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At the second annual All-College Symposium, 200 seniors in Conn's Interdisciplinary Pathways and Centers for Interdisciplinary Scholarship showcased how their coursework and experiences have informed their studies and learning over four years. Through virtual talks, panels, group discussions, poster sessions and videos, students highlighted their integrative learning in Connections, the College’s reinvention of the liberal arts. 

Meet some of the 2020 Symposium Presenters:

Headshot of Stephanie Martinez ’21
, Class of '21

Stephanie Martinez ’21

Beyond the Ballot Box: Latinx Political Participation

Stephanie, a first-generation college student and first-generation American, vividly remembers the first transformative moment in her education at Conn: participating as a first-year in a student-organized protest in support of DACA, an immigration policy that allows some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to receive deferred action from deportation.

“This was crucial in my conception of political participation beyond voting,” Stephanie said. “As I work on my on-going research, I find myself going back to that day and thinking about how it has influenced my entire undergraduate career.”

A government major and history minor, Stephanie joined the Holleran Center for Community Action in order to apply her major and minor to her interest in Latinx politics in the United States. As a sophomore, she worked with New London’s Homeless Hospitality Center and learned about the administrative side of nonprofit work. As a junior, she was involved with a local Mayoral political campaign in New London, worked with the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut, and was a student representative for CamelVotes at the NESCAC Votes conference. She also studied away at Amherst College, taking political courses on Latinx lives and political ethnography.

Stephanie is now working on an honor’s thesis investigating the different methods of political participation among Latinx college students. At the All-College Symposium, she explained her methodology and goals, as well as how she is situating her research within existing literature.

“I hope the audience thinks about different ways we can think about the health of our democracy,” she said.

After graduation, Stephanie, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Conn, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in American government. 

Headshot of Koby Giglietti ’21, Class of '21

Koby Giglietti ’21

Sustainability through Urban Gardens and their Positive Impact in Communities

Koby, an environmental studies major and economics minor, describes his experience in the Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change Pathway as “nothing short of amazing.”

“The Pathways allow students to analyze a central question and look at that theme through multiple avenues of academic learning. Mine gave me the opportunity to analyze sustainability through an entrepreneurship lens,” he said.

Through his coursework, Koby completed hands-on projects that included creating business plans and launching solutions to real problems. He studied abroad in Granada, Spain; interned for a start-up dedicated to reducing food waste in dining facilities and volunteered at an organization delivering fresh produce and groceries to immunocompromised and individuals with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of his experiences helped him hone his animating question, which connects food insecurity in food dessert/ apartheid communities with urban gardens and farms. 

After graduation, Koby plans to pursue a career in environmental consulting.

Koby's Video

Headshot of Darriana Greer ’21, Class of '21

Darriana Greer ’21

A Deep-Rooted Connection: Uniting the African Diaspora Through Rhythm and Dance

Darriana, a dance and Africana studies double major with a minor in sociology, joined the Bodies/Embodiment Pathway to combine her interests in new and creative ways.

“When I thought of the word ‘bodies,’ I thought about the moving body and how it moves through or is interpreted in different spaces. But in the class, we talked about so many more concepts that relate to bodies in many different contexts,” she said. “We were able to explore other disciplines and take what we were learning outside of the classroom, which I think helped each of us broaden our thinking in terms of bodies and difference.”

Darriana’s developed her animating question, “How is blackness defined in the cultures of America, the Caribbean and West Africa?” after studying abroad in Ghana, where she learned about Ghanaian history and culture through song, drumming and dance.

“I noticed the relationships between people and culture there and how those traditions exist within other black cultures in the diaspora, but in different ways,” she said. “I applied much of what I had learned in Ghana to my studies at Conn, and I was able to make so many connections.”

At the Symposium, Darriana presented a visual-heavy PowerPoint along with her classmate Journee Hardaway ’21, whose research complemented her own. After graduation, she plans to continue learning, practicing and studying the history of Afro-Caribbean dance.

Darriana's Video

Headshot of Max Whisnant ’21, Class of '21

Max Whisnant ’21

Discussion of the Journey of the Class of 2021 in the Peace and Conflict Pathway

An aspiring politician, Max joined the Peace and Conflict Pathway to better understand political conflicts and learn to develop solutions.

A government and English double major, Max interned for U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy’s U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts and developed an interest in political rhetoric.

“Even in a Democratic primary, for a safe Democrat seat, I was able to see how conflict arises within party lines. I watched how both campaigns’ rhetoric changed throughout the summer and became harsher and more biting,” Max said.

In Assistant Professor of Government Mara Suttmann-Lea’s “Parties, Campaigns, and Elections” course, Max learned about effective campaign messaging.

“Unsurprisingly, comparative messaging helped a candidate best because this style does not directly attack an opponent but instead gives voters an alternative vision without the degradation of another candidate,” he said.

Max is now writing an honors thesis on presidential rhetoric during catastrophic times. At the Symposium, he was part of a group presentation along with the other seniors in the Peace and Conflict Pathway.  

“It fit with how tight-knit our group is. We enjoyed learning from each other and bringing in knowledge from our various majors and minors, so we decided this was the best way for us to demonstrate our collective research,” he said.

After graduation, Max is looking forward to starting his career in politics, either as a candidate himself or working on campaigns.

“I am excited to dive into policy and try to help solve some of our problems,” he said.

Headshot of Journee Hardaway ’21
, Class of '21

Journee Hardaway ’21

A Deep-Rooted Connection: Uniting the African Diaspora Through Rhythm and Dance

A dance and sociology major, Journee says the Bodies/Embodiment Pathway was a natural fit for her interests.

“When looking at the Pathway and Center descriptions my sophomore year, I found many of the classes I had already taken had touched on the theme of bodies and their relation to power, as well as the idea of who gets to tell history,” she said.

The experience has been transformative, she says.

“The faculty coordinators and students in the thematic inquiry course my sophomore year created a collaborative, safe, nonhierarchical space where we were able to start drawing connections from the diverse pool of courses we have taken our first two years to our current class material, formulating the beginning seeds of what is now our animating questions and research.”

Journee then studied abroad in Trinidad and Tobago and visited Jamaica on a study tour.

“I was able to learn about the colonial past of Trinidad, engage in cultural events such as Parang and Calinda, experience Dancehall, and was introduced to Maroon community dance. All these opportunities helped inform what I will be presenting, partnered alongside the courses I took at Conn and abroad.”

Journee’s animating question is, “What is the significance of the body’s position in a group circle formation? How is this translated in dance?” She continues to make connections with her Pathway peers, and presented at the Symposium with her Bodies/Embodiment classmate Darriana Greer ’21, whose research complemented her own.

“I hope the audience took away not only the history of the circle formation in dance, but was able to ponder the idea of how the body’s position in a community circle can be implemented in other settings to benefit individuals,” she said.

After graduation, Journee plans to pursue a career in the field of arts administration.

“After an internship with COCO Dance Festival in Trinidad and with David Dorfman Dance, I’ve realized how passionate I am about helping others get their dance projects out into the world,” she said.

Headshot of Sara Van Deusen ’21, Class of '21

Sara Van Deusen ’21

Literature, Eroticism and Pedagogy

Fascinated by the evolving path and ancient origins of the liberal arts philosophy, Sara has devoted much of her time at Conn to examining the broader context of how a liberal arts education still maintains its relevance in contemporary society while not losing sight of the concepts and philosophies the ancient Greeks originally envisioned. 

An English and French double major, VanDeusen has been able to weave a common thread through her studies in and out of the classroom with the Eye of the Mind Pathway.

“I have always been intrigued by both the history and the workings of the liberal arts education, and I wanted to discover how this philosophy continues to be so successful in its implementation today at schools like Conn,” she said. 

For her animating question, Sara has examined centuries of literature involving student-teacher relationships and how the portrayals of those power dynamics have helped shape modern culture and education. 

“In addition to analyzing a variety of texts, from the Letters of Abelard and Heloise to Lolita, I’m aiming to connect this historical and literary work to psychological theories of trauma, pedagogical philosophy and the #MeToo movement in order to examine how the nuances of education and relationships either change or perpetuate the ways of our culture,” she said. 

For Sara, who said her experience in studying French literature in Paris was one way she was able to view her animating question through a global lens, the Pathway experience has been transformative. 

“The Pathway drove me to look into different fields of study that I had been hesitant to explore in the past and that would have otherwise remained untouched during my college experience,” she said. 

“I hope that the Symposium audience learned that there are various ways in which we obtain knowledge, and various cultural and patriarchal systems which either impede or perpetuate our learning even today.”

After graduation, Sara plans to pursue a doctorate in either English or French literature, with the goal of becoming a professor so she can continue enjoying her love of literary discussion and writing.

Sam's Video

Headshot of Priyanka Ramchurn ’21, Class of '21

Priyanka Ramchurn ’21

Accelerating the Global Momentum around Blue Finance and Blue Investments

Growing up on an island, Priyanka always felt connected to the ocean. She joined the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts to explore her interests in oceans through an economic, political, legal, environmental and social perspective.

“Since the ocean is a transnational topic, I wanted to learn about the experience of other countries around the world and investigate the opportunities and challenges they are facing in transitioning to a sustainable blue economy,” she said, defining the blue economy as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.”

An international relations and economics double major with a finance minor, Priyanka dove right in. As a sophomore, she took an “Oceans Laws and Policies” course, mastering the provisions of the United Nations Convention for the Laws of the Seas and writing a research paper on the Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute between her home country, Mauritius, and the U.K.

She studied abroad at the University of Oxford, and, in the summer before her junior year, she went to Colombia through the Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program to conduct research on the blue economy.

“Together with a team of marine scientists, economists, and environmentalists from the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut, and the Ocean Society, I supported vulnerable coastal communities in identifying local grassroots science-based solutions to unsustainable fishing, the growing threat of climate change, marine pollution, and the migrant crisis. I also had the opportunity to interview, listen to and interact with women, youth and migrants of Nueva Valencia Ciénaga Grande, a highly vulnerable floating village and also the Kogi indigenous population of Santa Marta,” she said.

“These encounters allowed me to gather first-hand information on how those local communities confront the realities of climate change on a daily basis, which directly impacts their incomes, economies, food security and livelihoods.”

Priyanka interned over the summer with the World Bank Group, joining a with the team working on the Blue Economy and collaborating with organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Center for the Blue Economy.

At the Symposium, Priyanka made a case that transitioning to a sustainable blue economy requires sound ocean governance, research and innovation, and most importantly, finance.

“I introduced the concept of blue financing and blue investments to my audience and emphasized the importance of investing in the blue economy in 2020 and beyond. Ultimately, I presented the innovative idea of the Global Ocean Institution (GOI),” she said.

After graduation, Priyanka plans to continue her work with the World Bank, and then pursue law school and a career as an international maritime lawyer working for the United Nations.

“I am committed to making positive contributions to the Blue Economy agenda and to make meaningful changes in the lives of vulnerable coastal populations in small island developing states and other big ocean states around the world,” she said.

Headshot of Kevin Fellows ’21, Class of '21

Kevin Fellows ’21

The Sustainability of Global Supply Chains

An economics major and finance minor, Kevin is in the Global Capitalism Pathway, which examines the cultural, economic and social impacts of capitalism. 

“I chose this Pathway because I wanted to explore the greater context of what I was learning in my economics courses,” he said, adding that he has relished finding common themes in subjects he once believed were completely unrelated and tying them together in his Pathway.

“My courses in Chinese philosophy and behavioral finance are a good example of this—I took both as part of my Pathway, and they’ve had a surprising amount of overlap.”

As a junior, Kevin travelled to Florence, Italy, to study away as part of the “global” component in the Global Capitalism Pathway. 

“Living abroad undoubtedly broadened my horizons and challenged me to become a better student,” Kevin said. “But it also helped emphasize the importance of being a global citizen, a concept at the core of this Pathway.”

Kevin, who plans to attend graduate school after graduation, is now drawn to venture capital with a social justice component and finding a career where he can disrupt the status quo within this industry. 

“My goal is to continue expanding my economic and financial analysis skills, and that, coupled with the strong interdisciplinary training I received at Conn, will help me make a tangible impact within the social venture capital arena. Ultimately, I hope to invest in environmentally and socially responsible companies,” he said.

Headshot of Halle Paredes ’21
, Class of '21

Halle Paredes ’21

COVID-19 and Normative Ethics: A Global Assessment of Triage and Reopening Strategies

Halle has always been interested in healthcare, ethics and public health, so joining the Public Health Pathway was a perfect choice for the philosophy major and government minor.

“I really wanted to apply a lot of the conceptual work I do in the classroom to issues that are super important to me,” she said.

Halle studied abroad at University College London in London, England, where she took a “Policy Issues in the Life Sciences” course that integrated a lot of her government coursework with the issues she discussed in the Pathway’s thematic inquiry course. She completed two internships; one with the Mayo Clinic and one a small bioethics non-profit run by Conn graduate.

“My internship shaped my integrative question, as we conducted survey-based research regarding the ethical principles guiding triage policies on state and institutional levels,” she said. “My Mayo Clinic internship affirmed my passion for public health ethics and, in tandem with my Pathway coursework, led me to decide that public health ethics is what I want to focus on as a career path.”

Halle’s academic experiences are culminating during the worst global pandemic in more than 100 years, which led her to her animating question: In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, how do normative ethics influence or guide triage policies and reopening strategies, and what does this look like globally? 

“I hope the Symposium audience questions and understands a lot of the principles that are motivating these public health interventions, and perhaps will be more cognizant of how governments actually act on value statements regarding the people they govern,” she said.

Halle is applying to master’s programs in the United Kingdom, where she plans to study public health or bioethics.

“My Pathway really gave me the opportunity to survey a lot of careers and issues in the public health field and provided me with the space to explore my interests and potential career direction with other students and faculty,” she said. “After I earn my master’s, I hope to work in some type of health policy position or with a health-based international organization.”

Halle's Video

Headshot of Sam Marsh ’21
, Class of '21

Sam Marsh ’21

Challenges of Third-Party Mediation in the Donbass Conflict

Sam, an international relations and Slavic studies double major and scholar in the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), is completing an in-depth analysis of the mediation efforts to end the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

His research is driven by three key questions: Why have third-party mediation efforts failed to produce a negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine in the Donbass conflict? What efforts, precisely, have been made to mediate the conflict, when did these efforts occur, who were the leading parties/organizations in each instance, and what were the outcomes of each effort? And finally, has third-party mediation been effective at addressing certain sub-issues of the conflict, even if it has not ended the war?

“I will be examining a range of theories on conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation and applying the insights from this literature to conduct a deep analysis of the situation in Ukraine and any political or cultural factors causing mediated peace negotiation to remain elusive,” Sam said.

In the spring of his junior year, Sam studied until March at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Moscow, Russia, then completed the remainder of his coursework from his home state of New Hampshire after he was forced to return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My most fascinating class abroad was one on Russian foreign policy, where I got to see a Russian perspective on the many current foreign affairs issues I had previously only studied from a Western perspective,” he said.

Over the summer, Sam completed a remote internship with the Center for the Study of Democracy, a Bulgarian political think-tank, in which he did linguistic editing for researchers from seven different countries in Southeast Europe as they wrote their contributions for an upcoming center publication.

Sam has applied for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to Ukraine, and eventually plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations.

Headshot of Cassidy Vincent ’21
, Class of '21

Cassidy Vincent ’21

How Can Social Determinants of Health Explain COVID-19 Case Patterns?

Cassidy, a biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology major, joined the Public Health Pathway to explore career options.

“Ultimately, it worked out perfectly since I now plan to go to graduate school for public health,” she said. “I have learned that it is an incredibly broad, interdisciplinary field and that almost any interest can be tied in some way back to public health.”

Cassidy is currently interning with DataHaven, a non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut, that conducts surveys and collects data on health, socioeconomic status and inequities throughout the state. She is also completing an independent study based on the data and exploring how social determinants of health explain COVID-19 case patterns in Connecticut, and presented her research during the Symposium.

“I hope I was able to teach the audience about the major role socioeconomic factors, like race and income, play in health outcomes,” she said.

Headshot of Alex Saucedo ’21, Class of '21

Alex Saucedo ’21

Social Justice in Technology: Unequal Access During COVID

Alex, a computer science major and mathematics minor, joined the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway to learn about the ways he could help create a more just society.

“I’m learning about inequality that exists in all sectors locally and globally, and how everything is connected,” he said.

A Posse scholar from Chicago, Illinois, Alex was struck by the inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they relate to education.

“Students and their families are struggling to pay internet bills or afford a computer, and that is a huge problem, since students are not getting proper education,” he said. “Most of these students are low-income, attend under-resourced schools and are being left behind.”

Alex presented about the impact of the technology gap on students’ learning at the Symposium. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career with a tech company, and continue to seek out ways to advance social justice. He also plans to give back to his community.

“I want to mentor students in STEM who come from places like the place I came from, and help them achieve their goals,” he said.

Headshot of Tess Beardell ’21, Class of '21

Tess Beardell ’21

Growing Community from Seed

Tess, an environmental studies major, joined the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment “out of an intrinsic need” to contextualize her education in the world outside of the classroom.

“I realized that the structured support of the Center would help me dig deeper into the intersections of questions that my classes had, at that time, only begun to introduce,” she said. “Furthermore, I recognized that pursuing a senior integrative project would allow me to put what I learn in the classroom to work in the world by creating a project that has real impacts outside of Connecticut College.”

Tess spent the summer working remotely as the community engagement intern for Connecticut College’s Sprout Garden. She created weekly newsletters in English and Spanish to share with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members and wrote blog posts, giving updates on activity at the garden, sharing the nutritional benefits of the garden’s produce and cooking suggestions for particular crops, and exploring topics related to agriculture. The internship is informing her senior integrative project, which explores how fresh food—grown well—can be as nourishing to the Earth as it is to human communities.

“This internship has steered me in the direction of food justice by emphasizing the importance of making good, fresh food accessible to all. While being so involved in engaging the Sprout community, I have been considering who, on the larger scale, is typically reached by local agriculture and who is left out. By extension, I am questioning what food is generally made available to different populations,” she said.

During the Symposium, Tess discussed her work in a panel on sustainable food systems and small scale agriculture with her Goodwin-Niering Center peers Grace Neale ’21, Shefka (Sheffy) Williams ’21 and Addie Daly ’21.

“The session provided space for active dialogue about the benefits of small-scale, community-based agriculture and highlighted some of the many ways to support and engage with this type of growing,” she said.

After graduation, Tess plans to pursue a career that allows her to make connections between people, place and food.

“My work in the Center and in Sprout has underlined the power of community-based agriculture programs to empower individuals and create coherent communities,” she said.