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

A Swipe at Mather: How a meal swipe in Mather brought Chaplain Beauford to Trin

A Swipe at Mather: How a meal swipe in Mather brought Chaplain Beauford to Trin

In 2019, the Reverend Y. Trevor Beauford became a part of the Spiritual and Religious life team at Trinity College. I recently sat down with him to discuss everything from Mather swipes and personal lessons to his future aspirations as a new Trinity chaplain.

Life-Giving
PC: Norman Oates

From Florence, SC, to Charlotte, NC, to Union Baptist, and now Trinity College in Hartford, CT. What has the journey been like for you?

Trinity is work that gives me life. It’s the work that gives me energy and breath. Being a pastor [at] Union [Baptist] is really wonderful and fulfilling. Whether as pastor of my church or my time spent at Trin, my deepest passion is working with youth and young adults.

As a youth pastor for 11 years, Chaplain Beauford calls joining the Trinity team a “Godsend”. Describing it as “life-giving” because of the flexibility he gets as a chaplain. As he puts it, his work is more than just a job.

As the pastor at Union, I have numerous roles and responsibilities. My days are half and half: both my pastoral work and then my CEO/administrative work. For my role at Trinity, my main focus is always with students—meet them, talk to them about spirituality, the love of God, and their life—which is amazing! That’s why it’s life-giving.

Connection to Trinity
PC: Norman Oates

Chaplain Beauford recalled that his journey to Trin began three years ago when he met Matthew Rivera ’20 and several students from Trinity’s Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) at a “Welcome Back’ ‘ start-of-the-semester event organized by Calling All Brothers.

I love students. So, I went up [and] introduced myself, “Hey, I’m Pastor Trevor!”

He later reached out to Matthew for breakfast, and to discuss ways to keep students involved in the Hartford community.

It seemed very fast… I said, “I’ll come to campus,” and Matthew said, “I’ll swipe you into Mather.”

You know Matthew. He is the king of networking. After we had breakfast, we agreed that some [MOCA] students would come to serve in [Union’s local] breakfast ministry.

Keeping their words, Matthew and Pastor Beauford stayed in contact, which created more opportunities for Pastor Beauford to meet more Trinity students.

Matthew and I kept talking, I met other students through the breakfast ministry, [and many students] that came back and served again.

It was the quintessential snowball effect. Students started bringing other students and thus, Pastor Beauford’s Trinity connections grew exponentially. Eventually, it became clear that many students who called Union Baptist, in Hartford, home, wanted Pastor Beauford’s presence on campus as well.

PC: Gio Jones ’21

That first year, it just kind of worked out. I [initially] agreed to do Faith Circle, and I was going to do it inside Umoja. I came and met with Chaplain [Allison] Read, and she said, “Why don’t you join our team?” So, I said, “Sure, why not?”

But, Chaplain Beauford wasn’t immediately thrust into his Chaplain role, as he notes:

I was a super-duper part-time person then.

(Stopping to reflect before stating wittingly)

Now, I’m established as staff. I got the ID and the parking pass to prove it. Some meal swipes, a t-shirt, and a Trinity hoodie. You know, I guess I’m official.

He is official, in both his credibility among the students and college credentials. And, it all can be traced back to that one guest meal swipe.

Conviction

After hearing the origins of his journey to campus, I was curious to hear about any life lessons in those two and a half years that prepared him for his time at Trin.
He quickly responded:

I can get too smart for my own good. I pride myself on being a competent professional, right? I believe I’ve got it covered. I read my journals. I do what I got to do… but I’m learning that I have to be more and more dependent daily on what I believe God has directed me to do.

Taking nothing for granted, he expressed with reverence the appreciation he has for each interaction with students he meets, programs he leads, or sermons that he preaches.

Now, I’ve been in a place where I’m like, “Yo!” There’s no way that my relationship with Trinity could have happened without, in my mind, what God was doing. And so now, I’m just like “Ok! I’ll depend on God and see if it works.”

What Beauford wants Trinity students to know?
PC: Norman Oates

I, Chaplain Read, all the team in religious life are here because we want students to openly explore who they are as people of spirit. We’re told to study hard in our classes for our minds, but we’re not ever really encouraged a lot of times to say, “but you also are not all mind and body. You’re not just flesh.”

Even though Trinity isn’t a religiously affiliated institution, what are you looking forward to regarding spiritual life on our campus?

Deepening the work. I look forward to meeting students. Every time I meet a new student and have a conversation, it is pure joy. I get to hear their stories.

And, for my final question, I wanted to know what Chaplain Beauford considers his favorite spot on campus?

I love being in Mather, and just watching the energy and traffic of people and students. I thoroughly enjoy being in the cafeteria. If I could set up a little office with my laptop, and just be there seeing students kind of going to and fro. I’d enjoy that.

All joking aside, feel free to invite Chaplain Beauford to a meal with you on campus. He’ll gladly accept (and he has his own swipes now). And, if you’re looking to find him around campus, to just chat or as a mentor, you can usually find him: Mondays 1 p.m., Tuesdays 2-5 p.m., & Thursdays after 2 p.m. in his office in the Trinity College Chapel.

Let’s Be Social: @rev.trev

Kids These Days: Rachael Burke ‘15 is Making a Name for Herself on the Comedy Scene

Kids These Days: Rachael Burke ‘15 is Making a Name for Herself on the Comedy Scene

Comedy has always been a way of life for Rachael Burke ’15, and she began making waves in the New York City comedy scene even before graduating from Trin. In 2018 she founded Kids These Days, a sketch comedy group formed with some of NYC’s best comedians who work at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and more. I talked with Rachael about honing her craft, performing on NBC’s Bring the Funny, her inspirations, and how her experiences at Trin helped her uncover her ideal career.

You should call these Trinterviews! In fact, I’ll start: Thanks for having me at this Trinterview.

Where are you originally from?

The Boston area

What was your major at Trin?

Writing for film and television, minor in writing, rhetoric, and media arts. I was one credit shy of a double major in film studies and English (creative writing), but I left Trinity early to accept a job offer at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon!” I finished up my final coursework in NYC and have since graduated from Trinity.

What are some of your favorite shows from your childhood? How have they inspired you and your work? 

“The Amanda Show” was my first example of seeing a fearless young woman performing characters, stand-up, sketches, parodies, host, and dramatically act. That show made me realize that it was possible to perform and make people laugh in multifaceted ways. I also loved “The Carol Burnett Show” as a child, so I had two great examples of what a woman could do all by herself and with excellent cast members (and friends). I also loved “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Bewitched,” and “Get Smart,” and they helped me realize that you never have to go “blue” to make the most clever comedy.

Do you have a favorite comedian or comedy movie?

I love “Airplane!” It has an exclamation mark in the title, but I would have used that punctuation anyway to talk about it. My favorite comedians are Steve Martin and Carol Burnett.

When did you first realize you could make people laugh? Was it something immediate? Or is it something you’ve had to work at?

I have a hilarious family and extended family, so making people laugh was a big part of my upbringing. I used to tell people that I was 14 years old when I was four years old, and believe me, the bit killed every time. That age is probably when I got my first taste of the performer’s high.

What inspired you to pursue comedy?

From an early age, I watched as much comedy as I could find on TV because I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do someday. My family has always encouraged my creativity from impromptu Earth, Wind, & Fire dance parties to empowering me to follow my desire to become a drummer.

How did you come up with the idea to form your own comedy troupe? And how did other Trin Alum (Nick Reichheld ’15) get involved?

I perform a lot of solo comedy, but I started Kids These Days because I wanted to learn how to be a better writer and performer through collaboration with amazing writers and performers with different perspectives than me. I also wanted to work with people who had the same intention with their comedy: to improve the quality of life of others, provide healthy escapism amidst life’s challenges, and bring more positivity and understanding of differences into the world. Initially, I just wanted to put on one show, and then see the cast members who fit together best, but the group worked so well together during the first show that it became the permanent Kids These Days. Nicholas Newell Reichheld ’15 is one of my closest friends from college, so when I was first looking to invite people to perform in the first show, I asked Nick, one of the funniest performers I have ever seen, to help out. Kids These Days magically formed after the very first show, with all of the performers from that show. Carefully choosing people with a similar intention in their comedy but with different life experiences and perspectives was the key to our early success.

Has Kids These Days Comedy had a most popular or well-attended performance? What do you think contributed to the turnout? How do you deal with just getting started and possibly encountering low attended performances?

Kids These Days group photo
Another sold-out show at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival

Kids These Days has sold out every show in NYC and every show during our national tours, so all of our shows have been equally as popular. From my days as a member and the PR director for the Trinity College Quirks, I learned how to get booties into seats. Back at Trinity, I developed a knack for building an audience and securing opportunities including, for example, the Quirks’ first ever off-campus gig, which led to a TV appearance on NBC-CT, at a Red Sox-Blue Jays Game, and finally culminating in my ultimate goal as the PR director: a performance at the OBAMA White House. (Putting that name in caps for a reason.) Of course, with Kids These Days, it helps to have a cast of the funniest young comedians in New York City! Kids These Days has developed a loyal following as a result of our positive, unique, and diverse brands of comedic writing and performing, making it easy to sell out our shows.

What was it like learning that Kids These Days would be a part of the new international NBC show “Bring the Funny”? Was it something that just happened? Or did you have to fight for the spot? And what exactly is the troupe’s involvement in the show?

Kids These Days group performs on Bring the Funny TV show
Kids These Days perform on NBC’s “Bring the Funny” in 2019

It was so exciting for Kids These Days to learn that we would be on “Bring the Funny,” especially after only being together as a group for a year. We were one of only 40 acts selected for the show, out of thousands of international acts! The show has three categories of comedy: stand-up, sketch, and variety. We were in the sketch comedy category. On the show, we performed original material written and performed by us in front of a live audience, along with celebrity judges Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy, and host Amanda Seales. The final winner after 10 episodes wins $250,000. Although we didn’t win, being selected to be on the international comedy showcase show was quite an honor for such a new troupe, and we learned a great deal about comedy and got experience performing and writing for a show on a major network.

Why should ppl tune into the show?

Watching “Bring the Funny” will make people become well-versed in different types of comedy, bring more network television exposure to sketch comedy, and hopefully brighten the days of people who watch it.

Would you consider yourself a celebrity? Why/why not?

I am definitely an A-list celebrity, but somehow I still can go out in public without ever getting recognized. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know fans are just respecting my space and letting me have a semblance of a “real life.” On a more serious note, I am not an A-list celebrity and not famous, but I definitely feel special and “celeb-like” when people approach us after a Kids These Days show. I am recognized from time-to-time in New York City, but now that Kids These Days has appeared on national TV, who knows what will happen?

Do you have any performances that have been very meaningful to you? Please elaborate.

Kids These Days had a show in June, in which I performed in a sketch as an Irish mother whose baby’s first words are a hilariously operatic version of the entirety of the famous Irish tune “Danny Boy,” a sketch brilliantly written by my friend Kids These Days’ Maggie Maxwell. In the sketch, my mother character joins the baby in song, and soon, other members of Kids These Days (not even in the scene) walk on stage to join in, much to the shock and confusion of the baby’s American father. My real life parents are my biggest fans, and Kids These Days invited my REAL first-generation Irish-American father from the audience to croon “Danny Boy” onstage with the cast at the end of the sketch. It was heartwarming and hilarious to have my biggest advocate, my dad, singing a song from our Irish heritage while onstage arm-in-arm with my best friends in the comedy world. We didn’t tell my mom that my dad was going on stage, and so she sat in the audience shocked at the audacity of my dad for crashing the scene! The audience interaction added to the hilarity of the sketch.

Most memorable experience in the past 5 years:

I had an “okay” peanut butter and jelly sandwich about two years ago. Life can be wild… On a more real note, having the opportunity to perform on national TV in a comedy sketch I wrote myself featuring a song promoting women’s rights and gender equality was a beautiful feeling. It doesn’t get much better than that in terms of reaffirming my personal mission and the intent of my comedy group Kids These Days to create unique, positive comedy, bring it into people’s lives, help open minds through humor, and also to improve the quality of life of the audience.

Did you take away any gem of knowledge/advice from your time working with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show? What has that experience meant to you?

Rachael's Staff Badges from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Many roles at “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”

I absorbed lessons every day from working at “The Tonight Show.” My main mantra, “work hard and be kind,” was also the mantra of everyone at the show, so I learned that it’s possible to find a workplace filled with similarly-minded, fun-loving yet hard-working people. I would also say that one should not be afraid to unleash your wildest imagination, which was definitely encouraged at “The Tonight Show.” Doing so allowed me to land jokes on the show and also to propose outlandish ideas such as Ariana Grande’s ponytail coming alive to fight crime—an idea I had initially written for myself for my own Ariana Grande impression, which was then turned into a sketch starring Jimmy Fallon and Ariana Grande herself using an anthropomorphic ponytail that did many unusual things, including stopping a purse snatcher. The Ariana sketch aired on the show and has been viewed 14 million times on YouTube and Facebook, so I was glad to see so many people across the world embrace such an out-of-the-box concept conjured up in my imagination!

What role did your Trinity College experience play in your career and passions path?

Trinity Quirks singing the National Anthem at Fenway Park
That time in 2012 when the Trinity College Quirks sang the Canadian National Anthem at Fenway Park during the Red Sox/Blue Jays Game

Being a part of The Trinity College Quirks, one of Trinity’s all-female a cappella groups, reinforced my inner knowledge that I have the capacity to do anything. The Quirks helped me to always remember that what makes you different is often your most important asset, and that being weird is not just ok, but wonderful. It also helped me to develop the core values to found Kids These Days, centered on hard work coupled with positivity, having leaders and members who treat everyone equally, value every voice, and promote the limitless imaginations of our unique cast of writers and performers in the comedy safe space that I created and we all foster together in Kids These Days.

Trinity Quirks at the White House
That time in 2013 when the Trinity College Quirks performed at the White House

What was the best piece of advice you received for life after college? And what advice would you pass along to current Bants with big dreams looking to pursue them successfully?

One memorable piece of advice that I heard during a Trinity career-development program for sophomores was: Think about what you love to do on Saturdays and then figure out how to make a career path out of that love. Whether it is volunteering, going to the movies, tutoring, writing, bird-watching, or trying out different makeup styles—how you choose to productively spend your rare free time often dictates what your path to happiness should be. Following that advice seems to be working for me. The key is to find out what that love is and to work tirelessly to excel at it because even though it will be a lot of work, the fact that it is work that you love is the key.

Also, a lesson that I read from words of wisdom from Lin-Manuel Miranda is that sometimes you have to say no to social events for a while in order to be able to focus and spend the time it takes to truly reach your greatest goals. As Casey Neistat famously stated: “Do more!” We all have the same number of hours as Beyoncé in the day, so let’s get to work.

Finally, I believe that everyone can achieve the dream they have inside (once they find it). Even if you aren’t the best musician, basketball player, stylist, or coder, you can be the best you if you do what you love. You’ll find people in the world that see and understand that. They are out there looking for you too.

Let’s Be Social

Check out Kids These Days on social media:

Follow Rachael on social media:

So, what DO alumni get up to after Trin?

So, what DO alumni get up to after Trin?

Meredith Veach ’12 was one of the first female students to graduate Trinity with a major in film studies, and since her graduation, she has relocated to Los Angeles and currently works in the film industry. Her most recent project is a romantic comedy entitled THRE3BOUND. The indie film, which she edited and color-corrected, premiered at the SOHO International Film Festival in NYC on June 21. Veach was present for the screening, and she shared her favorite moments with us in a photo journal.

Let’s Be Social!
You can follow Meredith on Instagram and Twitter: @rarerarefind to discover what else she gets up to in LA, & if you are curious about pursuing a film degree at Trin, dive into what our Film Studies program offers.

A Seat at the Table: Brooke LePage Celebrates & Builds on 50 years of Coeducation at Trin

A Seat at the Table: Brooke LePage Celebrates & Builds on 50 years of Coeducation at Trin

AXO national convention in Austin, Texas. 2018

Over the short time I’ve gotten to know Brooke LePage ’19, I’ve seen her serendipitous smile shine, her personality promulgate positivity, and her mind mitigate any malevolence. Brooke is passionate about women’s rights, education, and advocacy, even working as part of a student group focused on addressing sexual misconduct, which looked at the college’s Title IX policies and made sure that they were accessible for ALL students. Brooke is a busy woman, involved with many organizations and playing integral roles in establishing or improving them.

NEED TO KNOWS:
Born in Minnesota. Lives in Franklin, MA 
MAJOR ~ Public Policy major with concentrations in education policy and law & society
SOCIETIES/ORGANIZATIONS ~ Apha Chi Omega, SoMA (Social Media Associate)

I like to be busy and the more that I got involved at Trin, the more that I felt a part of the overall community and like I was making a positive impact on that community.

Brooke’s conviction to lead and get involved comes from her constant motivation to seek out solutions to the problems she encounters.

The times I’ve been inspired to get involved and try and make experiences better or easier for other students have occurred after seeing or experiencing things that I didn’t like, or had a hard time going through myself.

Hartford Women’s March. 2019

Brooke has always tried to stand up for what’s right, but you cannot fight every battle alone. I believe that college is supposed to teach us how to intellectually engage with the world around us by allowing us to use the skills we’ve learned to stand for what we believe in. Without the support of our institution, we will likely fall short of our goals. So, I asked Brooke: Do you feel like Trinity has supported you in standing for what’s right and what you believe in?

Definitely, in a lot of different ways too. Professor Adrienne Fulco, Associate Professor of Legal and Policy Studies at Trin, has been one of my greatest inspirations and biggest advocates on campus. She’s instilled a lot of important values in me. Her support and guidance alone have really allowed and encouraged me to pursue the types of study that I’m passionate about. I think my thesis is a great contribution to this point. When I was a part of the “Addressing Sexual Misconduct” student group working to address sexual misconduct at higher ed institutions, I really felt like I was being supported by the institution and really making an impact on Trinity’s campus. And I felt the same way when I was chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega.

And she’s right! Brooke’s thesis is powerful and a great contribution to what she strove to do at Trinity. So what was her thesis work about?

My thesis on Title IX in the age of President Trump was inspired by a course I took with Professor Fulco my sophomore year entitled “Title IX: Changing Campus Culture.” The course really opened my eyes to gender inequity in higher education and the role that sexual assault and sexual harassment can sometimes play in that space. It was a really rewarding project for me, not only because it was a capstone of all of the skills that I’ve learned in my public policy courses, but also it was a huge passion project for me. I think if you read the piece, it’s clear that I tried to be unbiased in my methodology portions, but I think you can see my feminist undertones throughout the project. I consider it my little way of contributing to literature and trying to empower women. So, it was a super rewarding project for me.

TENACITY

Currently, Trinity is celebrating 50 years of coeducation, and while Brooke notes that many of her predecessors did not always have the opportunities to advocate for women’s rights in the same way that she does today, she feels fortunate and excited to see all the progress over the years and moving forward.

We have a lot of women in leadership roles on campus, and we have a female president of the college. Those things are really important. But, I think there are definitely ways that the college can continue to improve gender equity on campus in the future. For example, working to ensure that more programs are inclusive, and that there are balanced representation of genders in classes and on campus overall.

A recent accomplishment I can think of was the addition of three new sororities on campus. Prior to that, there were only two sororities on campus and a lot more fraternities. It’s really important for there to be outlets, greek-based or otherwise, where women can gather together and empower one another.

PATIENCE

As a graduating senior, I wanted Brooke to reflect a little. I asked her If she could go back in time to tell high school Brooke something, what advice would she give herself for college?

I think I would tell myself that everything is going to work out. All of the internships I’ve had, the opportunities I’ve applied for, in one way or another, they’ve all worked out in the end. I think I would tell myself not to stress about it because things will happen the way they are supposed to happen at the time they’re supposed to happen.

Although hindsight, that kind of patience for the process and trusting in your work ethic, passions, and ability to grow are paramount in easing your worries about the future.

AUTHENTICITY

Brooke also went on to talk about the importance of authenticity.

I think something I didn’t know when I was a freshman but have learned since being at Trinity, is just how important it is to be yourself. I would want to tell my freshman self to just stay true to herself and always be real.

It’s good to be different. It’s cool to be different and important to just be yourself.
And that’s exactly what Brooke has done over the past four years.
The lessons Brooke learned while being herself at Trinity have helped her to get the most out of her college experience. Learning how to form ideas, testing them intellectually, and taking risks.

REMINISCE

Reflecting on her favorite moments as a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Brooke recalls that the little things can make a big impact.

There’s so many opportunities on campus for anyone to support and empower women, whether it be big or small.

And I definitely agree. It’s the small things that add up for EVERYONE. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “hi” to somebody—asking them how their day was.

I think people forget that a lot. I think people assume that they’re not doing enough if they’re not making these big monumental changes, but people forget how much of an impact individual interactions have on other people, and just how much their presence alone can positively benefit the people around them.

LOOKING FORWARD

Brooke is now more focused on growth than ever before. She knows she’s working her way to grabbing herself a “seat at the table,” so to speak. So I asked her: As someone that’s graduating this week, how do you feel looking forward to life after Trin? How will you continue to empower yourself as a female in your industry?

I think something that I’ve been reminding myself is that your first job isn’t necessarily your last or your greatest job—it’s the first step on your journey. That doesn’t mean that your first job is unimportant, but it just means that it’s one of the many steps that you’re going to be taking to achieve your goals and your dreams. All those steps matter.

One of the biggest critiques of millennials and our generation is that we’re too focused on trying to be the “number one” person that’s in charge, or that we always overlook the small things that matter.

I think there’s something to be said for appreciating the process, or for being happy and grateful for where you are and the steps that you’re taking towards achieving your goals—even if you’re not there yet.

Before wrapping up my interview, I really wanted to ask Brooke what her dream job looks like—hopefully getting her to dream without any boundaries.

I’ve learned that the policy areas that I really care about are education and women’s advocacy. So, basically, any opportunities that allow me to become an expert in one or both of those two policy areas, I’d be happy with.

I would REALLY love to be an expert on women’s advocacy or education policy in the White House. I envision myself as an advisor to a future president that I really believe in and feel honored to work for. All I’ve ever wanted to do is be an advocate for people who can’t necessarily advocate for themselves, and I’d love to make positive changes and contributions to society overall.

You can hear what else Brooke has to say, and the wisdom she’ll leave with the Class of 2019 during her student speech at Trinity’s 193rd Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2019. Be sure to follow along with commencement festivities on social media @TrinityCollege and use #TrinGrad to join the conversation.

Wrestling Challenges to the Ground & Excelling at Trin

Wrestling Challenges to the Ground & Excelling at Trin

Senior Grant Sorensen ’19 is a student-athlete on Trinity’s campus who has excelled both academically and athletically. Hailing from Moore,OK, Grant is a co-captain on the wrestling team and majored in English literature. Want to get to know Grant even better before he embarks on his life after Trin? I sat down with Grant to learn a little more about his academic and athletic pursuits, as well as his aspirations for the future.

Grant came to Trin from a private high school in Oklahoma City where he wrestled and figured out early on that in the future he would like to continue his wrestling career. He was also interested in going to an academically prestigious and challenging school, so, when Trinity College made it onto his list of prospective schools, his college counselor also highly recommended looking into Trinity because she and her husband were graduates of NESCAC schools.

Being a student-athlete has been essential to my Trinity experience because it has essentially BEEN my Trinity experience. The effort to balance academics and sports has been a large part of my time here at Trinity. It has required a lot of work, but also been incredibly rewarding,

Sorensen accepting the Robert R. Bartlett Award along side Trinity’s head wrestling coach Marques Gales

he said. While in season, Grant brings passion and attitude and trains accordingly—equal amounts of intensity and competitive energy. His dedication and strong work ethic to his team and to his academics has awarded him three times Academic All-American. He was also a 2018 NCAA qualifier, and two-time Regional place winner. Most recently, Grant was honored as the male recipient of the Robert R. Bartlett Award, given annually by the athletic department during Trin’s annual Senior Athletic Awards Ceremony.

It hasn’t always been easy maintaining a healthy balance, as Grant explained,

I don’t know if you could even call it balanced, as I probably got a lot less sleep than I should have these past four years, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It is the challenges and difficulties, which I have loved these past four years.

A valuable piece of advice that Trinity’s head wrestling coach, Marques Gales, gave Grant directly relates to what he has been able to accomplish as a student-athlete, “Control what you can: 1.) Attitude 2.) Effort.”

Outside of the normal work/life balance, Grant’s biggest challenge came freshman year, when he came to Trin fresh off of a knee injury, and then again at the end of this past year, when he experienced another knee injury. It wasn’t ideal, but along with his coaches, they made the most educated decisions they could at the time and did the best they could given the situation.

Looking towards the future, he said,

wrestling has shaped who I am and will influence who I am going to be. I find that the accountability, pressure, and the feelings of both pain and happiness are unique in wrestling compared to other general athletic experiences.

His biggest piece of advice for incoming freshmen student-athletes is to have fun, grow close to your teammates despite minor differences, and the job search comes faster than you might think!

“Grant has been a pleasure to coach for the past four years and has been a model student-athlete here at Trinity,” coach Gales. “He is extremely dedicated; a great role model for his peers, and has also been very active in the community. He is the type of person to make everyone around him a greater version of themselves and he will continue to do great things in life after Trinity.”

And, as Grant reflects on those four years in college, and as he prepares for graduation, his proudest moment has been being able to see some of his teammates have their greatest performances at the end of their careers. As wrestling team captain, he has found that he has developed a strong ability to talk to and connect with teammates and coaches. He now better understands the elements, which are essential to creating a successful team. Most importantly, as a captain and a teammate,

I have taken away newfound brothers who will continually be some of my closest friends for the rest of my life.

Let’s be social: @trinity_wrestle

Cinematic Moments @ Trin & Beyond

Cinematic Moments @ Trin & Beyond

Kyra Lyons ’20 always seemed to have a passion for capturing the moment. Her involvement on campus at Cinestudio and with Trinity Film Festival only corroborate this.

This past fall, I was lucky enough to witness her capturing her own cinematic moments and basking in Italian cinema, red Beret and all.

I recently reached out to Kyra to discuss the upcoming annual Trinity Film Festival on May 4 at 5 p.m. (EST).

What movie(s) have you seen the most?

Hmm, that’s tough. The most? I would always watch movies like Funny Face, Spirit, and Back to the Future with my siblings in the backseat on a family road trip—definitely Lyons family classics.

What new movies are you most excited to watch?

This is also a tough question. I love going in blind, just waiting to see what’s out and then choosing randomly… But, I’m looking forward to Booksmart with Beanie Feldstein, that looks right up my alley.

What’s the best part about working at Cinestudio and being involved in Trinity Film Festival?

It’s amazing to say I play a part in preserving and celebrating the art of cinema. Whether it’s by volunteering at Cinestudio or putting together Trinity Film Festival programming, it’s amazing to meet individuals who are just as passionate about creating & celebrating film as you are.

Why are you passionate about film?

While absorbing a film, we are transported into another life and must work to empathize and understand the world created by the film. There is a unique appeal to film as an artistic medium, as the visuals allow us to see through another’s eyes. After a truly moving film, I often find myself looking at my surroundings with fresh eyes, as if the filmmaker has climbed into my brain to use my eyes as their camera. I evaluate my relationships in different ways; I interact with the world in more meaningful ways. I think Trinity’s film studies head, Prakash Younger, sums it up best when he says:

“By taking advantage of the access films provide to the experience of other times, places, cultures, and sensibilities we enhance our ability to connect with the world we live in today; unlikely as it may seem, a French film from the 1930s or a Bollywood film from the 1970s may turn out to be the ‘message in a bottle’ we have been waiting for, the magic lens that brings certain facts and possibilities of the present into sharp focus.”

I am passionate about film because it has proven to be a truly world-changing medium, enhancing viewers’ day-to-day sensibilities and encouraging empathy in the most subtle and touching ways.

What is Cinestudio?

Cinestudio is a classic movie palace located in the heart of Trinity College’s campus. It’s a not-for-profit independent film theater with a magnificent single-screen venue, 485 seats, and a much-loved balcony. Built in 1935, Cinestudio stands to this day as one of the most highly regarded art house cinemas in the country. From documentaries to live ballets to Oscar-nominated films, Cinestudio’s stunning variety of showings has something for everyone (and the theater just debuted a gorgeous new sign!).

For those who don’t know, tell us more about Trinity Film Festival?

Founded in 2012, Trinity Film Festival (TFF) is a national platform for undergraduate filmmakers. TFF aims to provide a celebratory evening of cinematic dialogue that enables student filmmakers to premiere their short films on the big screen, engage other student filmmakers, meet industry professionals, and win cash prizes. It is an annual event hosted at Cinestudio, this year’s event will be held on May 4 at 5 p.m.

Guests dress to impress for the red carpet, enjoy celebrated undergraduate short films, and attend an Oscars-style awards ceremony following the screening. In past years, I have served as an Event Coordinator and Submissions Coordinator on the TFF student team, and I now serve as the Senior Content Director. It is always extremely fulfilling to help provide undergraduate filmmakers with a glamorous evening celebrating the art of cinema.

Have you shot any films yourself?

I have been very fortunate to learn all about the art of filmmaking and cinema during my time at Trinity as a film major. Through my studies, I have written and directed two of my own short films as well as aided on several of my classmates’ films. Using what I’ve learned at Trin, I have been able to produce films on my own time, from writing & directing a film in my hometown of Waukegan, IL to producing/shooting/editing a documentary of cinema activists while studying abroad in Rome, Italy.

 

How can students who are interested in film get involved with TFF?

Trinity Film Festival is proudly run by an extremely hard-working student team and is of course made possible by the student filmmakers around the world who submit and showcase their films at the festival. Student involvement is key in making TFF what it is–to anyone who is curious about getting involved, I highly encourage them (and all their friends) to attend this year’s festival on May 4 at 5 p.m. at Cinestudio (and then be on the lookout for applications when next year’s student team is assembled!).

To learn more about TFF and how to get involved in the future, visit: www.trinfilmfestival.org

No Matter Where In the House; Finding A Place in Performing Arts

No Matter Where In the House; Finding A Place in Performing Arts

Austin Arts Center

Laura Cadavid ’19, Claire Pritchard ’20, and Gwen Sadie ’21 are three crew members who go above and beyond in their roles as student workers in the Austin Arts Center (AAC). Put your show face on and get to know these three Bants and their experiences being a part of the #TrinArts community!

What are you studying at Trin, and what involvement did you have in the most recent production of “Little Shop of Horrors”?

CADAVID: I am a neuroscience major, and although I am not working the “Little Shop” musical, I am helping to build the set.
PRITCHARD: I am a biochemistry and theater major, and I am a costuming assistant for AAC.
SADIE: I am double majoring in music and sociology, and I am part of AAC’s front of house staff, which includes working the Box Office and ushering for shows and musicals like “Little Shop.”

Little Shop of Horrors
[? : John Atashian]
Tell us a little bit about what the most recent musical, “Little Shop of Horrors” is about—for those who might have missed the production.

PRITCHARD: “Little Shop of Horrors” is a story of ambition, love, and tragedy, but in a fun way! An employee, Seymour, at a struggling flower shop on Skid Row discovers a new plant that brings attention and customers to the shop, but also has a price, as Seymour has to compromise his morals for his newfound fame.

Would you say there is a strong theater community at Trin? Do you have any advice for Bants that are interested in joining the community or working with AAC?

Bantam Claire Pritchard ’20

PRITCHARD: The theater community at Trin has been one of the defining factors of my experience here. I love being involved with productions through acting and through working backstage in costuming. I think the theater major community is tight-knit, and I’ve met some of my best friends in the department. AAC productions welcome students of all majors, so I’ve also been able to meet and get to know people I never would’ve met just in my classes. If you’re interested in theater at Trinity, I say just dive in! The classes are really accessible to people of all skill levels, and they’re really rewarding. And, the productions are a lot of fun no matter how much experience you may or may not have.

What else are you involved in on campus?

CADAVID: I am a member of the neuroscience club and the president of Nu Rho Psi, the Neuroscience National Honor Society.
PRITCHARD: I am a supplemental instructor for biology 183 and a chemistry TA (teacher’s assistant). I also teach Trin Recreation Trin-Cycle classes, I’m a Cinestudio coordinator, and I am an intern with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
SADIE: I am a member of the Trinity College Chapel Singers, The Trinity Pipes, Gospel Choir, Cleo of Alpha Chi, Trinity Film Festival, and I am a Cinestudio volunteer.

When did you decide to get involved in the theater scene at Trinity, and what sparked your interest?

Cadavid ’19 working on set construction w/ peer Federico ’22

CADAVID: I actually only became involved in the theater scene last spring when I started working as a stage technician. I wanted to find a job on campus that was very hands-on and where I could learn a lot. I have always wanted to work in a theater since high school, but I never got a chance to do it and figured this would be the perfect chance.
PRITCHARD: I got involved with Trinity theater as soon as I got here freshman year when I was in “The Laramie Project.” I did theater all throughout grade school, and I knew I wanted to pursue it in college, so it was a no-brainer for me.
SADIE: I started working in Austin Arts my freshman fall, so for the past two years my involvement in the theater scene has primarily been as a promoter and usher. As a front of house employee, I get the inside scoop on all our upcoming performances and then I work the shows. In that sense, I don’t really miss any AAC performances, which is one of my favorite things about the job.

What do you like most about working in your current AAC position?

Cadavid ’19 works sound on an AAC production

CADAVID: I think when I first started the job, I really liked that it was very hands-on, and I got to learn so much about carpentry, electrics, painting, etc. As I spent more time in shop, I showed an interest in learning new things, and I was always willing to ask for help (or provide it when I could), which is why I think my supervisors made the decision to make me a project lead.
PRITCHARD: I love the diversity of roles you play as a costuming assistant, from sewing to makeup application, to calming performers’ nerves and helping them with quick changes. Costuming assistants have an opportunity to make a big difference in the show by making sure that the cast can focus on performing.

SADIE: I love seeing people coming and going from AAC. It’s nice to see many of the same faces during my weekly shifts, but there are always new faces as well. Also, when you work in the Box Office, you get to pick the music, which is very important. Coming in as a freshman, I knew I wanted to get involved in music both academically and through extracurriculars so when I found out there were job openings at Austin Arts Center, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew that working in AAC would help me establish and maintain relationships with more of the faculty and staff who work in the building. Now that I’ve been working here for the past two years, I’m really grateful for those relationships.

What is your fondest memory or greatest accomplishment so far during AAC’s most recent production?

Behind-the-scenes costuming for “Little Shop”

CADAVID: When we started building the set it looked kind of clean, and then as we worked more on it, especially the painting it started to look more like an old, dirty store which I was pretty proud of.

PRITCHARD: Two of the costuming assistants are taking night classes this semester, so we’ve had to work around them being gone and still be able to do everyone’s makeup and hair, and so far we’ve been able to do it!
SADIE: I put a group of twelve students on the wait list for a Thursday performance, which hardly ever happens, so that was pretty exciting! It’s always fun to get to the point of selling out all or most of our shows because there is a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air that everyone feels together.

How do you work within your team to achieve your goals on a regular basis?

SADIE: When everyone does their part to the fullest of their abilities, no matter how big or how small it may seem, whether it is on or behind the stage, things tend to go extremely smoothly. We are all working towards a common goal; having a sense of community and knowing that we are all here to help and support each other is a key part of what makes the job so enjoyable and successful.

Do you hope to continue work at AAC in the future—even after your time at Trin?

CADAVID: I would love to continue working at a theater somehow, maybe this summer, however, since I am not a theater major, this may not be the route I pursue. I have definitely learned a lot of skills that I will use in the future when it comes to any kind of handy work (shout out to Elisa, Ritz, and Jessie for all of their help).

Pritchard ’20 among AAC costumes

PRITCHARD: I plan to work at the costume shop until I graduate, and I would love to stay involved in theater after Trinity.
SADIE: Yes, definitely!

How have you grown as a production crew member?

CADAVID: Every time we build a new set, we do something new or different, so I get to learn something from each one. “Little Shop” specifically, taught me a lot about set design and adding wear and tear on purpose which was really cool.

Do you find it is hard to juggle your academic work along with your positions on the crew? How do you balance your social and work lives?

SADIE: Don’t sleep. Kidding, of course! In all seriousness, it is all about staying on top of my work and finding a good, healthy social dynamic that enhances my quality of life rather than stresses me out. When I surround myself with people who support me, and when I choose to study things that genuinely interest me, that balance works itself out. I find that my social life in many ways meshes well with my academic, extracurricular, and work related interests, which softens the distinction between “work” and “play” and helps me have a fulfilling day to day life.

If you could choose a show for AAC to do in the future, what would it be?

CADAVID: I would love to see “The Sound of Music” in Goodwin, I know it’s a huge production, but it was one of the first shows I ever saw and would love to see it here at Trinity.
PRITCHARD: I would love to do a production of “The Vibrator Play”, “Angels in America”, or “The Taming of the Shrew.”
SADIE: I think I’d choose something like “Chicago.” In a place like Trinity it’s nice to put on shows that are more well known when possible so as to attract a broader audience (or even to attract more people to audition and encourage others to get involved in theater themselves!).

Is there anything else you would like to say or advice for other Bants looking to get involved in #TrinArts?

CADAVID: I have learned so much and have met a lot of awesome people at AAC, we’re so lucky to have such great people running things around here!

If you’re interested in getting involved as a student worker in the AAC for future semesters, reach out to Alexandra Fischbein, Administrative Assistant for Academic Arts and Production at Trin, via email: alexandra.fischbein@trincoll.edu

Let’s Be Social: @aactrin

This Bant Will Never Stop Dreaming; And He Wants To Inspire the Same in YOU

This Bant Will Never Stop Dreaming; And He Wants To Inspire the Same in YOU

“An idea is only crazy when your words aren’t in alignment with your work ethic, your actions, and your passions.”

 

Matthew Rivera ’20 found his passion and wants to share it with the world. He recently began producing weekly motivational videos, providing insights and instructions for beginning a journey towards maximizing your potential and making your dreams a reality. He lives by the slogan, “never stop dreaming.” I recently sat down with Matthew to hear how this all came about. 

Matthew Rivera '20 
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Co-President of the Men of Color Alliance (MOCA)
Instagram: @mattwithadream

How’d you get into motivational speaking?
It started off with high school basketball. I always had a feeling that I was a leader, and high school basketball truly allowed me to have a platform to showcase my leadership skills. I didn’t play my freshman year because my high school was really far from my home at the time. My mom had just given birth to my little brother, Mason, so I really just wanted to use that time to just go home. However, in my sophomore year, she allowed me to try out, and I made the JV team. From day one, I just worked as hard as I could. I was the most vocal person on the team, and even though I didn’t get captain or co-captain, I continued to work as hard as I could.

Noticed for his work ethic and charisma, Matthew’s ability to uplift his teammates and push them eventually made it impossible for the varsity team to overlook him. But basketball was one stepping stone on the road to motivational speaking. Matt shared the other influential environments that laid the foundation for what he is pursuing today.

The next step? His first job—Chipotle.

I moved on to the next level of leadership when I started working for Chipotle. I really started to go all out with leadership when I decided to quit the basketball team and pursue Chipotle full time. What strengthened my leadership skills was trying to get people to understand how to get their jobs done, and figuring out how to instruct them in a way that wouldn’t make them angry or make them confused. Chipotle really taught me how to be able to run a group of people. It taught me how to be a part of an inclusive environment that fosters growth and love and leadership.

During his time at Trin, Matthew has become a well-known face in the community and the greater Hartford area. His sophomore year he became involved with the Dream Support Network, working their signature event Ice Cream For a Dream in the summer of 2018. The Dream Support Network is a Hartford-based organization seeking to inspire and support those chasing their dreams. The Ice Cream For a Dream event is designed to facilitate dreaming by providing ice cream to people who are willing to share their dreams with the Dream Team.

When I got involved with the Dream Support Network and Ice Cream for a Dream, I realized that motivational speaking is something that I’m kind of good at. You don’t know how many times I’ve been on the ice cream truck and people are like, “Oh yeah, I don’t have any dreams.” That just really bothers me, that a lot of people don’t understand what their dreams are.

It was during those conversations on the truck that Matthew realized the importance of inspiring others to dream.

Outside of work, on the side, I was just doing little, like motivational consultations with my friends, providing them with any motivation that they needed. A lot of people really started to feel like I could be a viable resource for motivational speaking. I’ve decided to pursue it as a career because my main goal for motivational speaking is to travel across the world giving individualized motivational consultations.

But Matthew isn’t looking for fame or money. CONVICTION, DUTY, and PURPOSE are the driving factors behind his passion.

I feel like it is super important for people to have someone to talk to and get motivation from. What I’ve noticed is that providing people motivation is just so great, because when it clicks for those people, you see them, and there’s just something different about them. They smile just a little bit brighter. Their energy’s a little bit more vibrant, and they just navigate the world in a different way.

As part of Matt’s conviction to lead, he knows the importance of performing at a high level to ensure that your team and others around you have the best platform to succeed. He recalls that it was while working at Chipotle that he truly learned how to lead.

I’m honestly very thankful for Chipotle because their system was just dope on so many different levels. At Chipotle, they stress a lot of terms or expectations that are equivalent to the kind of workers that they hire and the kind of worker that you should be.

While some of the terms eluded Matthew when we spoke, one term that stuck out to him was “top performers.”

Top performers are people who have the desire and ability to perform excellent work in order to achieve high standards.
My general manager did a great job keeping staff motivated and inspired us to reach that “restaurateur” status (which is like an exemplary restaurant). And I saw the mission. I saw his vision, and he inspired and motivated me to continue to give others the mission as well. I feel like it was so key in developing myself as a leader because there were plenty of times where I would run the entire shift.

Matthew’s notes that he remembers times when fellow co-workers would contact him in hopes that he would run the shift that day. Despite Matthew’s leadership skills, he was never promoted due to the fact that he would soon be going to college.

But did that deter him?

No, it didn’t. It didn’t deter me at all. Although I would have enjoyed having more pay, I still carried myself as a manager because it was just the leader that was inside of me. I didn’t care about who got the credit or who didn’t. I still took on a lot of managerial roles.

I used to arrive early for my shifts and prep the store so that way when my team came in, they wouldn’t have a stressful time. And that’s what it was. The team respected me so much, and they saw how much I cared for it.

That’s one of the most important leadership qualities I’ve ever been given—that I can just do something and not have to take credit for it.

I was able to get so much done without even having to take on that title of being a manager. It was just such an amazing experience for me.

That was one of the great takeaways from my sit down with Matthew. Your duty is to help facilitate the success of those around you.

Lead regardless of your title.

Before we ended the conversation I had one final question for Matthew. What does it mean it never stop dreaming?
Never stop dreaming is a mindset geared around dreams and dreaming. When you live your life this way you start to notice that you’re not just doing things because you have to, but rather you’re intentional about your actions. You’re focused on what you want to do and what you should be doing. Which person should you be networking with? Which interview should you be preparing for? What jobs should you be applying for? What people can I meet with to help me reach that dream?
Your mindset will allow you to come up with all these really great and amazing ideas, but it’s up to you to act on those amazing ideas and really put that work, time, and effort in.

An idea is only crazy when your words aren’t in alignment with your work ethic, your actions, and your passions.

People would understand what is needed in order for them to live out the life of their dreams if they allowed themselves to think about it. That’s why I truly live to embody the statement “never stop dreaming” because through God who strengthens me, this positive mindset that I’ve taken on, the wonderful mentors that I have, the wonderful network that I have, and the wonderful support system I have, I can do all and everything. I know that I won’t ever stop until I fulfill God’s purpose. I feel like God has a crazy plan for me and I’m rocking with it till the end. Never stop dreaming. Matt with a dream clock out.

Not only has Matthew been passionate about motivating others at Trin and our surrounding Hartford community, he is also a “student leader deeply committed to social change during his time at Trinity.”

Matthew Rivera ’20 Named Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

Check out what else ?? the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research at Trinity College (CHER) has to say about Matthew in their recent blog post about Matthew being named a Campus Compact 2019-20 Newman Civic Fellow! 

For more info about the Dream Support Network & Ice Cream for a Dream

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

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