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At the third annual All-College Symposium, 200 seniors in Conn's Interdisciplinary Pathways and Centers for Interdisciplinary Scholarship showcased how their coursework and experiences informed their studies and learning over four years.

Meet some of the 2021 Symposium presenters:

Headshot of Bri Goolsby ’22
, Class of '21

Bri Goolsby ’22

Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology


While researching race and representation in animation during the summer of her sophomore year, Bri found that the history of animation is rife with racism and stereotypical depictions of people of color, and that today’s films continue these problematic traditions. 

While the earliest cartoons were fraught with depictions of blackface, she found characters of color in more recent films often change into animals or other nonhuman forms. 

For example, Bri says, “[The Princess and the Frog’s] Tiana is the first—and so far only—Black princess in the Disney Princess franchise, however she spends 40 minutes of the one-hour-and-40-minute film as a frog and only about one minute as an actual princess. This means little black girls don’t really get to look up to a princess character, but mostly just a frog that runs around in a swamp.”

That research sparked the question that has animated her journey as an Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology scholar: “How can positive race representation in animated media raise self-esteem in youth?” 

A film studies major and gender, sexuality and intersectionality minor from Wethersfield, Connecticut, Bri spent this past summer as an intern for Cultured AF, a New London-based art studio. There, she learned to record and edit footage of live events, connected with other artists of color, and honed her animation skills while creating animated advertisements for Instagram. 

“This internship made me realize I want to highlight artists of color and inspire youth of color to pursue their artistic passions,” she said. 

Bri is now working on an interactive website aimed at empowering youth of color through animated media, which she previewed at the Symposium. 

“I want to uplift the voices and talents of people of color through a medium that has the tendency to be oppressive,” she said.

After graduation, she plans to continue that mission as a screenwriter or storyboard artist for animated films or TV series.

“I hope to contribute directly to positive race representation in animated media,” she said. 

Headshot of Daniel Varela ’22, Class of ’22

Daniel Varela ’22

Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts


Daniel fully intends to make the most of a Connecticut College education. The senior from Lawndale, California, has three majors—international relations, Italian studies and Latin American studies—an Africana studies minor, and is a scholar in Conn’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). 

“I decided to join CISLA to further develop my language skills in Italian, as well as to integrate the international experience into my multifaceted academic career at Connecticut College,” Daniel said. 

“CISLA nurtures scholars whose interests take them into communities abroad to face humanitarian challenges and to unpack the dynamics of diverse cultures.”

As a second-year student, Daniel, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, received a sophomore research fund grant of $2,500 to conduct research with Italian Professor Frida Morelli on the need for a coordinated response to the refugee crisis. That experience led to Daniel’s animating question:“What are the social, political and economic challenges facing African migrants in Italy, based on their narratives in film and literature?”

This past summer, Daniel completed a virtual internship with Mygrants, a social enterprise based in Sicily, Italy. The most widely used educational online platform for refugees and asylum seekers in Italy, Mygrants uses adaptive microlearning and thematic module quizzes to provide information, training and career placement to immigrants. 

“The work was rewarding, as I had the opportunity to conduct market research for accessible opportunities for migrants in Italy, as well as gain a better understanding of the social, political and economic challenges for migrants in Italy’s island system,” Daniel said. 

After graduation, Daniel hopes to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in either international relations, Italian studies or Latin America studies, and ultimately become a professor at a college or university.

Headshot of Quinn Kilmartin ’22, Class of ’22

Quinn Kilmartin ’22

Public Health Pathway


A biology major and human development and psychology double minor from Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, Quinn is passionate about exploring reproductive rights advocacy. She joined the Public Health Pathway to explore her animating question: “How can reproductive justice be achieved in a post-Roe world?”

In 2020, Quinn served as a public affairs intern at Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, where she participated in grassroots political organizing ahead of the 2020 presidential election. This past summer, she was a research intern at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal firm that provides free legal defense for women that have faced charges relating to their pregnancy.

“I used courses from the History, Africana Studies, Gender Studies, American Studies, Human Development, Government, Sociology and Psychology Departments to connect my relevant professional experiences from my internships to my academic interests,” she said. 

At the Symposium, Quinn presented on the importance of reproductive justice and the future of Roe v. Wade. 

“I hope people walked away with an understanding that reproductive justice is about more than abortion access, and is historically and socially tied to racial, gender and class justice,” she said. 

After graduation, Quinn plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in sexual and reproductive health. 

“I’d love to work in the nonprofit sector and be involved with reproductive justice and public policy,” she said.

Headshot of Autumn Galindo ’22, Class of ’22

Autumn Galindo ’22

Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy


A government and history major from Belmont, Massachusetts, Autumn was drawn to the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy by the opportunity to combine her scholarship and activism into a single project.

“As a Filipina, I have found that the personal is both historical and political,” she said. “So, I decided to focus my research on amplifying the voices of Filipino transnational activists in historical and contemporary contexts.”

Originally, Autumn, who is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, planned to explore the experiences of Filipina overseas migrant workers in the United States. However, her project started to shift as she took courses like “The Globalization of Urban Poverty,” “International Conflict Resolution,” “The Historian's Craft” and the Holleran Center program’s gateway course.  

“While these courses were from different academic disciplines, they made me think a lot about the themes of historical memory, activism and the power of narratives, and how they are all connected. That prompted me to consider how Filipina American migrant workers fit into systems of imperialism and capitalism and how they are resisting those systems of exploitation through activism. While protesting against these systems, Filipino activists are also mobilizing and resisting democratically elected authoritarian presidents,” she said. 

Recently, Autumn interned as a research assistant for a Vanderbilt University historian, Professor Mark John Sanchez, researching 20th- and 21st-century Filipino history. This year, she is volunteering at the New London County Historical Society, where she is learning about public history in practice. 

At the Symposium, Autumn presented a PowerPoint of her historical research, which investigates how Filipino American activists use memory and history as a tool to shape their narratives to resist imperialism. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to study history. 

Headshot of Zoe Pellegrino ’22
, Class of ’22

Zoe Pellegrino ’22

Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway


Zoe, an English and sociology double major from East Greenwich, Rhode Island, knew joining the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway would allow her to explore her central passion for the environmental humanities and environmental justice work. But even she didn’t expect an art class to tie perfectly into her newfound interest in reducing food waste. 

“I had the opportunity to take ‘Sculpture for a Small Planet,’ a sustainable art class taught by Professor [Gregory] Bailey. Inspired by my research and seeking to make my Pathway experience even more interdisciplinary, I designed and built my own compost bin using wood from a tree that had been cut down in the Arboretum,” she said. 

“My compost bin is now actively in use in my backyard at home, a standing physical manifestation of my ability to engage in an interdisciplinary exploration of my passion for the environment through coursework.”

Zoe developed her animating question, “How can we combat local and global food waste in order to improve sustainability across the food system, with a focus on food equity and environmental impact?” after completing a semester-long research project on the socio-environmental impacts of food waste in Professor Julia Flagg’s “Sociology of the Environment” course. 

“After spending so much time better understanding the overwhelming significance of the issue through this project, I realized that I still had a fierce desire to know more about food waste and attempt to work toward potential solutions,” she said. 

In the spring and summer of 2021, Zoe completed an internship with Voiz, an organization designed to empower the voices of Gen Z college students with a passion for sustainability and environmental justice. She became a certified sustainability analyst and led a team of students in researching and writing sustainability product reviews for the organization’s website, and helped design a pilot program to rate the sustainability of colleges and universities.

After graduation, Zoe, who is currently working on an honors thesis in the English department, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English with a focus on environmental humanities and environmental justice. At the Symposium, she presented “Access and Excess: Exploring the Social and Environmental Impacts of Food Waste.”

“I hope that my audience becomes more aware of the significant magnitude of our food waste crisis, as well as its central causes, impacts and potential solutions,” she said.

Headshot of Brendan Stiltner ’22, Class of '22

Brendan Stiltner ’22

Power, Knowledge and Practice Pathway


Brendan, a psychology major and philosophy minor from Hamden, Connecticut, was looking for a unique way to examine society, psychology and human behavior when he joined the Power, Knowledge and Practice Pathway. 

“I thought the Pathway would change how I saw psychology, and it certainly did,” he said. 

Originally, Brendan was interested in exploring identity and sense of self. But after taking a philosophy course on the self and a multicultural psychology course, he realized he was more interested in how knowledge is produced in psychology and psychiatry and how that knowledge holds power in society.

Over the summer, Brendan interned at Yale School of Medicine, where he worked with a psychiatry professor to write a paper about the psychological theories and the neuroscience of suicide.

“I observed and experienced firsthand how knowledge is produced in psychiatry and psychology research and how there is power in that,” he said. 

This semester, Brendan is participating in a community engagement opportunity at a neuropsychology clinic in Norwich, Connecticut, where he is learning more about how knowledge is produced in a clinical setting.

On campus, Brendan is the president of the men’s club Ultimate Frisbee team and also works as a campus tour guide and introductory logic tutor. After graduation, he plans to work in a psychology or psychiatry lab for a few years before applying to graduate school to study clinical psychology. 

One thing Brendan didn’t expect to gain from his Pathway experience: a close-knit group of fellow student-researchers. 

“Our Pathway was relatively small and we formed tight bonds,” he said. “I am really thankful for it, as the seminar style of the Pathway enhanced my learning and made it a really special, worthwhile and rewarding experience.”

Headshot of Amanda Sanders ’22, Class of '21

Amanda Sanders ’22

Media, Rhetoric and Communication Pathway


Amanda, an English major and government minor from Great Neck, New York, has used her experience in the Media, Rhetoric and Communication Pathway to critically examine journalism, public relations and social media through multiple lenses. 

As the editor-in-chief of Conn’s student newspaper, The College Voice, Amanda has firsthand experience in news writing, editing and newspaper production. Through her Pathway courses, she discovered an interest in American government. And this past summer, she served as a marketing intern for the Norman Rockwell Museum, where she successfully pitched media outlets and expanded the museum’s presence on social media, and for Conn’s Office of Communications, where she wrote articles for the College’s website and published a feature in the institution’s flagship publication, CC Magazine

“Both of these experiences presented communications rhetoric to me in different ways and enabled me to learn more about how we utilize media to attract consumers or tell a story,” she said. 

Amanda’s diverse experiences led her to her animating questions, “How do the technologies available to us circumscribe or deepen our thinking? How do tech companies control our understanding of different events?” She presented on the topic at the Symposium. 

After graduation, Amanda plans to embark on a career in public relations. 

Headshot of Xavier McCormack ’22
, Class of '22

Xavier McCormack ’22

Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change Pathway


As a young artist, Xavier knew how to make art. But when he began to exhibit his work in galleries in 2019, he realized he didn’t know how to sell it. 

“Coming from just producing art for exposure and the gratification of recognition, I was confused when forced to put a price on my work,” he said. “I realized many other emerging artists may feel the same way as they move from the studio/workplace to the gallery.” 

Xavier declared an art major and a finance minor and joined the Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change Pathway to explore his animating question, “How can I help myself and other artists further develop their careers and brand recognition toward peak success?”

He conducted an internship near his hometown of East Hampton, New York, with the well-established Tripoli Gallery in the spring of 2021. As a gallery assistant, he helped move, package, and install art pieces and exhibitions, and was responsible for opening the gallery and preparing it for visitors. 

He also completed two independent study courses—one in art and one in business. 

“My goal was to make art and then, at the end, price my art and exhibit a show with other artists. I successfully did so and it gave me great confidence to move forward,” he said. 

Now, McCormack plans to help artists establish themselves through both the creative and financial sides of art production and dealing by opening an art gallery co-op, the "creatorX co-operative.” Eventually, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in either business or art.

Headshot of Samirah Jaigirdar ’22 
, Class of '22

Samirah Jaigirdar ’22

Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts


Samirah, an international relations and global Islamic studies double major from Dhaka, Bangladesh, joined the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) to pursue her love for languages and to explore international relations issues in a multidisciplinary way. 

As a CISLA scholar, she is exploring the limitations of international relations theory in analyzing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. This past summer, she completed a virtual internship with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a sustainable development organization based in Marrakesh, Morocco. 

“As a research intern, one of my main contributions was co-authoring a manual of methodologies to preserve cultural memory of Jewish Moroccans as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project that HAF had started,” she said. “While this project took up most of my summer, I also had the opportunity to write research blogs about women’s empowerment and sustainable development. One of the most exciting things I did was collaborate on an Arabic translation for one of my research blogs, which was published by a news website.

“My time with HAF enabled me to critically look at theoretical frameworks and question how they are applied to real-world frameworks,” she added. 

On campus, Samirah serves as president of the Student Government Association and as a digital content intern for the Office of Communications. She is also a Davis United World College Scholar and Mellon ConnSSHARP grant recipient. 

At the Symposium, Samirah spoke about the limitations of mainstream international relations theories and illustrated alternate theoretical frameworks that might be used to understand and predict U.S. foreign policy going forward. 

After graduation, Samirah plans to pursue a graduate degree in political science with a focus on security studies. 

“My time in CISLA taught me that any discipline, even international relations, should be looked at through a multidimensional lens,” she said.

Headshot of Mary DiMaggio ’22, Class of '22

Mary DiMaggio ’22

Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway


Working with children as an educator at Waltham Fields Community Farm in her hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts, Mary developed a passion for food justice. As a biology major and dance minor, she saw the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway as a way to connect her interest in food justice to her Conn education and approach the topic from new perspectives. 

Through the Pathway, she had the opportunity to volunteer at FRESH New London, a local nonprofit dedicated to food justice and youth empowerment, and Hunts Brook Farm, a Quaker Hill, Connecticut, farm dedicated to growing food in ecologically and socially responsible ways; conduct research on the role of community farms in food justice; and complete a StoryWalk internship and continue her work as an educator at Waltham Fields Community Farm.

“I was able to connect what I was learning in my ‘Community Agriculture’ class to my work at FRESH and Hunts Brook, and concepts I learned in the thematic inquiry course, such as equality vs. equity and the idea that social justice and sustainability must go hand in hand, to my research project,” she said. “Additionally, a course called ‘Foundations of Education’ was a turning point in my Pathway experience, as it changed the way I was approaching my topic and animating question to include the education component of social justice more prominently.”

At the Symposium, Mary, an aspiring elementary school science teacher, presented on her animating question, “How does food justice inform an equitable and meaningful science education system?” 

“I hope the audience learned about the important role education has in the field of social justice and that education is much more than sitting in a classroom,” she said. 

Headshot of Eric Huber ’22, Class of '22

Eric Huber ’22

Data, Information and Society Pathway


A computer science and economics double major and applied statistics minor from Scarborough, Maine, Eric joined the Data, Information and Society Pathway to explore the ethical concerns of data usage and development in computer science. 

“Throughout my Pathway experience, I was able to connect the courses that I was taking and my global/local engagement to my animating question, ‘How does machine bias produce systemically prejudiced results?’” he said. 

As a data analytics intern at Unum insurance company, Eric saw firsthand the power of data and the implications that it has on business operations. 

“I was frequently able to apply skills that I had learned in classes like ‘Advanced Regression Techniques,’ ‘Time Series Analysis’ and ‘Machine Learning’ to the work that I was doing on a daily basis,” he said. 

After graduation, Eric hopes to work in either software development or data science. 

“I hope to get the audience thinking more deeply about the ethics and complications of using computers as replacements for human decision-making,” he said.