Senior Admissions Fellow
Alma Mater: Briarcliff Manor High School
Why I wanted to become a Senior Fellow
Having worked at the Admissions Office since freshman year as a student intern and worked my way up to being a tour guide coordinator, I’ve had the opportunity to share my love and experiences at Middlebury in a variety of ways. I still greatly enjoy walking backwards, but am looking forward to the challenge of leading information sessions (while standing still) and engaging with an audience in a more formal setting. Senior year should be about pushing and challenging myself in new ways; being a Senior Fellow seemed like the right next step.
What I did this summer
This past summer I interned in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Office on Latin America. As the Cuba Program intern, I was able to draw on my study abroad experience in Havana while attending meetings on the Hill and briefing senior staff, writing commentary pieces for WOLA’s website, translating documents into and from English and Spanish, and meeting with other Cuba experts in the field.
What my college search was like
While in high school, when I thought of college in the abstract I envisioned attending a large university (in contrast to my small public high school) somewhere warm and far away from New York. I have always been interested in foreign language and international affairs, so when I began investigating which colleges were actually out there, I let my concrete interests rather than my abstract preferences guide me. After many discussions with my English teacher in high school (who happens to be a Midd alumna) and attending an information session with a representative from Middlebury at my high school, I was convinced to make a journey to Vermont. Middlebury happened to be the first college campus I ever visited and I was hooked from the beginning.
Between the study abroad offerings, the beautiful campus in the rolling hills in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, and other academic focuses that met my personal interests, Middlebury seemed like a place I wanted to be. In the end, instead of ending up at a large university in sunny Florida, I somehow managed to find myself in wintry small-town Vermont, (which shares a border with New York I might add), but have never looked back since.
The one piece of advice I might add for prospective students is to really consider the prospect of taking time off before going to college. While I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had going straight from high school to college, I think there is something to be said for taking a step back from the craziness of academics. After meeting a number of students at Middlebury who took a gap-year or with Febs who start their college careers in February, I’ve come to appreciate the value in giving oneself a chance to pursue a passion outside of an academic institution. The students who have done so I find have a better sense of what they would like to do after school, are more self-aware, and have taken the necessary time to reflect on their experiences before delving into a new one.
Life at Middlebury
Biggest challenge in transitioning to college
Coming to Middlebury from high school where classes met at the same time every day, I was surprised to find the amount of liberty and wiggle-room in my day-to-day schedule. Before arriving, I became very accustomed to going from school in the early afternoon straight to work at a local café every day until the evening. Not having classes consecutively in a block schedule and being able to sleep in was a pleasant surprise, which definitely made the transition to college an enjoyable process.
Greatest surprise or least expected aspect of life at Middlebury
I always envisioned having a freshman roommate from a really exciting place, far away from the familiar environs of Westchester County New York where I grew up. Before arriving to campus, I requested on my housing forms to have an international roommate or simply someone not from Westchester in hopes of learning about a place I had never been to. To my surprise, not only was my roommate from Westchester County, but was actually from the same small town (same size as Middlebury – about 8,000), as I am. In the coincidence of all coincidences, my freshman roommate and I happen to live about 5 minutes by car from one another, but attended different high schools. To say the least, that was a quite a surprise, but we ended up getting along fantastically and are still close friends today.
Choosing a major
I’ve always been interested in politics and how governments interact. Initially came to Middlebury set on majoring in international studies with a concentration in political science, but found myself really gravitating towards my classes in the political science department. Knowing that I would go abroad regardless of whether or not it was a required component of my major, the transition was seamless. Also, Professor Carmola’s Intro to Political Philosophy really sold me, but I would advocate for any of the classes I have taken within the department, including US-Latin American Relations and the International Politics of Humanitarian Action.
Favorite Class or professor
Again, I could really pick any of my classes that I’ve taken here, but if I have to choose just one it would be Intro to Disability Studies with Professor Susan Burch. Professor Burch is a must-take professor at Middlebury and someone who has honestly changed my life. Her course was a CW (College Writing) and from the first day during which she began class by asking, “Who’s not here? Who can’t be here?” I knew that the course would challenge the way I think about not only disability and access, but taught me to observe my structural as well as cultural environment through a new lens – one which I haven’t been able to turn off ever since!
Favorite Vermont-based activity
Nothing says Vermont to me like a farmer’s market. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning there is a great market with local produce and home goods at Marble Works, just a short walk from campus.
Favorite winter activities
Most people who know me know that I’m an avid pajama enthusiast and will use any excuse to stay in sweatpants all day. Of course, I love to go skiing and take advantage of Middlebury’s natural surroundings during the winter, but I equally enjoy spending the entire day in my pajamas with a good book, tea or hot chocolate, and maybe a fireplace when available.
Favorite spot off campus
I’m not sure my answer counts as technically “off-campus,” but the organic garden is an unparalleled location to watch the sunset.
Favorite dining hall concoction
While watching the food network once (if you haven’t picked up on this yet, food is a constant theme in my life), I saw a program for the “50 most creative sandwiches” in the US. One that caught my eye was apparently a favorite of Elvis Presley and created in his namesake. The sandwich contains: peanut butter, banana, honey, and bacon and with Proctor Dining Hall’s Panini machine, “The Elvis” has become my Saturday morning staple. It may sound like a strange flavor combination, but don’t knock it until you try it.
How have you changed in the course of your time at Middlebury?
My time at Middlebury thus far has really helped me prioritize my interests and goals. I now know which political issues I find most pressing, how to engage them, and understand the nuances of ideas and arguments in the political sphere and elsewhere.
One thing every Middkid should do before they graduate
-Spend a night out under the stars on the football field
-Stay in the dining halls on Sunday morning from open to close
-Be a chef for Dolci – the student run gourmet restaurant (Cuban-Chinese fusion here I come!)
-Tell a Story at the Middlebury Moth
-Attend as many acapella concerts, sporting events, academic lectures, trivia nights, and movies as possible
-Remember to breathe, reflect, and appreciate these experiences before the year ends