Finding My Rhythm

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani's classmates pose for a photo in front of their standing drums at the dance studio
My classmates from left to right: Buki James, Shay Quinn, Joseline Urbana.

My legs swing up as I try to move the top half of my body in a completely different motion than my legs. As I dance, I am listening carefully to the drums, waiting for the moment when the drummers play the break, which cues that the dance will transition to the next step. After an hour and 15 minutes of movement, our teacher Associate Professor of Dance Shani Collins-Achille tells us that class is over. We make our way over to the drummers and thank them by tapping the ground with our hands. Each day I leave class sweating, a little confused and smiling.

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Finding Your Nook

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

A photo taken from the study space on the upper floor of New London Hall showing the sidewalks below and Fanning Hall across the way
New London Hall
This has become my favorite day-time studying nook. Whether I have journaling to do for my Pathway course or I need to outline a paper, it’s the perfect spot to do some work while also enjoying the view of everyone walking between classes. For me, it’s a good thinking spot where I can brainstorm and look around. It’s also usually quite easy to find a quiet spot as classes are not always taking place on each floor. 

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To London

- The Experience, David Johnston '19

A portrait of Jane Austen from the National Portrait Gallery
Jane Austen’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery

During spring break, most people want to go to a warm place to get away from the cold winters in New England. Rather than flying this typical route south, I went east to London with my senior seminar for spring break. My senior seminar in the English department is on Jane Austen. When I signed up for the class, taught by Professor of English Jeff Strabone, I knew that there was a trip to the United Kingdom planned for our two-week spring break. While this was not a determining factor in choosing the class for me, it certainly did not hurt.

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Shameless Networking

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

Earlier this semester, I wrote a post about the importance of connections and how they can spark exciting opportunities. It is all about who you know and what you’re willing to do with that knowledge. On the contrary, who you are willing to know is equally important. I am applying for a couple of internships at Showtime Networks, a highly coveted position. I knew that merely submitting my application materials was not going to help me stand out. Based on my workshop experience with the Office of Career and Professional Development, my job experiences and the advice of family members, I decided to put myself on the line. And I was pleased with the results.

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In Sickness and In Academia

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

It was a sad day in the middle of February 2018 when I was diagnosed with the flu. I sulked from Student Health Services back to my room in Freeman House and was left to my own devices for the rest of the week. I was required to isolate myself, so as to not spread the virus and recover in the most expedient way possible. I was initially worried about missing class, falling behind on work and just not being able to entertain myself for that long. Before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole of internet conspiracy theories that culminated with my discovery of perhaps the most fascinating, interesting topic.

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Declan Rockett ‘20, Scarlett Diaz-Power ‘20, me, Morgan Grant ‘20, Mia Barbuto ‘22, Becca Collins ‘21, Carly Sponzo ‘21 and Sonia Joffe ‘19 pose in their costumes on the set of No Exit
Clockwise from L-R: Declan Rockett ‘20, Scarlett Diaz-Power ‘20, me, Morgan Grant ‘20, Mia Barbuto ‘22, Becca Collins ‘21, Carly Sponzo ‘21 and Sonia Joffe ‘19

It’s opening night. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., while the team and I arrived in the theater at 6 p.m. The cast warmed up then changed into costume while Morgan, Declan and I placed furniture, decor and did checks for lights and sound. As the hour approached, people began to arrive and wait in the lobby. Around 7 p.m., Morgan and I started pacing, anxiously floating between the lobby, theater space and the “hobbit hole”, a room in which the actors stay before the show.

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Flipping Trajectories

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Two pieces of paper. One declaring a major. The other declaring a minor.
I've declared a major and minor!

When I was 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At the age of 8, I declared to my mother that I would be as famous as Demi Lovato, disregarding the fact that I could not sing to save my life. As my career aspirations went from astronaut to black hole specialist to journalist, I entered high school and got into the sciences. If someone looked at my high school transcript, they would assume that I was headed toward a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. They would be correct. In high school, I took advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. I wanted to be a materials scientist. Back then, nothing excited me more than spending hours in a chemistry laboratory seeing what obscure material could oxidize lead.

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

Students sleeping/lounging on sofas or the floor
The cast during the beginning of each rehearsal I called “chill out” where they would enter the world of the play through song.

After getting back to campus from winter break, there was one major thing on my to-do list: hold auditions. The thought of auditions didn’t stir up any anxiety, but the thought of having to select a cast from a group of amazingly talented students did. For about three hours, my team and I scribbled notes on random pieces of paper as students traipsed in and out of the room with their monologues. Halfway through the evening, I got the same feeling I get during a class when I’m the only student not taking notes. I realized I was writing without a clue about what I was supposed to be writing down. I was just scribbling because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?

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Bad Day Turned Great

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

View of Horizon House from a dorm room in JA
The view from my dorm room, where I woke up in a panic.

I woke up one Thursday and almost screamed when I saw the time on my alarm clock. It was 11:45 a.m., and I had class at 11:50 a.m.

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On My Way to My Senior Recital

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Handwritten notes on paper
My handwritten notes from my meeting with Professor Elmer

This semester has been busy and challenging for me. I’m preparing a senior recital for the Department of Music to be presented Sunday, April 14, and I’m planning to perform my Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Senior Integrative Project as part of that recital. This decision has set a major deadline for when the majority of the projects I’m working on for senior year need to be ready to be presented. While it's daunting to realize that I’ll soon be on the stage of Evans Hall performing an hour of clarinet music and my finished project for the Ammerman Center, I’ve realized as the recital nears that preparation comes in baby steps.

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Teaching Bengali

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Red, purple, and blue poster with info on Samirah's Bengali course
I put up posters around campus to promote my class

Growing up bilingual, I don’t remember learning to speak either English or Bengali. I don’t know if I learned the alphabet first or how I knew to tell the difference between the words for a lamp and a lightbulb or how the two languages differed phonetically from one another. I don’t know how I learned and I could surely not advise someone trying to acquire a new language.

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Did Someone Say Four Day Weekend?!

- The Experience, Lexi Pope ’21

Every college student dreams of having a four-day weekend. In fact, most students try to plan out their schedules to avoid classes on Friday, just for that extra day. Speaking from experience, this can be harder than you’d think! I have never been one to care much about my schedule, as long as no classes overlap and I’m taking classes I enjoy. A few months ago, I sat down to plan this semester's classes with my adviser, professor Jillian Marshall. I selected all of my classes and then drew out my schedule on paper to help visualize my week. Professor Marshall read aloud the days and times each of my classes met while I color-coded my schedule, and that’s when we realized I had somehow managed to have no classes scheduled for Monday or Friday. I quickly looked back to check that I had written in all four courses, thinking perhaps I’d missed one. Nope, that was it! I was pleased with my choices and already looking forward to these continuous long weekends!

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Getting Directions: A Series

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

The graphic for the show features an eye with a keyhole in the middle surveying three figures in silhouette
The graphic for the show, designed by my friend Halley McArn (Brown University ’19)

This is the first of a collection of posts about my first time directing a play. I’ll take you through the pre-production process, rehearsals, and opening night.

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American (and Australian) Screenwriting

- The Experience, Mark McPhillips '20

A picture of a cathedral-like building at the University of Sydney
The beautiful University of Sydney

When I first came to Conn, I thought I was going to double major in theater and psychology. I love acting, wanted to understand how people worked to better inform my characters, and most of all wanted to bring those two passions together.

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The Touring Clarinetist of Southern New England

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor poses for a photo with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.
Connecticut College clarinet instructor Kelli O‘Connor with Jamie Bernstein and Kevin Rhodes of the Springfield Symphony.

I’m afforded plenty of opportunities to hear my clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, perform at Connecticut College. Most recently, she played in two pieces in the music department’s February faculty recital, including Mozart’s well-known “Kegelstatt” Trio, and last December she was a featured soloist with the orchestra’s string section during our fall concert.

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One Step to Trinity Rep

- The Experience, Andre Thomas '20

A.T. and the class pose with Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep
We posed with Nina Papathanasopoulou's class and Jude Sandy on stage at Trinity Rep

Many of our staff and faculty members live close to school, so anytime I’m off campus, I think about the possibility of running into a professor or other employee. It isn’t a bad occurrence, but it’s somewhat cringey to think about what to say to a professor outside of the classroom or context of a class. Even if it’s someone you admire or are very familiar with, there’s always a moment of silence where neither the student nor the adult knows quite what to say. However, this isn’t always the case. I saw a professor outside of the classroom and instead of it being awkward, it was invigorating. I saw him on a stage, in a costume, transformed into one of the most well-known gods of Greek literature: Zeus. Kinda cool, right?

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The Last Semester

- The Experience, David Johnston '19

A copy of David's major declaration slip
When I declared my majors in the fall of my sophomore year

To register for classes at Connecticut College, we have to meet with our adviser and discuss our ideas for what we want to take for the next semester. I meet with two advisers because I am a double major in American studies and English. This fall when I met with my advisers, Professor Catherine Stock for American Studies and Professor Michelle Neely for English, it started off as a regular meeting. We discussed what was going on in my life and academics during the past semester. We looked at my Degree Works page, the webpage that shows what requirements you have completed for your major and your graduation requirements. To see the page with almost all of my requirements completed was liberating. I had been taking classes in my majors of study pretty much exclusively since my sophomore year. During my first year, I took classes to discover what I was interested in and to complete my general education requirements. To see that I was done with my general education requirements and my American Studies major was a strange feeling. This thing that I had been working on for so long was finished. I did still have a few more requirements to fulfill for my English major but aside from that, I was free to take something else that interested me, a feeling that excited me.

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Playing with the Best

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

A view of the orchestra playing on stage at Conn.
The orchestra playing a dramatic passage at last fall’s concert.

The end of the semester is always a busy time for me, and, as I’ve previously written, one of the highlights of this period are the various music department end-of-semester concerts and recitals that I participate in. No matter how intense it gets, the end of semester orchestra concert is still a great highlight and culmination of my hard work. This past semester’s performance was particularly special for me as it presented an impromptu opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the country—three members of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Band’s trombone section led by Sean Nelson, who is the music department’s trombone professor, in addition to Connecticut College’s own Gary Buttery on tuba, who served as the Band’s principal tubist from 1976-1998. The group constituted our orchestra’s low brass section for our performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony.

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Passing the Torch

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

Saadya and Jack stand next to each other and pose for a photo together
Me with my former student advisor Jack Beal ‘18 who came to the fall orchestra concert to play with us.

As a sophomore, I applied and was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus that provide resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. Learn more about my journey as an Ammerman Scholar.

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So, what does a dramaturg do?

- The Experience, David Johnston '19

A dramaturg is someone who reads plays and musicals and does an analysis of the texts to help convey messages and historical context to the cast as well as the audience. In November, I worked as the dramaturg for “Life Is a Dream,” the theater department show at Conn. I came on board in September. Most of the work I did early on was independent research, but I went to some early rehearsals when I was able to go. The show was written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca in 1635, the Spanish Golden Age. My initial research about the time period uncovered themes that were also present in the production–the basic themes of which involve religious ideals, honor and the role of women.

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