underrepresented.

Bantam Maddy White ’22. PC: Mia Conte ’22

My freshman year, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m so excited I get to vote now!’ I’ve always been a really politically active person, but I got to college, and I was like, ‘I don’t know how to request an absentee ballot?’ (I’m registered to vote in Massachusetts, just because I care a lot about my local and my state politics.) After asking around, I eventually went online. I had to request the form. I had to print it out in the library and use my printing dollars. I filled it out and then had to find an envelope and a stamp, so I had to go to CVS and get envelopes and stamps because I didn’t have any. Finally, I was able to send in my ballot.

Barriers — can you elaborate further on the challenges students face?

A lot of states (not Connecticut) don’t have online voter registration! So, you have to go in person to get a request form. I think absentee voting is hard because you have to plan for it—you have to time out when you’re going to request it. And then, you have to wait for the ballot to arrive in the mail, and after you fill out the ballot—and send it back in the mail—you have to wait for it to get delivered.

@trinvotes posts a reminder on Instagram on 10/11/2020, reminding students to vote early.

I’d say another barrier is that a lot of people start their voter registration forms, but don’t finish them. In Connecticut, for example, you have to put your driver’s license number on the form, or your social security number. And, a lot of us students, surprisingly, don’t have that information. It is a barrier because so many people will start the registration form thinking that they’ve finished, but in reality, their forms are incomplete.

Thankfully, in the virtual world, there are more online voter registration opportunities. StudentVote.org is a website for students, by students, that allows us to help one another with the voter registration process. It allows us to follow up and contact students who have incomplete forms. You can even put your phone number in, and you’ll get a call reminding you to vote on Election Day (11/3/2020), and ensuring you have all the information you need to do so. So, that would be my recommendation, use that resource because it’s really effective and provides you the information that you need to be successful.

Do you have encouraging words for people that are feeling like, “Oh, it’s not worth it? Like, it’s so hard?!” 

My advice would be you can do it, you just have to do it early. And you have to be on top of it. Have a plan! You also have the option to change your registration to Connecticut, but the deadline is October 27. So, let’s say you forget to request your absentee ballot, or it doesn’t get here in time, and you’re worried your vote is not going to count. Last-minute, you can change your voter registration to Connecticut, and then you can walk to the polls over at the Learning Corridor.

How are groups like TrinVotes! and ConnPirg working to engage students during COVID-19?

We’re trying to engage students through several different events and building our coalition. We recently celebrated national voter registration day, just a nonpartisan civic engagement holiday. And that was fun, because it brought together people from all different groups from the pirgs, from TrinVotes!, and also just people that care about voting. We had secretary of the state of Connecticut, Denise Merrill there. We did some trivia. And then we did what is called “a call to action,” where we stayed on Zoom, played music, and reached out to our friends and family to get them registered. So we’ve kind of turned this into relational organizing, which is this new concept that I’m learning so much about, but how to use like, the relationships that we have, in a virtual world to our benefit.

What can students do to become more involved with student groups like TrinVotes! and ConnPirg?

White working voter registration day last year outside of Mather Hall

The TrinVotes! group meets every other Thursday at 2 p.m. (EDT). We are looking for many more students to join this coalition! Students can shoot me an email and I can add people to the calendar invite. And it’s just a really good way to meet like-minded people. And I’ve formed great relationships with professors and staff that I would have never met if I wasn’t a part of this group, like Carlos Espinosa (Trin alumnus and Director, Office of Community Relations & Trinfo.Café) and Joe Barber (Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement), who co-run the coalition.
You can also get involved with the new voters project through Trinity ConnPirg. The New Voters Project meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. (EDT) over Zoom. Our campaign meetings are a great time to talk about ideas that we have for events and engaging students, and also how we can meet our goal of registering 350 voters by Election Day.

Is there anything else you want students to know?

I know this is a lot of student’s first presidential election, ever. And it’s exciting because it is a momentous event in your life.

I’m really looking forward to voting. And I’m hoping that we can increase voter turnout at Trinity. I think that the first step is getting registered. And the second step is executing your vote. And I just hope that the work that I’m doing on campus just makes this process a little bit more available and a little bit more accessible for, you know, the typical busy college student.

LET’S BE SOCIAL: @maddy.white

Kaylen Jackson ’21

Kaylen Jackson ’21

Kaylen Jackson, a 1823 Scholar, is a public policy and law major with a minor in writing, rhetoric, and media studies. During her time at Trinity she has had the opportunity to travel to Japan on the Technos International Tour. She has worked as Head Tour Guide for Admissions and as a Resident Assistant. She has served as Freshman Class Senator and Sophomore Class President in Student Government. She is a mentor for the Venture Women Leadership Program. She writes for the Trinity Tripod and is the public relations and marketing director for the Pre-Law Society. During the summer she worked with the Public Humanities Collective as a student researcher to create a transatlantic food database comparing food regulations and norms in the EU. She spent her junior year abroad on a scholarship studying politics and english at the University of Oxford in England. 

Favorite TV Shows: Insecure, Broad City, and Umbrella Academy 

Favorite Food: Lobster (when I can afford it) 

Let’s Be Social: @kaylenmjackson 

Favorite place on campus: English building! Its slightly haunted but serene

Mia Conte ’22

Mia Conte ’22

Hi, I’m Mia! I’m a current junior and student-athlete at Trinity College, and just recently have started photography (@visualsbymiaa.conte). Being a student-athlete, I’m passionate about highlighting the behind the scenes of athletes training: by displaying their daily grind. I love taking lifestyle photos in a downtown setting where I get inspiration from all different forms in the environment. With everyone I photograph I hope to bring about their natural beauty and energy through my bright visuals! Super excited to join the SOMA group! Enjoy 🙂

Let’s Be Social: @mia.conte

Annastazia Chin ’22

Annastazia Chin ’22

My name is Annastazia Chin ’22, and I’m currently a junior student-athlete double majoring in computer science and theatre and dance minoring in writing, rhetoric and media studies. I grew up around the arts so I’ve always enjoyed dabbling in anything media and/or art related. I appreciate the intersection of art and technology and what that looks like in today’s world. 

Let’s Be Social:@annadchinny

From Off-Your-Shelf Summer Reading to Audio Shelfie Sharing

From Off-Your-Shelf Summer Reading to Audio Shelfie Sharing

Wondering what Trin students are up to this summer—especially while doing much of their work and research remotely? We asked Esther Appiah ’21, and Max Norteman ’23 to share a little about their experience taking a Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) course, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and taken through The Center for Hartford Engagement & Research (aka CHER) at Trinity College. For those who are unfamiliar, PHC courses at Trin are summer research opportunities that bring together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in the local Hartford area to work on public humanities projects—the study of how people interpret stories of shared human experiences.

Esther and Max applied for the ten-week research experience and were matched with a faculty member already working with a research topic that both Bants were interested in—in this case, podcasting and storytelling. Dr. Mary Mahoney, Trin’s Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (who also happens to be an alumna of the class of 2009), was the perfect match for Esther and Max because of the love for reading and fostering empathetic communities that all three of these Bants share.

Here is what Esther and Max had to say about their current project, Audio Shelfie, and their request for the Trin community to participate in their research:

Audio Shelfie is a storytelling project by Dr. Mahoney designed to foster empathy by posing questions about specific readings and then collecting stories from participants about what that reading experience helped them understand about themselves. It is an in-depth dive or self-reflection. We believe talking about books and reading experiences helps us to connect with others by fostering a sense of community. And we want YOU, in our Trinity community to participate in this project! We are looking to collect submissions through the start of August 2020. If you are looking to learn more about Audio Shelfie, check out our past interviews on Instagram @audioshelfie. Click here to listen to a sample Audio Shelfie, and then submit your own story here!

What topics are being collected?

We’re currently taking submissions for these specific questions for our listening guide. Listening guides will be available on our site shortly.

  • What are some readings that helped you understand ‘Black Lives Matter’? What did they teach you about yourself?
  • What book or writer had the greatest influence on your relationship with food? What did this help you understand about heritage and culture?

If you’re available and would rather submit a “Shelfie” via Instagram interview, reach out to Max and Esther via email: [esther.appiah@trincoll.edu x Maxwell.norteman@trincoll.edu]

Let’s Get Virtual With TFF 2020

Let’s Get Virtual With TFF 2020

Logo design: Diana Rose Smith ’19

If you follow Trinity Film Fest (TFF) on social media, you’ve likely seen numerous student videos and throwback still images from films promoting the upcoming festival. We recently asked TFF senior director, Kyra Lyons ’20, to pose a few key questions for fellow TFF creative team & screening committee member, Simran Subramaniam ’22. Here’s how their conversation unfolded…

PC: TFF on Insta

But wait!
Before we dive into the Q&A, what is the Trinity Film Festival, you ask? Kyra breaks it down:
TFF features the innovative work of talented, undergraduate filmmakers from Trin and around the world and showcases those films every spring at Cinestudio, the nationally-acclaimed 1930s-style movie palace on our Trinity College campus in Hartford, Connecticut. This year though, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ninth annual film festival will be held virtually starting 5/2, at trinfilmfestival.org/tff2020

And onto the Q&A:
KYRA: Why are you passionate about film?
SIMRAN: In a way, film found me. I was a part of the InterArts gateway seminar program as a first-year and took a film production course with Visiting Professor Ian Harnarine, both experiences were major turning points for me. Both classes not only taught me about film production on a technical level but having professors who were so passionate about their work and what drives them to create helped me find my own artistic voice; one that I was struggling to find when I was more focused on music. The power of collective emotions in a movie theatre is one of the best feelings, especially when you can use that to drive a change in the world, and film is one of the most powerful tools for that.

What inspired you to become involved with TFF?
I love short films, and to give underrated student filmmakers a platform to showcase their work sounded incredible because these are fellow students who are trying to create and enter the film industry. I want their voices heard! That said, I credit fellow student (and friend), Nirina Randrianarisoa ’21 for inspiring me. He’s been a huge part of my film journey starting from freshman year as my TA [teacher’s assistant], and the DOP [direc. of photography] for a film we made for our seminar. Since then, I’ve worked on multiple student productions with him, and he encouraged me to join TFF.

Watch or create film? And, don’t say both.
I feel like I’m betraying each half of myself by answering that, but I love to create. Even if it’s just experimental, I’m constantly looking at the world, the people in front of me, and what is happening in front of me as if they are events unfolding in a plot. Building a world, and developing characters is one part of it, but I love cinematography and lighting so everywhere I go, I find myself trying to frame a shot in my head and how I would want to film it.

How has your work with the festival shifted in the past month and a half as a result of the global pandemic?
In terms of being on the creative team, our biggest task was figuring out how to move forward without being in-person to collaborate and create content leading up to the festival. We’re definitely lucky that we had already had some in-person collaborations before we all left campus [in March], but it’s been a fun challenge to see how we can show our connections to each other and the festival when we’re all scattered around the world. [Simran, for example, is home in India at the moment].

The switch from in-person cinema experience to online viewing can change the audience’s experience. Keeping that in mind while pushing forward with the festival, changed the way we were channeling our creativity. In the era of streaming platforms, it’s an ironic way for us to keep up with the changing times.

How can audience members access TFF this year?
What can people expect to be different?
Our website is trinfilmfestival.org/tff2020
Go there. The films will go live by noon (EDT) on Saturday, 5/2, [and audiences will have the opportunity to vote online for their favorite film through Tuesday, 5/5. Winning films will be judged by a TFF guest panel and cash prizes, sponsored by Xfinity, will be awarded.]

I don’t want to reveal the content of the films, but when you have young student filmmakers creating, you can bet they’re inspired by some of the best works of the 21st century—but with our generations humor, ideas, and views on experiences and life itself. We had to keep in mind how different it is to view films in a cinema vs alone, and some films might be less perceptible to solo audiences. That being said, the quality of work is fantastic and whether you’re watching alone, or with your family, these films are a must-watch (and it’s fresh content for your quarantine boredom, what more could you need?)

And lastly, we need to know: Favorite film?
And film you’d recommend to someone just getting into cinema?
I have so many favorites, but my current favorites would be a tie between Parasite and Get Out.

Apart from some of the classics (like films Vertigo and Citizen Kane), I would say Pulp Fiction and Moonlight are two films of very different genres that are worth watching for anyone getting into film in the 21st century.

Let’s Be Social: @simraannnnnnn; @kyraliger; @trinityfilmfestival
[Pics submitted for publication by Simran Subramaniam ’22]

And, one more time for those in the back of the theater who spilled their popcorn, find the films: trinfilmfestival.org/tff2020

Love Me Natural: New Growth & Self-Expression

Love Me Natural: New Growth & Self-Expression

Amber Montalvo ’20 recently guided me through the journey of starting her lifestyle brand, “Love Me Natural,” her inspirations, and her advice for Trin’s upcoming class of 2024. To get to know her a little better, I first asked Amber about her major and her extracurricular activities:

At Trinity, my major is education, with a focus on education and power. I am involved with the Trinity College’s Black Women Organization (T.C.B.W.O), and I am a barista at Peter B’s. Off-campus I am remotely interning for “Embrace Her Legacy,” based in NYC. “Embrace Her Legacy,” is a non-profit personal development organization dedicated to equipping women and girls with the tools needed to overcome internal and external challenges in fulfilling a purpose-driven legacy.

As the founder of her lifestyle brand, “Love Me Natural,” I was curious to know what her inspiration was for her first-ever event back in 2017?

Members of TrinColl's T.C.B.W.O pictured outside of the Chapel
Members of TrinColl’s T.C.B.W.O pictured outside of the Chapel

It started with a T.C.B.W.O event my sophomore year. We held an event called “Love Me Natural,” and at the time I had just transitioned to wearing my hair curly full time, and my curls had been revived from heat damage. The event was a space for women on campus who had the intention of going natural, or were curious about it, to learn about my journey. I loved the event. I wanted more people to feel more comfortable wearing their natural hair. I used to straighten my hair because I felt like it stood out too much. 

Amber was unaware of what the event would morph into. What was supposed to be a one-time event, flourished into a lifestyle brand. This blooming occurred after Amber spent time studying abroad in Amsterdam. ? She reflects on this pivotal change for her and her brand:

Montalvo in Amsterdam
Montalvo in Amsterdam

Montalvo in Amsterdam

In the Spring of 2019, I went abroad to Amsterdam. It also happened to be Women’s History Month, so I wanted to do something with the small community of international students at the student hotel I was living in. I decided I was going to do a second natural hair event in Amsterdam, except this time, instead of doing beautification of hair, I organized a workshop focusing on the politics of black hair globally. I brought in women from around the Netherlands. I direct messaged people, I posted flyers and invited people from Amsterdam who had networks and similar interests. We all ended up coming together in this office space and shared our different experiences with our hair. It was powerful. I was in a different country and the women around me were from different countries. They gave me a perspective I didn’t have back home. The purpose wasn’t for me to come into the space and teach, it was really for women to get to know each other and discuss why black hair is important globally. After getting positive responses from that event, I knew I needed to keep doing the work, because I saw the importance of it, and recognized how good it felt. The brand grew from there. I eventually did various workshops in NYC, created an Instagram page and YouTube channel, and now the brand is also active on campus.

How do you see “Love Me Natural” thriving on Trin’s campus, and into the future once you graduate?

I have two ambassadors right now who are going to help when I graduate: freshmen Keanny Correia ’23 and Jason Farrell Jr., ’23. They reached out to me wanting to be part of the mission. That’s who I want to be involved with this brand, people who are genuinely interested in the idea of the “Love Me Natural” lifestyle. 

Initially, I held workshops last semester, but now I hold consultations for women who are interested in the natural hair transition process, or who have questions about being confident in their natural skin, and with their hair. There are various levels of the journey for many people, and I work with them one-on-one so I can learn their story, and tailor my advice to them specifically. 

I was curious about how Amber personalizes her consultations for people. So, I asked her what a typical consultation looks like.

Prospective clients email me with interest, and typically, I will send a form to understand what their full needs are, because often, it’s not just about hair, it’s about skincare as well. The form allows me to understand what the client wants to talk about, and what stage they are at with their natural hair so I can tailor to their needs. Then we will set up a time and a location to meet. I have had sessions in public spaces, like Peter B’s, but I have also had sessions that are in private spaces. I understand that this can be a sensitive topic for some people. It’s not always easy talking about self-confidence, about Blackness, or being Black on Trin’s campus. Everything during the consultation process is up to the client. 

I asked Amber, who has inspired her current projects?

I am inspired by my mentor and boss, Maria I. Melendez, who is the founder of “Embrace Her Legacy.” She is a boss because she is unapologetic about being herself. I have been with her in spaces that have been professional and casual, but in all these different areas she is the same, and I love that. I am trying to do that myself—to be comfortable being myself in every space that I am in. Watching Maria achieve that level of comfort and confidence is very inspiring. In terms of celebrities, I am inspired by Yara Shahidi, because she is also unapologetically herself. She is using her platform to be a scholar, an activist, a model, and she’s Black. I am rooting for every Black woman.  

With the global pandemic and spread of COVID-19, I asked Amber how her projects, like the anticipated Hair Gala, which had been slated for April 2020, will be adapted?

“New Growth: The Hair Gala” was scheduled for Saturday, April 11, [but had to be cancelled] so I was feeling low on that day. However, I shared @loveme.natural.official behind-the-scenes footage on Instagram and YouTube that day, as a way to leave the community with something until the final show can be held. Editing the footage not only made me feel good, but it motivated me to use this time to improve the initiative. The Gala will now be held at a later date, still to be determined. I don’t have solidified details to share with the public as of yet.

The “Love Me Natural” team is also increasing our online engagement. We currently have free one-on-one consultations. The consultations are a chance for our clients to receive hair-care remedies tailored to their lifestyle and hair, and guidance in feeling confident if they are new to the natural hair journey. But, you don’t have to be new to the journey to sign up. If you have questions about your hair, or you just want to share your story with us, sign-up. The link is located in the bio on our Instagram page, which is the best way to engage with “Love Me Natural”—follow us on Instagram. As for me, the brand keeps me hopeful. Speaking with clients is the highlight of my week. I can openly say that I am fighting depressive episodes, like many of you. I just take it day by day and am grateful for every moment where I feel energized. I am healthy, and that matters most right now.

What are you grateful for about your time at Trin? 

I am grateful for the tools that were available to me, such as the darkroom, the media labs, and the studios. I didn’t grow up with resources like that, and I’ve always had an interest in dancing and videography, but I never had the space to do it. I wish I had gotten into videography and dancing sooner, but I am glad that I can do that now and use it for what I can. 

What advice do you wish you had heard as a first-year, and what advice do you have for the class of 2024?

The advice I am about to give is advice someone gave me, and I wish I had listened to them. So, I hope someone listens to me: Do not define yourself according to your social group or according to a specific space, like Trin. I know it’s hard, but be aware of how you are growing according to the space you are in all the time and try your hardest to step off campus and try new things so that you continue to grow. Your freshman year, when you are 18-years-old going to college, you have so much growing to do. You don’t know who you are going to be once you become a senior. You are so impressionable which means you have to be super intentional about what is influencing you, and what is influencing your values, even if it’s just about changing your hairstyle, or the way you dress. Be cognizant about what’s making you change, because you are going to look back and be like, “wow I don’t know who that person was,” or, “wow, I’m happy I was around those people and I’m more mindful now.” 

Amber left me with this final piece of advice:

I used to be super sensitive about being misunderstood. People are going to judge you, of course, but my number one pet peeve was being misjudged. I have learned that you can’t control other people and what is being perceived. That’s just how it’s going to be. So, don’t be sorry about the decisions you make to be yourself or express yourself. 

Let’s Be Social: @amberr.montalvo; @loveme.natural.official