What I Wish I Knew: Your #TrinColl & Hartford Head Start

What I Wish I Knew: Your #TrinColl & Hartford Head Start

My first year at college was crazy, stressful, and fun. Trinity became my new home in just a matter of months. As a senior in high school, I remember the endless slew of advice from relatives, teachers, and anyone else who knew I was going to college. Sometimes, I would gladly listen. I wanted to know everything! Other times, it felt as if I was hearing the same “helpful tip” for the thousandth time. So, even if you’ve heard this before, I have some advice I’d like to share. These are things I wish I knew before coming to Trin: 

Put Yourself Out There
Students in ponchos out on a trail for Quest training
Quest leaders during a May 2019 training to prep for pre-orientation kicking off this week at Trin

Looking back, I wish I’d done some of the pre-orientation programs like rock climbing with Quest or biking around Hartford for Bantam Beginnings. Take advantage of them! These programs are a great way to meet people before everyone arrives on campus and they would’ve helped me get my footing a bit better during my first couple weeks. Orientation may seem long, but you get the opportunity to meet so many people. I wish I’d realized EVERYONE is trying to make friends. My recommendation would be to talk to AS MANY people as possible. The first few weeks are just as new and as intimidating for everyone else, so get out there!

Especially in your Dorm… 

Living in a residence hall is honestly amazing. I wish I got to know more people in my building. Although I had my wonderful roommate, I didn’t get to meet many other people besides saying a friendly “hello” at the bathroom sinks. So, go out and meet your hall buddies the first couple days because they’re the ones with whom you’ll want to have your late night study sessions, your movie nights in the common room, your spontaneous trips ice skating, and your Chick-fil-A runs.

Appreciate the Food
Bants eating dinner in Mather Hall at Trinity College
A bunch of Bants enjoying our last dinner in Mather Dining Hall before our recent break

If only I had appreciated from the beginning the luxury of having someone else cook for you. Yes, of course, everyone reaches a point when they just refuse to step into Mather Dining Hall. Luckily, there are plenty of other dining options on and off campus. Try a new restaurant! I love the empanadas from Aquí Me Quedo on Park Street. When you don’t even feel like popping off campus, we have Vernon Street food trucks that often come in on the weekends thanks to Trinity S.A.I.L. During finals, we’ll have an ice cream truck stationed by Mather that gives out FREE ice cream! I am a big fan of free food. Various Trin clubs will host food-centric events like a “Mochi Social” with the Hawaii club and “Crêpe Night” with the French club. Common hour talks usually have lunch, too, where you feed your stomach and your brain.

Make Hartford Home, But No, For Real

I wish I listened when I was told to venture off campus my first year. Go on the Downtown Friday trips with the Bantam Network because who doesn’t like free things? These trips often involve activities like celebrating Halloween at the Six Flags Fright Fest, enjoying the latest show at the Bushnell, reclining back for the newest movie at Spotlight Theater, and meeting up for a tasty dinner at some of the many nearby restaurants. On one adventure, my friends and I ended up with a big box of cannoli from Mozzicato Bakery, which was the best decision ever. They were delicious. So, use your bus pass to wander the city: tour The Mark Twain House & Museum, admire the art in the Wadsworth Atheneum (free to Trinity students, btw!), and find your favorite restaurant. Make Hartford yours!

Time Management

Budget your time! This sounds simple, but I wish I knew it would be so hard. It is certainly more difficult than it seems. Keep trying out new things until you find a balance that works for you. Here’s something to keep in mind:
Procrastination does not work in college. Believe me, studying at 4 a.m. is just not worth it. Sometimes people consider late-night studying a bragging right. When you do this EVERY time, you WILL be overwhelmed by stress. From someone who wished they realized this sooner, I recommend you carve out time in your schedule for studying and homework.

Do Something

Get involved! College is not ALL about your classes. Go out and try new things! You’ll make some of your best memories, I promise. Some of my favorites to highlight include eating pastries at high tea with the ballroom dance team and i-House, making mini gingerbread homes at the decoration party for “Lessons and Carols” in the Chapel, and exploring Montreal with the Trin French club.

Self-Care is Key
The gym in Ferris Athletic Center
The gym in Ferris Athletic Center

Most importantly, factor in some “me time” so you don’t get stressed. Whether it’s a 30-minute trip to the gym, a quiet meditation in your room, an episode on Netflix (no binge watching though), or a relaxing face mask. I found rock climbing. I finally made the time to try it out after getting TrinRec emails for the last year. The extra hour or two I took on Thursdays to rock climb turned out to be one of my favorite activities.

Experiment & Explore
Growing an algae culture in Bio class at Trin
Growing an algae culture in Bio class at Trin

It is seriously SO okay to not know what you want to study. I’d heard this advice so many times before and I thought “yeah, okay, I get it”. I didn’t. I kept pressuring myself to make a decision and have a plan. When I changed my mind for the third or fourth time, I actually ended up in a class I loved: Marine and Freshwater Botany. I had always liked biology, but only tolerated the labs. Since lab work reflects what biologists actually do, I was a little concerned that biology wasn’t for me. With this class, I finally found a lab I enjoyed. I waded in the ocean in my jeans to get a good temperature reading, walked across a bog as it started to snow, and grew a culture of bright green algae that I then identified. My advice is to take the class that sounds cool or interesting. You may end up finding what you love.

And above all else, HAVE FUN, and remember you aren’t in this alone! If you get lost or have questions, just ask a fellow Bant, we’re here to help make your transition to Trin a smooth one.

Summers on TrinColl’s Campus: What are Bants Up To?

Summers on TrinColl’s Campus: What are Bants Up To?

Every Summer here at Trin, students are always looking to take advantage of the variety of opportunities our campus has to offer. I recently toured around campus with my camera to catch some of the summertime action. Here’s a look at a handful of the Trin spaces you can find Bants during the warmer months:

Trin offers students opportunities to participate in research on and off-campus during the summer months. Bants can create independent research projects, work in close collaboration with professors from all academic departments, or join research projects conducted in collaboration with CHER and our community partners in Hartford.

New Student Orientation (NSO) is intended to assist incoming students and their families as they prepare for the goals, transitions, and expectations of college life. Trin’s NSO would not be a success without the hard work and dedication of our student orientation chairs and S.A.I.L staff. The orientation chairs lend a rich student perspective to orientation activities and are heavily involved in event planning, designing orientation gear, and training other orientation leaders. Planning has been underway all summer. Curious what is in store for TrinColl2023 in just a few short weeks? Check out the NSO schedule.

Trinfo.Café aims to “bridge the digital divide” between Trin and the surrounding neighborhoods by creating a multi-use space for city residents to access technology services. Current Bants also have the opportunity to be student-workers at Trinfo. Student workers assist with everything from teaching computer literacy courses and assisting individuals at the front desk to helping with summer programming at surrounding elementary and middle schools in the Hartford community. During the academic year, students even use the space in their classes to help community residents with useful skills like tax preparation. 

Trin’s Office of Admissions is one department that always stays busy. During the summer, you will see current Trin students giving tours to prospective students all around campus. These admissions student workers are in close collaboration with Admissions Counselor Maddy Dickey, to make sure that prospective students have a worthwhile experience during their visit to Hartford. Have you scheduled a campus tour yet? Find all the details to make a visit to campus a reality. 

After a long day, Bants often gather in the Summit Suites courtyard where they have mini cookouts, game nights, or participate in events organized by the summer resident assistants (RAs). In the midst of all of this, there is a hidden gem that peaks out at the end of the day…. Hartford SUNSETS! The Sunsets at Trin are beautiful! Students either watch the sunsets on the main quad or walk to the rocks at the end of Summit and Vernon street. These views are truly a sight to see!

Although I’ve photographed and highlighted only a few summer opportunities here, there truly is so much more you can get involved with during the summer at Trinity. Opportunities that immediately come to mind include working in the Information Technology Services (ITS) department in the library, alongside Residential Learning Community staff, or as a campus counselor for Dream Camp, just to name a few. So, what do you think? Will you consider spending your next summer here at Trin?

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

A Cup of Joe w/ Michael Acosta ’13 ☕️

A Cup of Joe w/ Michael Acosta ’13 ☕️

I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Acosta ’13, who is a co-owner of Story and Soil, Hartford’s newest coffee shop. In addition to coffee, we had the chance to discuss his time at Trinity, his favorite thing to order, and the wonderful city of Hartford.*

*Emily conducted her interview during the summer of 2017 when Story and Soil had just set its roots in Hartford. 

When did you graduate from Trinity? What did you study, and what was your experience there like?

I graduated Trinity College in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Philosophy. By design most of my classes were multidisciplinary since I love the intersections of neuroscience and analytic and existential philosophy. I found my niche at Trinity very early on in the Underground coffeehouse, where I would eventually be manager as a Graduate Assistant, and Cleo of Alpha where I’m currently alumni treasurer. I loved my professors and always kept a busy and diverse class load. Being part of multiple groups on campus meant that many more people to discuss life and current events with.

Story and Soil just opened, and you’re a co-owner—what was the process like, of conceiving of this idea and then bringing it to life?

Before Story and Soil Coffee I started another coffee project called N2 Coffee. N2 Coffee was a way for me to introduce local Connecticut specialty coffee in an approachable and fun way. Mobile nitro cold brew was certainly a great way to start the conversation about interesting coffees and the awesome people behind them. I ran N2 Coffee part-time while also studying at Trinity College and then working as a research technician at a biomedical company in Hartford.

Story and Soil Coffee came about when Sarah and Michael McCoy approached me about starting a coffee business in Hartford back in October 2016. In preparation for launching and finding funding for Story and Soil I joined the Social Enterprise Incubator at reSET in Hartford. I had a specific idea of what kind of coffee, service and hospitality program I wanted, but the three of us had to conceptually and at many points literally build the physical space from the ground up. The shop is located in a 128 year old historic building and needed an incredible amount of structural work.

Most of our time was spent finding funding and building a strong business plan. The actual build-out took about four months from floor boards and studs, to final design and equipment. It was important to test our branding and model within our Hartford community and so we participated in a number of events during the build-out, including the first KNOW GOOD Market of the 2017 season, which is run by fellow alumnus Jeffrey Devereux.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Story and Soil’?

The name was directly inspired by the Bright Eyes album titled Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground. My partners and I also had multiple inspirations for the name during our endless discussions since it quietly spoke to our emphasis on the origin of coffee, the terroir and agricultural component of specialty coffee, as well as the beauty of the communities that coffee shops find themselves in, and the stories and common ground they stimulate.

Why did you choose Hartford as its’ location?

As a foodie and through N2 Coffee I met many of the creatives, restaurateurs, farmers, organizers, and passionate Hartford residents that make our Capital city beat and whom are leading the movement to revitalize Hartford. This community and economic and cultural outlook made Hartford a great city to set up shop. This vibrancy and enterprising spirit has also been through out the specialty coffee community in Connecticut over the past 5 years. A number of shops run by young and passionate entrepreneurs have popped up and made a real imprint in the coffee industry and their communities. Hartford and Frog Hollow in particular needed a quality driven community shop that was committed to providing an inclusive and fun space.

And since opening, how has Hartford taken to Story and Soil?

So far Hartford has embraced Story and Soil with grace, curiosity and open arms. Our guests include city workers, local business owners, residents, students, and friends. There is certainly more excitement than confusion on any given day (albeit we are on our fourth day of soft opening). We get more questions about our flights and cocktail inspired coffee drinks than our business model, and our guests are definitely getting savvy to the tasting portions of our coffee menu. Guests have loved our vinyl record selection.

How did your time at Trinity help bring you to where you are today?

Even while taking a number of labs a semester, Trinity made it easy to include exciting classes that provided respite, stimulation and perspective. Professors at Trinity reward critical thought, and breadth of knowledge and interests, allowing for deep dives into a variety of subjects throughout your four years of study. While building my potential career in biotechnology, I never felt shy about continuing to pursue my passion in coffee. I traveled to Colombia, attended conferences and built a rapport in the coffee community that helped me launch N2 Coffee, and eventually Story and Soil Coffee.

Finally: what’s your favorite coffee and food order? Any recommendations for Story and Soil first-timers?

I would begin with an espresso float, and then order a flight of the seasonal espresso and pour over, pairing it with the avocado toast (smashed avocado, roasted garlic, salt and pepper). A glass of hibiscus ginger kombucha or mineral water would be a great finisher.

Guests should feel welcomed to explore our menu or order their regular drink. We promise to have something for everyone, and strive to welcome you into our shop with warmth and gratitude.

Want to know what Acosta has been up to recently? And what he considers the perks if being a Bantam in Hartford? Take a look for yourselves. 

Let’s be social: @storyandsoilcoffee, @storyandsoil

Music Scene ‘Neath the Elms

Music Scene ‘Neath the Elms

Trinity College is home to many talented musicians. Some students have taught themselves how to play different instruments on their own while other students have come from a more academic music background. Either way, students at Trinity love music and the musical opportunities our school offers. In addition to instrumental musical talent, we have very talented singers who perform in a cappella groups on campus. Trinity is also rich with poets and has a thriving hip hop scene. Even if you are not into performing, there are plenty of students who are always talking about the latest releases and guesses for album of the year.

The Mill is one of the biggest highlights for musicians and artists on campus. The Mill is our Music and Arts Community House and is always inviting off campus bands or having student bands perform concerts at the indoor or outdoor venue spaces. It is a place full of music lovers and musicians alike. The house includes a recording studio where bands and a cappella groups record their own music. The Mill also has open mic nights happening throughout the year. If you are interested in heavy metal, punk, indie rock, alternative or even folk music, then the Mill is the place for you.

The Mill also hosts events for organizations on campus such as Temple of Hip Hop and Iron Poet. The Temple of Hip Hop is always putting on events that have to do with Hip Hop culture, but not just the music itself. This includes graffiti artists and b-boy dancers. Temple of Hip Hop also organizes the Trinity College International Hip Hop Festival which brings people from all over to participate in this giant music and dance festival on campus. Iron Poet on the other hand is far more focused on poetry, rapping, and spoken word and also holds several events throughout the year.

Trinity has various instrumental and vocal ensemble groups that anyone can join. Some of them, like The Chapel Singers and the a cappella groups, are audition only, but other groups allow anyone to join without an audition. Trinity has 5 a cappella groups, two all female, two co-ed, and one all male group. There are also other vocal groups like The Chapel Singers, The Gospel Choir, African Choir and Trinity Choir. For other musicians, Trinity has instrumental ensembles like Jazz Band and Samba Ensemble. Students can also take individual lessons on any instrument of their choice for a semester or take part in a smaller ensemble for a class credit.

Finally, WRTC is Trinity’s radio station on campus that allows anyone to have their own show where they can talk about music and share their playlists. Whatever your musical interest or involvement is, Trinity has so many opportunities for any musician or music enthusiast ‘Neath the Elms!