From the Bronx to Hartford & All the Hip Hop in Between

Selina Ortiz ’19 is a computer science major and legal studies minor from Bronx, NY. She’s super involved around campus, and she is currently planning (and pumped for) the upcoming 14th annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival organized by the Trinity Chapter of Temple of Hip Hop at Trin on March 28-31.

Selina recently gave us advice on how Bants can get involved on campus and offered up a quick history lesson on Temple of Hip Hop and what we can expect during the upcoming fest.

Fun Fact: 
I drove my grandfather’s boat when I was six years old when we went to visit him on Long Island one summer.

Why Trin?
My college counselor, Zee Santiago ’09 is an alumnus. He was the one who put Trinity on my radar. Trin’s small campus environment and the surrounding Hartford neighborhoods sealed the deal. I really envisioned myself interacting with the campus and local communities.

Mather, Cave, or Bistro?
Peter B’s or Underground?
Bistro if it’s open because Patrick makes good burgers and Mather for the variety and for Tony’s burgers and chicken melts. I’ve used both coffee shops, but you are more likely going to spot me at the Underground. Many of my friends are baristas there, so I have to show my support. It’s also more of a quiet vibe where you can see people either studying or passed out because of studying.

What is it like to be a woman in STEM?
Women have been making huge strides in STEM, and to be a part of that movement is invigorating! As a computer science major, I believe the field needs more female representation because it’s only recently that we’ve seen innovations and achievements by women, which surprises many. Personally, I wanted to study computer science to normalize these expectations. It should not be a surprise when a female achieves greatness, she is just as capable as her male counterparts, and can even offer something more to the world.

Why do you think it is important to be involved on campus?
Being involved gives us an opportunity to learn more about our likes and dislikes, and it helps us explore interests outside of academics. Being involved can take many forms, and it doesn’t mean you have to join a club, because you can also show your interest in being a part of the campus community by going to events and interacting with others. You will be here for four years, so you might as well make some memories while you’re here.

How has being a student at Trin benefited you?
Trinity has helped me get out of my comfort zone. My involvement has helped me connect with people I probably would not have interacted with on my own.

What sparked your interest to join the organizations you are currently involved with?
I have always wanted to help people, and I believe in leaving doors open for those that are behind you. I never sought to be a leader, but I knew I wanted to be a person that other students knew had their backs, and that they could reach out to for help. We are all going through the journey of navigating college life at Trinity together, so why not help each other out?

Did you think your freshman year that you would end up becoming so involved with campus organizations?
I didn’t think I would, but other people saw it. I have a knack for connecting with people, and I consider myself to be a very friendly, open-minded person, and that draws different people in.

Why is Temple of Hip Hop so important to you? Can you tell us Temple’s roots here at Trin?
Temple of Hip Hop is important, because it keeps the roots of hip hop alive, not only through music and the arts, but also through academics. Trin’s Temple of Hip Hop is a chapter of the national Temple of Hip Hop organization created by KRS-One, a rapper from the Bronx. Trinity is the only college with a chapter on campus, and the hip hop fest that takes place on Trin’s campus existed before we had a Temple of Hip Hop chapter. The fest first started as a response to Nas’ “Hip Hop is Dead” record in 2006, and was organized to show that while hip hop was taking a different form in U.S. mainstream media, across the globe, hip hop was being used as a powerful form of expression, and as a platform to share ideas. After 14-years of the fest, our goal remains the same: to promote positivity through hip hop and to give people an opportunity to see how the genre has impacted people in other parts of the world.

Being from the Bronx, I have always been interested in hip hop, however, I am most interested in old-school hip hop, which carries a certain message. My college counselor, Zee Santiago ’09, who is an alum, was also one of the students who founded Trin’s Temple of Hip Hop chapter. When he told me his stories, I knew I wanted to get involved, and my roles in the group have been progressing since I first joined. I started out working with local businesses, especially Black and Latino/a ones here in Hartford, who wanted to vend at the fest, giving them the opportunity to promote their small businesses. In recent years, I have been more involved in organizing events that we host during the fest, which has been a very rewarding experience for me.

When did you first get involved with the international hip-hop fest hosted at Trin? Do you have a favorite part of the fest?

14th annual Trinity Hip Hop Festival Performers

I joined Temple my freshman year, and I have been a member ever since. I don’t have a favorite part of the festival, but the events that I feel are most impactful are the Youth 4 Change conference, the concert Saturday night, and the graffiti exhibition. We have young students from across the country signing up for our Youth 4 Change conference to learn about the positive sides of hip hop, and to learn how to express themselves using the five-elements of hip hop: DJing, MCing, break-dancing, graffiti writing, and knowledge.

Why do you think it’s so important that Trinity hosts the event each year?
The fest started at a time when there were some tensions between the Hartford community and the college. Hartford has a huge underground hip hop network that supports positivity, so what better way to share the message and unify Trinity and our Hartford communities? The weekend-long fest not only highlights members of the Hartford community, but it also features people from around the world who also want to make a difference in their communities. It is all about collaboration and partnership.

If you could change something about your Trinity experience what would it be?
I wish I had taken more advantage of the Student Success and Career Development Center. Trinity has a valuable network of alumni that want to hire and help us Bants.

Where do you hope to see continued growth at Trinity?
I hope to see continued and additional support of cultural organizations on campus in the future. Cultural organizations host a lot of events open to the Hartford and campus community, and often, these organizations have to work hard for funding to put on high-quality events.

Ortiz ’19 pictured w/ Prof. Seth Markle, faculty advisor for the Hip Hop Fest

What is something you will miss when you graduate?
I will miss the people that I have connected with over the past four years, both administration and students alike.

What are some goals that you have for yourself once you graduate?
I have always been interested in law enforcement and criminal justice. One day, I hope to use my computer science skills to work for a law enforcement agency. For now, I want to gain experience in the field and to learn more about what I want in my future. I am definitely taking a year to focus on myself before I attend graduate school.

What advice do you have for #TrinColl2023?
• Make Trinity work for you by using the resources that are here. Your four years will pass you by, and you don’t want to regret missing opportunities you wished you had taken advantage of.
• Know when to step back. Self-care is always important. College is an important milestone in life, but don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. If you need time for yourself, take it. And make sure to not fall behind in your academics.
• There’s always someone around to help you. Whether your professors and advisors, your RA, or P.R.I.D.E. leaders in your dorms, never be afraid to ask these resources for help.

What advice or tips do you have for students who want to get more involved?
Forget about comfort. Once you find a group or organization you want to be involved in, you will find a welcoming community, but you have to branch out of your comfort zone. Talk to people and attend events!

Do you have any extra tidbits of knowledge to share?
Everyone’s college experience is different. Do things that benefit you and make you happy. Enjoy every moment and never have regrets. We all take L’s, just make sure you turn those into lessons.

LET’S BE SOCIAL: @trinityhiphop 

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