large graphic for webinars

Get to know Middlebury College through our newest series of webinars designed specifically for you. 

These weekly webinars were hosted throughout the summer and fall by Middlebury faculty, staff, and/or students, and they offer a window into the programs and opportunities you’ll find at Middlebury. Below you can access the recordings of these webinars, and watch them when it works best for you!

Academics

Middlebury International

Middlebury’s international programs are world renowned and offer rich opportunities for students to engage across language, culture, and global issues. This webinar will provide an overview of the many ways Middlebury students engage with the world.

Asa Waterworth:

Hi, everyone. Welcome, and thanks for tuning in to Middlebury’s first Wednesday webinar of the summer. The theme of this webinar is Middlebury international. My name’s Asa Waterworth and I’m one of the Admissions Counselors here at Middlebury. I’m also an alum of the Middlebury School abroad in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which is why I’m really excited to be moderating this panel today and talking to you, and sharing with you the many ways in which you can internationalize your experience at Middlebury, both on campus and abroad. And so we have a lot of really wonderful panelists joining us today. So I will turn it over to our first panelist, Tim Page. But before we start, I just want to point out that you can put your questions in the Q&A box at any time throughout this presentation. We’re going to start with about a 15 minute introduction and introduce all of these wonderful folks, and then we’ll move into the Q&A portion. But type away your questions at any point. And thanks again for joining us. So Tim, do you want to take it away?

Tim Page:

Thanks very much. So I’m Tim Page, I’m the Associate Dean of the Middlebury Language Schools. And I’ll let Casey and Isabella tell you about their experiences, but I’d like to just introduce the concept of the Language Schools to you first. So the Language Schools really is a truly unique institution in the United States. In essence, within the Middlebury College institution, we’ve created a popup language university that was started in 1915. And since then, we’ve been teaching 12 languages now, from the absolute beginner level all the way, in many cases, to doctoral level. And it all starts with the language pledge, which you may have already heard about. And that’s a commitment on your part to stay in the language for the entire two months that you’re with us. And it’s also a commitment on our part to make sure you can stay in the language for the entire two months. And the great thing about our program is that you’re not alone. Everyone in your school, all the students, faculty, and staff, take the same pledge. And together, you create a safe and productive place to learn your language and culture.

Tim Page:

And how does the language pledge work? Well, we start with two beautiful campuses in Vermont, the Middlebury campus as well as the Bennington college campus, and that allows you to focus only on language and culture. And then we bring in 300 of the best instructors from around the world, many of whom bring their families with them. And finally, we add 1,500 of the most dedicated language students we can find. They are from 18 to 88. They are from all walks of life. The average age on campus is actually 26. They are Middlebury students. They are undergraduates from hundreds of different other students at other universities from around the United States and the world. And they’re professionals. They could be journalists, lawyers, US government professionals, or teachers.

Tim Page:

And then we put all of you together in one location. You all live in the same dorms. You eat your meals together. Students spend four hours of time in the morning in class. And then the rest of the time, you’re immersed in the language and culture by doing what we call co-curricular activities. But it’s cooking, music, parties, dance events, et cetera.

Tim Page:

And what’s the results of this 24/7 focused effort? Number one, I would encourage you to take a look at our Facebook page and also to talk to Casey and Isabella about it. You’ll create and you’ll be part of this incredible community, a community that the experience will probably last you the rest of the your life. Number two, you’ll have the satisfaction of completing a really rigorous academic program. And last but not least, you’ll also have tremendous proficiency gains in your language and culture.

Tim Page:

The Language School’s open to everybody, as I said before, including Middlebury students. And we strongly encourage you to take part in Language Schools if you are a Middlebury student. Our application opens up on November 2nd. As a Middlebury student, you will be given special consideration for your application, and you also will be given special consideration for need based financial aid. And that’s it. That’s in a nutshell. And I’ll let you ask questions to Casey and Isabella, and I’m happy to take them as well.

Asa Waterworth:

Thanks, Tim. Susan?

Susan Parsons:

Hi everyone. My name is Susan Parsons, I’m class of 2001, and I am the Assistant Director in International Programs. We are basically the study abroad office at Middlebury College. And I personally advise for our programs in France, Japan, and Russia. We have many other advisors in the office who advise for our different programs. We offer programs in 16 different countries in 37 different locations. And about over half the student body studies abroad at some point before they graduate, that is typically during the junior year, but it doesn’t have to be only in your junior year.

Susan Parsons:

And about half of the Middlebury students who study abroad attend a Middlebury school abroad, and the other half attend what we call an externally sponsored program, which would just be in a location where we don’t operate a program ourselves. Half of the students who do attend the Middlebury schools abroad are Middlebury undergraduates, and the other half are students from other institutions. So while we, of course, sincerely hope that you choose Middlebury for undergraduate experience, if for some reason that doesn’t work out, you could always still apply to study at one of the Middlebury schools abroad.

Susan Parsons:

Oftentimes students will attend the Language School ahead of their study abroad experience to bolster their language skills. We have different prerequisites for programs, depending on whether there is a non-English language component or not. We do operate a program in Delhi, India, and in Oxford, England, for those who do not pursue another language.

Susan Parsons:

Why would students study abroad? I know you’re thinking about where to study for undergraduate opportunities, and so you’re thinking about where you want to be for those four years. And why start thinking about leaving that location to go someplace else? Studying abroad is a great opportunity to improve your language skills, to immerse yourself in the local culture, and to meet local people. You gain an incredible amount of independence through that opportunity, and you gain skills that are really transferable to the workplace after you’ve graduated. We have found employers are very interested in the transferable skills that students acquire during their time abroad.

Susan Parsons:

There’s no cookie cutter program structure for us, so it really depends on where you would be studying, but we have three different models as far as our academic structure goes. There are some locations where students are just enrolling in Middlebury arranged courses that are taught just to our program participants by local faculty. There’s another model where students are directly enrolling at the local university. There’s a structure where it’s a combination of the two, some center courses with Middlebury participants, some direct enrollment courses at the local university. In all of our sites, we also offer the opportunity to complete an internship for academic credit. That’s, A, something that is a very rewarding experience where you get to see a different side of the culture aside from the academic aspect, and it also happens to be a great resume builder.

Susan Parsons:

Just as the academic structure varies from site to site, the housing options vary by site. In some of our locations, students are living with a host family. In some locations, they are in an apartment with local students; in some locations, they have the option for a university dorm; and in some places, there’s an independent residence hall. We do ask that students not live with other native English speakers. We try not to have a little American university student bubble abroad. We try to have students living with locals as much as possible.

Susan Parsons:

And then all of those credits transfer back to Middlebury as part of your transcript. And students can satisfy major, minor distribution requirements from their time abroad so that they’re not behind as they head towards their graduation. And we see students across all majors, so this is not something that’s just an opportunity for students majoring in a language or majoring in international politics and economics or international global studies. It’s molecular biology, comparative literature, history, everything. So I hope that our office will see you come by at some point.

Asa Waterworth:

Thanks, Susan. Charlotte, do you want to introduce yourself? … It looks like you’re muted, Charlotte.

Charlotte Tate:

Sorry. That just gave me a chance to warm up. Welcome, everyone. I am Charlotte Tate, the Associate Director at the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs on the Middlebury College campus. And I, in fact, attended the German Language School quite a while ago, so what you’ve just been hearing about is very relevant and important. But in my role at the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, we are a co-curricular center that offers opportunities on the college campus for international and global immersion. And I’d like to share with you a video that the Rohatyn Center produced with guidance from the Rohatyn Student Advisory Board to highlight some of those opportunities. So Isabella will now share that with you.

Asa Waterworth:

… Isabella, can you unmute yourself?

Isabella Cauceri:

Yeah. I’m sorry. Let me know if you have trouble hearing it, because I have headphones on and then I can take them off if you do. I have to take them off? All right, let’s go.

Asa Waterworth:

Thank you.

Isabella Cauceri:

No problem.

Charlotte Tate:

The Rohatyn Center was established in 2002 to provide co-curricular programming and research opportunities for students and faculty that focused on international and global issues.

Speaker 6:

The Rohatyn Center sponsors or co-sponsors lectures and symposia throughout the school year to explore topics that can be discussed from multiple disciplinary perspectives in ways that both contributes to our international global studies curriculum and connect our campus to the Middlebury school’s goal.

Georgia Vasilopoulos:

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be a research intern at the Rohatyn Center because I’ve been able to work with two very different professors so far in different fields.

Ben Lahey:

I think the research internship has broadened my horizons in academic areas that I would not otherwise experience.

Charlotte Tate:

Without that research support, faculty projects could have far less of the breadth and depth that they are able to have now.

Isabella Cauceri:

I assisted in creating a food studies minor on campus by conducting research. And now, two or three years later, we finally are offering that minor.

Ben Lahey:

The role of the RCGA is to increase student involvement, create programming that you think students will be interested in that will bring them in, and increase awareness of global issues.

Isabella Cauceri:

The RCGA is a really good option for students because it introduces you to other students who are interested in global affairs as well, but who also are studying perhaps other disciplines than you. I think it is really good at teaching you team building tools that you’ll have for the rest of your life. How to work in a group and create a really meaningful product, whether that’s a global reader or academic journal or assisting at a conference.

Marie Odoy:

We planned a conference this year that was called Bodies at Borders: the Lived Effects of Settler-Colonialism. It’s a very global issue.

Cara Lavine:

We had the idea that this was an important issue and we were like, how do we do something about this? It gave us the opportunity to make the type of conference we would want to attend.

Marie Odoy:

We learned a lot about just managing people and planning an event, ordering catering, and creating a space and how we wanted the atmosphere to feel.

Cara Lavine:

One of the things I learned is that it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the details and stress that comes with planning. And then after the conference, I realized people left here and so affected.

Kaleb Patterson:

So every month, we have a hot topics luncheon. These opportunities that are only for students. It brings a professor in to spend a little bit of time talking about a subject, and then really creating a discussion between students and the professor in a more intimate environment. It’s different from other lectures on campus because it’s only for students. And so this allows a smaller environment to flesh out different topics, and it’s always over some delicious food as well.

Akhila Roy Chowdhury:

I went to India.

Jack Carew:

Amman, Jordan.

Benjy Renton:

I will be traveling to Chengdu, which is a city in the western part of China.

Jack Carew:

My concern is [inaudible 00:14:34] which is focusing on depictions of HIV in the Jordanian imaginaries.

Akhila Roy Chowdhury:

Doing my thesis on reclassifying India as a competitive egalitarianism as opposed to the democracy that it is classified as now.

Benjy Renton:

And I’ll be talking with experts there about Chengdu’s urban housing policies and how it affects their [inaudible 00:14:56] there.

Jack Carew:

My abilities to conduct these structured interviews definitely improved through practice. Finding the right questions to ask and finding ways to ask them that are culturally sensitive and culturally thought about.

Benjy Renton:

It’s really cool as an undergraduate to have the opportunity to do this kind of research.

Akhila Roy Chowdhury:

Grassroots organization and campaign management is probably what I’m planning on doing when I graduate.

Jack Carew:

I’m hoping to return there and just be a useful and a thoughtful actor.

Charlotte Tate:

So we see our role as being an epicenter of international and global programming and research.

Speaker 6:

Global, international, and interdisciplinary by design.

Asa Waterworth:

Thanks. Casey, do you want to introduce yourself?

Casey:

Yeah, sure. So I’m more or less, I think, the alumni panelist on the board here. Asa asked me to speak a little bit about my time at Middlebury as well as the Middlebury Institute, which is the California based institution that is now a part of Middlebury. And in particular, how my experience with the international components of my education at Middlebury and the Middlebury Institute have helped start me on, oh, it’s been for me an exciting early career in international politics.

Casey:

At Middlebury, I was a Russian major. I did the summer Language School right before going abroad for a year in Irkutsk, Russia, which was one of the three study abroad programs Middlebury had at the time and still probably does. In the middle of Siberia, which was an intense and very cold the year, even colder than a Vermont winter. For myself as in Arizonan, it was an awesome opportunity to really gain fluency in my chosen language of study, both through the summer school and then the school abroad.

Casey:

At Middlebury, I sang acapella and was a member of the mountain club, and actually also worked at the admissions office for a brief time. But it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized that I also wanted to major in political science. Or to minor, rather. So I picked up the minor and wrote a thesis on the authoritarian angles of local government in Russia, which was a research idea I had as a result of my time abroad. And it was at that time that Middlebury started offering accelerated degree programs with the Monterey Institute. So the Monterey Institute has been around since the 1950s as a top program for translation and interpretation training, as well as for international policy focused programs.

Casey:

I chose to do a non-proliferation and terrorism studies master’s degree, which, is focused on weapons of mass destruction and arms control, which was an intense way of taking a lot of the the basic liberal arts education I got a Middlebury and apply it to a much more applied setting, the practice of international policymaking and the counter-WMD sphere, not just given my academic experiences at the Monterey Institute, but also in a lot of applied professional settings. Getting to present research in front of states parties at the United Nations was a part of my experience at Monterey. Far beyond just the typical Model UN programs that many places have. I actually got to go to New York and present research. I finished my time at Monterey with an internship in Vienna, Austria for six months, working at the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, and then getting to go off to one of the US Department of Energy’s national laboratories to continue doing related research on arms control verification after that.

Casey:

I then, again, through Monterey and the broader Middlebury set of institutions, was then able to find a fellowship coordinated through the Monterey Institute to work at the Pentagon, at the US Department of Defense, for what ended up being the next four years. Working for two years on counter-WMD issues across the Asia Pacific and former Soviet union areas, and then for the second two years as a policy advisor in the office of the Secretary of Defense on defense policy related to Jordan and the counter ISOL campaign. And now have gone back to academia and I’m working on a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in political science, since a minor in political science at Middlebury isn’t quite enough to get you to the level to be able to teach at the collegiate level.

Casey:

But I think the bottom line, I think, was that the foundational liberal arts education I had at Middlebury, given all of the additional opportunities at the Middlebury Institute and Monterey is able to offer was really what set me and basically all of my colleagues up at the Monterey Institute for careers in this field. So I’m happy to answer your questions when we’re done. Hopefully that’s just a good introduction.

Tim Page:

… I wonder if Asa is frozen.

Casey:

I wondered that too. Maybe we’ll have to hand it over to Benjy next.

Tim Page:

Yeah, exactly. Benjy, do you want to take the floor?

Benjy Renton:

Sure. Hi everybody. Thanks so much for tuning in. My name is Benjy Renton. I am a rising senior at Middlebury College and I’m studying East Asian studies, which is a track in the international and global studies program. So throughout my time at Middlebury, in addition to my language of choice, which is Chinese, I studied Chinese throughout the three years that I’ve been at Middlebury so far, I studied at the Middlebury School of the Environment. And I’m going to just share my screen for a second. And I just wanted to share a couple of pictures to talk briefly about the experiences that I had with Middlebury abroad, and more specifically in China.

Benjy Renton:

So in the summer of 2018, which was after my first year at Middlebury, I stayed at the Middlebury School of the Environment, which is in Yunnan Province in Southwestern China. And it’s a program that’s open to students of all majors, students from all colleges and universities. So we had about half Middlebury students and half non-Middlebury students at the schools… Susan talked about… this personal research project. And I have some pictures there show some of my personal journey in the research project. I looked at migration, both in terms of rural to urban and urban to rural. And so aside from your personal research project, we all took two other courses in various aspects of environmental research and sustainability. So it’s really a cohort based program. You’re learning together as a group and being able to explore China, which I thought was really cool.

Benjy Renton:

And I thought it was interesting because I came at it solely from basically an East Asian studies background, which is the international studies background. And people also came at it from a really heavy environmental studies or environmental science based background. And I think those two areas of study really merged very, very well together in a program like this. So that was a great way to spend the summer. And I’d be happy to answer any questions in the Q&A about that.

Benjy Renton:

My second abroad experience was this past January, where I studied with Middlebury as well in Beijing. This experience was supposed to continue throughout the spring, but due to the pandemic, we had to switch plans a little bit. So I wanted to talk briefly about my experience during our J term, which is our term in January, which was essentially a language intensive component, similar a little bit to the Language Schools in terms of it’s a four week short language study before I was scheduled to do a fuller program that’s less on language and more on culture and content and stuff like that. So all of my courses were in Chinese. We all were able to learn Chinese together. We were able to eat… The picture on the bottom left, you can see, is a photo of the cafeteria at Capital Normal University. So you’re living with a local student, there’s a local student there who is your roommate, and you get to eat and enjoy all the perks to be a student at the Chinese university, which was really cool.

Benjy Renton:

The photo on the top left is a photo of a Mongolian ethnic music performance that we were able to take a couple of my classmates to, which was really, really great to be able to get that exposure to the culture. And then the photo on the right, which you can see was when we did a little trip to the market. And some of us, including myself, got to be on a little Chinese television segment about foreigners visiting the market. And Isabella can speak to her abroad experiences as well. I think Middlebury really provides a lot of different experiences for you to be able to get into the culture, and knowing the language as a key to unlocking all those possibilities. So yeah, I’ll stop there and I’ll turn it over to Isabella.

Isabella Cauceri:

Hi everyone. Thanks for having me. My slideshow is not quite as visually appealing as Benjy’s. But I’ll talk a little bit, not necessarily all about myself, if you’re not… Dang it, I hit share instead of present. But I will talk about my experience as an intern at the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, my experience with Language School, and also about my experience abroad.

Isabella Cauceri:

So I found these two photos. The one on the right is me the first semester after I had just gotten hired at the Rohatyn Center. And it was Parents Weekend, and so my parents dropped by and I was so excited about my new job, and so that’s what that photo is. And then on the left is a photo of me this past spring introducing a speaker for the Rohatyn Center’s annual International Interdisciplinary Conference, where we bring scholars from all over the country, and sometimes from outside of the country, to come speak about a certain topic. Also, I’m a Super Senior Feb, so going into my last semester, class of 2020.5. And a political science major with an Arabic minor.

Isabella Cauceri:

So I’m not going to talk too much about this because you just saw that incredible video that the Rohatyn Center put together this past semester. But the internship is really an incredible, unique experience at Middlebury that I don’t think that many people take advantage of because they don’t know about it. But it’s a great opportunity to work really, really closely with a professor in a discipline that maybe you are interested in, maybe you haven’t ever thought you would work in. I hadn’t had any interest in food studies before coming to Middlebury, but I was paired up with a food studies professor. And that interest also led me to another abroad experience that I didn’t put in the slide show. But this past January for J term, I was in Peru for three weeks for a program working with the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, working with Caribbean female farmers. So conducting interviews. And my research experience at the Rohatyn Center was also super helpful for that.

Isabella Cauceri:

And being an intern for the Rohatyn Center also makes you a member of the Student Advisory Board. So to work along with the other interns, here are some fall interns pictured with me, to plan campus events. So that could be an international trivia night or the hot topics events, where we talk about what’s in the news and get a professor to discuss that further.

Isabella Cauceri:

So I did Arabic Language Schools in 2018. And here’s a photo of myself with two good friends of mine. We were studying Arabic. And this was before the Arabic Language School was brought to Vermont. This was when there were a few Language Schools that were in California. And so I was in Oakland for the summer at Mills College for Middlebury Language School. And I believe they also had the Korean and Italian schools there. And so it was a wonderful experience and the immersion was pretty incredible, considering that we weren’t in a foreign country. And so it was an amazing experience to be able to learn so much Arabic so quickly.

Isabella Cauceri:

Personally, as a Feb, I couldn’t take Arabic my first semester in Middlebury because they usually start the very initial classes in the fall. And so I really wanted to be able to take advantage of all of Middlebury’s courses for Arabic, and so I decided to do the Language School so that I could advance in a year’s course load in just one summer. And all of those credits transfer completely seamlessly. So if you want to take classes later on, it’s really easy to do that if you have these Language School credits, and you can take more language classes at Middlebury.

Isabella Cauceri:

So here’s some more photos from Language Schools. Up on the top left, you can see my friend, Sarah. We were in the dancing group, and so we were learning different dances from across the Middle East and North Africa. And so we just had so much fun learning from all the different teachers who came to teach us really interesting dances that I personally hadn’t been exposed to before, because my mom is from Peru, so I’m Latin American. But it was really, really fun.

Isabella Cauceri:

And then the top middle picture is actually a pretty special one because this is some girls in my class and my professor and I. And we were just working late at night on the floor of her office, just trying to understand the concept before the test the next day. And it was just so fun to be able… None of these girls go to Middlebury. So to meet students who aren’t necessarily your age, who don’t go to your school, and to be able to forge a really, really close connection, obviously not just with the students, but with the professors, at literally any time of day.

Isabella Cauceri:

And then bottom left is my professor, Nadia, and another Middlebury student. And we went out to eat at a Syrian restaurant at the end of the program. And then on the far right, here’s this sign that I believe is in English, Arabic and Korean. Because these signs are put around the campus so that you could be able to orient yourself if you weren’t familiar with where you were going. But very clearly, it was trying to encourage people to stick to the language pledge. And I’m sure if we didn’t have students who were just starting off, the English version, wouldn’t even be there.

Isabella Cauceri:

So here’s a photo from my time in Morocco. And this is myself with two professors and again, Sarah, the close friend of mine. And the program was really small and it’s pretty new. So I was interested to go because I’ve heard that Morocco is a super gorgeous country. And I’d actually met the professor to my right, Najet, through the dance club that was at Language Schools. And she had seemed so amazing, and she turned out to be an incredible modern standard Arabic teacher during my time in Morocco. And I’ve also studied Moroccan Arabic, which is very different from modern standard Arabic. But it was incredible to be able to learn a dialect as well as the modern standard Arabic, Quranic Arabic, more formal. And like I said, Morocco’s an amazing country to travel throughout. And they were talking about the different kinds of study abroad programs. And this one was Middlebury faculty teaching the students on a university campus. So you were still surrounded by Moroccan students, but all of our classes were just people within our program. And again, there was a language pledge. And it was great to live with host families.

Isabella Cauceri:

So up in the top, in the middle, is my host mom, Halima, and Sarah. And she became like a second mom to me during my time there. I remember I cut my finger once accidentally during the night and I didn’t want to bother her. And then when she found out, she was really upset that I hadn’t called her earlier. She’d come and she literally tucked to me in that night. So the host families really care so much about the students who they’re hosting, and they’re usually really, really experienced. And as you can see, I had a great time with her. And right below that is her home cooked tajine. And I was really lucky because she made the best lunches out of all the students. And so everyone would come and eat out of my lunchbox during the school day.

Isabella Cauceri:

And then on the left, this is an example of a type of activity that we would do. Because they would always have different activities for us to do over the weekends if we weren’t going on a trip. And so this is my friend, Lynn, and we had to go on a scavenger hunt, and we had to go on a scavenger hunt for groceries. Wait, hold on. So we had to go on a scavenger hunt for groceries in the market. And obviously, we didn’t have any English translation, so we were on our phone being like, what is this word? Does that mean potato or onion? And then right after we did all this grocery shopping, we went to one of the host family’s houses and made a delicious Moroccan meal.

Isabella Cauceri:

And then this photo of me hugging this boy is my twin brother, who came and visited me with my dad. And a lot of students went to a different country for spring break. Actually, everyone went to Portugal except for me. I should be more specific. But my brother and my dad came and visited me. And it was an awesome opportunity to go visit Chefchaouen 00:33:32] parts of Morocco that were incorporated into our program, even though they did a great job of making sure that we got to see more of the country than a couple of other programs do, I think. So we were able to go to Marrakesh. And as you can see in the far right corner, that’s me on a camel in the Sahara. And so that was actually, I’m not exaggerating, the best day of my life, just because it was so fun. I was with two of my closest friends and I’d never seen a place like that before. And so I’ve had a lot of incredible travel experiences, but that particular trip was super unique and a place I’d never thought that I would be able to see.

Isabella Cauceri:

So thank you so much for having me.

Asa Waterworth:

Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to share my screen now and put up some contact information. You might want to jot that down. But this will be the end of the introductions. We’ll move into the Q&A. We have lots of questions. The first question-

 

Meet Our Faculty

Middlebury faculty are passionate about their scholarship and completely committed to the undergraduate experience. Meet our panel of inspiring and supportive professors, ask questions about what and how they teach, and hear why they love teaching at Middlebury.

- Wherever you are in the world. Here in Vermont, it’s 3:30 in the afternoon. And I know that we have students in the audience from many different countries as well as regions of the United States. I hope that you’re all staying safe, and I appreciate your commitment to engaging in your college search process in this virtual environment. Thanks for your interest in Middlebury. And thanks for tuning in to the third installment of our summer Wednesday Webinars series. Today you’ll have a chance to meet some of our faculty. My name is Michelle Nelson, I use she/her pronouns, and I’m an associate director of admissions here at Middlebury. I’ll be moderating today’s panel, and I’m excited to introduce you to six professors from a variety of curricular areas here at the college. At Middlebury, over 300 faculty members teach courses across 47 departments and programs as well as eight interdisciplinary minors. Our faculty are at the core of providing students with an immersive learning environment and close mentorship throughout their four years here. We hope that this sampling of faculty voices, experiences, and perspectives will help you get a better sense for the type of academic experience we offer. We’ll begin the session with about 15 minutes of introductions, and then we’ll move to answering your questions for about 30 more minutes. You can submit your questions at any time via the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen. And we’ll do our best to get to as many questions as we can in the time allotted. And now, I’ll turn it over to our panelists. Alex, can you please get us started?

- Sure. Hi everyone. My name’s Alex Draper, and I teach in the theater department here at Middlebury. So welcome. And I’m just going to talk very briefly about why the liberal arts and why that may be the structure that you’re looking at for your college experience. And for me, what separates it from more specific kinds of, or in my case, BFA programs for theater, or just more specific kinds of focused learning, is that it really fosters creative, collaborative problem-solving skills that can be applied anywhere. So the way classes are taught and the way the classes speak to each other for any student here allows students to have ideas, bounce off each other, and have those ideas bounce into a different class and feed into to what they’re learning there in ways that are very rewarding. I’m an actor and also a teacher. And for me, being a lifelong student is the most important thing. And I think that in some ways that starts with the kind of liberal arts education where you’re always committed to learning new things about whatever peaks your curiosity. So I think the breadth that is asked of students here both feeds curiosity and fosters curiosity that serves students for the rest of their lives. So that’s my two cents liberal arts.

- Thank you. Ilaria.

- Mute. Hello, everybody. My name is Ilaria Brancoli Busdraghi. I teach in the Italian department. And I so wish I could see you all, but I’m very happy to be talking to you. As you can hear from my accent, I moved here from Italy in 1997, and I taught my first class at the college in 1999. I am very lucky to be teaching Italian, the most beautiful language, and in our wonderful environment. There’s many things that I love about teaching language. One is, Vermont can feel a little bit of a remote and isolated place. But not only through languages but for sure through languages, we really connect to many different cultures. And I find that so exciting for me as a teacher. And I see it also in the students. Learning a new language, especially if you learn it from scratch, forces us to rethink a lot of things about ourselves, about the way we communicate. And I find that a very, very special process that enriches us in many, many different ways. And one of the things I really love about teaching language, especially when I teach the first year, is that I have my students five days a week. So I basically sequestered them for a full semester. And that gives me really a beautiful opportunity to connect with them. And I think this is something that it’s very, very emphasized here at Middlebury. And it’s true not only for languages, but in general, is this connection between professors and students. And it’s something that I see in my department and in all other departments that I have the opportunity to see or to to go to, is how, you know, the doors are open. And there’s so often conversations, be it about academics, but not only, between students and professors. And I think this adds, at least for me, it really adds an extra level of connection that is not only the academic one, but really getting to know each other and working together, thinking together. So this is something that I appreciate every day in my work. I feel very lucky in that way. Thank you.

- Okay, Pete.

- All right. My name’s Pete Nelson. I teach in the geography department, and I use he/him/his pronouns. As Michelle indicated in the introduction, we have a really robust curriculum with lots of different departments, majors, and interdisciplinary programs. And one of the ways in which that could be intimidating or it could appear to be intimidating to incoming students. So we have a very deliberate advising structure and system that helps students navigate our curriculum and figure out what a reasonable pathway into and through the curriculum is. So right off the bat, students enroll in their first semester in a first-year seminar. And the first-year seminar instructor acts as their academic advisor until they declare a major. So before even arriving on campus, students will have interaction with their first-year seminar instructor and start that advising relationship. And there’ll be components of that advising relationship that are transactional. Like, “What are the prerequisites that I need “so I can take Chem 104 in my second semester?” So there’s some of that, but more importantly, that student-advisor relationship is one in which students have a faculty member that is invested in kind of their whole education, not just navigating their courses, but how are they developing as students and as individuals as they pass through their four years at Middlebury. The added benefit of having your first-year seminar instructor act as your academic advisor is you see that person at least twice, many times three times a week. So there’s structural built-in check-ins with your advisor. Then early on in your sophomore year, generally before the end of the fall semester of your sophomore year, or your third semester if you enrolled in fall, you declare a major, and the advising relationship pivots from your first-year seminar instructor to your advisor within your major department. But that person is equally as connected with you as your first-year seminar instructor. And as Ilaria said, the faculty really enjoy the student-faculty interactions. So you will have a formal academic advisor, but you can get academic advising from any member of the faculty, as you’re trying to figure out what are the most productive pathways that will enhance your educational experience.

- Sujata.

- Hi, everyone, I’m Sujata Moorti. I’m a professor of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, and I’m also the dean of the faculty. I arrived in Middlebury from teaching at a big research university. And one of the things I really loved about teaching at Middlebury and the liberal arts enterprise has been a capacity to both teach and learn across the curriculum. And as a matter of fact, as Alex, Ilaria, and Peter pointed out, one of the big strengths of the liberal arts education is that we really emphasize the breadth of learning even as you specialize in particular areas. And what this means is that students can learn both in specific majors, but they can also, if you have multiple interests, you don’t know quite how to choose or narrow down your specialization, you can actually have a minor. You can also have double majors. You can have joint majors. And in the kinds of fields that I study, which are all interdisciplinary, what often ends up happening is that we have students who often double-major. So for instance, I teach classes on things such as social media campaigns and how that facilitates certain kinds of, let’s say, feminist movements. I teach courses on cinema, on global gender concerns, et cetera. And what this means is because of the kinds of courses we craft, if I were to teach a course on, let’s say, a detective drama, I will have students from across chemistry who will actually be able to teach me as well as the other students, how the detective is using particular base-specific chemical formula to do certain things. I’ve also had computer science students show me precisely how CGI works in the “Sherlock Holmes” dramas and how that is different. So in some ways, the most exciting things about the liberal arts education is I am learning in the process of teaching, and both students and faculty are interlocutors in this project. And we learn together, we can enrich each other. And the other thing I would emphasize, which I’ve loved, is the immersive learning that we encourage on this campus. And this immersive learning can take place in a couple of different ways. One of my favorites is that for the last two years, I’ve been taking a bunch of students to India to teach Afghan high-school students. And these are students from across the curriculum who come there because they’re interested in educating girls. And it drastically revises how we think about education. We take education for granted. Once you encounter these Afghan girls, you think about education radically differently. And this has meant that it feeds into the kinds of senior work, the thesis projects our students have done. And to me, it’s that kind of immersive, cutting across disciplines, senior work, these intense faculty-student interactions that are what excite me about Middlebury College. And I think if you were to come here, you’ll find these are the things which make us so special.

- Thank you. We have two more introductions to go. And I just wanna remind students to please start leaving your questions for us in the Q&A box, because we’re almost to the point where we’ll do some Q&A. AJ.

- Hi, I’m AJ Vasiliou. I teach in the chemistry and biochemistry department. It’s kind of nice to follow up after that because I love teaching at Middlebury for most of the reasons that were already mentioned. The students, but also the faculty that we get to teach with. So one of the questions that we often get asked, or, you know, my students asked me is, “Well, what is the difference between, “let’s say, a BA and a BS?” So bachelor of arts versus a bachelor of science. And a lot of the times they’re interested, “So if I come to Middlebury, “am I going to be as well prepared “to get a job or go on to graduate school “in the sciences or work in pharmaceuticals or industry?” It’s my favorite question to answer because you’re more prepared than you ever would think you’d be. And I think that one of my favorite things is to tell students how an education that you get in Middlebury, because of its breadth and exposure to so many different disciplines. And really, the curriculum is designed that way so that you can double in a language and in the sciences or just take classes that are interesting, that always bring value to whatever experience you have going forward. But this is a common question that sometimes students interested in science face. And so my last two students just happens to be graduated spring ‘20 in my research lab, in spring ‘19, both went to Caltech in chemistry PhD programs. And so I always like to say, “You could do that.” That’s not bad, right? You don’t need to go to an R1 school. In fact, you’re gonna be stronger educated in my opinion from a Middlebury. And then we have students that go right and work at places like ExxonMobil. And then we have students that get Fulbrights to teach, you know, because they double majored in science and language, and it makes them even more competitive. So I think the Middlebury education prepares you immensely for almost anything you wanna do. And I actually think because it’s so broad in its nature and because you get the liberal arts background and the advising that Pete spoke so highly about, you really get a lot of opportunities that I think you wouldn’t necessarily get at big sort of research schools like often where we come from as faculty to Middlebury. So yeah, I love it. And I love not just the relationships with the students at Middlebury, but I love those relationships that continue after they leave Middlebury. Because you’re completely and utterly invested in only their future. You wanna see them do the best they can do at whatever graduate school or whatever job they go to. There’s no, other than getting that sort of joy of them doing that. And so it’s really quite fun. And so that’s probably one of my favorite things about Middlebury is watching these students land in these incredible places that they sort of wanted to be in, or maybe didn’t know they wanted to go to and found that path while they were here. So that’s one of my favorite pieces about working here and with students like you, if you come.

- And James.

- Yeah, so I wanted to talk about, my name is James Chase Sanchez. I’m a professor in writing and rhetoric. Introduce myself first. I am interested and I research white supremacy, protest, and memory. So, I’ve taught at three different schools, and at two schools prior to coming here, I felt like I had to constantly pull students into conversations that I was having in the classroom, or to try to get them engaged in certain material. So I assumed, once I was hired here out of graduate school, that would be a very similar phenomenon. But it was the exact opposite. I am always so surprised by how engaged students are. So for instance, I teach a class called Race, Rhetoric, and Protest where students write about and research different protests movements historically and in contemporary terms, but it often asked them to participate in different protests. Some students have sometimes went off into a broader Vermont, into their home communities, to participate in protests. But just last fall semester, my students independently got together and held a protest for staff on campus to ask for an increase in staff wages, which was a very extraordinary measure solely done by my students. And constantly, these sort of conversations and people participating in these activist groups is really an important part of the Middlebury experience. I also teach a class on public memory where students analyze memorials and museums from around the country. It’s something that you would think maybe would be a little bit less engaging on a going out and participating in something. But when I taught that class a year ago, I was so surprised to see students who were going to museums in an hour-and-a-half range. They were taking part in different tours and analyzing how these tours are trying to effectively work. What do the tours add into their narrative and what do they keep out? They’re participating in their local environment, something that you don’t often see at other schools and universities around the country. So, I think my favorite part about teaching at Middlebury is that students aren’t passive actors. Most of the students here, they care about something, they’re engaged with something. And it’s sort of why Middlebury is the perfect place to be. Thanks.

- All right. Thank you. I’m gonna do a quick acknowledgement of our panelists as a pause while we transition into our question-and-answer segment. Thanks again for submitting your great questions, and keep them coming.

Environmentalism and Sustainability

Our carbon-neutral campus in Vermont’s Green Mountains has inspired generations of students to study the environment and promote sustainability, both locally and globally. Middlebury’s groundbreaking Environmental Studies program, founded in 1965, offers interdisciplinary study of our relationship to the environment. Tune in to hear more about how students are addressing real world environmental problems, through their studies and co-curricular activities.

Nial:

I am a Middlebury grad from the year 2012. And I was an environmental studies major with a focus in policy, on also to study Chinese when I was a student at the college. I now work at the admissions office and it’s a true privilege to have a wonderful panel of students, staff and faculty, as well as alumni, here with us today to talk a little bit more about environmentalism and sustainability and how it relates to the Middlebury College. So before I introduce the panel, I do want to sort of lay the foundation just a little bit for what we will be talking about today and because environmentalism, environmental studies and sustainability covers so much ground in terms of what we do as a college. We are here in Vermont, which is, in terms of its natural environment, an incredibly beautiful and inspiring place.

Nial:

And early on, I posit that folks who worked at Middlebury College, students who attended Middlebury College, saw how critical it was and how inspiring it was to preserve this natural environment that surrounds us every day through all the seasons. And as a result, there was a certain connection with our values as an institution that was embedded really early on in our culture as an institution around environmentalism, as well as sustainability. And as a result, through the generations, Middlebury has continued to be a leader in the realms of environmentalism, as well as sustainability, and that continues today. And I hope that you will learn a lot about that, as we talk through different aspects of our work. And another critical theme that you will pick up on is how student directed and student led a lot of this work really is.

Nial:

So I am excited to share those stories with you here today. So we’ll start with questions. Sorry, we’ll start with the presentation, so just our panelists here today, talking a little bit about their own experiences in their own work at the college. And after that, we will transition to question and answers. So even at this stage itself, if you do have things that you want to learn more about or questions for our panelists here today, please type in those questions in the Q and A box at the bottom of your screen, and we’ll try to get to as many of them as we can. So let’s start off with Professor Morse. (silence) Go ahead.

Kathryn Morse:

Okay. Hopefully, you are seeing my screen. My name is Kathryn Morse. It’s my 23rd year on the faculty of Middlebury and I’m here representing the 15 faculty who teach in the environmental studies core curriculum, as well as the dozens and dozens of other faculty that contribute to the program. As Neon noted, he was an environmental studies major with a focus in policy. Our major is actually 17 different possible majors, and the first great strength of the major, I believe, is that it’s actually a lot of options.

Kathryn Morse:

So as you can see from the slide, some of our majors are majoring in the focus in chemistry and others in history and others in theater, geography, psychology, you name it. So that breadth across the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts is one of the key aspects of the academic curriculum that makes Middlebury quite distinct. So by the time our students [00:03:56] come seniors and are embarking on their own independent and capstone projects, their work varies widely across the field of environmental studies.

Kathryn Morse:

Here’s a thesis from two years ago or one year ago, from a geology focused student about volcanic deposits in Costa Rica. And yet, here is an environmental policy in English and American literature double major who studied climate change literature and its effectiveness in shaping environmental policy. One of the other quite distinct academic programs we’re inordinately proud of perhaps, is another option for senior in capstone work called the Environmental Studies Community Engaged Practicum, or for short, ES 401. A senior capstone course in which a group of students divided into teams serve as environmental consultants with community partners, working with those partners to assist them through research, presentation, development and applying their hard won environmental studies skills to an environmental problem.

Kathryn Morse:

And you can learn more about the Environmental Studies Practicum by checking out its webpage. Not only do we have all of the learning goals there, but we have some photographs of students and community partners, this one from two years ago. There’s a timeline showing some of the projects that students have done over time. And then if you really want to go deep and look at the presentations that students have given, every group presents to both their community partners in the community every semester. There is an archive of every single report and project going back to 1999, at least. The course itself goes back to 1988. And you can see the kind of work that our senior students do, both their thesis and they’re community engaged projects.

Kathryn Morse:

It is, without question, one of the strongest undergraduate environmental studies programs. And then I get to go around the country consulting with other ES programs at small liberal arts colleges and advising them. Every single time I go to another college, I am glad that I work at Middlebury and that our program is so strong, so well supported by faculty and so integrated into the curriculum of the college as a whole. All right. Onto the next.

Nial:

Wonderful. Thank you so much, Professor. Divya?

Divya Gudur:

Hi everyone. My name is Divya Gudur and I’m a senior at Middlebury and majoring in environmental chemistry. I am the co-manager of the Sunday night environmental group, which is an environmental group on campus, committed to climate justice activism. We’ve run various different campaigns in the past, from leading a successful divest campaign, which you might’ve heard of, where our organizing efforts led to Middlebury’s successfully divesting from fossil fuels as part of energy, 2028, which Jack might tell you more about. And some other campaigns were the passing anti-fossil fuel infrastructure resolutions in town.

Divya Gudur:

So I’m also a community organizer around Vermont. I’ve worked with 350 Vermont and other statewide organizations on efforts such as the Vermont climate strikes. These are just past September, last September. And youth engagement and empowerment within the climate movement. For me, my particular vision and passion for environmentalism at Middlebury is to shape environmental spaces or shape our environmental spaces to be more inclusive and intersectional, recognizing how environmentalism intersects with different systems of oppression and injustices on a campus like Middlebury.

Divya Gudur:

And particularly, within these past few months, I think the racial unrest and the nationwide protests throughout the pandemic have exposed the racial injustices that many people of color, especially black and indigenous folks of our community in the United States face. But it has also played an important role in highlighting how white the mainstream environmental movement is. And I think for the past three years at Middlebury, I found a wonderful family of organizers at Middlebury, and actually beyond Middlebury throughout the town and throughout Vermont, who are confronting the problematic parts of the mainstream environmental movement and are shaping, or trying to shape at least, a movement that is built on equity, on inclusion, on justice, on empathy.

Divya Gudur:

So I’m excited for all the activists out there in the audience who are thinking about joining the Middlebury community and we would love to have you. So, thanks.

Nial:

Thank you so much, Divya. Moving on now to Jack and Zach. (silence).

Jack:

There we go. You can hear me all right? And you can see my screen? All right. Great. Thanks, folks.

Nial:

Do you mind, Jack, hitting Slideshow so we can have it full screen? Thank you. So the bottom of your screen, right to the right. There we go. Thank you.

Jack:

Okay. Well, let me go back to the beginning. So thank you all for coming, and I’m really happy to be able to share some of the work that’s gone on for quite a while at Middlebury. I thought I’d just walk you through quickly, our most current Middlebury wide effort to address the climate crisis, which is called Energy 2028. And I want to walk through a couple of the major milestones along the way that brought us here. And then talk a little bit about, what are the elements of Middlebury’s leadership in sustainability and environmental stewardship and what makes it work?

Jack:

So Energy 2028 was adopted in 2019. It really was the convergence of a lot of the work that Divya mentioned with regard to students who are very active in divestment, and was done by numerous groups of students with faculty and staff, to put together a framework for how the college gets to 100% renewable energy sourcing, cuts its consumption of energy by 25% and integrates that and divestment into its educational mission. So those things came together. The trustees approved a package of those four elements and said, “Get to work, get it done by 2028.” Divestments on a slightly longer timeframe. And as Divya mentioned too, more recently, we’ve decided we need to add a justice and equity framework that cuts through all of these goals that we have for 2028, that should inform our thinking and our acting around how we do it.

Jack:

Going back in time, if I can, there we go. I want to go back to 2003, when we set first carbon reduction goal. And this came from a strong sort of feeling from the faculty and staff and students, that Middlebury needed to take some leadership on the climate issue. We have an environmental council who worked with a winter term class. We had an economics and a chemistry professor lead a course with about 20 students, who prepared a portfolio of projects that showed how the college could reduce its levels of carbon emissions by 10% below its 1990 levels, by 2012. One of those recommendations was, we switch over our fuel sources from number six fuel oil to heat and power the campus to woodchips, which are a very abundant, renewable, local natural resource in Vermont. So we did that and we did that on the presumption that it was carbon neutral and that is a very debatable and very rich topic for experiential learning.

Jack:

And we’ve done a lot of experiential learning around that. I’d be happy to talk more about it. In 2007, we had a very active group of students. Divya mentioned the Sunday night environmental group, who proposed that the college adopt the goal of carbon neutrality by 2016. It’s a fascinating story about how we, over the course of the year, how the trustees agreed to do that, and I’d be happy to go into more detail later. And then finally, I just wanted to touch on what are some of the reasons that we’ve been successful in setting some very bold and ambitious goals around sustainability and carbon and climate? Sorry, I just want to touch on those first students, have been very important agents of change and willing partners to make that change happen over the course of the year.

Jack:

And Middlebury is a place where idealism and hard work can actually result in substantive change of the institution and beyond. We’re good at consensus. We’re also good at contention. But we found a way to get to consensus on a lot of these issues, even though it’s a long and sometimes uncomfortable process. We have good governance structures in place. We collaborate, we’re open. We understand what interdependent leadership means and we’ve worked well together to do that. And then finally, a lot of the solutions we’ve come up with to address this issue, we’ve done with an eye toward how can that be beneficial beyond the college? So I’m going to stop there and I guess I’ll turn it over to Zach. Thank you.

Zach:

Hello. I graduated in 2018 and I’m going to share some pictures, but I worked a lot on Energy 2028, as well. And just to kind of set the stage for you a little bit on that, that was a long process. It started my freshman year or my first year and in some little shape and form, and really started to grow and add in different pieces as we brought in lots of different groups. And that was a really cool process for me, because it even continued beyond when I graduated. And so I was really excited in 2019, when it finally went before the board and passed.

Zach:

And that was just a really cool, I mean, the process took time, but we got there because we brought in lots of different stakeholders. And I wanted to talk a little bit more about some of the experiential learning pieces that kind of play a part in Middlebury. So that was, Energy 2028 was one of them. Another is some work. These are a solar decathlon house on the Middlebury campus. This is the 2013 entry, that I actually lived in this house. And so the picture, the main picture is actually a school group we brought in from a local elementary school. And we brought them in to do a tour for the field trip so they could learn about how living sustainably kind of could, they could live sustainably in their own lives and how this house worked.

Zach:

And these were student projects. This was 100 students, sometimes 50, sometimes just 20, coming together to build these two houses and enter it in the national competition. The 2011 one placed fourth in the nation and the 2013 one, which you’re looking at right now, placed eighth. And we took this. And so it was really Middlebury against the giants of big engineering schools and doing some really awesome work and building these really cool structures that last and have a legacy today.

Zach:

And Jack, if you could flip to the next slide. One of the great things too, is then we took some of that energy and in 2018, I actually led a team for the design portion of the solar decathlon, where we designed a brand new elementary school. And so we weren’t going to build this in reality because it’s very expensive and very large to build an elementary school, but we partnered with the town of Middlebury to actually help them envision what they might want if they were to build a new school. And so we worked very closely with the local elementary school in building the design that you see in the upper right there. That’s the first form model, and in the bottom right is the actual main hub of the building. And so it was this really also, kind of taking some of the experiential learning we founded through this project and having the students there, and the people or some of the team that participated.

Zach:

And we actually took that all the way to the finals and won in our category. So that was a really exciting achievement, something we’re all very proud of. And just to kind of, where you can go from there, I actually took all my experiences and I’m now a master’s student in building technology. Jack, if you could put, yeah. At MIT. And basically, I work with, we’re working to make it easier for cities who have climate and energy goals, to reduce their emissions and figure out exactly what they need to do to make the upgrades, to meet their climate goals. So some of the work we’ve done at Middlebury, but now making it so that everyone around the country and the world actually, can build these energy models to make that happen.

Zach:

It’s been really fun and I’ve learned. I’ve taken a lot of where I’m going now from my time at Middlebury. Thank you.

Nial:

Thank you so much, Jack and Zach. I was on campus as a student when the first two large solar decathlon projects were happening and it really was inspirational to see the amount of teamwork across several disciplines, and not just the environmental studies department, unfold. And one of those moments where you really appreciate being at a liberal arts college, because you see the talent from across all these disciplines, really being at the top of their game and creating something tangible. Passing it on now to Cheko.

Cheko Mkocheko:

Hi, my name is Cheko Mkocheko. I’m class of 2022. I’m currently majoring in computer science and economics. And for me, the decision to come to Middlebury College is partly led by the fact that Middlebury has a very strong environment program. And so throughout my two years here at Middlebury, this is my third year, I’ve been trying to do a lot of things in the environment. And one specific thing that I appreciate, that I’ve done here, is taking part in the school of environment in 2019. So the school of the environment is a summer program, a six week program offered by the Middlebury Department of Environment.

Cheko Mkocheko:

And so previously, two years to be here in Vermont, but for 2018, 2019, it took place in China. And what we basically learned in that six weeks was how different disciplines, so for example, economics, computer science, biology, psychology, how all these things come together and how all these things affect the environment. And the biggest thing that I’ve taken from this program or this environment program here at Middlebury is how we balance the three E’s of the environment. And that is economics, ecology and equality. And so the lessons I got from the school of the environment are what have continued to guide me in the decisions I make.

Cheko Mkocheko:

So for example, my career choices, things I want to do for the summer, or even when I go home, things that I want to engage in, even here at school. And actually, a few of my friends changed their major from just economics to environmental economics, which is a good thing, considering that climate is becoming a bigger and bigger issue every day. And in the future years, we need people who understand different disciplines and the environment very well for us too, if you want to survive and to not become extinct. Thank you.

Nial:

Thank you so much, Cheko. I’m passing it on now to Megan.

Megan Brakeley:

Welcome, everybody. My name is Megan Brakeley and I have the great pleasure of serving as the food and garden educator at the Knoll. I’m an alum from 2006, and let me share my screen here. Uh-oh, I got another window up [inaudible 00:21:57]. So the Knoll was founded by students in 2003. It’s about a three acre site, of which about an acre is in garden. And our mission is really quite broad. And the main ideas of the space are about connection and regeneration. This includes food justice and food systems and also, production of food. I think you can probably see this bar of folks, so I’m just going to keep moving you. I’m sorry.

Megan Brakeley:

We do a lot of different types of projects on campus and we help to foster connections with our local community and the local food system, which is really quite robust. And we really view community members as experts and a real wealth of knowledge to tap into. Oh gosh, I didn’t quite make my slideshow right. I’m sorry. So here you can see, this is Maisie Anrad on the right hand side, doing her thesis research with our honeybees and partnership with a local beekeeper, Ross Conrad. Every year we host the environmental studies intro, natural science and the environment class for field experiments. So here we’re taking some soil samples and checking that out.

Megan Brakeley:

This is professor Maria Trunkler, who is at Yale College, who came to work with our food works program a couple of summers ago and do a cheese tasting of some specialty local cheese. And volunteers and paid student interns during the academic year and also in the summer, helped to steward and care for all aspects of the garden and the site. And we have some active projects and partnerships with some really cool groups like the Land Institute out in Salina, Kansas, the [inaudible 00:23:54] Nation, our local food shelf, and many, many other different partners.

Megan Brakeley:

And it’s also a space where folks come together. In a typical year, we fire up the pizza oven every Friday for a work party and groups can also reserve the space to host their own events out there. So you can read more on our website, go.middlebury.edu/knoll. And there’s a lot of good stuff there. And I am really grateful they get to share a little bit about it. Thanks for joining us.

Nial:

Thank you so much, Megan. Yeah. So from our six wonderful panelists, we’re getting a sense of various different aspects of how life at Middlebury interconnects with the environment, interconnects with [inaudible 00:24:49] as a sustainability. And so we’re going to take a second now to transition to Q and A’s. And while I do that, I’m going to share my screen here. And it’s just got the names of all our panelists up there, as well as the admissions office contact information. So if you do want to connect with any of our wonderful panelists, certainly get in touch with us at the admissions office. As you can see, you also have my email address, if you want to get in touch with me personally. And we’re more than happy to connect you with any of these wonderful resources, if not others, that relate to this topic across campus.

 

Explore the Arts

The visual and performing arts are fundamentally important to the life and culture of our College inside and outside the classroom. Join to hear more about the variety of arts opportunities for both majors and non-majors at Middlebury.

- Fine and welcome. My name is Maria Nava. I use she her pronouns and I’m one of the admissions counselors. I am also Middlebury class of 2018. As always our Wednesday webinars focus on a particular topic. And we welcome your questions on how to explore the arts at Middlebury today. If you’re interested in more general information, we have many other virtual offerings that you can attend and we’ll share the link in the chat briefly, in a second. I’m very excited to be moderating this panel as someone who was involved in the performing arts during my time as a student. And we have a wonderful group of panelists that are here today to share information and anecdotes with you. I do wanna take a second to acknowledge that COVID-19 has drastically changed your college search process. So we really appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today. Before we jump in, I also do wanna remind folks to type in your questions in the Q & A box throughout the presentation. And we hope to get to as many questions as we can during our time together. But now I’ll hand it over to Peter to get us started, thanks.

- Welcome everybody. Maria, thank you so much for organizing this panel here. And I’m glad there’s a good participation in there. I’ll say first a few words about myself, how I got to Middlebury. I trained as an architect in Belgium, which is where I’m originally from. And then I studied archeology at the University of Minnesota, and I did a Doctorate in Art History at Yale. And I’ve been at Middlebury since 1995, which of course is a very, very long time. I wear a number of hats at Middlebury. I’m a Professor of History of Art and Architecture, I am also functioning as the Associate Curator for ancient art at the college museum. I am the the Director of Architectural Studies and Academic Program and I’m also the largest hats as the Associate Dean for the Arts. And so all in all, I supervise eight academic departments and programs and I’ll just quickly list them so you get a sense of the range of things that you can do in terms of majors or taking courses in those fields. Art history, dance, museum studies, music and theater. All of those are at the Mahaney Arts Center and you’ll hear more from a colleague of mine about that later on. And then film and media culture, architectural studies and studio arts that are in other parts of campus. Then also supervise a number of co-curricular entities, the Mahaney Arts Center that has our outstanding performing arts series about which more later also, and then also the College Museum and Middlebury has an outstanding collection and program of public arts. At Middlebury, the emphasis in general, and especially in the arts is on experiential learning. And so the arts are in that sense really on the forefront of what the college is doing as a whole. Students act, design, sing, direct choreograph, prints, build, construct, et cetera. And they do that in very close collaboration with faculty and staff teams. And we have really good support teams in all of those fields. It also means that extra curricularly, there are many opportunities as well. We have internships during the academic year and a variety of areas. We have internships during winter term, and you probably know about winter term, it’s the short one month academic term in the middle of the winter. And then there’s also of course summer internships, some of which are actually very nicely organized. And then there’s plenty of extra curricular opportunities as well. There’s the Student Friends of the Art Museum, there’s the Performing Art Series, “Scholars,” which is a student group, the Museum Assistance Program that I know at least one of the panelists has been a participant in, and things along those lines. We have really strong programs in general, and I’m not just saying that because I’m the Dean for the arts. Maybe it’s the other way around. I’m actually very happy to work with all of those programs. And I like the blending of the academic and the nonacademic. There’s like a seamless continuum between those two that I think is, it may not be unique, but it’s definitely typical for Middlebury. Just to give you a sense, I mean, you can participate in the orchestra, we have a jazz band, African music and dance, Ireland, we have a design built program in the summer, there’s the Dance Company of Middlebury, PTP, Potomac Theatre Project that is a quiet a professional theater program that Middlebury runs in New York city in the summer. And then last but not least, there’s the architectural studies collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Alison County that has allowed us to build we’re now designing actually our fourth low-income house here in the County. And so this is done by students. We will hear more about that from one of the panelists later on. But then there’s also things like Nocturne that you will hear about. Entirely student driven, major arts initiatives that we have on campus. And I could go on and on, but I won’t because I wanna leave time for the panelists. If any of you would ever want to contact me directly, feel free to do so. At Middlebury the faculty is, we’re not a large school and so the faculty is readily accessible for all students and that includes prospective students as well. We’re actually very used to that and we welcome it. And so if you have any questions that are not answered in this panel, feel free to reach out to me directly. Thank you. Oh no, my colleague Liza Sacheli, who is the Director of the Mahaney Arts Center will say a few words about what she is doing, which is a whole lot more than simply being the Director of the Arts Center.

- Thanks, Peter. That’s very kind. I’m Liza Sacheli, I’m the Director of the Mahaney Arts Center. I’ve been at Middlebury since 1997, which it surprises me that it’s been so long. I also came to this, to working at Middlebury from a performing arts background and then arts administration career. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about our arts facilities, particularly the Mahaney Arts Center that you can see behind me in this photograph and our arts programs that go on there. As far as our facilities go the Mahaney Arts Center is a hub of arts activities on campus. It’s home to three performance venues, four of our second seven academic arts programs. And we share a lobby with the adjacent Middlebury College Museum of Art. So about those performance venues, first we have Robinson Hall, which is an intimate 370 seat house with a wraparound balcony, a very grand feeling. Speaking of grand, a nine foot Steinway concert grand piano, and really impeccable acoustics. And that’s where professional artists and our students both get to perform. The sealer studio theater is a modified black box type theater with flexible seating and a back wall that opens right up to the scene shop and the dance theater, which serves as both a performance space and also dances larger classroom. It’s a large open space with plenty of natural light and a sprung maple floor. We also have offices and practice rooms and rehearsal spaces and classrooms for four of our seven academic arts programs. I think Peter may have mentioned, music, theater, dance and art history are all at the MAC. This is helpful because they’re all proximate to their performance venues and in the case of art history to our museum. So they can take advantage of that opportunity to be in those spaces. The museum which Peter mentioned is an accredited museum with a really impressive collection that spans from antiquity through the present day, two floors of galleries with great exhibitions from both the permanent collection and from traveling seasonal exhibitions. It’s considered the campus’s largest classroom because of its many classes that take visits there. And I should just mention that admission there is always free and it’s amazing resource that I think more students should be taking advantage of. There are lots of classes that go on there, but I feel like that should be something that every Middlebury student does. And then we have outdoor spaces. We have a lovely plaza with outdoor events and celebrations that go on there that stretches right out to our pond around which sits several works of art from the Middlebury’s Collection of Art in public places like the LOVE sculpture, Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, which is really well recognized and probably a campus favorite. And I should say that, although the MAC is the hub of arts activity on campus, it is by no means the only place that the arts happen. The art stretch all the way across campus to places like the Johnson building, where studio art and architectural studies both are to the Accent Center and Dana Auditorium where our film program lives to Wright Memorial theater, which is a traditional presidium style theater, which is a great compliment to the black box space we have at the MAC, the MAC being the Mahaney Art Center. And our collection of art in public places, which is all over campus and is a really impressive collection that you will not find at too many liberal arts colleges. So that’s a little bit about our facilities. So what kind of programs happen in all of these facilities? We have over 300 public arts events a year, at least in a normal year. This will obviously be a very different fall than our usual one. We’re having an all virtual fall. Our academic arts departments are very robust and they put on an incredible season of plays and dance concerts and film screenings and concerts. And they’re very ambitious. Theater, for example, puts on four faculty directed productions, main stage productions each year with quite elaborate scenery, lighting and costumes. They also have dozens of student driven productions each semester. So there’s lots of opportunities for students to get involved. The dance program has several student and faculty choreographed performances each term with professional lighting and sound, a frequent visiting artists and their presentations and an annual faculty dance concert that lets our students and the community see their own faculty and what their work is like. From the music department we have Ensemble Concerts from the Middlebury College Choir, The Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble, the Middlebury College Orchestra, and the Afropop Ensemble, a student recitals by instrumentalists and vocalists and then guest artists and their series for example, “The New Century / New Voices” series that happened last year, brought composers of color and women composers in particular into focus. The film program has lots of academic screens, but also the “Hirshfield International Film Series,” which brings something every week. Architectural studies and studio art also have student exhibitions and guest speakers and residencies that go on throughout the year. The museum that Peter mentioned sponsors, presents about 10 exhibitions every year and lots of artists talks and special events and social gatherings. We have some terrific story and speech driven events like cocoon, which is inspired by the MAC. Maria was one of our storytellers one year. The Parker Merrill Speech Competition, the first year speech competition events, other events with the student organization oratory now. And of course I would be really remiss if I didn’t mention our performing arts series, which brings the best of professional chamber music, jazz, world arts, theater and dance to Middlebury’s campus every year for the last 100 years. We’re actually “Vermont longest running performing art series.” This will be our hundred and first season. We’ve presented over a thousand events during that a hundred year history. Past highlights are groups like The King’s Singers, the Emerson String Quartet, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, like so many incredible artists. So in closing, I just wanna say that students are our most important audience. We work hard to make all the resources I mentioned available to students. For example, our top ticket price for any of the events I’ve talked about is $6. And fully half of the events that we present are free. We have a robust commitment to inclusion diversity and accessibility to the arts. And we hope some of you will become our next best arts audiences. And as Peter mentioned, you should feel free to contact me directly. I know Maria has my email address up on the final slide. You can also catch me just@lizaatmiddlebury.edu. So with that, I’ll let Maria say who the next speaker is.

- Yeah, now we’ll have our students introduce themselves. Sam, you wanna get us started?

- Yeah, sure. Like Liza has made me miss campus a lot . I’m Sam, I’m from Westport, Connecticut. And I am a rising senior so class of 21. I’m a joint dance and film major, so can speak to those two departments and also what it means to be a joint major. And, I’m a co founder and president of what Peter mentioned, this arts festival called Nocturne. Which is a student founded, student runs arts festival that happens once a year in the spring where we usually get about like a hundred student art project submissions. And then during one evening all night the projects go up all around campus and it’s kind of this romaine festival. It’s really awesome. I could talk about it all day if you’re interested. I also worked for “The Hirshfield Film Series”, which is what Liza mentioned. So it’s also really great. It’s an international and independent film series that screens free movies once a week on Saturdays. And we’ve really like changed the program in the past two or three years. So they’re super up to date for example, maybe people have heard of “Parasite” the movie that won best picture this year. Because of like the way that, the relationships we’ve created with film distributors through Hirshfield, we screened “Parasite” the weekend that it opened in LA and New York. And it was LA, New York and Middlebury. So yeah, I helped choose the films that we show and I also work in the production booth. And then, just last thing I’m involved with this year, I was able to use the Rothrock grant funding. So this is a really unique awesome program that the performing arts series has where students can propose to bring a performing artist and bring them to campus. So I was able to bring a San Francisco based choreographer named Sara Shelton Mann to campus to teach and to do a performance. And yeah, it’s super special. And then I would just say like about arts in general at Middlebury, like one of the most exciting parts of the programs are just the super close relationships with professors. I can’t emphasize enough, but like I consider my professors friends and like collaborators and people who I know will support me and help me in figuring out my arts career always. And also this like intermingling of academic and outside extracurricular work is something I really value. So yeah, that I like we’ll make films for class and I’ll also make films, not for class. And there’s a really awesome supportive student community that is really excited to be making art together in a way that’s inspiring and really fun. Madison, maybe your next.

- I think Arthur, but I can go next if you want Arthur.

- Okay.

- My name is Madison Middleton. I use they them pronouns. I’m from Germantown Maryland, but Washington DC is also my home if you’re from there. I’m a theater music joint major, also a joint major. And I’m an actor, playwright, sometimes director. I’m a singer and I play clawhammer banjo. I’m a singer in the college choir. If you have any questions about that. I was slated to perform in what Peter mentioned, Potomac Theatre Project at NYC PTP. But we, our season was nixed this summer. It’s a summer program. I’m trying to think of, I’m kind of starstruck by Sam because I didn’t realize about Nocturne, but I love Nocturne. That’s something that the whole campus celebrates. I’m also a visual artist, but I haven’t found time or a way to connect to it, but I have a feeling through an independent project to the music department that I get to do puppetry this fall. And I think that’s all. Ooh, I have a instrumental radio show with the college radio station, which is something that you can do in the future. And yeah, I believe that’s all, Arthur.

- Hi, my name is Arthur. I’m from Princeton, New Jersey. I use he him pronouns and I’m a rising sophomore at Middlebury, where I’m an architectural studies major. And the architecture program at Middlebury is very much connected to the art department, which has meant that I’ve been able to take a lot of art history courses while also taking architectural studios and gaining professional experience in the architectural field. I’ve also worked as a receptionist at the museum and was an intern at the museum this past June where I helped the curator of Chinese art re-install our galleries and we should be reopening in the spring I think. So we currently reinstalling the entire Asian gallery. Also I play clarinet in the orchestra in case anyone wanted to ask any questions about that. I also, this past spring, participated in the collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, where we helped design two houses for a town near Middlebury called Virginians. And then also, just a couple of weeks ago, I took part in the design boat program where we helped build a shed for Habitat for Humanity which was a really great experience. It basically the design build program, it just, it’s a bunch of students and architects joined together and design and build a structure in a week. And it’s really fun. You really gain a lot of building experience while also making really great friends. And I had a blast. And, ooh no, I think the thing that’s been great for me about the history of art and architecture department is that it’s allowed me to branch out and explore interests I didn’t know I had while still gaining professional experience and feeling prepared for graduate school and for my future hopefully as an architect. So, thank you.

- Awesome, thanks so much for all of those introductions. I do wanna make sure that all of you have the contact information of all of our wonderful panelists before we move on to the Q & A section. As all of them mentioned, feel free to reach out with any questions that may be left unanswered after our Q & A session.

Spotlight on J-Term

Winter is a favorite time of year for our students filled with many traditions. Join us to find out more about our J-term (formally called Winter Term). Students will talk about what it’s like to take one class intensively for 4 weeks, and all the fun that happens outside of the classroom!

- The college I’m really excited to have a chance to meet y’all today. I’m excited to be here hosting this webinar spotlighting J-term, our winter term on campus is one of my favorite times on campus. So I love that I have a chance to spend the next 45 minutes talking with y’all with some amazing panelists here, joining us. So our hope and dream for this period of time is to talk a little bit about the J-term experience hear about the different kind of J-term experiences that are had on campus and sometimes off campus as well. But we really want to also have a chance to answer your questions. So I’m gonna invite y’all to ask any questions in the Q and A box. Notice that the chat feature is turned off. So please ask your questions, using the question and answer throughout this time. So for the first half of this we’ll have a chance to just talk in here a little bit about our panelists, but the second half of this is going to be geared toward your questions. So please really encouraging y’all to have an opportunity to do so. Yeah. So talk just quick excerpt what J-term is. Middlebury has this great opportunity to operate on a 4-1-4 academic system where students generally take four courses in the fall, four courses in the spring, and then one course during our winter term, J-term, which takes place in the month of January. And what you’re taking one singular course throughout that time. So I’d love to just kind of get us kicked off and hear about these different experiences that I mentioned earlier. So Jessica go right ahead.

- Okay, great. Thanks Steve. So my name is Jessica Holmes. I’m a Professor of Economics here at Middlebury. I’ve been here since actually my very first day of class was September 11, 2001. So I will never forget my first day at Middlebury, but anyway, I’ve been here for many years and I would say winter term is one of the unique experiences at Middlebury with four weeks dedicated to one course with one topic. There’s plenty of flexibility in the design of the curriculum and with no scheduling conflicts, faculty can be really creative during that time. They can sample new tests, new topics, they can think differently about how they develop their courses and experiment. And so what I’ve done is I’ve chosen to use that time to create immersive hands-on learning experiences for my students. For six years, I directed a program called MiddCORE, which was a 40 it is a 40 hour a week, very intensive, hands-on leadership and innovation program. And it’s designed to build skills through hands-on learning experiences with practitioners from the nonacademic world. So over the course of the month, I would have 40 or so mentors run workshops to build skills and leadership, innovation, communications, strategic thinking. So for example, if I wanted to build skills and ideation, I invited the co-founder of Netflix to come in, to run a workshop with us, to help students learn how to ideate and how to develop ideas. If I wanted to teach students skills in crisis management. I invited governors to come in and run crisis simulation exercises with them. So that was one course that I designed and ran over our January term and the flexibility of having just that one course allowed it to be an immersive experience. And the, since I stepped down from that role, about three years ago, I’ve developed a course now called Health Policy and Action. Which I like to think of as a four to one academic internship. Basically I placed students in health policy internships in Vermont. They were four days a week onsite doing grappling with a strategic challenge faced by a healthcare organization. And then one day a week, they were in class with me building skills to ensure professional and project success. So to give you a couple of examples, I had students working with the Director of Healthcare Reform for Vermont. I had students working with the University of Vermont Healthcare Networks strategic team. I had students working with the Vermont Area Hospital Association. So all of them with specific projects that I curated along with the sponsors and the students could do that for a month. And so they lived actually off-site in a house in Montpelier lived together, it was a kind of a cohort style learning model. So J-term allows those kinds of flexible, intensive cohort style, hands-on experiences. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

- Thank you, Jessica. That J-term sounds really cool, I wish I would’ve had a chance to have taken it as a student, it sounds really fun. Kind of, you know, continuing on the different courses that are held on campus. I’m gonna invite Jack to talk a little bit about his experiences and introduce himself.

- Absolutely. Thanks, Steve. Hi everyone. Thanks for having me. I’m Jack Tipper and I taught the J-term class as a visiting instructor last January. I graduated back in 2016 with a Music major and a Chinese minor from Middlebury and Steve and I became friends during undergrad. And after graduating, I moved to Los Angeles where I ran my audio services business and an artist project up until COVID hit. And all of my professional work has been contract-based ever since graduation, which made teaching a J-term class last winter, super easy to make happen. I also taught a similar class as a winter term workshop two years in a row during undergrad. So I sort of already had the curriculum worked out. I coordinated with the Music department to make sure that my proposed class would mesh with the curriculum back in 2019. And the rest is history. I’m currently working toward a master’s degree in Music Tech at NYU. And I hope to come back and teach another J-term class, J-term class at Midd in the future once I finish this degree. And so the intensive class that I taught over the four weeks of J-term at the beginning of this year was on Electronic Music Production in Digital Audio Synthesis. And the students learned to design and arrange sounds in music creation software workstation called Ableton Live. We also worked with a software synthesizer called Xfer Serum and we covered a ton of ground in our four weeks together. The students made some incredible projects, at the end of the term, we had a public presentation at a small venue on campus called the Gamut Room, and almost all the students were taking advantage of J-term to try something new and outside of their major. I think that’s one of the best opportunities of J-term at Middlebury. One of my favorite aspects, at least when I was doing my undergrad, I took a class called Energy Resources in the Geology department, which is completely separate from what I focused on with Music and Chinese. And that was one of my favorite experiences. It was a really, really cool class and I learned a lot. So I highly recommend using J-term to try something new.

- Thank you, Jack. Yeah. And as Jack mentioned, we, he was one of our visiting instructors. We have many visiting professors, visiting instructors joining us for the month of January, having a chance to really share some things that they are very passionate about for that month. I know one of my favorite moments was taking a course with the local school counselor around communications and connectedness. How high school students are developing social skills or, you know, are being affected by their technology, in developing their social skills and hearing that from someone who was engaged in a practitioner and cared deeply about that. But there’s many different ways to do J-term and there’s many different pieces here. So I’d like to invite Franklin to tell us a little bit about your experience on campus.

- Hi everyone. I’m Franklin. I’m a third year Computer Science major here at Middlebury. I guess what I would be talking about to this panel is my J-term experience in MiddCORE. So I was part of the winter program last semester, last J-term. A little bit about me at Middlebury, I’m a part of the underrepresented in STEM organization I’m the treasurer there, I have a lot of fun with that. If there are any prospective students that are here, want to get into STEM. It’s a neat program to sort of learn more about that. I’m also part of the Middlebury Gaming Club. I’m the president of that. So that’s fun. It’s a fun little club to sort of meet up and just play games and have fun and relax after like all your classes. Yeah, I would say that’s it. I’m currently studying fully remote in Los Angeles this semester. And hopefully I can be back for maybe the J-term session next year.

- Awesome. And Franklin, how was your experience with MiddCORE? What did that feel like for you? Yeah, so it was actually something that I wasn’t, or at least I don’t think it’s super, super expected for a Computer Science major to have. It’s mostly something that I see, like a lot of finance people go into or a lot of business majors but it’s definitely experience that everyone can enjoy. I vouch and I stand by that because there’s a lot of just sort of getting yourself into like the professional world, networking and connecting with other people and like solving problems, like a big part of it and yeah, I enjoyed it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah. Jessica described all these really cool mentors coming to participate and teach different skills. Did you walk away with any you know, new skills that you’re excited to like continue with or add into your computer science experience?

- Yeah. A huge part of computer science, And for me specifically, software engineering is networking. So to get opportunities in the summer and to get like an offer for after I graduate a huge part of that is networking with people in the industry. And there were so many resources to network with both the people in the program and just to build networking skills for as like navigating LinkedIn or presenting yourself, or giving yourself, like a 30-second speech about who you are and what you want from, for like your experience as far as maybe an internship or a job. So I think that’s probably one of my biggest takeaways is the ability to network better.

- That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that Franklin. And this is because I’m always curious about folks who participate in MiddCORE. What was your pitch? What was your project?

- Sure. So, my project was something called “Due Deadlines.” So for people who don’t know about the the MiddCORE program, at the end, you’re sort of to present a personal project that you work on, that you spend I think it’s about three or four of the weeks. I think it’s like three of the weeks that you’re there and you pretty much spend the time that you’re, that you’re there and you spend like, and you use like the skills that you learn, sort of develop your own personal project on the side. And for me, I tried to integrate computer science and like building a program and sort of flushing that out. And it was a lot of fun just developing it, talking to people about my ideas, iterating their ideas that definitely wasn’t my first idea. And yeah, and today I’m still sort of trying to get back into seeing how I can develop it as I, as I become better with programming and computer science in general.

- Awesome. Thank you, Franklin. Appreciate you sharing.

- Sure

- So something that’s very much a tradition of many Middlebury students experiences on campus is taking a language. Ellie, I’m gonna invite you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about that language experience.

- Yeah. Thanks Steve. Franklin first, like now I want to like take MiddCORE. I should try to do that before I graduate in the next two years, But my name is Ellie. I am a junior here at Middlebury right now. I am a double major in International Politics and Economics and Chinese. And that kind of goes into my experience with J-term. My freshman year, I took Chinese, which is that’s the only class I took, like four weeks of just immersion of Mandarin Chinese was an unforgettable experience. It is something that I was like value so much upon reflection. In the moment, it can feel like you’re kind of like it’s a lot to take in to learn a whole new language and to only be working on that. But I really think that like having the opportunity to work so closely with professors that are dedicated to their language and like learning that language and teaching it, I think it was such an opportunity to hone in on the nuances that languages and linguistics brings to community and culture, and also it allowed you to really immerse into the culture cause you’re spending your whole entire time in your class time learning the language and the culture, so it’s not like you’re just like learning a bunch of vocab words, and then screwing off to your next class. You get to really just sit and enjoy all aspects of the learning of it. In addition to that, I think have the language aspect, you have a lot more opportunities in J-term to have a sense of community and building that community within your classmates. cause they’re also there alongside you on that journey when you’re getting stuck on the grammar or when you’re celebrating. And learning about holidays and other fun activities that you’re doing, and watching movies together outside of class time in the language. Also with the faculty, often times they would have meals with us, whether that is going like to breakfast in the morning before running to Proc before class starts at nine or driving a meal in town when it’s like not COVID. And I think also like there’s just so much more like ability to foster, in my opinion, it really fostered my love for learning Mandarin and wanting to pursue it, not just from a personal standpoint but I can also see how it can be useful in my career one day. So I think that like Middlebury it’s just a great place to learn language, but then to be able to have the opportunity to really focus on something that you’re passionate about, whether that is language and or MiddCORE innovation like that was like the best part about J-term it’s being able to have that time to explore. Cause that’s like definitely a reason why I think a lot of us chose a liberal arts education.

- Awesome. Thank you so much, Ellie. Appreciate it. Before I pass it onto our next panelist, I’m gonna start continuing to invite y’all to ask any questions that are coming up, things that y’all are thinking about. But I’m passing the mic to Amanda to talk to us about something that’s happening outside the class, workshops. Do you mind introducing yourself Amanda, telling us a little bit about winter workshops on campus?

- Yeah sure. So, hello everyone, my name is Amanda I am a senior here at Middlebury and my major is Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. So I can speak a little bit about workshops which are a great thing that are happening on campus during J-term. So during J-term, like we said already, you’re taking one class, so that leaves a lot of flexibility in your schedule outside of class to do other things. So one of the great things that we have on campus is, workshops. So workshops are student-led and they can be a many like range a lot of different topics I’ve seen workshops for calligraphy, ceramics, painting, dance workshops, martial arts, so they can range a lot of different topics. so it’s great because they give students an opportunity to focus on some more recreational activities that they maybe not have had a chance to do during the school year or even at all. I know there’s some workshops for skiing and ice skating, which are really interesting as well. So it’s great because you can get together with people who might also have an interest in that topic or event or idea and just collaborate and do things together. So I can speak a little bit more about the dance workshops because I’ve been in some, and I’ve also had the opportunity to lead one, which was an amazing experience. So we would meet a couple of times a week for about an hour or two and just get together and dance, which is great because it gives people the opportunity to get that exercise during a very, very cold month and move around and move their bodies. But it’s also great because it is a P.E credit. So there’s a lot of workshops that you count as P.E. credits as well. So you can get that physical activity in, in a semester where you might have some more time to do some of that stuff cause it’s a lot more flexible. So I really love workshops, I love participating in them and meeting the people that I probably wouldn’t have interacted with in a classroom setting just cause we’re not doing something academic usually. And it’s just more amusement based.

- Awesome, thanks Amanda. Just cause I’m dying to know what are the names of the workshops you were, you were in or led?

- Okay, so I did Dark Moon Photography in my freshman year and then I participated in the K-pop workshop. And then that’s also the same one that I led the following year and we called it K-pop 101 Produce, which is the name of one of the K-pop shows. So we kind of mimicked that.

- Amazing. Amazing. Thanks Amanda And to round us out, Alex, do you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about your experiences so far as a senior.

- Yeah. Thanks Steve. So my name is Alex. I am a senior here at Middlebury and I major in International and Global Studies with a focus in Latin America. And I guess, what I’ll bring to the table is sharing a bit about all of the very different J-term experiences I’ve had over the past three years. So my first year here at Middlebury I took a class called Art of The Argument, which I took sort of out of fear, but also out of like, I need to do this because I’m so scared of speaking in front of other people. And the class was co-taught by someone who is in the theater industry and then a lawyer and idea of the class was learning how to form arguments, how to stand in front of people and talk. And I remember the first day of class I went in and there were probably 40 people in the class and we were sitting there and one of the professors said, “okay, I’m going to call on two people in this class and you’re going to have to stand up here and I’m going to give each of you a side of an argument that you won’t know in advance, and then you have to just go at it.” And I was one of the people chosen of course and I was absolutely terrified, but it definitely helped me with my ability to speak in front, in front of other people. I’m doing it now, I work in, so clearly it got me somewhere. And then my sophomore year, I took a class called Narratives on Rivers and Ecology. And that was a sort of creative writing type of a course and focused on nature writing as you might gather from the title, but what was really cool about it was that we actually spent five days going to Acadia National Park. And I’m from Maine, so I’ve been there before, but it was really quite a different perspective to be there in the winter. We were really the only people in the park. It was actually during the government shutdown. And so we really were the only people in the park and we were staying in these housing where researchers normally stay and we got to go and talk to different people who work in the park, who do research there and sort of use what they taught us to inform our writing. So some of it was creative, some of it was more informative and scientific, and I was pretty unfamiliar with scientific writing before that, so I think that that was a really exciting experience for me to sort of branch out because I really do enjoy writing, but it was, it was a new kind of writing and also travel involved, which was very exciting in winter and also very cold. And then this past year, so my junior year, I actually did not spend it on campus. I was abroad for my fall and spring but I was back in the States during J-term, and I found an internship in Washington, D.C. at an immigration law nonprofit called The Care Coalition, which is Capital Area Immigrant Rights. And I’m really interested in immigration law and sort of like the intersections of like journalism and communications with immigration rights and the legal aspects of it. So a lot of different things, but I found that internship through the Center for Careers and Internships here at Middlebury, and it was super exciting. I got to do a lot of research and help lawyers with like real cases that they were working on in the moment. So every day looked very different for me. And I hadn’t really spent much time in D.C. prior to that but I guess sort of to sum it all up. I had so many different J-term experiences and I think all of them were incredibly valuable, and I guess also to add to what Amanda was saying, I think workshops are one of the best parts of J-term. I did a dance workshop my first year during J-term. And that’s how I discovered the dance group that I then became much more involved with, which was a South Asian dance group on campus. And it’s no cuts. I’m not that kind of dancing, but it’s so, so fun. And was like a really cool opportunity for me to connect with my South Asian heritage and something that I probably would have been like too afraid to try during a normal time but I think because J-term just has that, that time and the space to sort of be like, hmm, this sounds this sounds pretty interesting. I guess I’ll give it a try. I think that was really exciting for me.

- Thank you so much, Alex. All right folks I’m going to give our panelists the opportunity to take a drink of water. I’m going to share my screen really quickly to share everyone’s full names. And once again, keep thinking about those questions. I’ll also put up my own email address there, if folks have questions about the admissions process in general, feel free to reach out because we will be available talking about admissions more generally throughout the year. Okay.

Spotlight on STEM

Middlebury’s science and math departments blend the high-tech facilities and cutting edge research with the collaborative learning atmosphere of a liberal arts college. With eleven departments and programs focused on math and the sciences, Middlebury not only has a broad range of ways to study the sciences, it gives students the freedom to explore them all.

- If you’re just logging in we’re giving everyone another second to join. Hi everyone. Welcome. My name is Maria Nava. I use she, her pronouns and I’m one of the admissions counselors here at the College. I’m also Middlebury College Class of 2018. As always our Wednesday webinars focus on a particular topic. And we welcome your questions today on STEM at Middlebury. I’m very excited to be moderating this panel as a former math major. We have a wonderful group of panelists that are here to share valuable information with you. I do want to take a second to acknowledge that COVID-19 has drastically changed our college search process. So we appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today, even if it is virtually. Before we jump in I also want to remind you to type your questions in the Q and A box throughout the presentation. We have some folks behind the scenes that will be typing answers to the questions that we may not be able to answer live. We do have a big audience today, so we will try to get to as many questions as we can in our short time together. Now I will hand it over to Rick to tell us a little bit more about what STEM looks like at liberal arts schools. Take it away.

- Ah, thanks Maria. Good evening everyone or good morning or good afternoon wherever you may happen to be in the world these days. I’m Rick Bunt. I’m a professor of chemistry and biochemistry here at Middlebury. I’ve been here for 22 years now, which seems like probably like a lifetime and a half for some of you. It seems like that for me too at times. To give you sort of a brief overview, the thing I wanted to say most about STEM at Middlebury is that STEM and our STEM students who you can see here as well. We really are a part of the liberal arts. We really think that science and engineering and mathematics and the technology are key liberal arts components. And so we don’t see ourselves as separate from or added on to a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education at Middlebury is a great education for everyone, including our STEM students even history students too get pretty good educations I think. And I would point out that our STEM students are among I think the most liberal educated students at the College. We take almost half our classes or if not more outside of our major. And so we do take the history and the English and the religion and the political science and all the other fun classes that are out there. In fact, one of the hardest parts is choosing only 36 classes, right? Because they’re also wonderful that it’s really hard to just take the small set that you might get. And so everyone is important and that’s fantastic. In terms of the class size as you might expect, the classes in the STEM fields tend to be a range. We have some larger classes. We wanna get every student we can into the courses. And so, an introductory course at the 100 level might have 40, 50 or 60 or sometimes more students in the main class. But that’s almost always paired along with smaller discussion sections and or also laboratory sessions where you’re meeting that again the faculty individually in those smaller settings. So you get a chance to know people much more closely though not too close these days, but in general, pretty close interactions with faculty and students in that regard. The upper level classes do tend to get again smaller and more specialized. Class sizes might be on the order of 10 to 15 students. Sometimes three or four students are in an advanced course if it’s a very specialized course. And so those really do foster those kinds of interactions that last a lifetime. Other kind of thing that I think is important about STEM at Middlebury and other schools like Middlebury to be fair is that teaching and research really go hand in hand. We don’t do them separate from each other. The faculty are all involved in research or scholarship in more general terms. And that scholarship and research is what helps inform our teaching. And our students participate with us in that research quite often. And Professor Spatafora will say more about that in a few minutes. But the biggest thing I would say about the facilities, the equipment, all the resources we have at Middlebury is that they’re all devoted toward this mission of education, which again teaching and teaching through research, both involve. So students in geology can use the new electron microscope in their courses and in their research. Students in chemistry can use one of our newer NMR spectrometers in their second year organic chemistry class. It’s the same kind of instrument ‘cause I just helped buy it this summer that you might find at Harvard or MIT or Pfizer or wherever. We really do have the kind of facilities there that allow our students and our faculty to do their very best. And that’s really exciting and interesting. Other thing that I’ll say just to finish off here is you know, you haven’t even gotten to college yet and I’m gonna suggest where do students go after college? And our students tend to go all kinds of great places. They may go to graduate schools, Berkeley, Princeton, Yale. They may go to medical school or law school. They may even if there are any parents out there, they may even get jobs some of them after graduation. Or get a job before going back to medical school or graduate school. And our STEM students do all kinds of wonderful things. I thought I would highlight one former student from about maybe 10 or 15 years ago now. Anne DeWitt was a joint major between chemistry and English. And she graduated second in her class, a salutatorian and won the Phi Beta Kappa prize. She decided to go on to graduate school in English at Yale and she’s now a English professor. So you can see all kinds of things that come from STEM and that’s what’s really exciting. So I’ll pause now and turn it over to Grace Spatafora to talk more about research and graduate school and medical schools. Thank you Rick. My name is Grace Spatafora. I’m a microbial geneticist at Middlebury College. And I’ve been asked to speak to represent the undergraduate course curriculum in STEM and the kinds of research opportunities that present themselves in STEM. Of course, I’m speaking to you as a woman in science, actually women are quite well-represented in the sciences at Middlebury. So I wanna echo something that Rick said and that is that many of the faculty, if not all of us are very dedicated to integrating their teaching curricula with their research agendas. The two are very closely integrated and there’s a clear reason for this. I think we are better teachers because we are active researchers. And I think our research certainly benefits from our teaching experiences and collaborations with students. So the two just naturally go hand in hand. And I can speak for myself when I say that I design my courses specifically as a means to engage students in producing original research of their own. So being a microbial geneticist, I teach courses in microbiology and genetics that only makes sense. And the labs that are associated with those courses actually engage my actual research interests that are supported by the NIH. So you’re doing real research in the context of a course. You can also extend that research experience for course credit by doing independent research under the guise of a faculty mentor. So some of the other courses that I teach as a microbial geneticist include immunology. A seminar course called mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis. And I also teach an introductory course called cells and genetics. So for any of you who may come to Middlebury and explore the STEM initiative here you’ll probably be part of this gateway course to the natural sciences and that is cells and genetics. So I may very well get to meet you in person, I certainly hope so. Let’s see. Many of us teach science from the primary literature. We like to get our students pretty early on in the curriculum familiar with approaching research articles in the primary literature. We often supplement this with readings from a more conventional textbook but we are really excited to help you bring what you’re learning alive by bringing it into the here and now. And connecting you with what’s going on in the literature. As Rick mentioned, courses can have a range of sizes. Introductory level courses have a tendency to be a little bit larger. As you become more specialized and climb up through the curriculum, the courses become more specialized and smaller. But even the larger courses are often associated with discussion sections. And I’m always a huge advocate for meeting in smaller groups so that I get to know my students. A little bit about my research agenda. Although I only speak for my own, there are many opportunities available for students to pursue independent work If they want to. Some of my colleagues work with the effects of BPA on reproductive fitness. There are labs engaged in studying Lyme disease in cancer genetics in a mouse model. The work that I’m engaged in is relevant to oral health, which I like to think of as the gateway to general health. And it’s funded by the NIH and IDCR. So specifically I work with a group of organisms that are among the 700 different types of bacteria that live in the human mouth. And they’re called the oral streptococci. And as a geneticist, I use DNA, RNA, and protein approaches to understand how those organisms survive in the transient conditions of the human mouth, both during mealtimes and between mealtimes. And what it is about the human oral microbiome that makes it a healthy microbiome. And then what are the conditions that shift or tip that balance towards a dysbiotic microbiome that can lead to disease. Students who work in my lab have authored or coauthored manuscripts for publication. In a time that we don’t find ourselves in a pandemic they’ve traveled to and delivered presentations at regional, national, and even international meetings. They are very successful in landing research jobs when they graduate. And we have a very high rate of getting students into pre-professional schools many of which are of their choosing. I can’t tell you how many times I get emails from students who have graduated thanking the Middlebury faculty for pushing them to fulfill their potential and pushing them outside of their comfort zone because when they pursue pre-professional school be it veterinary school, dental school, medical school, graduate school, they feel very well prepared in those environments and are very successful. I think I’ll stop there and leave the rest for Q and A.

- Hello. My name is Mauricio and I’m a junior here at Midd. I’m a molecular biology biochem and math double major. And I kind of wanna share with you guys kind of a little bit about like how STEM can be very interdisciplinary. So MBBC is a very interdisciplinary major because you’re required to like take courses across many different kind of departments that include math and biology, chemistry, comp sci even. And I think that what that does it really allows students to kinda of experiment get exposure to just different ways of learning and just getting their hands kinda dirty and dipped into different places. A lot of what I enjoy about my major is that it teaches you a lot about just like critical thinking and problem solving. And I don’t know, I’m just really grateful that I kind of had a advisor who kind of led me on this path because it wasn’t until last semester when I was taking another math course to fulfill one of my requirements for MBB where I realized oh hey, I kinda like math as well. So because of that I’ve taken some additional math courses since then. And that’s kind of what’s really nice about just pursuing something within STEM at a liberal arts college is that you really have a lot of flexibility and you can just take courses across many different departments and just really figure out what it is that you wanna do because even within STEM itself, there’s so many things that you can do. Yeah.

- Hi everyone. My name is Diana. I’m a senior majoring in computer science with a minor in Japanese. And the reason why I majored in computer science while that was sort of a weird journey for me because when I first got admitted into Middlebury I made it my goal to avoid anything STEM related. But the funny thing was I ended up taking a first year seminar class called computer music programming. And I was just there for like the music component because I have a very creative side as well. But at the end of the course, I found it very interesting how technology can be applied to a lot of different areas and disciplines. And so I was really interested in that. And I started taking computer science courses and ended up majoring in them. Outside of STEM, I’m involved in two major organizations. The first one is called Women in CS. Basically our goal is to build a more inclusive community for women majoring in CS and provide them with networking opportunities as well as job opportunities as well and just try to give them advice on navigating through the CS major. The second organization I’m really involved in is Evolution Dance Crew. Maria was actually a president before and she was the one that introduced me to the crew. And so, as I said before, I have a very creative side so I like exploring that as well. Even though I am a CS major and it seems like I might be taking so many CS courses, I actually like to balance out my STEM classes with more creative non STEM liberal classes. So I’ve taken dance before. I’ve taken digital art studio before. So I really think the beauty of a liberal arts education is that you can have a balance between all these different areas of interests that you have as a student.

- So hi everyone. My name is Brenda. I use she, her, hers pronouns. I am a junior and neuroscience major. So I’m going to be talking more about UR-STEM, an organization here at Middlebury. So UR-STEM stands for underrepresented in STEM. And our mission is basically to normalize the participation of underrepresented students in STEM classes and careers to breach the academic gap of students from different backgrounds, and improve their retainment of underrepresented students in the STEM fields. So we do this by providing students with mentorship opportunities. So we have two different types of mentorship opportunities. One where we pair underclassmen with upperclassmen and one where we pair students with STEM faculty and staff. And we also help our numbers by increasing access to different academic resources and by introducing them to professional connections. And so some examples of past events that we’ve had are the annual faculty, staff, and student mixer. So this is an event where we bring together students and faculty and staff from the STEM departments in a more casual setting and have conversations about how professors in departments can create a more inclusive environment for underrepresented students. And it creates a space for students to share their experiences and meet professors from other departments. We also have a meet your professor series, which are small sessions where students who have registered for their courses already can meet their professors before the start of the spring semester. And so professors usually go over their planned syllabus or over expectations for their courses. And we believe this is a great opportunity for students to start building relationships with their professors. And we hope that it reduces the stress that may come with going to office hours for the first time. And we also have a UR-STEM tutoring program which is something that we started last semester where UR-STEM members can request other UR-STEM members to tutor them. And hopefully we hope that this makes students more comfortable reaching out for help. And this is a way for our members to build friendships with each other within the organization. So that’s all I had to say for UR-STEM and I’ll pass it over to Tyler.

- Nice, thanks. Hi everybody. My name is Tyler. I use he, him pronouns. I am a senior environmental studies and geology joint major with a minor in math. Yeah, just talking a little bit about my journey in STEM. I’m really excited to incorporate, you know, environmental studies and geology into my area of study. I love being outside. And my goal when I graduate is to do something to help the planet. So something that I am doing this year as a senior particularly is I am writing a thesis. And that sounds a little bit daunting. I know it’s still daunting me at this point and I’m in it. But yeah so my thesis is basically focusing on an area of study that I didn’t necessarily, I’m not an expert in. And I think that’s kind of what geology professors have kind of geared towards is you know, if you’re writing a thesis you don’t have to be an expert in what you’re writing in before you start. The process of the thesis is kind of learning as you go. So I’m writing about something to do with remote sensing and satellite imagery to model tectonic uplift in the Adirondack mountains, which are a couple of hundred miles west of Middlebury right now. And so I have been really excited to delve into this project with my advisor and who’s really taught me a lot going through the process albeit it’s still early. I think that writing a thesis particularly at Middlebury in something so interdisciplinary is just a really great opportunity to incorporate things you might learn in a classroom setting and find out how they can have like real life applications which I think is really a great bridge between, you know, just different avenues of learning that’s offered at Middlebury. So yeah.

- Awesome. Thank you all so much for sharing all of your wonderful stories. We have a lot of questions coming in from our audience so we’re gonna transition over but before that, I wanna make sure that our audience has the contact information of all of these wonderful panelists who are here with us today. And so here it is. Thank you again all so much for being here. We hope that we can get to answer as many questions as possible in these next couple of minutes. And I’ll leave this up for a second.

Spotlight on the Social Sciences

The social sciences at Middlebury examine the ways in which behavioral, cultural, economic, political, social, and spatial relationships shape our understandings of the world today and how we live in it. Anthropology, Economics, Education Studies, Geography, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology form the core academic departments in the social sciences, each with strong connections to our many interdisciplinary programs.

- So, hello everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, spotlight on the social sciences. My name is Natalie Figueroa and I use she her pronouns. I am one of the admissions counselors here at the office, as well as an alum Class of 2018, with a degree in international and global studies with a focus in Latin America and a minor in linguistics. Our Wednesday webinars series highlights a particular topic each week. And we welcome your questions today, specifically on studying the social sciences at Middlebury College. If you are interested in more general information regarding the college and our virtual offerings, I’ll be providing a link below in the chat feature for more general information that you may be interested in finding. In our time here today, our panelists will introduce themselves, and speak on their experiences with the social sciences, wonderful panelists here tonight, representing both the faculty and student perspective of the social sciences. After their introductions, we will open the floor up for question and answers submitted by you all the attendees. As we get started here tonight, I would like to take the time to acknowledge the fact that Middlebury College sits upon land that belonged to the Abenaki people. We honor their connection to these regions, to these lands and waters and to the history past present and future. I’d also like to take the time to acknowledge and denounce the inexcusable violence toward the black community in this country. As we reckon with our nation’s history, Middlebury College recognizes the continuous work needed in the journey toward anti-racism on an institutional and communal level. And lastly, we are in a virtual realm here today due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has this proportionally affected black and indigenous folks, as well as communities of color. The global pandemic has drastically altered many realms of our day to day lives. And at this moment, seeing that direct impact on the college search and application process. So we are the Admissions Office, appreciate y’all taking the time to be with us here today. Our spotlight on the social sciences webinar is especially near and dear to me as alum whose major drew primarily from the social sciences and a real full sober circle moment for me as well, considering one of my professors is actually in this webinar with us tonight. As I mentioned before, our group of panelists represents an array of academic departments and trajectories through the social sciences, and I’m thankful that they have joined us here to share their perspective with y’all. So without further too, I pass it over to you, Professor Jonathan Miller Lane, to get us started tonight, professor.

- Thank you, Natalie. So I, in my three minutes, I’m gonna make three points and I’m gonna leap right in and get us going, and then each one of us will do something slightly different. So I’m gonna make three points. One, is making sure we have a shared definition of the liberal arts. Two, is to share with you where I think education studies, which is my field. I’m a faculty member in education studies, where that fits in the social sciences, and then the interdisciplinary studies. Why I think that is so important. So the first one with a liberal arts education, generally, right, we are talking about an undergraduate college education, where students are required to sample from a broader way of courses and then select a major course of study in a single discipline. Having said that, if you’re looking to colleges and curriculum around the country, you will see there is no agreement about how those two goals of broad sampling in a single focus should be done. There are many ways of up the mountain and around the Lake, even as there’s a shared notion of a liberal arts education as a broad sampling and a deep dive into one area. So that’s just a shared opening point one. Two, I think in my field in education studies, we think of ourselves as existing in the crossroads of social science and the humanities and crossroads as a reference to biochem, Lafayette is a great Nigerian author and writer. So, but the crossroads, right? The social sciences refers to the study that examined human societies and how we humans interact in our societies. So in the field of education, you can imagine that’s pretty relevant. And here’s three questions just to share with you that we sort of look at in this field. So how should we pay for schools in this country, through a local real estate taxes or through national taxes, the way we pay for interstate highways and the military, which is the fairest way to do it, who should decide how we organize schools, local school boards? Or national ministry of education? which one of those systems ensures that the greatest number of students will have the best access to an excellent education. And then how do we educate students in a multicultural society for a multicultural democratic life? Each one of those questions is deeply informed by studying the social sciences. So on the field of education, we’re deeply embedded in the areas that you’re going to hear more about from all of our panelists tonight. But of course, if you’re not interested in what it means to be humans, that’s probably not going into teaching as a bad idea, right? Because you need to be interested in humans, if you’re gonna go into teaching and for that, you of course need that humanities part of it, right? And the civil rights activists Ruby Sales uses that term humans instead of human beings, to emphasize the point that we’re always and ever in relationship and in communities together. So if we care about what it means to be humans, right? The humanities play a critical part of that. And then the last piece I’ll say about education studies is that, of course the natural sciences play a role because if you start studying how the brain works over there and what we call Bicentennial Hall and Middlebury campus, where the natural sciences are located, you’ll learn a lot of interesting things about how you might organize a learning environment that ensures more students thrive. So that learning how the brain works and how we learn that’s useful. But if you’re interested in becoming a teacher and it’s an education, you also need to figure out how this student is doing in this moment, in this school, in this community. And that’s where the social sciences comes in. That’s where the humanities comes in. So when I feel an education studies, we are deeply embedded in the social sciences and also see ourselves as a crossroads of disciplines that come into play. Then the last point I’ll make, which is really fun with this panel we have, panelists we have here because we represent such a wonderful range of majors, is that, this very mix of a broad sampling and a deep dive is what nearly every challenge we face in our society requires, because then what single discipline does COVID-19 fit, right? And what single discipline does climate collapse fit? Our opioid crisis, systemic injustice. The world does not stay in the disciplinary boundaries that we often think are fixed. Environmental studies, gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, American studies, international global studies, education studies. This is the world as we experience it today. And so the very idea of normal is gone with the evening tide, right? And we need to let it go, and we need to embrace the relentless discomfort of always an ever becoming. Last thing I’ll say is to do this, we will need curious and engaged students who are willing to push their own boundaries, so that Middlebury, we, as a result, will be capable of stretching our own. So that’s my opening sort of three, within three minutes for you. I look forward to hearing from everybody around the panel and to hearing some Q and A ,thanks Natalie.

- Thank you professor. And next, I’m gonna pass it over to you Professor Stroup.

- Hi everybody, thank you, Natalie. Nice to see you again on zoom, Jonathan, as an educator, always blows my mind thinking about what exactly I’m doing in the classroom. So, thank you Jonathan, for giving me something to think about and thank you to the wonderful panelists for taking time out, to talk about what we’re doing here at Middlebury. I’m Sarah Stroup, I’m originally from South Texas, and I’m now in my 13th year teaching at Middlebury Ccollege. This is the lucky 13. I teach in the Political Science Department. I also teach in two big interdisciplinary departments that we have programs I should say, international and global studies and international politics and economics. Jonathan spoke about the sort of questions that you might want to pursue as a learner, as a professional, as a citizen, as a human or as humans. We’re really proud of the social sciences here at Middlebury. But one of the reasons that I chose to teach at a liberal arts college is that I firmly believe there is no one way of looking at the world. To compliment what Jonathan said, I want to spend a few seconds just digging into what the social sciences are. Social scientists explore the vast array of human interactions. political scientists like myself, study power, the ability to get people to do things that they otherwise would not have done. Economist study exchange under conditions of scarcity, sociologists and anthropologists, both study culture. Sociologists are more concerned with social structures. Anthropologists are more interested in culture as meaning for people, geographers study place and scale, psychologists study human behavior and decision making. All of the students here in this room can correct me if I’ve wholly miscategorized your major, please do so. But, I’m trying to say that, there are a lot of different lenses that you can bring to studying human behavior. So let’s think about one question. I’m looking at this in my international political economy course on U.S. China trade relations. That was our reading today. Economists would ask who benefits? who pays the cost of terrace? Political scientists would say, well, who sets the trade rules? Do some countries benefit more than others? Sociologists might ask, How does a culture of consumption in the United States fuel US trade deficits? Anthropologists might try to understand the relations of social support for migrants in China drawn into industrial production. Psychologists just might say, if you ask policy makers about trade policy, does it affect their decision, if you frame it as a threat or as an opportunity? All of those lenses are awesome. Not one of them is better for answering the questions. So as a social scientist, I love my lens and I love talking to middle, very college students about it, but at the liberal arts college, you won’t find the dominance of one approach over another, we are exploring many of them, thanks.

- Thank you, professor. And I think that especially highlights the representation of students that we have on this panel and, the different lenses and approaches that y’all have taken to your academic major, to your academic trajectory, really. And I’m excited to have you all share that. So, first off, we’re gonna start with Derek.

- Hi everyone, my name is Derek Burt. I grew up in Hopewell, New Jersey, set to graduate this February, 2021, which is exciting and scary. And I’m studying geography at Middlebury. So, I was drawn to geography during my sophomore year. I was in a course called spatial thinking with geographic information systems. For those of you who don’t know geographic information systems or GIS, is basically like a really powerful analytical mapping software. And at that point I was still very undecided as to what I would be studying, I was thinking maybe I’d just go with English, which is a great department as well at Middlebury. But, ultimately I found that in this course I was extremely challenged, but also like just amazed at some of the problems we were approaching. So for example, we were like detecting self-service ranges on roads in Vermont, and where you would be dropping your calls or looking at the demographic makeup of census tracks that were flooded in Houston after hurricane Harvey, which was just, I didn’t know how that you could look at these problems and to the degree and the level of specificity that we were looking at them in this course. And I was, I was like, after that, even though, I really struggled and really had to work at it, I was kind of like hooked and decided that would be what I would study. Having completed the major and gone through all the courses. I would say, I just, I really appreciate how it approaches, geography, the department, especially at Middlebury approaches, kind of social problems with the level, like a critical level that you would get in a humanities course while still kind of providing you tangible research and software skills, to look at those issues. I think it’s a really nice intersection of kind of critical skills and tangible skills. Not that they’re mutually exclusive. And so, yeah, it’s a really awesome department. It would be difficult to pick a favorite course. I think the entirety of my experience in the department, is like, every single course was important, but I would say that cartographic design, if you’ve ever wondered how those like really pretty national geographic maps get made and the articles like you basically learn how to do that. And of course, and like, it doesn’t have to go that way, but I did try to kind of design my own national geographic map for my final project, and it was really exciting. Yeah, and I would just like to finish by saying to prospective students, I think, geography is often misunderstood as kind of like rote memorization of places on a map, but it’s really, it’s almost hard to describe because it’s kind of like using a spatial thinking lens to understand environmental science, political science, anthropology, and there’s even a bit of computer science in there. And I probably missed some, but it is. I had no idea in Middlebury had a Geography Department and I’m so glad that I found it because I feel like, that’s just like fit perfectly for me. And Yeah, I think that’s about it, but geography, its a great department.

- Thanks so much Derek. And as we’re, as our panelists are introducing themselves, attendees are able to submit questions in the Q and A box feature on the bottom of your screens on the zoom dashboard. So next up, is Brian.

- Hi everyone, my name is Brian. I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I am currently scheduled to graduate May of 2022. And I am an anthropology major and a global health minor, I guess what drew me into anthropology, coming into Middlebury, I had no idea what anthropology was. I knew I wanted to be premed, but I also knew that, I wasn’t particularly turned on by the hard STEM sciences and coming into Middlebury, it was a super cool experience to be able to major in something in the humanities or social science, and also be able to be premed. And what drew me into anthropology was actually an archeology class, intro to archeology with Professor James Fitzsimmons. And it really kind of changed my perspective on archeology and anthropology as a whole. I kind of came into the class thinking I was going to learn about Indiana Jones. And would you kind of did a little bit of, we did throw spears at one point, which was probably my most memorable experience in that class, but really like later on, I decided to take more anthropology classes just because of how much I enjoyed my experience with Professor Fitzsimmons. And I’m about halfway through the major, so I don’t know, I guess as much as maybe some of the older students on this panel, but if I had to narrow my favorite class down that I’ve taken in the anthropology department, it would probably be medical anthropology with Professor Kristin Bright, just because it blended kind of my two passions with going into medicine and anthropology together. And it was a kind of a very unique experience to be able to look at health and medicine through an anthropological lens instead of a strictly more STEM related research kind of way. And it was also particularly interesting because, I actually got to take the class last spring during the start of the global pandemic and being able to look at that, through the anthropological lens was definitely, definitely super interesting. And I mean, outside of academics, I’m also on the men’s swim team. So, being able to balance being on the premed, pre-health track, the social sciences with my anthropology major and being a part of athletics, isn’t like, was the main reason that drew me to Middlebury. And I really hope you guys definitely take a good look at Middlebury and hopefully, we’re what you’re looking for in a school, thank you.

- Thanks, Brian, I am very glad that Professor Fitzsimmons still does the spear throwing portion of his archeology classes. I was actually drawn to many of my anthropology courses as well because of Professor Fitzsimmons. So it’s nice to see that wonderful influence still carrying on in the years after in the years to follow. So next up, I’m going to invite Chima, to introduce herself.

- Hi everyone, my name is Chima Denver. I’m a senior, so I’ll be graduating in the spring and I’m from Rochester, New York. I’m majoring in psychology. So, I was drawn to psychology because, actually my intro class, my professor is also an associate professor in neuroscience. And so I thought she had a really nice job of blending human behavior with the brain and how both are intrinsically connected.

Spotlight on the Humanities

The humanities at Middlebury encompasses 25 departments and programs. Humanistic study will position you to be a culturally aware and engaged global citizen equipped with excellent writing, reading, speaking, research and critical thinking skills which are essential for navigating today’s complex world.

- Okay, well, good evening everybody. And thank you for joining us for our Wednesday Webinar Series at Middlebury College. My name is Sam Prouty. I’m the director of admissions here at Middlebury. I’ve been here about seven years. I’m a proud graduate of a different liberal arts college. And I majored in English there. And then I was an English teacher for a long time before I came and did this work and have a graduate degree from Middlebury’s own, very special Bread Loaf School of English. And I remember when I told my father when I was a teenager that I wanted to major in English, he rolled his eyes at me and said, “Oh my goodness, you’re just gonna write poetry in our basement for the rest of your life, aren’t you?” And we, we sometimes we hear that stereotype. And so we are here to talk about the humanities tonight. Spotlight on the Humanities! I think it’s important that the root word of humanities is human. And when in my work in the Admissions Office, people often ask me questions about Middlebury graduates. You know, “where did they get jobs?” “and where do they go to graduate school?” And most of those questions are about what happens to you immediately when you graduate from Middlebury. And I wish people asked the question a little bit differently. I wish they said, “Are Middlebury graduates really interesting, cool people when they’re 57 years old?” “Are they well-read, do they know how to process data? “Do they know how to question the veracity “of what is supposedly the truth that has been put in front of them?” “Are they engaged in their communities?” “Do they know something about the world that they live in potentially beyond the thing that they might do for a living?” “Are they people who are curious for their entire lives to learn more and to constantly process and communicate and constantly grow?” I think the litmus test of a great education and hopefully those up there coming to Middlebury. I want you to call me on your 59th birthday, and I want you to say, “Sam, I turned out really interesting and really cool because I studied the humanities at Middlebury college, and thank you!” And we’ll say, “Hey, no problem!” “That’s what we’re here for.” So “Spotlight on the Humanities” tonight, you know, I think no matter what you major in, whether it is the humanities themselves, and there are certainly a million things one can do with a humanities education from Middlebury College, or whether you just would like to learn more about how the humanities are taught here. Even if you don’t yet know what you want to study. That’s what we’re here to talk about this evening. So thanks again for joining us; a couple of quick notes. If you have questions during our Q and A section, which will happen in about 20 or 25 minutes, you can please put them in the Q and A section, but not in the chat. And you should all know that there will be, we have a number of students in the background who will be answering your questions in that Q and A. So if we don’t get to all questions live, we do have people answering them, in the background and apologies in advance. If we can’t quite get to get to all of them. Okay I should do what, I should be quiet because you’re not really here to listen to me. So without any further ado, we’re gonna hand it over to three professors first and then three students after that. And so I’m delighted to introduce Marion Wells to you all, and thanks again.

- Still muted Marion.

- Let me start that again, right now that I’m unmuted. Welcome to everyone. It’s a real pleasure to be speaking to so many people about the humanities. I’m Marion Wells. as Sam said, since last year, I’ve been the Co-Director of the Axinn Center for the Humanities. I’m also a professor at the English and American Literatures Department, and I’m affiliated with Comparative Literature and Gender Sexuality and Feminist Studies. And my remit this evening is to talk briefly about humanities most broadly at Middlebury, to try and give an overview of, there’s a big picture of humanities. So I’ll quickly do that. And then I’ll also say a few words about the English American Literatures Department. So humanities at Middlebury, I think one of the things that makes Middlebury actually genuinely unique, although that word is often overused, I think it’s actually true in relation to Middlebury’s humanities offerings. We have a, not just a huge range of departments and programs, 25 departments and programs are listed under the humanities umbrella, including languages, English, History, History of Art, Food Studies and so on. But we also have a kind of Humanities diaspora that would include Bread Loaf School of English that Sam was just referring to. We offer a summer Master’s Program at Bread Loaf every summer, but Middlebury undergraduates can apply to take courses as part of Bread Loaf; that School of English is associated with writer’s conferences, including a high school writers conference. We also have on campus, we are host to the New England Review, which is a very well-regarded literary journal, which showcases innovative original work. And actually also provides opportunities for undergraduates; who are involved in proofreading, organizing readings, involved in selection process. And then off campus, we have several humanities abroad programs; one at Oxford, the Middlebury CMRs Oxford Humanities Program that has been run by Middlebury since 2014. We also have Middlebury’s renowned Schools Abroad; language schools abroad offering instruction in 10 languages and 16 countries, I believe. And then during the summer, the language summer schools at Middlebury, where we teach 12 languages, including most recently Abenaki, that was just added last summer. So there’s a really broad range of different kinds of humanities fields and programs offered at Middlebury, that will engage you here on campus, but also in these very different elements abroad. I also wanted to say a quick word with my Co-Director Febe Armanios in history, we wrote a report about humanities and humanities at Middlebury last summer and placing Middlebury humanities in a national perspective. And one of the things I want to say, is how important humanities training is for employers. If you go to, there are a couple of really important major recent reports that show that employers are looking for in particular; communication skills, writing skills, presentation skills, critical thinking skills, which is central to humanities education at Middlebury. Similarly, there was a recent report in 2019 that showed that humanities graduates under 35 do actually very well, even better than their counterparts in coming out of other programs in terms of finding employment. So this is one aspect of the humanities narrative that I think is important to address. Really quickly, I think I also lined up to say a quick word about my own department, which is the English and American Literatures Department. So a couple of things to emphasize here, we offer both a focus on literary history, and an awareness of the development of the fields within a global perspective, including study of race and ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and other related fields. We also have a creative writing program housed within ENAM in some schools, it’s a separate program, but for us, it’s part of the English Department. So if you major in English and American Literatures, you can choose to do what we call the literature concentration, or a creative writing concentration. And your requirements will be a little different depending on which of those you choose. So I don’t know how long I’ve spoken, but I’m probably out of time, but I’m happy to come back later and answer any questions about any of those things. Thank you.

- Thank you Professor Wells, and we’ll hand it over to Professor Stefano Mula. Thank you.

- Thank you, Sam. Welcome everybody, my name is Stefano Mula. I teach in the Italian Department; where I’m also the chair and I’m the director of the Linguistics of the Comparative Short Program. And I’m also affiliated with Linguistics Program. I’ve been at Middlebury for close to 19 years right now. So for a long time, and I’ve always been in the Italian Department. Sam had an introduction saying some of the stereotypes about majoring in the humanities. One stereotype of the majoring in a language is that you only learn a language. Actually, that’s really not the case. We are parts, we teach nine, 10 languages here in Middlebury depending on, we also teach sign language in a J-Term. So languages certainly is something that we do. However, we are Languages, Cultures and Leadership Departments. We cover many different topics, such as, say migration or cinema, identity, landscape. We offer a variety of courses in all our departments and programs. One of their strengths is really that our professors are all both scholars, and very often also authors, writers, creators. We have small classrooms. We really take care of students who will learn not only the language, but how to communicate in the language. They will learn cultural competency. And most of all, which is a skill that is highly in need these times; they will learn how to understand the text, how to deal with texts that are full of falsehoods. They will be able to navigate say in the web or in the political realm. To give you a quick idea of what our students do after graduating in LCL Department; such as Italian. Some of my students are now PhD students in Ivy League universities. Some of them are international lawyers. Some of them are economists traveling all the world, by using the skills in Italian that they learned here, others are physicists or multimedia storytellers. So we have a strength. We have a connection with our students from the past. In a few days, I have a student who is now working with the Posse in New York, coming to talk to my class on Italian Identity about Black Italians. And so we have a great connection, a great network. And I think that our strengths are really clear from what our students do next. And I’m happy to answer all your questions.

- Thank you. We’ll hand it over to our third professor; Professor Ellery Foutch, rhymes with ouch couch, as I’m told. So a nice poem. See, I do write poetry, nice poem for you to remember although I didn’t write that. A reminder out there that we do have people answering the Q and A even while we’re speaking. So if you do have questions, you don’t have to hesitate to put them right in the Q and A, we’ve got people ready to go, Professor Foutch.

- Great. Thanks Sam. Yes, my name’s Ellery Foutch, and that amps at the bottom, refers to the Program in American Studies where I teach here at Middlebury. And I’ve been asked to speak briefly to the place of interdisciplinarity in the humanities and at Middlebury in particular. And as a representative from an interdisciplinary department, American Studies, seriously examines the history, literature and culture broadly writ of the United States, from magazines, advertisements, and popular music, or the role of sports in American culture to kind of the loftiest intellectual traditions and analysis. For me, I earned my PhD in the History of Art. And so at Middlebury, I teach classes on the art and material culture of the United States. And I’ll say a little more about that. My primary research project is about 19th century ideas about perfection and its preservation, from an obsessive butterfly collector, butterflies fun factor known as the Perfect State of the insect because they go through that really visible metamorphosis. So an obsessive butterfly collector to a late 19th century bodybuilder known as the Perfect Man. So perfection from butterflies to bodybuilders. And that carries over in my, in the courses I teach, where we talk about histories of natural history. For example, when students research the institutional history and the cultural significance of specimens housed in the Biology or Geology Departments. I teach a class about History of Museums and Museum Controversies, which each week brings something new. And classes about wide variety of things of class on American bodies at the moment, which in the time of COVID is especially pressing, the vulnerability of our bodies. One thing I love about interdisciplinarity and these kinds of interdisciplinary topics, is that it allows us to think expansively, creatively and critically about issues across spans of time and space. So for example, this week in my class on American Literature and Culture prior to 1830, which is a key course in the American Studies major. We talked about Paul Revere’s, engraving of the Boston Massacre, British representations of the Boston Tea Party and representations of and attitudes towards protest then and now. So I think Middlebury makes for such a wonderful place to think about these connections across history and in our own lives and their significance. So thank you.

- Thank you all, we’re gonna now turn to three student voices, best way to get to know any College, is to pick the brain of its students. And so here we go. First up, we’ll have Hawa Adam.

- Good evening everyone, I’m really excited to be here. My name is Hawa Adam. I am a junior this year, a Black Studies major, Global Health minor. I use she, her, her, pronouns. Today I’m just gonna talk a little bit about my major and then a little bit about my extracurriculars and things that I’ve done on campus. So in terms of my major, I’m a Black Studies major. So a lot of what we focus on is just the study of Black people, their history, their culture, sociology, and religion. Something really interesting about my major is that it’s fairly new. Actually the first program just got implemented last year and I was privileged enough to take the first intro course that was offered. A lot of the major questions that we’re trying to answer through these courses, I’ve gotten an opportunity to do through several different courses. The one that I’m particularly enjoying this semester is African Cinema. It’s a new lens into looking into my major, that’s not traditionally humanities, I guess. At least for me, cause I’ve taken a lot of writing courses; writing intensive courses. So I’m very interested in film and media culture as it relates to my major. I guess, in terms of extracurriculars that I’ve done related to my major and otherwise, I was the president of UMOJA, which is the African organization on campus. So I’ve had a lot of opportunity to kind of work with Black, African, and non African communities on campus to try to bring them together through conversations about the diaspora. I’ve also done J-Term, which is like the winter course that Middlebury does; abroad twice now. So I’ve gone to Jamaica my freshman year. So I’ve had an opportunity to kind of learn about the Black experience there as well as I’ve done an internship down, like a service internship down in Ghana. So I had an opportunity to also interact with the Black community down there. So I’ve had a lot of array of experiences related to my major. So I’m happy to talk more about that.

- Thanks so much, going next to Ben Beese.

- Hi, I’m Ben, I’m a senior Feb. So that means I’ll graduate in February of 2022. I’m a history major. I did not come into Middlebury, thinking I’d be a history major. Professor Foutch mentioned sort of interdisciplinarity. I definitely came in with a sort of wide stretch of interests. And I think what really caught my attention was a particular class that I took sophomore year, which I think is worth pointing out because this was a 400 level seminar. And I think it’s one of the sort of hidden gems of especially the humanities departments cause they’re similar in a lot of them. These seminars are around 16 people or so they meet once a week for a couple of hours and there you really dive into a text or an idea and discuss it with your classmates as much or more than you’re actually discussing with your professor. And this one I took sophomore year was called Modernity and Its Critique. And it was the history of the idea of modernity. And it just opened my eyes to the way that history can be used as sort of a interpretive tool to understand the world and what’s going on now. And what, the world has looked like at different places and points in history. So I’ve been running with that. I still talk with that professor, who’s now my major advisor, a lot of the same questions. And then I spent all of my junior year at the Middlebury Oxford Program, which is, as you can imagine, one of the best places to study history, you know, you could hope for. And so I think since freshman year I’ve gone on this sort of journey from being interested in kind of everything to now being, not only at a full-blooded humanities lover, but also realizing that, it’s still very interdisciplinary. So I’ve taken a bunch of languages and a bunch of other classes and pulled them all into this sort of historical understanding. And then I guess the only other thing I’d throw in is, we also have a lot of; I would say humanities sort of extracurriculars. I liked to write, I discovered here that I like to write. So I’ve been writing for The Campus newspaper this year. I’ve gotten a group of people that we’ve kind of started forming our own semi-intellectual magazine, but there’s also at least one literary magazine, a travel writing magazine yet a wide range of publications that people get involved with, which I think is part of that sort of vibrancy, of having a humanities discussion across campus and across different disciplines.

- Thanks, Ben. And we’ll turn now to our final panelist, before we open it up to just full Q and A. So Fayza Shammin, the mic is yours.

- Hi, everyone. I’m Fayza, I am representing the Film Department here, but technically I’m a film and psychology double major. I’m the class of 2020.5, which means most of the peers that I call, my closest cohort have actually graduated already. So this is my last semester and I’ll be graduating in almost five weeks. So this is, I mean, I feel like I’ve had a long time here and a great time here. So when I first decided to be a film major, I always knew coming into Middlebury and psychology was sort of what came later. But for film, I was concerned between picking a larger state school that would be vocational or a more industrial program than something that small liberal arts and may not be as specified. And I was very happy once I came at Preview Days and I spoke to several professors who have now become so many of my favorite people and mentors during my time here. And they have a lot of opportunities to really design the major in the way that you see is best fit for you. So we have the theory track and we have the production track. My favorite course during my time here has actually been screenwriting two. It challenged me the most in that course, it’s an upper level screenwriting course, you write a feature length film and you rewrite it and then you finish it. And you have essentially this giant manuscript that you can then enter into, screenwriting competitions, etcetera, and try and get funded to make a project. And then in terms of some of my extracurriculars, that I’ve done here, I would say I’m very lucky. I have really melted away in many ways. So I worked for the Film Department. I actually also worked for the 3D animation studio on campus. I’ve done internships in L.A. and internships in remote production companies for mindset TV, and like across the continent of Africa. I’ve worked on professor films with local actors and directors and had a lot of really fun projects during my time here. But yeah, my heart is out with all of you because I’m in the grad school circuit right now. So I was literally attending one of these conferences and eager to ask questions. So I think we should transition right into that.

- Well, thank you all. As we transition into the Q and A section, here I’m talking and sharing my screen at the same time, which is hard for me to do, but I’d like to put everybody’s names and contact information up on the screen. So the folks out there can see it. Can you see this information? I just want to say as one of the admissions people who helped admit the three of you. I am so convinced that you are all going to be, very interesting, 59-year-olds, and I’m really excited about it! And you know, you’re passing, my litmus test in a big way. So thank you again, all of us, all of you for joining us, I will…

Life at Middlebury

Admissions Wednesday Webinars: Student Life at Middlebury

Middlebury College is a distinctive, energetic, and welcoming community characterized by strong relationships, a deeply supportive residential experience, and rich opportunities for campus involvement. Meet some of the staff and students who will help you make the most of your time beyond the classroom.

- Welcome, everyone. My name is Steve Zatarain. I am an admissions counselor at Middlebury College. Thank you all for being here for our fourth Wednesday Webinar. This is the Student Life Webinar. And this is a webinar that’s near and dear to my heart as someone who was formally part of student life, so I’m excited to welcome you all. We will have a chance to talk about different parts of student life. Up top, I’d like to put out that student life is a very broad topic, and there’s lots of information, lots of different pieces there, and we have some amazing experts who have joined us, who will have a chance to share their experiences and their roles on campus and how they plugged into student life. But I wanna recognize that we won’t be able to cover everything, so we will have a chance to do some questions and answers after we go around introducing ourselves and the ways in which we’ve been involved with student life, but also wanna recognize we’ll try to get to as many questions as possible, but I’m inviting y’all to please provide your questions in the Q&A box in the feature here. We’ll attempt to respond to those both in a combination of live, so from the panelists and also from a couple of folks who are working behind the scenes, so you’ll see a few written responses as well. But, yeah, so I’m excited to talk to y’all a little bit about student life. As I mentioned, this is near to me because formerly, before my role in admissions, I worked as a residential director, working closely with folks as a live-in staff person, and I’ve seen all the amazing work that all these folks who will be talking today have plugged in, been involved with, or somehow involved in supporting our students on campus. So I’m excited to kind of get involved and hear what people have to say about the various ways that folks are engaging in student life. So, yeah, I think that’s all I have to say before we get started, and I’m hoping that you are challenging yourselves and asking vulnerable questions ‘cause, really, we’re hoping to get to all those questions as possible, ‘cause what you put into this is what you get. So to kind of kick us off in talking about student life, I’d like to introduce Matt Longman. Matt?

- Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Matt Longman. I’m one of the student deans at Middlebury, and it’s an honor to have a chance to share some time with you this afternoon. A little bit about myself personally, I actually attended Middlebury long ago in a galaxy called the 1980s, and I’ve been a dean at Middlebury for the past 25 years. It’s really an honor to have a chance to support and work with our amazing students here at the college. It’s also an honor to work with the fantastic array of colleagues, including both staff and faculty members whom I have the chance to share in close work with every day. I’m gonna tell you just briefly about the student life dean position at the college because it is fairly unique. I think when you look at other schools, I don’t think a lot of other schools necessarily have what we have, but just to explain, there are four student life deans, and when you matriculate at Middlebury College, you are assigned to one of the four deans, and that’s a relationship that you will sustain for all of your time at the college and beyond. And I say “and beyond” because one of the absolute joys of my life is I’m in touch with many alums who are now 20 years out of Middlebury, and I’m still able to support them, listen, follow them in their amazing journeys, and sometimes write really good letters of recommendation for their grad school applications or serve as a reference. But what I would like to share with you as you’re thinking about Middlebury is what I emphasized before, is this is an amazing community of people who are truly dedicated to the work that they’re doing. I am honored every day to work with the amazing array of colleagues that I work with. And part of the role of the dean, students will meet with the dean personally. In these days, it’s taking place a lot by a Zoom and phone call or email, but however the communication starts, my primary role is to bring active, compassionate listening to whatever a student is choosing to share with me, and then I’m very well versed in the array of resources the college has to support a student. So I can give you just a snapshot of the past 24 hours. I’m working with one student to help, hopefully, bolster his financial aid package. I’m talking with student athletes whose seasons have just been canceled, and they’re trying to figure out whether they’re gonna come to Middlebury at all, whether they might declare remote learner status. I’m in touch with students overseas who are concerned that their embassy might not open, and they might not be able to come to Middlebury. My role is essentially to bring close, caring listening and attention to each individual student and to make sure that that student is going to get the full support of the institution as best as it can offer it. I also wanna give a shout out to our faculty members. And whereas at a lot of other college campuses, I think there is a real divide between student and student life or student affairs and faculty, at Middlebury, we truly have a collaborative culture here, and one of the joys of my typical working day during the academic year is I’ll be working with a student who has met with a really challenging circumstance, and that student really needs some real support and understanding, and sometimes even some academic relief from what the academic schedule for that day or that week might suggest. And as a dean, I’m often able to help convey that to the faculty members of that student without having to disclose the particulars of what the student is dealing with. And in every case that I can recollect from last year, whenever I’ve reached out in support of one of my students, the response from the faculty members has been compassionate, fair, supportive, and the students have been provided with a really needed and timely flex in their schedule. So I guess that’s all I’m gonna say for now, but thank you all for joining us. And I just want to say, finally, I appreciate that nothing feels quite normal right now to any of us, ourselves included, and I really appreciate that for you, the process of determining which institution is gonna your best fit, I think like everything right now, there’s just a lot more complexity to that picture, so we all welcome the questions that you have for us, and we’ll do our best to answer them as best as we can. Thanks.

- Thank you so much, Matt. Appreciate that. I wanna hone in on one piece that you shared, kind of linking us to our next panelist. Thinking about the layers of support, right? I think something that stands out to me about Middlebury are the layers of support, and I think a lot about the Residential Life team. So Francois, do you mind kicking us off and telling us a little bit about yourself?

- Yeah, of course. I actually just wanna start by saying thank you for having me on this panel. I think one of my favorite things about being at Middlebury is just how supportive everyone is, and so being able to share my experience about that. I guess, my name’s Francois Niyigena. I’m a rising senior. I’m a little bit scared about that and also excited, I guess. I am doing a double major in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in education studies. I’ve served on the Residential Life team as a first-year counselor for the last two years, and that’s been really, really important to me because I remember coming in my first year and just being so confused about everything and getting lost all the time, like finding my classes and coming from a place where I’m not used to winter and everything, and I just felt like I had so much adjusting to do. But then I had a really supportive… I had two supportive FYCs, or first-year counselors, on my hall. And also just living with people who I felt were really caring, but because we had first-year counselors that really supported us in building a community. And I think one of my fondest memories, like, towards the beginning of winter, I obviously was still learning to find the right winter gear and all that, and then I think I was coming from class, then I get to my room and on my door there was a winter hat and winter gloves. And those were from the people in my hall and my first-year counselors, so it just made me cry. I was like, this is so nice, just being in a community where people genuinely care about you. And then, I remember, I think when we were doing class registrations, I think my computer died or something like that, and I couldn’t, like, I was struggling with registering for classes, and it was like 6:00 A.M., but I went to my first-year counselor. I was like, “I really need help. My computer crashed.” And he had to wake up and help me register for my classes. So for me having experiences like that really inspired me to want to do the same for other incoming first years, and so it’s just really been an honor, being able to live with my residents and help them in navigating college, and finding the resources that they need, and organizing community building activities, and seeing them become friends. So that’s been a huge part of my experience at Middlebury. And then I’ve also been involved in, I guess, other student life activities, like student clubs. I’ve been involved with Language in Motion. That is a language and culture exchange program with the community schools. And I’m also a changemaker at the Center of Creativity and Innovation. I’m also a BOLD Scholar, a BOLD Women’s Scholar, and I also co-founded a student organization, Middleground, that is just kind of brings together people from different backgrounds, different cultures, to share and learn from each other. But, yeah, I’m really excited to be part of today’s panel.

- Awesome. Francois, Just really quickly, can you describe what being a BOLD Scholar means?

- Yes, so every year, a group of, I think, about seven or eight girls that show passion in leadership, community engagement are selected, and we have access to funding to do all kinds of innovative projects, if you want to, or we meet other women leaders, and it’s supposed to be personal development, leadership development program too, as well as getting access to funding and other resources that we need in order to thrive.

- Thank you so much. Appreciate you sharing that. So when I think a lot about student life, it’s just like how multifaceted it is, right? There’s different pieces there. There’s different pieces that students are walking to campus with and thinking about. I know something that… I see many students, too many students I worked with, were thinking hard about, “How can I be supported in different realms when I’m going to a new place that looks very different from the place I grew up with?” Or, “How do I find community again or engage one more time in a new distinct way that feels meaningful for me when I’m thinking about the college/university I’m thinking hard about considering?” So I’d like to invite Saifa to talk a little bit about your role on campus, the role of supporting students, maybe a little bit about the Scott Center.

- Thanks, Steve. I’m thankful to being here. And my full name is Saifa Hussain. I work as a Muslim chaplain and interfaith advisor, and I work under the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life. It’s a office right next to the admissions, actually. And, essentially, chaplaincy, people always ask, “What is a chaplain? What do chaplains do exactly.” No one can quite figure it out. But we’re basically caregivers, we’re ritual leaders, we’re advocates. And so the Scott Center tries to create an atmosphere that’s open to religious faith, our spiritual practice, or even just personal growth that not necessarily has to do much with religion or spirituality. In fact, secular worldviews are included in the umbrella of interfaith. So what chaplains do is pastoral care and counseling, so that means helping talking to people that might be dealing with emergent issues like grief, crisis, illness, but even just having friendly conversations. And we’re different from counselors in that we can follow up with students, whereas a counselor there’s a little bit more, there are some formalities and strict delineations of when and where you can talk to people. But with chaplains, we’re a little bit, it’s a little bit more casual. And so we have a different programming. We have weekly programming, like a tea time where we just have tea, and the whole point of it is to not do anything except have tea. It’s kind of creating a counterculture to the culture of busyness, you know? Just being present, just chilling with each other. We also have weekly meditations. And then we oversee student religious organizations or student spiritual organizations. So I work closely with the Muslim Student Organization on campus, the MSA. We have a plethora of religious and spiritual organizations, various Christian groups, a Jewish group, a Buddhist group, a couple of contemplative practice groups, et cetera, et cetera. Also, I work as an advisor to the Mosaic Interfaith House. So the Interfaith House is essentially an intentional community on campus. It’s a Special Interest House, which some of you might have questions or are learning about, but, you know, basically you live together kind of with a certain intention in mind, and ours, the Mosaic House, is about living with people of different worldviews. So we have people of religious, different, various religious backgrounds, secular backgrounds, living together under one roof, sharing space, and we meet once a week talking about important issues, but also even just figuring out what is, what are we gonna, what kind of food is gonna be allowed in the kitchen, and what works for everyone, and just kind of setting community standards. And I’m really pleased. We have a former resident at the Interfaith House, Chima, who I’ll invite to… Hopefully we’ll speak a little bit more about that and other programming at the Scott Center.

- Thank you, yeah. Hi, my name is Chima Dimgba. I’m gonna be a senior this fall, and I’m a psychology major. I lived in the Interfaith House last year, and can speak a little bit about Special Interest House and the Mosaic House. So the Interfaith House was a group that you selected to be into, so you applied to live there. So everyone that lived there intentionally chose to live with each other, to have a diverse range of cultures combining into one, and I think one of the greatest parts about it was it was a conscious community where people were so diverse, and bringing that all together, differences, were welcomed. It was a genuine family where we came in not really knowing a lot of people there, and we left caring deeply, and actually asking, “How are you? Good or bad.” And you would sit and talk about things. It was really… It demonstrates the type of community I think we have at Middlebury, where people care about what you’re doing. People care about how you’re doing. People are supportive. At our house, we’d visit each other’s plays and activities and sporting events. We’d work out together. Our big thing was cooking. We would eat odd food that we’d make together, just sharing and community, and do homework together. It’s a something small that when you leave home, you’re looking for that community, you’re looking for your new home, and new people to build into that. Interfaith House is one example of a type of community that fosters that type of positive environment. I’m also just involved with kind of everything the Scott Center has to offer. I think something… I walked into the living room of the Scott Center, which is this beautiful old home and has a fireplace, and it’s just a very comforting place where you can be yourself, and the other people there are really just kind, genuine people, that you’ll see anywhere on campus, but it’s nice to have a designated space for conscious dialogue and love and support. And there are also things like the Meditation Wednesdays, where there’s like a pause in between the middle of the week and the middle of the day to reflect and to listen to poetry, or someone plays music, bringing in joys and concerns and lighting them, like a little candle, and people are just, are present in different ways than the busyness and the hard work that Middlebury is known for, but it’s also nice to see the softer underbelly that Middlebury really develops, that people are there to support each other, and hear about each other, and lift each other up.

- Thank you so much. I think you captured something that’s very difficult to put into words. So thank you so much, Chima. I really appreciate that. Looking ahead, something people are always thinking about is how do I start my college experience? Where does that begin? So I’m gonna invite Kristy to talk a little bit about your role on campus.

- Awesome. Thank you for having me here. As Steve said, my name’s Kristy Carpenter. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I am the assistant director for Residential Life with the focus on new student experiences and residential education. This is heading into my fourth year here at Midd, so I guess this is my senior year that I’ll be starting here. Excited, nervous, all of the above. No, so, for me, I also, like Steve, previously served as a residence director, so one of the professional staff members that lives in on campus, works really closely with students and student support, and that direct connection between folks and building community. And so for me in my new role, a big part of it is I think collaboration across departments with different teams. I’m working really closely with our orientation team and Middview folks to really help folks start off on the right foot. And I think about what drew me to Residence Life in the beginning, both as a student and then eventually as a professional staff member, is looking for that connection, looking for that sense of community. I know when I went to college, I was like, “How do you do this?” There is no how to college. And kind of understanding a lot of the resources and things that were there. For me, I found those answers, I found that support, often in mentors, like peer mentors, upperclassmen that took me under their wing, explained how the dining hall works, where to find affordable books, all of that stuff. And so I think a lot of what we do within Residence Life and also setting that up from the start in orientation is really building that connection and creating opportunities for folks to get to know each other, to get to explore themselves a little bit, and who they are, and who they wanna be when they’re coming into a new community, but also creating those mentorship roles, whether it’s with your Middview or orientation leaders. So getting that firsthand knowledge from folks who’ve been there, who’ve been in your place, who are navigating being away from home for the first time, or maybe many times. How do you make new friends? Maybe you haven’t had to do that since you entered school. And so a lot of those things that I think are skills, but things that we don’t always think about, or we don’t learn in a classroom, and so I think within orientation, we build in and create opportunities for folks to connect, to reflect, and, hopefully, build some of those lifelong relationships, and explore Middlebury and what it has to offer. Kind of in my other realm of Res Life, we do that work, kind of picking up where orientation leaders lay that foundation in thinking about, how do we continue that? What does that look like in floors with our awesome FYCs? So our first year counselors. How do our RDs, or our residence directors, create opportunities for folks to get to know each other, maybe step outside their comfort zone, maybe learn some things that they haven’t had to. So I think Res Life is often a little bit of a catchall. Like, we’re here. If you have any sort of question, much like the deans as well, our Residential Life staff professionals and Res Life staffers are within first-year communities, and all of our communities, really, but offices are within first-year communities. So it’s always a place if you have a simple question, like, “How do you do laundry?” or something bigger , like, “How do I email a professor to ask about an extension? I’m just not sure.” So it’s a little bit of everything, but our goal is to really be there and help provide that support to walk you through it, to help you build those skills, so that way, eventually, you might be in that role as a peer leader helping other folks, new students in our community do that as well. So I think Res Life, I think about it as a lot of being that connector. We’re part of the larger support network here at campus, but we’re also understanding what folks need and how do we best support them and get them connected or plugged into other activities, other resources on campus, things that will fuel their passions and their development, both personally and, I think, interpersonally within our community.

- Thank you, Kristy. And Alex, I’m gonna round it out with you. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with student life right now?

- Yeah, first of all, thanks for having me here. It’s a pleasure to be here today in the Zoom world. A little bit about myself real quick. I am Alex Gemme. I use he/him pronouns. I’m from Hastings on Hudson, New York. I am going to be a senior this year, as scary as it is to say that. On campus, I’m involved in certain activities. Club Tennis. I’m a tour guide. Over the winter time, I’m a snowboard instructor. I’m pretty involved with the Mountain Club. In terms of academics, I am studying molecular biology and biochemistry and minoring in French, and I’m on the pre-med track. But this summer I’ve been interning as one of our Middview interns, and Middview’s another name for orientation. So I’ve been in a lot of Zoom meetings with Kristy, who was just speaking, and we’ve just been working really hard to create a really fun orientation program to welcome you all to school this fall or in February. And something that’s been really exciting for me this summer is that, obviously, it’s been challenging because everything is so different, but everybody’s really embraced that challenge, and everybody’s still really excited. The team that we work together with is a lot of staff members, but also students as well, and so it’s really cool to be in a meeting where people whose job is to design the orientation turn to students and say, like, “Hey, what do you think about this idea? What’s the student perspective on that?” So it’s really great to have this interaction between both real adults and students working together to design orientation. And something else that I love about orientation that’s come through this summer is just how stoked leaders are. We usually have about 120-ish, or maybe even more, leaders who volunteer each year. They’re returning students, and they had a lot of fun during orientation, and they wanna welcome all of you to school. And so we’ve been in touch with them throughout the summer, and it’s just it’s so fun to see how excited they are to get to know all of you. And you don’t know them yet, they don’t know you yet, but they’re so excited to welcome new students to Middlebury, and so that makes working for orientation really fun for me. Thank you.

- Thank you, Alex. Appreciate you sharing that. And people are so excited to welcome the new class. All right, with that, I’m gonna give us a couple seconds to kinda take a breather before we transition into the question and answer portion. I just wanna say thank you to all the folks who, excuse me, sorry. Thank you to all the folks who were here as panelists. I just wanna put up everyone’s names to recognize folks. Thank you all also much. We really appreciate it. So I’m gonna.

Diverse Experiences

The Middlebury experience is different for everyone. We strive for an inclusive campus where all students can find support and community. Learn more about how students from underrepresented backgrounds engage and navigate Middlebury.

- And thanks for tuning in today. My name is Maria Nava and I use she her pronouns. I am one of the admissions counselors at Middlebury, and I am an alum class of 2018. Thanks for joining us today to our webinar diverse experiences. We have a wonderful group of panelists that are here to share with you, anecdotes and resources for typically underrepresented students in higher education. I am very excited to this panel as someone who has worked very closely with our intercultural center and our first generation support systems. As we get started, I do wanna take some time to honor and protect the history of those who have contributed to our land before we were here. Middlebury college sits on land belonging to the Abenaki nation. And we have all contributed and been complicit in the colonization of indigenous land. I also want to acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected black, indigenous and communities of color. I also wanna take a moment to denounce the inexcusable violence towards black people in this country through police brutality and violence against Black Lives Matter protesters. Middlebury is working on anti-racism by piloting an inclusive practitioners program where staff and faculty are invited to participate in workshops around anti racism as an everyday practice. And another step towards anti-racism, students, alumni, faculty, and staff directed more than $46,000 to Black Lives Matter, The Innocence Project, Equal Justice Initiative, ACLU Vermont, and the Rutland area, and the NAACP this past summer. The office of Institutional Diversity Equity and Inclusion continues to work on developing a five year strategic plan with a goal of fostering antiracist work. Structural inequity will not be solved in singular institutional actions, but these are hopefully steps forward. Please continue to think about what you can do in your own journey of anti racism and take this acknowledgement from Middlebury college admissions as our progress towards anti-racism. I do wanna remind folks also to make sure you type in your questions in the Q&A box throughout our presentation, and we will get to as many questions as we can during our time together. I will also be sending a link in the chat regarding our virtual flying program for underrepresented students in higher education. And with all of that said, I will now hand it over to Roberto to get us started.

- Got to unmute. The day of zoom is a strange time indeed. My name is Roberto Lint Sagarena. I’m a professor of American studies and the Director of Intercultural programs. And in that capacity, I direct the Anderson Freeman Intercultural Center with Janae and have done so since it was established six years ago. I’ve been at Middlebury for 11 years, having moved here from Los Angeles, where I taught in the Ethnic Studies Department at the university of Southern California. So the Anderson Freeman center is named after Mary Annette Anderson and Martin Freeman, two of the first alums of color in Middlebury in the late 1800s. It takes up all of Carr hall. It’s a three story building that’s located in the heart of campus. There was recently a space study done of campus, and it turned out that carr hall is exactly at the crossroads of where everybody goes and uses the campus. So we’re really right at the center of things. And we provide support for all of the campuses cultural organizations and their programming. We have regular workshops with all sorts of units on campus, like in house writing, tutoring, library liaison, careers and internship advice, and a number of other programs. But above all the Anderson Freeman center is an affinity space for students of color, first gen students. And that means the first in their family to go to college. LGBTQ+ students and students who have been historically underrepresented in American higher education. So at base, I think what I’d like to convey is that it’s a place to feel at home. And I don’t mean that to say that the campus isn’t welcoming, it’s a remarkably friendly place, but the AFC supports a community largely of students of color coming from more urban and less white spaces, helping them feel like they have a home base in rural Vermont. With the addition of Janae last year, we launched and continue to grow our LGBTQIA+ programs. She’ll speak to that momentarily. And Lizzie Friesen, our VISTA volunteer and recent alumni, will speak about our robust programming around first gen students. During the course of the year, we have all kinds of things going on. This is during a normal school year, this year will be a challenge and different, but we look forward to returning to things like community dinners, stress busters around exam times and all sorts of community building exercises that are centered there in carr hall. I’m gonna turn it over to Janae, but before I do, I just want to say that, please reach out to us with any questions or concerns about the community here at Middlebury. We’re very straight shooters. And we’re also more than happy to share what our resources are and how we can help you feel at home at Middlebury. So with that I’ll turn to Janae.

- Hey everyone, my name is Janae Due. My pronouns are she, her, hers. And I am the assistant director of the Anderson Freeman resource center. I originally… Well, I grew up in Wisconsin. I don’t know what I was trying to say there, but I grew up in Wisconsin. And I lived in the Midwest all my life until I moved to Middlebury last September. So I’ve worked at Middlebury college for almost a year now. And I work at the AFC as the primary person doing programming and support for LGBTQIA+ students. So if you have any questions about student organizations, we have queers and allies, queer and trans people of color, the trans affinity space and A space, which is an A sexuality initiative. So if you have any questions about those organizations, please let me know. Otherwise I’m also on the LGBTQ resource center task force, which is a task force, getting ready to figure out how we can potentially have an LGBTQ center on campus. It’s in its early days and phases, but that is something that I’m working on. I’m also part of the community bias response team or CBRT, which is a group of faculty, staff and students who get together weekly to talk about any bias reports that have been put in into campus. So we can discuss how we can combat those and have fruitful conversation to combat bias on campus. So yes, I will now turn it over to Lizzie.

- Hi everyone, my name’s Lizzie. I use she, her hers pronouns, and I am a 2020 graduate of Middlebury first gen graduate. And I am also the AmeriCorps VISTA at the AFC this year. And so I wanna say that as a first generation student at Middlebury, it was difficult sometimes. Sometimes I felt like I was out of the loop and everybody else knew what was going on, and I just like, didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. But then I found the first gen community through the AFC and I gained a new sense of belonging and met people that I was able to relate to over shared experiences and also realized that each first gen student has their own journey of how they got here. And it was always a privilege and is always a privilege to meet other first gen students. And so I got involved in this community through First@ Midd. It’s the orientation program for incoming first gen students. And it’s designed to foster that sense of mutual support and community and friendship among students who are first gen. And I’m so glad I participated in the program because a lot of the people I met in that program are good friends of mine now and I learned a lot about the resources that are available to me on campus that I might not have otherwise used. So… And I enjoyed it so much that I decided to come back after graduating and help on the team to support First@ Midd. And I’ll also be later on in the year, helping support peer mentoring programs, and I will be around the AFC virtually, but also, you know, potentially a person. And so feel free to reach out with any questions about the experience of being first gen, or the First@ Midd program. And I’ll turn it over to Minori.

- Hello, my name is Minori. I’m a rising senior from New York city. I’m majoring in neuroscience and minoring in global health. And I’m on the premed track. I have been involved with the AFC since my freshman year of college, where I participated in for staff med, like Lizzie just spoke about. And I worked as an office assistant at AFC for the first two years of my college experience. And in junior year I transitioned into a fellow position where I was supporting the peer mentorship program at the AFC. And in my senior year, I will be working again as a fellow, but more supporting students of color and designing and coming up with programming with my team and everyone. And I’m so excited to be a part of that. I have been involved in a few other organizations, like UR-STEM, Women in Health sciences. And I’m a part of a few social houses, but being a woman and a woman of color in STEM is not easy. So if you have any questions about that, definitely let me know.

- Hey guys, my name is Dennis. I’m originally from the Washington DC area, also known as the DMV. So also let me know if you’re from that area. I’m looking for more DC peeps. When I came to Middlebury, I came in as a first gen student. Am the son of Salvadoran immigrants who just didn’t go to college. And for me, I didn’t know much about Vermont, but one thing I did know is that I’m not gonna find a lot of people like me. And that was something that was scary to me coming to Vermont, but I participated in this program and I hope you guys are participating in this too called First@ Midd where I found my first gen community. And it was a good introduction for me into finding a community and being more you know sense attached and more finding the Middlebury community as a whole accessible to me. And finding a group of friends that I could find support from. Though there are larger challenges being a minority in the first gen. In Middlebury one of the things that I saw from these challenges is finding ways of empowering others. You know, finding ways I could take my situation and empower others. So in my freshman year, I worked with the admissions office and launched a program called the student ambassador programs where students go back to their high schools, which are typically rural low income or diverse and present Middlebury as if they were counselors. And it makes it just much more easy for high school students to know more what liberal arts education is. I’ve worked in helping minorities and first gen students find their careers. After Middlebury, I participate in a career focus group called the Middlebury Consulting Group, where we provide consulting services to local Vermont businesses. And as the VP for communications, I’ve been working hard to ensure that minority voices are included, especially in the recruitment, as well as ideas generating how we can improve ensuring that they can have the opportunities to find careers after Middlebury. And lastly, this year I’ll be working with to help citizens on Medicaid find accessible options for healthcare. So if you have any questions about that, please feel free.

- Hello everyone, my name is Glenn Kontor. I’m a rising sophomore at Middlebury. I’m from New York city the Bronx and my intended major is Architecture with a minor in Spanish. Pronouns are he, him, his. Yeah and just as everyone else, I’m a first generation student. I just finished my first year at Middlebury. It definitely was a nerve wracking experience, especially being one of the first in my family to attend higher education. And I did the first half of my program. So like just even before the school year started, I felt like I had a very strong support network and a very strong system in place to help me thrive at Middlebury. Throughout the semester I had many cases of imposter syndrome and just having my peers around me and having… Sorry my alarm went off. And having students who are also in the same boat as me was very encouraging and it felt like I had people to lean on throughout my first year, especially because it’s kinda hard to reach out to your parents because they don’t know exactly what you’re going through. And there might be a bit of disconnect in terms of your coursework or just navigating the college experience ‘cause it’s very different and very taxing, especially when you don’t have like your family to always like be there and understand you. So just having peers and having people who are going alongside it and even having upperclassmen was very, was a very comforting experience because I was able to reach out to them and let them know. And they were able to give me tips because they’ve done it before and they know what exactly I may be struggling with. So I felt like because I had that support network, I had a lot of confidence being on campus and engaging with all the different opportunities that were available to me. I joined a bunch of clubs and I was able to really get a strong sense of the community at Middlebury, especially among the minority community. So I was part of black student union, distinguishment of color, Umoja. And really seeing all these different identities and all these different people in one place really helped me find my place on campus because especially given the context of Middlebury, it may feel like you’re the only one or one of few, but like I remember that first experience when I went to black… like the first blacks union meaning meeting or the first Umoja meeting. You’re just sitting on the grass and just seeing all the different people in front of me, I was like, wow, like where are you guys? Like, I’m looking for you guys. And like we’re all here. So it was really nice to see that like there’s these spaces that are available for students, such as myself to really feel comfortable and really feel vulnerable amongst each other. So I wanted to continue to add to that space. So I was on the first year liaison for distinguishment of color. So I was helping promote and bridge, the connection between distinguishment of color and the first year class, letting them know that again, this is a space for all students and that no matter what your identity is, you can always come and add to the conversation or just come to inform yourself and educate yourself. So I continued to work alongside them and I wanted to take it to the next step and continue to have that type of impact. So this upcoming year I’ll be acting as the president of distinguishment of color and continue to create that space and facilitate that space for other students and provide that same experience that I went through because it was a really nurturing community that I was a part of and I wanna continue to provide that to other students as well.

- Awesome, thank you all so much for sharing. At this point, we will now transition over to the Q&A section of our programming. So make sure you’re submitting those questions in for us so we could get to them. I will also be sharing the contact information of all of our panelists here so that you have it in case you have follow up questions. And that way you can reach out to any of our panelists, myself or the general AFC inbox. So make sure you submit your questions and we will get started there. First question…

Community Engagement and Innovation

Middlebury’s mission encourages students to engage with their communities and creatively address the world’s most challenging problems. Join us for a discussion with staff from the Center for Community Engagement and the Innovation Hub at Middlebury.

- All right, let’s get started. My name is Nial Rele and I work in the Admissions Office. I’m also a Middlebury grad from the class of 2012 and thrilled today to be talking with you about community engagement as well as innovation at Middlebury college. We at Middlebury, so much of what we do, so much of what our students do, stems from our mission statement. To a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives; contribute to their communities; and address the world’s most challenging problems. Two of the ways in which this really manifests at the college is through community engagement as well as innovation. This might happen both inside and outside the classroom, this might happen both on campus and off campus, and it certainly happens during a student’s four years at the college and beyond as well. So we’re joined here today by two offices that have the lion’s share to do with innovation as well as community engagement as it manifests on our campus. One of those offices is the Center for Community Engagement, also known as the CCE, and the other is the Innovation Hub. So I’ll have folks here on our call quickly introduce themselves, starting with EJ.

- Hi, nice to meet you. I am EJ Bartlett and I work for the Innovation Hub.

- Ben.

- Hi, everybody. My name is Ben. I’m a rising senior and I’m an intern at the Innovation Hub as well as an Oratory Now coach and a MiddCORE graduate.

- Francoise. Mute.

- Sorry. Hi, my name is Francoise Niyigena. I’m from Rwanda and this year I’m a senior. I’m doing a double major in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in education studies, and I’m really passionate about education involvement and empowering young people.

- Jason.

- Hey, everybody. My name is Jason Duquette-Hoffman. I’m an assistant director at the Center for Community Engagement here at Middlebury.

- And Tenzin.

- Hi, everyone. My name is Tenzin Dorjee. I’m a recent class of 2020 graduate, but right now I’m serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Center for Community Engagement.

- Wonderful. Thank you for that. So now we’ll pass it on to our panelists to tell you a little bit more about our innovation as well as community engagement.

- Great, thanks Nial. I wanted to first just recognize that we’re all in a little bit of a global pandemic, and I’m sure that you all are coming here with just a lot on your mind, so I appreciate you taking the time to be here. I know a lot has changed for you, and I just wanted to recognize that. I wanted also share that I have two amazing students that have done a lot with the Innovation Hub with me, both Ben and Francoise, and so I’m very lucky to work with both of these students. I am gonna share my screen, and we’re gonna just go through a little bit of our presentation for you all. First and foremost, the Innovation Hub. It is a hub for creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and social impact programming. We work alongside all of the experiential learning centers: the Center for Careers and Internship and the Center for Community Engagement, who Jason represents today. We wanted to break down the Innovation Hub into some buckets that make it a little easier to understand it ‘cause it’s a lot. We offer course credits, so you can take a class at the Innovation Hub. You can take MiddCORE, which is an experiential learning class that happens twice a year, both in January as well as in the summer. You can take Midd Entrepreneurs, which is something that happens in J term. You come to that class with your own ideas. Global Health Minor is also run through the Innovation Hub, and Oratory Acts is actually a PE class that you can take around public speaking. You can also find funding at the Innovation Hub. There’s a pitch competition called MiddChallenge. There’s MiddSTART, which is actually a crowdfunding platform for students, and then Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship. I look forward to hearing what Francoise wants to share about her fellowship. There’s also a space that you can get at the Innovation Hub. Old Stone Mill is what we call it. It can be anything from, “I want a space to paint my paintings,” to, “I have a small business, and I wanna start a small business, and I need space to start that.” We also have a lot of mentorship. Oratory Now is actually coaches from the students, that coach oratory public speaking, and then MiddCORE is actually a class that is taught purely by mentors, so you can take that course, and we have over 50 mentors that come in one month. Midd Entrepreneurs is also mentor-led, and then we even have relationships with Vermont Small Business Development Center. And then the wonderful thing about coming to Middlebury is that Vermont’s a really small state, and so we have a lot of ties and connections to the state to really bring some student ideas to life. And then there’s always events that you can come to and enjoy that the Innovation Hub puts on, so Middlebury TEDx, there’s a scavenger hunt that happens, as well as multiple different speech competitions. But I really wanna have both of our students have a little opportunity to speak, so I’m gonna turn it over to Ben, and he’s gonna share some of his experiences.

- Hi, everybody. So, yeah, I’m gonna talk a little bit more about MiddCORE. Just a little bit more background, so I said I’m a rising senior. I’m an international and global studies major with a focus in Latin American studies and a minor in sociology. And so MiddCORE is, as EJ said, it’s a four-week program that happens twice a year, and basically what happens is mentors who are professionals from all different industries come and take the MiddCORE cohort through a bunch of different activities. You end up doing presentations, you work on public speaking, you’re solving a lot of real-world problems, and it’s really a program to get you out of your comfort zone. As somebody who didn’t know what they wanted to do after Middlebury, it’s really the perfect thing for people in that position. It’s very hard to describe in a short amount of time, but the biggest things for me that were really valuable from it were getting a network of peers. And if you wanna go to the next slide, EJ, you can see a picture of the January 2020 cohort. We were all super close, and I’m still in contact with a lot of them as well as a lot of the mentors who came in to do activities with us. And, yeah, it was super valuable. I guess kind of the biggest thing is putting… In a liberal arts education, you learn a lot of different abstract things, and this was kind of the first chance I had to apply them in a real-world setting. So to give an example, one of our mentors was the vice president at Microsoft, and he said, “Okay, this is a problem that I faced when I was there,” and without telling us how he got through it, he split us into groups and said, “All right, now you guys figure it out.” So kind of real-world scenarios that let you apply your skills. And if you wanna go to the next one, EJ. Thank you. So Oratory Now is a public speaking organization, and I joined it because I was not good at public speaking, and it was kind of the best way to force me to practice. The way it works is a group of students every semester trains to be a coach. We don’t pretend to be experts, it’s a peer coaching organization, but we just learn how to make each other better. And that’s a participant. You can book sessions with a coach. Whether if you have a presentation coming up or you just wanna get better, you can book time with a coach. It’s absolutely free for them to help you work. And then coaches will also come into classrooms. So this in the top-right corner, you’ll see this was an Oratory Now workshop that happened actually during MiddCORE, so there’s a lot of overlap between all the programs, and it’s really a fun way to reframe how you think about public speaking and make it a little bit more bearable, ‘cause a lot of people come in being really terrified of it, and it’s not so bad. So both of these programs were really a way for me to meet people who I probably wouldn’t have come into contact with otherwise and kind of work on life skills that have been super valuable. I still don’t know exactly what I’m gonna to getting out of Midd, but these programs kinda helped me figure out how I’m gonna figure that out, and they were really, really important in seeing how I could apply my skills outside of the classroom. I know Francoise’s got a lot to talk about as well, so I’m gonna let her continue.

- All right. Thank you, Ben. So hi, again, Francoise, and just a quick fun fact. I’m actually calling in from Middlebury College. I’m currently completing my 24-hour room quarantine, and I promise you, it doesn’t always look like this, but I have plenty of time to do my decorations because I’m here alone and waiting for other students to come in the next couple of weeks. So coming into Middlebury, I felt like my, I think my biggest regret from high school was I felt like I wasn’t able to connect what I was learning in the classroom to what I was passionate about and the things I was interested in outside the classroom, and I wanted that to be my experience when I came to college, and so I’m happy today to tell you that I think Middlebury and especially our different experiential learning centers have given me all kinds of opportunities and really way more than I could have ever imagined. So today I’ll share a little bit about some of my experiences, and the first one I… In my freshman summer, I participated in MiddCORE, which EJ and Ben talked about a little bit, but my individual innovative idea was to reform education in Rwanda, and so I was lucky to be supported by a group of really awesome mentors who are also experts in education. When I left that, I really wanted to be able to implement what I had learned and worked on MiddCORE, and so I was looking for funding and more mentorship, and that’s how I learned about the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, which is really competitive, but every sophomore year, they’ll select about seven to eight students. We have access to mentorship and funding of up to $7,000 that you can then use to… A lot of the students who was selected are people who are passionate about leadership, social change, and really having an impact in their communities and have all these good ideas. So we have funding, and we have mentorship, and we’re able to do that. So having access to this funding, I was able to, my sophomore year, lead an enrichment program, you can see, with seven to 12 year olds. And I was connecting that idea to, well, my initial MiddCORE idea on rethinking education, but I wanted to refine that to use what I was learning in my then third class child development, and my enrichment program was in social innovation, emotional intelligence, and cultural immersion, and it was really a great experience. And then at the start of my junior year, I took a class again within the SE Fellowship on social impact and social innovation, and really the idea, the focus was to give us skills and tools and frameworks to be able to become Changemakers. And so using that, I then, within that class, I worked on an independent project, which was connecting what I was learning in that class but also what I was learning from my education studies class to do a project on the history of colonial education in Rwanda, its prevalence and impact, and actually work with young people in that. I was funded by the Academic Endowment Grant from the CCE, and the rest of my funding came from my SE Fellowship. I was able to work with about 100-plus students in Rwanda, which was really amazing. And I guess, just in general, some of my experience with experiential learning centers, for me, when I think about this, is I can’t imagine a time that after about an idea or project or something I wanted to do and not having had funding or support and mentorship to do that, which some of my friends today call riding the panther. So looking forward to answering some of your questions.

- As we transition now to talking about the CCE, I just wanted to remind folks to type in their questions at the bottom of their screen, there’s a Q&A feature, so you can certainly start sending those questions in right now as well, and we’ll get to them once we’re done with the presentation section.

- Hey, everybody. Again, my name is Jason, and I’m one of the staff members at the Center for Community Engagement. I wanna share with you all a little bit about our work generally, but before I do that, I really appreciated EJ taking a moment to just acknowledge that this is a unique way to enter into college this year, and we all understand that. One of the things that we want you to know is that although some of the things that we do might look a little bit different this fall as we all get started, know that all of us here are working to extend everything that we always try to do and offer and work with you on into everything that we do, even in these sort of differing circumstances, right? Some of things that you hear me talk about or that you hear Tenzin talk about in a minute about community engagement work might look a little bit different this fall, but we’re still carrying forward with the same spirit and in just a new and innovative way, so I just wanna put that out there before we get going. So I’m gonna share a little, just a few slides with you all, and talk a little bit more, and then about in general what we do at CCE. Then I’m gonna hand it over to Tenzin to talk a little bit about the experience as a student doing this work and now transitioning into a new role as a supporting staff member here at CCE. So to begin with, I’m gonna go ahead and share my screen now. So we are, as I said, the Center for Community Engagement. We are constituted here on campus. The focus of our work is really to help you as a student to develop a sense of civic identity, to understand how and where your learning operates in context, and to extend the learning that you’re doing in courses and in all of the co-curricular and extracurricular work that you will do into what’s happening in communities. Whether that is the community here in Middlebury or Addison County, Vermont, when you’re here, whether that’s your community where you’re coming from, or another community that you’re entering into around the world, wherever you go next, these are opportunities for you to take what you are learning and really engage with that in the context of what’s happening in the community around, right? And that’s what we are about, what we offer. And so our programs focus on learning, not just your learning in the classroom, but our learning as staff, our learning as faculty, and our learning as community members, all with each other in various different ways throughout a number of different contexts. Generally, Middlebury has a very strong orientation toward community engagement. Over 75-plus percent of Middlebury students are active even in just the local community over the course of their time here at Middlebury, and that isn’t just because as incoming Middlebury students you all have such an incredible drive to be engaged in doing this work in community, because we know that you do, but it also is the case because so much of what you’re learning and doing has implications for and linkages to the problems that we all face in communities here and around the world, right? So here are just some of the ways that we operationalize. What does it mean to be doing community engagement work? Like, it’s a buzz word. What does that actually mean? Here’s what it looks like, right? It can look like community service, right? So we have students who are out preparing, providing community meals every week throughout the entire academic year and across the summer. And, as I said before, sometimes this looks a little bit different in this kind of unique situation that we’re in right now, but it’s still carrying forward. As an example, we have a student organization that supports some of the local nutritional and community meal programs. When campus closed last spring, they dedicated the remainder of their organizational budget to funding community meals that carried that community meal program through the entire summer, and our dining services department helped supply some of the meals as well. These are ways that we extend the interest that students have out into meeting these community needs where the community needs are, right? And we drive that work based on what the community says is important. It also can look like our Alternative Break Trips, and, again, sometimes these go and sometimes they may not go depending upon the conditions. We’ll see what happens this year, but they are under planning. These are student-led, student-driven, and student-planned community-based work that happens over the break, like over February break, where students go into communities. In the past, that has been places either here in Addison County. It could look like working with RICE on the border, supporting folks who are coming, who are seeking asylum on the border in El Paso, Texas. It could look like working with a rural community in the Dominican Republic or doing environmental sustainability work on the coastlines of L.A. So these trips happen all over, and they are varied, and depending on student interest and planned by students, executed by students across the board, and we support those trips throughout the year and the planning for these trips throughout the year. We also have extensive programs that connect you, as incoming college students, with local, regional, and even global youth, as mentors, as friends, as learning peers, in all sorts of different ways. We have students who have one-on-one mentorship relationships. We have students who go into classrooms and share their experiences across the globe in various cultures with local school classes, whether that’s elementary, middle school, or even the high school, all over the area. There’s a whole host of ways that you, as incoming college students, can connect with and support youth, particularly local youth, but also youth around the world, and we do a lot to support that. Language in Motion is one of those programs. This is where students who have experienced living or speaking another language, living in a place other than the rural Northeast, where we are right now, can bring that experience into local classrooms. We try and share with local students a little bit of what some people’s perspective of, live in places other than this, might be like, a little bit of what that, what life would be like in some of those places and develop those relationships. It’s a great program. It’s carried forward even remotely, and we’re looking forward to a strong participation this year as well. We also have a variety of summer programs that offer you an opportunity to extend your learning out into communities, both here locally in Addison County, around the United States, and even abroad. One of those is the Japan Summer Service Learning Program, which takes a cohort of students, working with universities in Japan, to go and do community-based work in Japan for a number of weeks over the summertime. Another one of our summer experienced-based programs is part of our Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster, and this is a program that is the focus of a lot of my work at CCE. Privilege & Poverty is an academic program here at Middlebury that lets you really design and apply your learning and interests into a collective program that examines the causes and consequences of economic inequality, and part of that academic program is a requirement that you do some experiential learning associated with that work. Most of our P&P students will opt to pursue that as a summer internship. We have partnerships with seven local organizations that support our summer interns. This past summer, that was a mix of remote and in person, depending on the context. We also have a partnership with a national consortium that places students all around the U.S. with partner organizations. They’re called the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. And these summer learning experiences let you really explore what you’re studying about economic inequality in any number of classes that you might take through the lens of what’s happening in communities. How does it play out in a particular place, at a particular time, and how are those communities dealing with those issues? We also have a variety of ways in which we connect community-based learning to what’s happening on campus. So we support through funding and through support from faculty and TA training programs a variety of courses to really focus some of your learning work on addressing the problems that we see and the challenges and the issues that come up in local communities, right? Working with community organizations, working with community partners, identifying what their priorities are, and then exploring how to best address those priorities with them through the process of learning in the classroom as well as in community. And so we’d do that in a number of different ways. A new example of that this semester is a course that we are teaching out of CCE, which is gonna support community-based projects that individual students have identified and designed in conjunction with a community partner. We’re excited to begin the process of being able to offer that class on an ongoing basis. And, as I said, some of the impact can be global. We have a funding program that can support projects all around the world, particularly where there are cross-cultural implications, but, well, also where there are ways to extend the work of a classroom out into community through our academic outreach endowment grants. And then there are, beyond these things, there are also a whole host of ways that we can tap into funding resources that the college has secured and identified, a long going way for students to really tackle issues and challenges in the community that the community has identified that they wanna work on. So there are lots of ways that we can support projects that you wanna take on, partnerships that you’ve developed, interests that you have. If you have an idea or a concern or a project that you wanna work on in conjunction with a community partner, we are here to help and support that. All of this stems from the fact that here at Middlebury, and particularly underpinning the work at the Center for Community Engagement, we believe that higher education has a public purpose at its core, right? That higher education serves the public good. And we know that when you’re coming here, right, that this is something that you will share with us as well, and we look forward to learning more from you about what your interests are, what you’re excited about getting involved with, and how we can best work with you, learn from you, and support you in that process. But to give you some better examples of kind of what some of that process might look like, I’m gonna turn it over to Tenzin to talk a little bit about her work now and as a student in the past. Go ahead, Tenzin.

- Thank you, Jason. So right now I’m serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the CCE, and so in that role, I am sort of advising and guiding the youth and mentoring student organizations that are on campus right now. But when I was a student at Middlebury, I, myself, participated and was involved with Community Friends, which is one of the youth and mentoring organizations that we have on campus. I was also part of the MALT, the alternative trip that Jason earlier. But with Community Friends… So I wanna talk about Community Friends first. Community Friends is a one-on-one mentoring program where you take college students and you sort of match them with children between the ages of six to 12 in Addison County. Once you’re matched, then you sort of have one-on-one weekly meetings, and you spend about at least two hours per week just doing any sort of activities that you would like to do with your mentee. During those times, it’s a fun way to just sort of be engaged and sort of hang out with someone that is not a college student and be doing just sort of little kid things that you normally would not do when you are withi

The Feb Experience

For almost 50 years, Middlebury has welcomed a mid-year class of new students through our February Admission program. Our Febs begin their Middlebury experience following a gap semester ready to make the most of their time in college. Tune in to hear from some of our fabulous Feb students and ask them your questions about this signature program.

- Teenth of our Wednesday webinars. Thanks for your interest in Middlebury and thanks for tuning in tonight. It’s 7:00 p.m. here in Vermont, but I know that we have students tuning in from all over the world and in different places in the country. So, thanks for being here. You’re here to witness a webinar about a unique and historic program at Middlebury called the Feb Enrollment Program. Students who enter at Middlebury at the beginning of a spring term in February are affectionately known as Febs. And they probably affix a 0.5 to their graduation year to indicate their place in a Feb class, as you can see on our screen here tonight. My name is Karen Bartlett. I use she, her pronouns and I’m the associate director of international admissions at Middlebury. I’m also graduate of Middlebury College as you can see, 1995.5. So, you know why I happily volunteered to moderate tonight’s Feb Panel. In a minute, we’ll have our students introduce themselves and we’ll then spend the remainder of our time together, answering your questions. So, feel free to start typing your questions into the question and answer box, and we will get to them after we do some introductions. But before we dive into introductions, I wanna highlight a few important distinctions about Middlebury’s Feb program, because it really is a distinct program compared to other midyear enrollment programs you may run across. Middlebury has been enrolling a Feb class for almost 50 years. The Feb class at Middlebury is usually between 90 and 100 students. So, it’s larger than most other midyear enrollment programs. Applicants to Middlebury can indicate their entry semester preference on the application. This past year, 87% of our Feb class indicated a preference for February or were open to either February or mid September matriculation. Febs are not second class citizens at Middlebury. Each year the arrival of the Feb class at the beginning of the spring term is cause for celebration. Middlebury hosts a Feb orientation, first year seminars for Febs, activities fair for joining clubs in the spring. And it holds sports and popular classes for Febs. Your Febmester does not need to be expensive or extravagant in order to be meaningful. What you do with your gap semester is completely up to you. Most Febs do a combination of work and travel, service, spending time with family, reflecting, recharging after what may have been a stressful senior year. So, without further ado, let’s talk to our Febs here and we even have an alumni Feb joining us. And I’m gonna start with Devin. We’re going in order of seniority. So, Devin will you tell us a little bit about your Feb experience.

- Of course, hi everyone. My name’s Devin McGrath Conwell. I graduated class of 2018.5, which is hard to believe that it was almost two years ago. But that just gets realer every day. I’m from Saco, Maine, and that’s where I am now. But during my time at Middlebury, I was a joint English and film major. I was loving both of those programs and would highly recommend each of them. Other than that, I was involved mostly in choir. I wrote for The Campus with the help of Julia who you’ll hear from in a minute. Had the chance to be super involved with Feb orientation, which was one of the highlights of my time at Middlebury and really solidified a lot of my Feb experience. But before I got to Middlebury during my Febmester, I stayed home and I worked, which was what I needed. As Karen said, the need to kind of recharge and spend a little time that wasn’t just focused on a paper or this or running around. So, you can do something that’s more travel focused as I’m sure others have, but it’s also really okay to do the Febmester at home. And I think that once I got to Middlebury, to talk a little bit about my favorite part of being a Feb, as Karen has said, it’s a smaller group than the normal class here. And most of my best friends coming out of Middlebury were Febs, just because you really bond with each other in that week of Feb orientation and going forward. And so that tight knit community is something that I look back on a lot and I’m incredibly grateful for. So that’s me. And I’m happy to answer any questions about any of that or what it’s like to be graduated, which I don’t wanna think about too much, but we have to.

- Thanks for being here, Devin. All right, Julia.

- Hi everyone, thank you for joining us tonight. My name is Julia and I am a member of the class of the 2020.5, which means this is my final semester. I am a psychology major and education studies minor from Ithaca, New York. And I’ve been working in the Admissions Office for about three years now, which is crazy. Like Devin said, I also have been very heavily involved in Feb orientation. I was the chair of it this last February. So, that was a really great time just to be so involved with such an awesome orientation program. I’m also a member of the Club Soccer Team, the Club Running Program. And I’m a volunteer with MiddCAM, which is Middlebury College Access Mentors. So, I work at the local high school mentoring kids there. During my Febmester, so, I actually did not intend to be a Feb. I was admitted as a Feb and then all of a sudden had this time off to make the plan with, and I volunteered at home, worked at home for a little bit. And then I went to Spain for two months and lived with a host family and took some language classes there. So, I kind of made a Febmester out of a few different things, which I would definitely recommend because there’s so many things you can fit into that time. I also have loved the small cohort that the Feb class is, but to talk about another thing I’ve loved about being a Feb is having that extra summer. Whereas a lot of the class of 2020 graduated in May, we still had this summer where we weren’t graduates quite yet, to get some other kind of experience on your belts. I really appreciated that extra summer of my college career. So yeah, I’m happy to talk about anything else.

- Thanks Julia, Annie?

- Hi everybody, my name is Annie. I use she, her pronouns. I’m a joint environmental studies, biology major, and a Russian language minor here at Midd. I am from Baltimore, Maryland. And I’m the class of 2020.5 with Julia and James, you’ll meet in a second. And some of the… Oh, on campus, I’m a tour guide here. I don’t have, obviously that great intro, you can tell, I do this all the time. I also am president of Feminist Action at Middlebury, a feminist activism club. I made Planned Parenthood Generation action leader working with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which has been a really great volunteer experience. And especially during this time of election season, getting involved in that way has been really exciting over the past three years. I also dance in the Only No Cuts Dance Group on campus, Midd Musty, it is a South Asian Dance Group, super fun, very exciting. Yeah, I think that was actually two extracurricular activities. Like, two clubs I’m super passionate about that I was actually introduced to during my first week on campus. During our Feb orientation, I got pretty sick and yet had the best time ever. I ended up becoming a Feb leader. Devin was actually my chair of that Feb orientation, Julia and I were Feb leaders together. It’s a great time and a really exciting way to be introduced to an awesome, accepting, really exuberant group of people on campus. And I think that probably sums up my preferences for being a Feb. So, oh, my Febmester. I worked on a Organic Cooperative Farm in St. Lucia, which is just North of Trinidad and Tobago for two months, living with a family, family friends who live there and started the farm. And then I went back to Baltimore with no plans and actually volunteered on several urban farms in Baltimore city, which was really exciting getting to know urban agricultural and food systems, which really like introduced me to a totally different discipline once I came to Middlebury and really influenced my education and academic track here. And I also worked at a kindergarten and made a little money. So, really exciting time and yeah, I can answer any questions about, I guess, any of that.

- Thanks Annie. All right, James, tell us about your experience.

- Hi everyone, my name is James. I use him pronouns and I’m sorry for the weird lighting that’s going on in my video right now,. But, I’m also in Julia and Annie’s Feb class. So, we are in our last semester this fall. And thinking back on my experience as a Feb, I would totally agree with what the others have said about kind of what the, what the small group that you come in with gives you in terms of having a really tight knit group of people that I think makes your transition to college just like really wonderful in ways that isn’t necessarily accessible to everyone who comes in to, as part of a broader student body without that small group. And of course you can always find those groups elsewhere, but it is just like a really nice thing to have when you’re starting college. On my Febmester, I went to Central America with a sort of gap year travel group because I was interested in learning Spanish and history and did that for about three months and then did a little bit of what Devin was talking about and then I came back and worked. So, again, he said, you can really combine experiences during that time to fit whatever you need. And that was kind of what I shot for during my Febmester. And at Middlebury, I have been an editor for The Campus, which is Middlebury’s student newspaper pretty much since I arrived. I was a managing editor last year. I was also on the varsity basketball team for two years. So, if anyone has any questions about athletics or student orgs like The Campus or anything else I can answer, happy to help.

- Thanks James. Pim tell us about your experience.

- Yeah, hello everyone, my name is Pim, Pim Singhtaraj. I use she, her pronouns. I’m class of 2021.5, so that means I’m a senior Feb, and I have two semesters left after this. I call Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand home. And my major is comparative literature with English and Spanish. And I have a minor in history. And on campus, I am co-president of Southeast Asian Society, S-E-A-S. I am a core organizer for RAISINS, which is the Radical Asian Student Activism Collective, yeah, Asian American or Asian Student Activism. And I am on the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee on SGA on Student Government. And let’s see, during my gap semester, I spent two months interning at Amnesty International Thailand, in Bangkok, Thailand. Yeah, a great activism internship. And then I spent two months in Europe, spent most of it in Spain, living with a host family learning Spanish. I kind of see us as being with the Spanish here and after that traveled and visited some friends. Yeah, it was a good time. So, I kind of did the traveling thing. And my favorite aspect of being a Feb I think is definitely taking that time off. Like I was thinking of doing a gap year and I was like, oh, maybe that’s too long. So, I’m gonna do like half, like a gap semester instead. And that, like taking that gap semester was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I just have that time off to do things not related to school. Like I haven’t done that in a while. I hadn’t done that in a while. So yeah, that’s me.

- Thanks Pim, then Kale.

- So, going y’all my name is Kale. I use he, him, his pronouns. I’m in the class of 2022.5, which means I’m a junior Feb. I’m almost halfway through my career here at Middlebury and it’s kind of scary . I’m originally from Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona and it’s definitely a different climate. If you’re from the southwest and you wanna know what it’s like to go from a hot climate to a really cold climate, feel free to ask . I am a molecular biology and biochemistry major and Russian language minor here at Middlebury. And my very first semester here, I joined the Middlebury Fire Department and I’m currently a member where I’m actively taking fire calls and participating in trainings. I’m also in the Middlebury First Responders and our Russian and Eastern European Club here on campus to promote Russian and Eastern European culture. During my Febmester, I didn’t choose to be a Feb either. I selected a little box on my application that said that I wanted either one. And honestly it was one of the best experiences that I’ve had since. On the grade school we’ve been taught to say, go, go, go, academics, academics, S-A-T, A-C-T, subject tests. It just gave me a good amount of time to reflect and really realize what I want out of life and what… I stayed home and worked for the Park Service as a wildlife technician and participated in a bunch of biological surveys. And I actually got a paper published through the Park Service as well.

- Fantastic. So, as you can see, Febs are well involved in the life of the school and the town, and there’s really nothing holding you back once you get to Middlebury. Thanks so much for your thoughtful introductions. I’m gonna share my screen now, so that you can see contact information for each of the students and alums here. Feel free to email us or take a screenshot so that you can contact us later. And now we’ll get into some of your questions.

The Vermont Bucket List

Vermont is a beautiful, quirky state full of so much to offer. Many of our students could rave for days about what they consider to be VT “must-do’s” or “must see’s” before graduation from Middlebury. Tune in to hear what’s on their Vermont Bucket Lists; we hope they’ll inspire you to start making your own!

- Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, entitled “The Vermont Bucket List.” My name is Asa Waterworth, and I’m one of the admissions counselors here at Middlebury College, and thanks so much for joining us today. I’m from Vermont, I love Vermont, and those are two of the reasons why I’m really excited to be hosting this webinar tonight. Before we get started, there is a couple of important things I’d like to acknowledge. I wanted to take a moment to note and honor the fact that Middlebury College sits upon land that belonged to members of the Abenaki Nation. I’d like to denounce the inexcusable violence towards Black individuals, particularly at the hands of police, as well as violence towards those who support the Black Lives Matter Movement across the country. As we reckon with our nation’s history, Middlebury College acknowledges that we as an institution and as a community have many steps left to take and make in our journey towards active antiracism. Lastly, we are here virtually today due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting communities of color. We know that the pandemic has drastically changed your college search process. We really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today and please know that we’re here to support you in whatever ways we can. So, let’s get started. We’re gonna go one by one and I have a couple of questions to get us started, so we’ll introduce all these amazing student panelists and learn a little bit more about what’s on their Vermont bucket list. So can we start with Emily?

- Hi everyone, my name is Emily Ballou, I am a senior here at Middlebury, as well as a senior fellow in the admissions office. Most importantly, I am from Vermont. I’m from a tiny town called South Royalton, so welcome to your introduction to our state if you haven’t visited here yet.

- And what do you study, Emily?

- I am a double major in American Studies and Theater.

- Great. And as a Vermonter, what’s something you think should be on everyone’s Vermont bucket list?

- Something that I think everyone should definitely do when they come to Vermont is experience a sugar shack. So if you don’t know what that is, that’s where maple syrup is made. It’s typically done in the winter months or in early spring, and you go, they take all the sap, lots of different areas around here, different sugar shacks, they let you do tours there, and then if you’re lucky enough they give you some fresh maple syrup at the end or maybe even some maple cream on a donut.

- And it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup, fun fact. Next can we go to Norma?

- Hi, my name is Norma Leva. I’m currently a junior and I study Film and Studio Art, and I’m from Dallas, Texas.

- So Norma, if a friend from Texas came to visit you here, what’s the first Vermont-y thing that you’d wanna do with them or that you’d wanna show them?

- The first thing I’d probably recommend is going to the Abbey Pond Trail. It’s this hike you can do, it’s really beautiful around fall time, and at the end there’s this beautiful lake you can sit by and have a picnic at, and it’s very different from Texas, so I would say that’s a really nice experience to have before it gets really cold.

- Is that close to campus?

- Yeah, it’s a short drive from campus and you can do it with friends or on your own, it’s beautiful.

- Cool. Next, can we go to Simon?

- Hi everybody, my name is Simon Jenkins, I’m a junior Econ major from West Orange, New Jersey.

- And, what’s your absolute favorite thing to do in the town of Middlebury?

- Yeah, I think my answer is a little bit more on the abstract side, so I would say getting to interact and talk with the local community members, just like everybody in Middlebury’s so nice. Like I mentioned, I’m from New Jersey, not that people there are mean, but it’s a different flavor you get in Vermont, so just getting out whenever you can, meeting people, talking to people, and everybody here kinda loves engaging with college students.

- And now, Alex and Madison and Claire, you’ve all played roles in planning MiddView Orientation Trips, which help other students start checking things off their Vermont bucket list the moment they get to campus. So there’s three categories of these trips. There’s wilderness exploration, community engagement, and Vermont exploration. So Alex, could we start with having you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about the wilderness exploration MiddView trips?

- Yeah, sure. My name is Alex Gem, I am a senior from Westchester, New York studying Molecular Biology and Biochemistry on the Pre-Med Track and minoring in French, and the wilderness exploration trips are any kind of outdoorsy activity that you’d wanna do during orientation. There’s tons of camping trips that go out for like a two-night overnight camping trip, there’s canoeing trips, kayaking, rock climbing, day hiking, all kinds of fun outdoor activities, so people can get a chance to check out the Long Trail or go to the nearby Adirondacks in New York or just have fun outside.

- And what’s your favorite thing to do outside in Vermont?

- I really love when it’s wintertime, going to the Middlebury college-owned Snow Bowl, which is the mountain just up the road. I spend a lot of my winter up there.

- And if someone comes to Vermont and they’ve never skied or snowboarded before, is it easy to learn, how can they do that?

- Absolutely, great question.

- I know you’re an expert, so—

- I am actually a snowboard instructor. There’s a bunch of students who are instructors up at the Bowl and there’s free lessons and free rental equipment and a shuttle that would get you up there, so even if you’ve never seen snow before, which is actually a lot of the people that I work with, it’s really fun to get outside and tumble around in the snow and get down the mountain.

- Great, and before we keep going, I totally forgot to mention the point of this is that you can ask questions and these folks will answer them, so there’s the Q&A feature on the bottom of your Zoom screen, so feel free at any time to type questions in there and we’ll live answer them as we go. But back to MiddView trips, Madison, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about the community engagement opportunities for MiddView trips?

- Yes, definitely. Hi, I’m Madison, I’m a senior. I’m from Buffalo, New York and I study Sociology and minor in Education Studies. So yeah, last summer I helped to organize the community engagement trips, which are a smaller subset of the MiddView trips that allow you to go out into the local community and do lots of community engagement, volunteer type of work according to your interests. So we had a bunch of different categories of those trips and it’s a really good way to sort of get out into the Middlebury community and to know the town.

- And what’s your favorite one that you’ve helped plan or that you’ve gone on?

- So I actually did go on my first year, I went on the Immigration and Vermont’s Diverse Communities trip, and that was really cool for me. I got to meet a lot of the farm worker community in Vermont, and learn about the dairy industry and Ben and Jerry’s and all of that stuff, so I had a lot of fun participating in that trip, and then also planning it last summer, so that would probably be my favorite one.

- Cool. And Claire, could you tell us more about Vermont exploration?

- Yeah, I’m Claire Martins, I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m a senior as well. I last summer alongside Maddy, I planned the Vermont exploration trips, and so basically those are, they are like a wide range of interest. There’s a bike trip, there’s a trip that you do trail work on local trails around Middlebury or Vermont, there’s one where you, it’s called food systems and you go to, there’s a couple different small farms that you spend the night at and like it’s more, a bit more campy and you get to go to this cheese, where they make cheese at this farm, which is cool. Yeah, there’s honestly like so many different trips in the VE category, just because it’s, there’s so many different interests and niches that like, and so many opportunities in Vermont, so there’s like a photography trip, I could go on, but yeah, so that’s the Vermont exploration trips, I guess. They’re just really, usually everyone sleeps at BreadLoaf Campus, which is Middlebury’s, it’s kind of by the Snow Bowl, and so it doesn’t have that outdoor aspect as much, ‘cause you get to sleep inside which is really nice, but yeah. Oh, I also study Archeology, sorry.

- And maybe could we briefly go around and if you haven’t really already shared your kind of top bucket list item, could you share that? I think I’ll start, even though no one asked me, but I think one thing that everyone should do, particularly if you get the opportunity to spend a summer in Vermont, which a lot of students get to do if they do research on campus or work a job on campus over the summer, is go to Bread and Puppet Theater. It’s this really amazing political theater company up in the Northeast Kingdom, which is a really magical, wild part of Vermont, and it’s really an experience that is unlike any other. Someone else?

- I would add to that, not necessarily specific thing to do, but the farmers’ markets in Vermont are amazing. There’s no place better to get the freshest food. You can go to any little farm stand or farmers’ market and get some corn that was picked that morning or any other fresh vegetable. You can get some really nice homemade jams and jellies at a lot of these things and they’re located all around the state, and there’s one right here in Middlebury as well.

- One of my favorite, because I got to spend a summer here last summer, one of my favorite things to do is to go swimming in one of, like there’s some mountain rivers that we have, and that’s probably the best thing that we could do, I don’t know, that’s just one of my favorite things, and every time someone visits, that’s always like the first place I bring them to. It’s just like, the water’s so beautiful and clear.

- So for me, I would say something that I really love to do occasionally is go to Burlington, and there’s this cute little chocolate shop called Lake Champlain Chocolates on Church Street, which is like Burlington’s iconic street, and it’s just like, if you’re into chocolate or like ice cream, like they have it all, and it’s just like a cute little magical cove on Church Street and I love going there like once a year.

- Simon, Norma, Alex, anything to add?

- I was gonna kinda talk about what Claire talked about, like one of my earliest memories was packing one of my friend’s cars and driving to a swimming hole and spending hours there like on my first weekend at Middlebury.

- Do you have a favorite one, did you go to the Gorge? I feel like that’s a kind of pretty close.

- I’ve been to the Gorge, I’d say Bristol Falls is probably my favorite, but it’s pretty popular so yeah, I get there, it’s some good times.

- Something I’d say is probably visit the Knoll. I’m sure that everyone that goes to Middlebury has done it at some point, but if you can, try to get some pizza at the Knoll at the beginning of the semester, it’s really good and it’s just so beautiful there too.

- And what is the Knoll?

- The Knoll is Middlebury’s organic garden. It’s a bit of a walk from campus but not too bad and it feels nice enough that you feel separated from campus busy life, but still feel connected to everyone in the community.

- And I’ll just add, seeing a sunrise. I know not everybody’s a morning person, but it’s so worth it to watch the sun come up over the Green Mountains, which is the mountain range just off of campus, and it’s just really beautiful.

- Those are all great things. I’m gonna flash a slide for a second of all these folks’ contact information. Can you see that? I hope so, and then we’re gonna move.

 

 

Research, Careers, and Internships

Careers and Internships

Middlebury’s Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) provides an array of services to help students find the right internships, jobs, and graduate programs. Learn more about how CCI supports students during - and after - Middlebury.

- Hi everyone, welcome. And we’re gonna wait a few seconds to make sure people are getting logged in and we’ll get started shortly. Hi everyone, and thanks so much for tuning in today. Welcome to our second Wednesday webinar of the summer. My name is Maria Narva, and I’m gonna be admissions counselors here at Middlebury, and I am also an alum class of 2018. The theme of today’s webinar is careers and internships. We have a wonderful group of panelists here with me today, that are I’m here to share some of the resources and support that we provide for our students and how they help find the right internships, jobs, graduate schools and careers. I’m very excited to be moderating this panel as someone who greatly benefited from many conversations with members of the centers for careers and internships during my time at Middlebury. Before I hand it over to our experts, I do wanna remind folks to typing your questions in the Q and A box throughout the presentation as your questions arise. And we will get to as many questions as we can during our time together. So for now, I’ll hand it over to Peggy take it away.

- Thanks so much Maria, good afternoon everyone. I’m Peggy Burrs, the executive director of the Center for Careers and Internships or CCI as we’re known. And I’d like to extend our warm welcome to students and families joining us virtually today. We so wish we could meet you in person, but we’re actually grateful to connect with you in any way that we can. So we’re coming to you from six different places. So please bear with us if we experience any technical glitches. And also just a reminder, you’ll be able to find everything that we discussed here today on our website. So I’m here with two of my colleagues, Mary Lothrop, our Director of Health Professions and STEM Advising, and Tim Mosehauer our associate director of career advising. And he works most closely with students interested in consulting government, law and public policy. We were also going to be joined by two of our favorite students who are happy to share their experiences, Rodney Adams and Edith Lopez who have worked with and or for CCI, and also involved in so many other activities across campus that I actually ran out of space as I created this slide. Unfortunately, the very last minute Rodney had an emergency and was not able to, or is not able to be with us today. But Edith is happy to handle student questions as well. So CCI is an integral part of the Middlebury advising family. We are advisors, educators, mentors, and connectors. We talk to students about life, about work, about purpose, and we guide them through the career exploration process throughout all four years with personalized advising, dynamic programming, a robust alumni network invested in undergraduate personal and professional success and internship opportunities that help students apply their liberal arts learning beyond the classroom and provide them with real world experience. And if you’ll excuse me for just a second, I’m getting texts from my colleagues that say that they cannot see the screen. So I’m assuming that that means that you can’t either. So let me see if that works. So Mary and Tim, can you tell me if you can see now?

- Not yet, have you hit this during the screen-share?

- Yeah, let’s try this again.

- I’m not seeing it, oh, there it comes.

- Sorry about that, I had unshared. And there we go, there’s our wonderful panelists. So you already heard their introductions. So then moving on to our mission statement, at CCI our mission is to prepare students to translate their Middlebury experience into pursuit of their post-graduate goals. And this is a compact of sorts a CCI staff and student commitment to each other to work together and that’s important to advance student goals. And that’s why our tagline is, “let’s explore what’s next.” And we believe that mission also entails a responsibility to ensure that such preparation is right with possibilities and potential, and that life after Middlebury includes living a life of purpose as well.

- Hi everyone, Mary Luther began. I’m so happy to have this opportunity to talk to you all. I’m just gonna tell you a little bit about what we do. We have seven advisors who you’re going to hear more about later that are available to meet with students one-on-one at any stage of the process. We also have really close relationships with employers and alumni and various fields that we are able to connect students with for mentoring and to learn about different career paths and for helping secure opportunities. And we also have really strong connections with academics, so we can work collaboratively with your faculty and department chairs and advisors to make sure that your whole Middlebury experience is cohesive and that we can support you in your path. And these are the core elements, the career exploration and advising, which has support of students and alumni interested in pursuing graduate and professional programs like law and medicine as well. And then our employer and professional network development team, which works to again, develop all of those relationships with employers and alumni who are in different fields to support students. Academic outreach, which again ensures that we’re working really collaborative collaboratively with departments to support students’ goals. And then mentoring, which you’re going to hear a lot more about later, but we have a really robust mentoring program where students can receive either short or longer term mentoring from alumni in different fields.

- Thanks Mary. And now we’re going to talk a little bit about CCI by the numbers. We had another record year on many fronts from internship funding to appointments, to program attendance and to outcomes.

- Awesome. So now I’m gonna say, hi everybody, this is Tim Mosehauer. One of the advisors, happy to be here today. And I wanna give you guys a little bit more depth about who the advising crew is. So as you heard, there are seven of us. We also have 17 people in the whole office, but there’s a really good group effort out here to support you in all that we’re doing. We also have wonderful peer advisors. So the next slide, here are our lovely faces. So you see Mary and I. One thing that I want to point out about this slide particularly is different advisors has different areas. And so my area is government law policy consulting, but as you can see on the bottom and we call for a wide range of types of career paths. We also want to emphasize it’s okay to be exploring. You don’t have to know exactly what you wanna do. It’s great if you do, but if you don’t, that is okay as well. We love talking to students who are exploring and you can meet with as many advisors as you want. So moving on from the professional staff, like it said, we have wonderful peer advisors. So these are usually upper-class students look how happy they look here. eight hours a week. They can look at your resume, they can just drop by for the quick question hours, no appointment necessary. We try to work really hard to be as accessible. You don’t even have to know a question you just show up and then we’ll talk to you.

- Good food and snacks there as well.

- You bet. And so just a little bit more as you saw the advisors have different career areas. And so one thing we pride ourselves on is going a bit in depth into these career paths. So you can talk to a person or you can go to part of our website, which again is live down even if its forum. So there’s a newsletter attest to these career paths …. resources, great ideas to get you going and wanna learn more about new ones that are good, that you already know.

- Great, CCI is very active around campus. We offer about 200 events and workshops with around 4,500 attendees and nearly 5,000 drop-ins and appointments every year. So you’ll see us everywhere regularly. And then we have some more stats that we wanted to share just to give you a sense of the scope and impact of our work, I know some of these numbers might not mean a lot to you, but just to give you a sense, we have about 90 on campus in both sessions with employers each year, 750 employer and informal interviews, 22,000 opportunities in handshake, which is our platform where we host job and internship opportunities and schedule appointments and do all kinds of other things. We have $775,000 of summer internship funding to support students who are doing opportunities in the summer to explore and to further advance their knowledge and experience in different areas. 75% of students have had at least one internship by graduation, and we have 2,500 alumni mentoring volunteers on mid summit.

- Thanks, Mary and Tim. And we’d like to address some of the questions that we hear frequently from students and families. And the first big question really is why. I am sure some of you were thinking, “well, wait a minute, do students really have to be thinking already about life after Middlebury can’t we just let them be students?” And the answer is yes, of course we could not be more supportive of the extraordinary education that Middlebury provides, but career exploration and being a student of the liberal arts is not mutually exclusive. And here’s a fact that may surprise you. We always conduct a survey after orientation and first year students named career planning as one of their top five concerns after being on campus for only one month. Synage came in number four, in this case. And for our first gen students, they named it as the number one issue. In terms of the things that they’re concerned about, and that’s not driven by our office. So we try to do our work in a way that encourages students to embrace thinking about life after Middlebury, as part of the undergraduate journey and adventure. We want students to know that thinking about their future in an intentional manner and embracing it can actually be exciting and an antidote to the stress that they often attach to the process. And Mary, Mary you’re muted.

- Sorry about that. So this is our stats on where students have typically gone, and this represents six months after graduation for the class of 2019. For the last three years, we’ve seen a trend hovering around 79 to 80% employed and 11 to 12% going to graduate school. And we’re delighted to share that the cohort achieved a 94% acceptance rate to both law school and medical school and medical school, the national average for acceptance hovers around 40%. So we’re really proud of that group.

- Tim you’re muted.

- This slide shows where our graduates go by the types of work they’re doing. So you can see a financial services as about 50% of the grads, but then I think it’s no worry that there is a tie, big ties in the next four episodes or five actually. So, that is a good range of the types of work. I do think it’s also important to know if maybe that’s not an aspect, but it is very obvious that there is lots of industry of overlap. So for the next at least four or five or you’re working for the environmental protection agency. Is that social impact, is that also government, so this is a good visual to show that there’s lots of different ways outcomes .

- Hey, I just wanted to give you a quick snapshot of some of our signature programming from the academic year. Virtually everything that we do has some level of alumni involvement. And as I mentioned before, our alumni are so vested in our students. So we bring them back to talk about their fields, their majors, and to give advice to students hoping to follow in their footsteps or blaze a path of their own. We also have them address social and other issues of our time as well. And we offer practical and skills development programming to as Mary noted in a previous slide, almost 200 events and workshops, last academic year. Also one of my favorite things are our student treks, where we bring a group of students, and pick a particular destination and geography and then a theme, where they get to spend days meeting with alumni at various companies and do job shadowing and have reflection dinners. And these are two photos from, a couple of our student treks from this past year, the sustainability trek, which went to San Francisco and other places in the Bay area. And that’s the gang at groundwork renewables. And then also in New York city that our media and entertainment trek, visiting that showtime office. Also too, I just briefly wanted to tell you about a new program, called Midd2Midd, that we’re so excited about. We really believe that your experience at Middlebury is enhanced by a deep and meaningful connection to our wonderful alumni community. Midd2Midd it’s an online platform that allows students to connect to our global community of alumni and demonstrated by this graphic, you can see how our alumni is indeed all over the world. We’re in our first year of operation and we’re already the biggest program of its kind among our peer schools. And that says a lot about the kind of community that you would be joining here at Middlebury. On it we have 3000 alumni who’ve made themselves available for quick networking conversations or longterm mentorships. They’re CEOs at global corporations, innovators and entrepreneurs, government officials, humanitarians working with refugee populations, Hollywood producers, who are probably watching, or are writing the shows that you’re probably watching right now, physicians as Cirque du Soleil, aerialist, playwrights, and young alums who are building vibrant careers or attending grad school. And first years are able to join Midd2Midd as soon as they arrive on campus. I’m also a great way to get to know us better as to follow us on social media. I get the inside scoop on all things CCI and learn about career opportunities, tips and upcoming events at the dogs of CCI actually is one of the most unpopular of our Instagram posts. We have a lot of followers for our CCI pups. So, just a quick, quick closing, what we would love to say to students that whatever you’re calling, whether it’s law, acting journalism, medicine, writing, teaching, social justice, dancing, wall street, conservation biology, international development, and even and perhaps, especially if you don’t have one yet, we are here for you every step of the way throughout all four years. So I’m just going to bring back the panelist slide and give Edith a message from Rodney as well. But give you the chance to chat with you. Maria.

- Thanks so much Peggy for all that grading useful information, as previously they’d be here with us today, but he did write up a short statement that he’d like me to share with all of you perspective students. So I will be reading that from his perspective, and we’ll be reading it, so excuse me if I stumble a bit. I first got involved with CCI as a first year. My mom kept bugging me to go to the career center to ensure that I can build up ideas for career early on in my college experience. At first, I was reluctant, I did not see how a career center could be helpful for me when I had just, began college. I also did not see many advisors who looked like me or who might have had different experiences and backgrounds. Nonetheless, I gave it a try and talk to Ursula Olander a career advisor. At the time I had an interest in aviation and Ursula quickly got me in contact with a Midd alum who was established in the aviation industry. She was helping me with my networking skills, a key part of career building that is often overlooked. And I appreciate Ursula for her guidance. I am now a peer career advisor on campus, I review cover letters and resumes as well as offer basic but relevant career advising information. This happened because I cared about my career building and wanted to help out others was there as well. My favorite part about being a career advisor is a resume sentence building because I learned more about my peers, my school and the great things that many of us do that should be highlighted on our resumes.

- Excellent, thank you. You did a good job of being Rodney, Maria, but I have to say Rodney’s grade, I know him from our work and CCI, we’re sorry he couldn’t make it, but we are very fulfilled as well to have Edith with us. And so I thought I would just ask her for a few minutes to tell us about your experiences on campus either how you’ve connected with CCI over the last few minutes.

- Hi everyone, so if I were to rate all of my experiences with CCI, I definitely rate them as a solid 10 out of 10. And that’s just because of CCI staff is amazing at what they do. I constantly see myself in the CCI office and that’s mainly because I’m meeting with my premed advisor and making sure that I’m on track with all my premed requisites and also getting help with like feature semester course plannings and figuring out what classes would go well with them so I’m not completely overwhelmed during that semester. Apart from that, I also get a lot of resume help depending on the time. Like if it’s time to apply for summer internships, the CCI does a great job at helping me connect with peer advisors who can help review my resumes and just make sure that they’re as top notch as they could be to really make me stand out when I’m applying to these internships. And I got…I started getting involved with the CCI my freshman year as well, just because I really thought I needed to figure out what being on the premed track would be at Middlebury. And I found it really helpful and I’ve been lucky enough in my sophomore year to get a little bit more involved with the CCI by actually participating in CCI funded internships. So for example, during J term, I was selected to be part of the EMTJ term internship, which is basically an internship where they get a couple of students and have them taught by M REMS, which is Middlebury Regional Emergency Medical Services off campus, and they train you to become nationally certified as an EMT. And through that internship, I was able to do the internship I’m doing right now over the summer, that is funded by the CCI. And it’s all remote given the pandemic that’s going on, but I’m having a lot of fun doing it. And yeah, the CCI has been nothing but helpful and they’ve really made my experience at Middlebury a lot better.

- Thank you very much Edith heads were getting big on our screens here. That’s lovely feedback, and although we can hear, I’m sure more from you Edith I didn’t know that we have lots of other questions through the chat, so I think this is a good time to maybe talk to anyone else you guys have on your mind. I think Peggy or Maria is that you’re gonna fire a way out.

- Yes. So before we transition over to questions, I did wanna make sure that all of our prospective students tuning in had all of your contact information. So here is a contact information for our panelists, along with myself and also the general Center for Careers and Internship email, that you can reach out to if you have any questions at any point. And so, we can go ahead, I’ll leave this up for a second, but we can go ahead and get started.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Research opportunities are abundant at Middlebury and available across all class years and academic disciplines. Our students conduct independent research, work alongside faculty on campus and at other institutions, and present their work at professional conferences. Join us to find out more about undergraduate research experiences from Middlebury students and faculty!

- Wherever you are in the world today, welcome to the fifth installment of our summer Wednesday webinars series. I’m Michelle Nelson. I use she/her pronouns and I’m an associate director of admissions here at Middlebury. I’ll be moderating today’s panel, and I’m excited for you to learn more about undergraduate research at Middlebury from our panelists today. Engaging in research is one of the many types of experiential opportunities that allow our students to enhance and deepen their learning here at Mid as well as connect with faculty mentors. Because we’re an entirely undergraduate college, research experience is accessible to many of our students and across a wide array of fields and disciplines. Lisa Gates will kick us off here in just a second, and she represents our undergraduate research office and will give us an overview of resources and support available for research opportunities. And then we are sort of introducing you to a very small sample of students and faculty who are working together on research currently. But please know, there are hundreds more examples from many other areas of the curriculum and disciplines. Just some quick logistics before we get going here. We have about 15 minutes of introduction to offer to you, and then we’ll spend most of our time doing questions and answers. And if you aren’t already familiar with the Zoom platform, please submit your questions at any time via the Q and A box that you’ll find at the bottom of your screen, and we’ll do our best to get to as many questions as we can today. So with that, I will go ahead and turn it over to Lisa.

- Okay, great. Thank you, Michelle, and thank you all for joining us this afternoon. I’m really excited Michelle put this panel together. We are just finishing up our summer research program this summer virtually, and I’m sure some of our panels will be talking about that as well. And I’ll say a bit more about that. That is one of the many ways students get involved in undergraduate research at Middlebury. One of the things I just wanna start with is a couple of things, really to give you a sense of what is undergraduate research, and then I’ll talk some more about the forms that it takes at Middlebury. So really undergraduate research is an umbrella term, and it’s a chance for students to work in a very in depth way on a research question on a faculty mentored research project or creative project, and as a chance to learn and apply research methods that are relevant to this disciplinary area. And hopefully through this work, you learn a lot, but you’re also contributing to the effort to bring new knowledge into the world, new ways of understanding things and new creative endeavors. So it’s really exciting and dynamic learning environment where students have a lot of responsibility, and I think get a tremendous amount out of the experience, both in terms of knowledge and confidence, skills and a sense of accomplishment. At Middlebury, one thing Michelle said I really wanna underscore, undergraduate research takes place across the campus. And really, I use that as a short hand for undergraduate research and creative activities, right? So it’s everything from your bench science work to the theater work, to dance, to English and across the spectrum. And we have some really great faculty and student examples of that here today. So it’s not just for science, although there’s certainly a lot of opportunities in STEM fields, but it’s across the curriculum. You may find undergraduate research opportunities integrated in some of your courses, particularly upper division courses, so it might be a course-based experience. We have research opportunities for students during the academic year to work with individual faculty members, and then a lot of opportunities in the summer. So I just said we’re wrapping up our official summer program. It was all virtual this year, so it feels a little different. But this summer we had 150 undergraduates working with about 67, 70 faculty members across the curriculum. And that’s a really fabulous way to spend the summer, especially when we’re on campus, as we hope to be next summer for that endeavor. And then another way students get involved is through their own research, through capstone work their senior year, through a thesis or a project. And students can apply for funding through my office to support expenses related to that work, whether that’s something like purchasing reagents for some experiments in chemistry, whether you’re working with Professor Grant and you need some additional software, or whether it’s supplies for costumes or musicians, right? So we have funding to support that endeavor. And another thing we do that’s really important is we support students who are interested in traveling to academic conferences to present their work, to share what they’re learning and really experience what a professional conference in that discipline is like. The other huge thing we do, that’s really exciting is our spring students symposium. And this is one day in the spring classes, are canceled. We have more than 350 students presenting their work to our entire college community. And it’s really exciting because especially as new students, you get real insight into the diversity of work that happens on this campus. And it’s incredibly impressive. So I think I’m going to stop there. I think I’ve hit the highlights. But undergraduate research is a fabulous experience. I encourage you to pursue it and I will turn this back over to Michelle.

- Thanks Lisa. Next, we’re gonna hear from the duo of Araceli and Nima, and they’re gonna talk about their work together.

- Thank you so much. I’ll start and then I’ll turn it over to Araceli. Thank you so much for this opportunity. It’s really wonderful to talk about some of the most rewarding actually experiences of being a professor at Middlebury, and that really is working closely with students and research assistants of course, in the classroom, but the research assistant sort of relationship is very different and it really allows you to get to know the student really well. But it’s actually an opportunity to work with a student as a colleague and I really wanna sort of emphasize that. I don’t have a lot of time, but I’m happy to talk more about that. One of the things that I’ve really found quite rewarding in working with students is the level of enrichment that students bring to my own research. So I’ll say a little bit about my project and then I’ll say more about student roles. So my project very simply looks at the importance of paratexts in the development of Arabic literature and translation. And paratexts, for those not familiar with the term, is anything that’s not the actual text itself. So glossaries, footnotes, introductions, prefaces, forwards, afterwards that are published alongside novels in translation. And I’m looking at these as a really important part of translation in Arabic literature. But in order to do that, I’ve relied very heavily on digital tools in order to sort of amass the large history that paratexts have developed alongside Arabic literature. And so I have in my database over a thousand texts that, of course without the help of research assistance, it would have taken me maybe a decade to accumulate. So what my project does is really bridge three main fields, and that’s the digital humanities, Arabic literature and translation studies. And I just want to actually harken back on something that Lisa said, which is that what you find in the sort of this relationship that one develops with students, because they’re also bringing their own expertise. So I’ve had students from the geography department, for example, who come with expertise in GIS, for example, and mapping and data science. So what the student expertise has actually taught me is the importance of science and quantitative methods for working in the humanities. And so that’s really something that I’ve known was important, but it’s only been possible through my work with students that I’ve really come to realize the importance of those methods. So that’s something I really wanna emphasize. I’ll just give you a very few examples of kind of the work that some of the students I’ve worked with have gone on to do. One former research assistant, after graduating from Middlebury, was hired by the Shangri-La Museum of Islamic Art Culture and Design in Hawaii to develop their digital collection. She’s now after a year working there, she got into U Penn, she got into MIT, she got into RISD. These amazing schools are actually fighting to get her. I have another student who also is starting a PhD program currently in Arabic literature and translation. And a lot of these collaborations are actually leading one in particular to publication. So I’m happy to talk more in the Q and A. I’ll turn it over to Araceli, and I look forward to your questions.

- Hi everyone. My name’s Araceli. I’m a rising senior majoring in International Global Studies with a focus in the Middle East and I have had the privilege to work with Professor Ayub this past summer doing research that I hadn’t necessarily been familiar with prior to starting in June. And I find that the research is really the epitome of the liberal arts experience which is exactly why I wanted to come to Middlebury. I recently came back from studying abroad. So I had the opportunity to really hone in on my Arabic speaking skills and new vocabulary that I’ve learned while I was abroad. And I found that that has really been helpful in conducting this research, in sifting through different glossaries and introductions and translator’s notes that are a part of this literature. Having that background with maybe nuances between spoken Arabic and standard quote unquote professional Arabic has been really helpful in sifting through some of that vocabulary. And additionally with the major that I am doing, one of my backgrounds is a minor in history. And so I tend to focus on history a lot. And I’ve found that doing this research with Professor Ayub has also given me the opportunity to further read up on the backgrounds of authors and read up on the backgrounds of translators and the literature that is being produced out of the Arab world specifically tends to always have a context, specifically a historical context. So it has been such a privilege to not only hone in on my skills, but also now I have the ability to be able to use the skills that I’ve learned over this past summer and apply them to my coursework going into senior year and hopefully into applications moving forward after I graduate. And especially because research opportunities I have found or research experience is one is pretty significant requirements from employers after graduation. So those are just some of the things that I’ve learned this summer.

- Thank you. Next, we’ll turn it over to a couple of computer scientists, Jason and Scott. Thank you.

- Professor Grant is—

- I’m sorry. Right when you called on me, it’s an internet connection unstable. So hopefully everything goes well. My name is Professor Jason Grant. I teach in the department of computer science, and I’m here with one of my summer research students and advisees, Scott Powell. And we’ve been working on a project this year over the summer related to computer vision, which is my research area. And I actually taught a course on computer vision this past spring, which Scott took, and we build upon some things that we learned from that class into this research project, and we’re looking at analyzing film from our women’s basketball team to do a little bit of highlight detection. And I’m gonna let him talk about that further in just a few moments. But I will say there are several ways that I’ve engaged students in research. This summer is one of them or during the summer is one. Also have had students take a class and then wanna continue working on that a little bit further. And so using the independent study as another way for engaging in research and we’ve had several students go to undergraduate research conferences and they said that has really been the highlight of their experience, not only to see what they’ve done by themselves, but in comparison to all the other summer research students seems to be a really enriching experience. So with that, Scott had just talked about his research last night. We had our own department seminar, summer research seminar. So I’ll let them describe a little bit to you about the work that we did for these past two weeks.

- Awesome. So again I’m Scott Powell. I’m class of 2021. And so a lot of what we’re doing is we’re trying to create these highlights of basketball footage from our own Middlebury teams. So it was really fun to see, as we’re looking through the footage, we’re like, oh yeah, I know these people. And we’re going through, and we’re trying to help them be able to coach more effectively, which I think is really cool. And so really what we are focused on is how do we analyze and make sense of what’s happening in these videos in real time. And so we have the technology to be able to say, okay, someone is taking a shot, or someone just made a basket or something, but we don’t have the capacity to do that in real time right now. And so what we’ve been doing is we’ve been trying to work with computer vision and trying to make it so we can get as fast as possible and accurately detecting the players, the basketballs, the back boards and that’s been really, really cool. I have to say one of the things I found that’s helped me immensely with computer science is the way that I’ve been just diving into these huge, cutting edge algorithms. The one we ended up using and we presented on yesterday came out about a month and a half ago. And so it is really like the brand new stuff that’s coming out and it’s really awesome. and what I think is really cool about that is how much I’ve learned of how I like to program and how to make it more efficient is really cool. And it was funny how my professor and I were laughing on, I think it was Monday, how the stuff that I had been working on at the beginning of the summer and what I’ve been able to do now, and how it’s much more efficient and just faster and I think it’s really cool how I can see, I can quantify that progression throughout the summer, which I think is really awesome.

- All right. Thanks for sharing. Just a reminder to the audience, start posting your questions in the Q and A box. We have one more introduction to make, and then we’ll be getting to your questions. So Carly and Tate, please introduce yourselves.

- Hi everybody. I’m Carly Thompson. I’m an assistant professor in the gender sexuality and feminist studies department. And Tate will introduce herself when we get to that point. So I wanna gesture back to something that Lisa said earlier too, and that is that undergraduate research opportunities allow for you to engage in depth with research projects, and that’s absolutely true. And it’s been incredible to work with Tate over the course of two years on various research projects. And I will also say that in our case, if students are lucky enough to make a connection with faculty, and the faculty are lucky enough to make a deep connection with students, and you wanna keep working together for a long time, there are possibilities for that. And the kinds of research possibilities that can emerge after working together for a long time, they’re just different. And so one of the things that I think is really cool about working with Tate is that in many ways she knows my thinking probably more than anybody else at Middlebury college, because we’ve been engaged in conversations in depth every single week for more than two years at this point. And so there’s been some really deep engagement with particular projects, but on the other hand, if I need a specific task done related to a project, Tate will also do a specific task for example. And so there’s a way in which we move back and forth between projects that is pretty nimble and fluid and really cool. So some of those projects that we’ve worked on and that also some other summer research assistants and student researchers during the school year as well have worked on include how do we use game production as a way to teach feminist and queer theory? How do we use actual translation of academic text into an alternative format, like an actual board game to teach material and to circulate material. And so that required figuring out, what is the field of game studies set? How is game studies engaged with queer studies and vice versa. And so these were projects that involved pretty massive literature reviews, where we were thinking about how three fields fit together. And that was work that I did with students. And another project I worked on with students was putting on a play in January as at the end of a J term class, that was a culmination… It was a culmination of the class, the play, and it was about the Jane collective, which was an organization in Chicago in the late 1960s and early 1970s that performed abortions when it was illegal to do so. And there’s an amazing play about this organization and we put it on and I did that completely with students and student support. And more recently, I just completed another project where we mapped every single abortion clinic in the country in relation to every single crisis pregnancy center or these fake abortion clinics that exist all over. And it’s the first nationwide quantitative study of crisis pregnancy centers. And it’s an article that I also coauthored with four students and got pretty enormous and wonderful feedback from a professor in the geography department, Pete Nelson, and another professor in the econ department, Caitlin Myers. So, what I’m trying to gesture toward here is that there’s a lot of possibilities for collaboration that transcend even just working with a professor in an individual department. And so from here on out, I just wanna focus on one particular project. I’m happy to send links to the other things that I’ve mentioned, if people are interested in them. But one of the things that Tate and I have worked most on is research related to finishing up my book. And so thank goodness that is done and that’s over and we’ve been able to move on to other things. And Tate’s gonna talk a little bit about what exactly some of her tasks were. But my book is it’s essentially asking two questions. What are the limits of coming out discourse or coming out politics in terms of contemporary gay rights activism, and why do the same organizations that are almost all urban based assume it’s so terrible to be gay or LGBTQ in a rural place? And so my argument is that we need to be able to think about what visibility means in radically different ways in order to both move beyond this as a culmination of politics, and also to understand how people live their sexualities in ways that we don’t really have language to understand right now because of the hegemony of, well, what we call metro normativity in my field of gay rights activism. So one of the things that Tate and I have worked on as an extension of that project is a film. So I’m really committed to finding ways to get my research and the work of my students to move beyond the classroom. And that’s part of the impetus for the games project, using games pedagogically. And so with my own work, I try to do that too. And so we made a movie. And Tate has been instrumental to the completion of that project. And like Dima said, to reference back to something Dima said there would have been no possibility for me to do these projects without student work. It’s not like it made it quicker. It’s just that all of these things would have been, not the book. I could have done that on my own. It would have taken me longer, but I could’ve never made a film. I don’t know how to make films. I still don’t know how to make films and I’ve finished making a film. And the reason I was able to do that is because I worked so closely with students. So Tate, do you wanna take it from here?

- Sure. I’m Tate Suletty. I’m a rising senior, so I’ll graduate this coming winter, a gender studies major. And as Dr. Thompson mentioned, I’ve been working as an RA, I think since the summer of 2018. So yes, I’ve been involved in a lot of different research projects and research teams and something that’s been highlighted across all of these introductions, but that I wish to underscore is the interdisciplinary nature of the research that we’ve done. And this is not only in relation to the skills that I’m developing, but also the teams that we can create and bring together. So with the Impling site project as an example, we just had this really dynamic group of students and it was just really, it was inspiring to watch all of the students were centered around this one research project. But everyone is bringing different sets of skills and really epistemologies from their different disciplines and we were able to create so many different layers to the project. And one of those was a website, which I think Dr. Thompson mentioned and I had never had any experience with anything website related before this project. So yeah, for me, it was a very new experience. And my role on the project was threefold mostly. With the supervision of Dr. Thompson sort of did my own research within LGBTQ studies and rural queer studies to make a set of pedagogical modules so that the film could be situated squarely within the academic field for those who would access it through the website. And then I also worked on some content analysis. We looked at moments of metro normativity or how the rural gets imagined in popular culture, where we were able to just compile a large list of movies and TV shows and analyze them from this framework. And then lastly, I am currently still working on a distribution plan. So I’ve been in contact with film distribution companies and writing, I wrote a piece on how to put on a film festival. And really throughout all of this, I’ve been prepared in a multitude of levels, not only actually gaining new skills, but also through the nitty gritty, just academic research and also seeing where are good sites of analysis and broadening this possible sites of analysis, and then also seeing different ways to build this argument has been really instrumental and I think will be very instrumental going forward with my senior thesis.

- Can I say one more thing about that? So Tate said that there were multiple levels of things that happened in the film. And so just to gesture again to what can happen when you create a research team that is multidisciplinary. The film that I made includes an original animation of the concept of metro normativity. So for people who are new to it, there’s a cartoon and I collaborated with the animation studio and a couple of students did independent studies with me in order to complete that component. And a couple of other students, I worked with them to write an original song and we created a music video about metro normativity and that ends the film. So it’s this really wacky movie that never could have come together at all if it hadn’t been for really, truly interdisciplinary, collaborative work with students.

- All right. Thank you all. I’m gonna pause here for a quick second and let people take a sip of water as we transition to the Q and A piece here and just share some info about, again, who’s on our panel.

Where are they now?

Middlebury alumni live around the world and contribute to their communities in innumerable ways. Join us as we check in with a group of our former Admissions Senior Fellows and hear how their Middlebury experience has shaped their current lives.

- Good evening, everybody. Welcome, welcome. Hello, new friends. I’m Nicole Curvin, I’m the Dean of Admissions here at Middlebury College and excited about the conversation we’re going to have this evening to hear from some recent graduates of the College, hear about their experiences, both as Middlebury students and beyond. It’s really exciting for me personally, to welcome back some folks who have spent some time in the Admissions Office with us telling their story and interacting with perspective students. So excited about the conversation ahead. I’m going to go ahead and throw it over to introductions and have each person just tell us a little bit about them, how they got to Middlebury and where they are now. So I’m going to throw it over to Toni to kick us off.

- Hi everybody, welcome. My name is Toni Cuevas, I’m Class of 2018. I’m originally from Los Angeles and then went to school at Middlebury in Vermont, and then now I’m living in the Bay Area so I made my way back to California. I’m entering my third year as a first grade teacher in the Bay Area, and that’s been really exciting and interesting to transition to virtual learning. A little bit about how I chose Middlebury, it was one of the few East Coast schools that I had applied to. I wanted something that was completely different from what I was used to and I definitely found that in Vermont, coming from the West Coast. A couple of the things that I did at Middlebury, I studied American studies and education studies. I had several jobs on and off campus, one of them being a senior fellow admissions job my senior year. I rode crew for three years, I was captain my last year, I worked with several professors as TAs, and I was really involved with mentoring on campus, specifically with first-gen students and being a First@Midd leader. And I just had a great time at Middlebury and I think a lot of the roles that I played led me into leadership and mentorship, which then eventually led me into teaching.

- Thanks for sharing. Kahari, can you do your introduction?

- Everyone, welcome. I’m super excited to be here. Always love giving back to Midd. My name is Kahari Blue, I am in the class, was in the Class of 2019 at Midd. I’m originally from New Haven, Connecticut and I’m currently living in Jersey City in New Jersey, right across the river from downtown Manhattan. So I ended up at Middlebury, I honestly think for very practical reasons, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I think I was ambitious and had a classic high school obsession with prestige and applied to a lot of schools and got into Middlebury. And it was the school that, you know, was the most, I thought would give me the most opportunities after college. And also it was the school that gave me the most money, but then of course there are things that I really loved about the school. I am obsessed with theater, theater is my life and Middlebury has a really excellent theater program and I knew that I wanted to pursue theater at a liberal arts college rather than a conservatory because I also wanted the opportunity to explore different parts of myself. So the theater program really excited me at Middlebury and they had this summer program where essentially you get to work at an off Broadway theatre with your professors and fellow students, which I had the opportunity to participate in after my sophomore year. So that was probably the biggest sell for Middlebury for me. At school, I was a theater major and minored in education studies and African American studies. Really loved academics at Midd, especially in the arts and social sciences and the humanities. I had many jobs on campus, but mainly worked in the Admissions Office senior year as a senior fellow giving information sessions to students. I worked in the Financial Aid Office on campus and also worked for a program called Green Dot, which is our violence prevention program on campus. And then beyond that was involved in the arts beyond theater. I’m a singer as well, so I did acapella, which was so much fun, made a lot of great friends and yeah, that’s pretty much the extent of what I did at Middlebury, but as I’m sure the people will co-sign on this panel, there’s so many things that we get involved in in our four years that we can’t possibly consolidate it into this couple minute intro. Right now, I work at Goldman Sachs in New York city as a diversity recruiter, so that was always a classic part of my info session, I’d be like, I’m a theater major and I’m working at Goldman Sachs, which you think is a unique kind of path that Middlebury helped me get to. And I think the combination of my academic studies at Middlebury led me to my specific role of diversity recruiting specifically, you know, the focus in African American studies and the focus on education. So the primary responsibility I have in my role right now is recruiting students from historically black colleges and universities to roles at the firm. So definitely connected to my passion for black advancement in this country and also my interest in higher education. I can go on, but I’ll stop there and I’m sure you’ll get to know me better as this panel goes on.

- Thanks, Kahari, and I just want to let participants know that you can, for questions in the Q and A, we’re hoping to get some good questions after we get through introductions. And now I’m going to throw it to Joe.

- Hey, everybody, glad to be with you tonight in this space, really excited to talk to y’all. I am coming to you tonight from Little Rock, Arkansas, where I work as a news reporter. Originally I am from Wisconsin though. I grew up in Northeast Wisconsin in the Fox River Valley, kind of south of Green Bay. I was Class of 2015 at Middlebury, which feels like a long time ago now, but not all that long ago, I keep trying to remind myself and yeah, similar to what other people said, I attended Middlebury, I was really attracted by the kind of the rigorous academics, the small environment there. I was interested at the time in seeing a different part of the country from Wisconsin. And I had a great experience, I was really involved with the campus newspaper when I attended, I was the editor in chief my senior year of the newspaper, which coincidentally is called The Campus, the Middlebury Campus, and did some other activities as well. I was on the academic judicial board at the College, did some really great internships in the summers in between and I think I really can see a through line between the academic work that I did there as well. I was a history and political science major, and then kind of the reporting skills that I have to rely on now in my job as a news reporter, you know, I can potentially talk about that a lot, but yeah, I really see a connection between the combination of campus newspaper work, studying history and poli sci, and then the reporting skills that I rely on in a daily basis working for the statewide newspaper down here. I think that just about covers it for me, so I’ll throw it back to you, Nicole.

- Thanks Joe, Thilan, would you do your introduction?

- Hey, everyone. Great to be here today, I graduated in the Class of 2016, originally from the Toronto area, so from Ajax, Ontario, and made my way down to Vermont for an incredible four years. And currently I am in Philly where I’m a med student at Penn, but I guess working my way back from where I am now, when I graduated, I was a molecular biology and economics major and really did not know what I wanted to do after graduation. And so like Kahari, I ended up at Goldman Sachs where I was working in investment research, covering retail and fashion stocks, then moved into the biotechnology industry where I worked in corporate development and mergers and acquisitions, and then moved into healthcare consulting. And I did all of that in the span of three years and so if you are wondering how portable a liberal arts degree is or Middlebury degree is, I mean, I think that speaks to it. Wouldn’t recommend having three jobs in four year, or four jobs in three years, but it was a lot. And I think each and every single job that I had was through some connections to the Middlebury networks, so whether that was my first job at Goldman, where I directly worked with alumni that were recruiters or were currently working at the firm to using our CCI to get a job intro to at Trinity partners, which is a healthcare consulting firm I worked at. I think it really goes to show you how strong that community is, not only during your four years, but also afterwards. And I ended up in med school in large part due to my academic experiences at Middlebury. My first day of class at Midd was, it was a class called Making Babies in a Brave New World. And it was taught by Professor Khan Bell, she’s in the Biology Department and it was my first-year seminar, so she served as my academic advisor for my first two years. And I fell in love with the class. I loved working with her so much that I ended up deciding to work in her lab. So I was a TA and a research assistant in the Biology Department. And those experiences led me to kind of consider medicine a bit more and so during J-term, which is the term that we have between our two normal academic semesters in the fall and the spring, I took the EMT class my freshman year and so I worked as a fully licensed EMT in the state of Vermont for four years during my college experience. And just some other things I did on campus, worked as a senior fellow like everyone else here, I helped start our nonprofit consulting club on campus and traditions are a big part about the Middlebury experience and so I helped lead the Admissions committee, which is a part of our activities board.

- Great, thanks. Nia, do your introduction, thanks.

- Of course. Hi everybody. My name’s Nia Robinson, I’m originally from Chicago, I’m from Chicago and a member of the Class of 2019. After graduation, I moved to New York City and I lived on the Lower East Side and now I live in Brooklyn, but I still have strong ties to the Lower East Side through things that I do. At Middlebury, I was a sociology major. I also spent a lot of time in the Admissions Office like everyone else here. I spent a lot of time at Crossroads, the student run cafe, I worked there all of my four years. I was a member of student government, the Black Student Union. I also did poetry, so I think I kind of, even though I think looking back, it kind of felt like I jumped around a lot, I think I’ve been looking at the common thread between all of my activities and I think if anything, now that I have graduated and I’m currently working at a law firm, at Sullivan and Cromwell trying to figure everything out, and I think my Middlebury education and my experience at Middlebury, like Kahari mentioned how we all do a lot of things, I think that’s something that I’ve been working on continuing in my postgraduate life. In terms of my path after Middlebury and after graduation, even though I didn’t really, I was a member of the community judicial board and that was kind of the only legal quote unquote thing that I did, but it was a Middlebury student who referred me to the job that I have now and who helped me throughout the process. And now that I’m in the middle of a job search, especially in a pandemic, but just generally trying to switch industries, Middlebury has definitely demonstrated to me, or at least confirmed the reason why I wanted to graduate from there and go through my four years there in the first place. And it’s been really rewarding being able to meet new alums, meet students who are currently there, students who I may have overlapped with, but I didn’t really get to talk to, all under the guise of, we’re just all trying to figure things out right now and I think I am so grateful to have been able to have Middlebury as my alma mater and in the future, my soft plan is to do a joint JD MBA. And I think Middlebury definitely is and has prepared me for that, not only through being able to juggle a lot of different things, but then also just putting me in the network of so many people who can answer the questions that I have. And so I hope that we’re all able to do the same for you during this panel, and I encourage you all to just ask your questions using the Q and A.

- Great, thanks everybody for sharing. Just want to throw a quick slide up to remind people of who’s on the panel and certainly feel free to send questions directly to each individual if you’d like and excited to continue the conversation. Terrific, so -

- About a lot, because every single time that I’m making like a career choice, or an interest choice, I always think of like, okay, like what can I do so far and like, what am I willing to learn? I think the biggest way that Middlebury has prepared me is just allowing me a multitude of opportunities to just discover what I truly like. And so as I mentioned before, I had various jobs on and off campus, I realize now that most of them are in education, which is not something that I realized was like a pattern for me. My first three years on campus, I worked at a local daycare center in town, like just down the street from the College and that was really my first experience with education and like younger children and education, and that was just an amazing time, an amazing experience. I built bonds with the families of these children, who many of them are actually professors on campus and so I got to actually like go to dinner with them at their home. They thanked me for like having this awesome experience with their child at their daycare center. And then looking to like the ways that I was a leader on the crew team, with First@Midd, our first generation student focused orientation week, just all of that made me realize that I was pursuing a path in education and unfortunately I started a little bit too late to be an education studies major, but I was a minor and that really helped me understand how our education system works in this country, how it uplifts and also disadvantages groups across our country. And so I realized that I wanted to work in the capacity of education and work in a classroom so that I can create the best experience for my students. I also, not only am I a first grade teacher, I actually am the middle school volleyball coach at my school. So like being able to be in sports at Middlebury was like a huge part of choosing to take on that role. This year, I actually just accepted a role to be on our lead teacher team. Those are the teachers that decide what to do for professional development, decide what our schedules are going to be, they do expectations for teachers and so if I hadn’t had a lot of mentorship and leadership roles at Middlebury and if I hadn’t been given those opportunities, I don’t know if I would be doing all of these awesome things within my career and so I’m just really thankful that Middlebury kind of just lays all the opportunities out for you, whether it’s extracurricular, academic, whatever it is. And you find that after Middlebury, your interests just continue. I think a lot of us have like really spoken to that point and how we find a love for things that we may not have realized that we love and then we take them with us once we graduate and leave campus.

- Thank you, thank you. Thilan?

- So when looking back, like the path I’ve taken to get to where I am, I think Middlebury plays such a fundamental role in each step along the way. I can remember my first day on the job at that investment bank, and it was like a 16 hour day and I was just so tired at the end of it. You’re just getting emails and calls and having to work and be challenged in so many different ways professionally. And I think the most critical skills I got out of my time at Middlebury was the ability to critically analyze a text, to read, to write, to communicate effectively. I think those are skills that are so invaluable in whatever career path you’ve taken after your time at Middlebury. I think all of us here are proud to speak to that and those are skills that are so fundamental to the academic experience of Middlebury, but also the social experience. You’re debating the ideas in the classroom, outside of the classroom with friends and peers from so many different walks of life or backgrounds that are so different than your own. And looking now, I’m in professional school, I feel like I still leverage all of those skills, but also those kind of softer skills, the community building I think is such a big part of all our time at Middlebury. We always look to challenge ourselves as a group of students, faculty, and staff to make the institution better and I think that is something that I personally have taken in my current grad school and professional school that I meant to take that, to always see how I can improve myself and help up with my peers around me. And I think that’s one thing that Middlebury really instilled in me throughout the jobs I had after college, but also my graduate school experience.

- Thanks, Kahari?

- I think Middlebury taught me how to learn. Very basic, but not. I think I came into the school with certain strengths and then left with totally new strengths that I just cultivated through my coursework. Middlebury’s really rigorous and I think I figured out how to get a lot of things done at Middlebury and how to learn new things kind of along the way. So I spoke about being a theater major and now I’m working at this investment bank and I think Middlebury didn’t directly prepare me to work at a bank, but Middlebury prepared me to figure out how to learn how to bank, because I don’t know, I feel like my potential is kind of limitless because of how hard I worked at Middlebury and how many things I had to pick up along the way to be successful there. And that’s something that I’m definitely applying to my career now so, you know, even though I’m going down this path right now, if I in three years decide I want to do something completely different, I’m not holding myself back because I have the confidence in myself to pick up the new skills that I’d need to pick up to be successful in the other field. And I think also in addition to learning, Middlebury taught me how to unlearn in really important ways. So I think, I don’t know, like I took education studies classes where I learned about indigenous communities and how the education system isn’t very accessible to them or really cognizant of their traditions. And like, that was a big thing I had to like unlearn, kind of the things that I assumed were correct about the education, you know, the education industry and had to then unlearn that and learn the ways in which the education industry was very unfair and that we had to dismantle a lot of the systemic issues within the industry to make it more equitable. And I think that’s another skill, in addition to being able to pick things up, I’m able to unlearn things to help get rid of bad habits, to help recenter myself in really important ways. Like this isn’t really career it’s more life, but this COVID pandemic came and one of the risks, like one of the things that could make you high risk of you know, passing away from the virus or something is being obese, and I was obese and I had lived my whole life like overweight and I was just concerned so I completely changed my lifestyle this past six months and have been really focused on unlearning all of my eating habits, unlearning not working out and it’s had some really profound changes. I’ve lost like 70 close to 80 pounds, I don’t know why I’m talking about my personal life, but here we are, and I think that’s Middlebury, you know, Middlebury taught me how to identify things that aren’t working and think really critically about how you can either change things within yourself or work to change these messed up systems to make us all able to breathe a little bit easier and just make us lighter, freer, and I definitely thank my Middlebury experience for instilling that in me ‘cause I think it’s just been hugely transformative.

- Thank you, Nia?

- So I think for me two important things that Middlebury taught me was one, how to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations and then two, how to be comfortable with saying I don’t know, but saying I’ll try to figure it out. And I think the two have really helped me in my current position as a legal assistant, but I think just generally as I’m navigating postgraduate life, it’s really freeing to be able to say, I don’t know, but I’ll do my best to figure it out because I think the results that I get kind of are much better than if I pretended like I knew everything. Yeah, and so I think, I mentioned, you know, trying to get back into the job search and just generally thinking about being a young professional recently graduated, figuring all of that out. I think Middlebury graduating just made me feel like I can do anything. And instead of that kind of feeling like, even though it can be daunting, ‘cause I want to do everything, if anything, I don’t know, I think I feel like I can do anything because I have my people at Middlebury who can help me out with it. And I think that’s one of the most important things that you should look for in an institution because yes, your four years are important, but you have a long, long life after those four years and I see Middlebury as an institution that’s going to continue being in my life. And whether that is reaching out to the CCI, I know someone mentioned Midd2Midd, I think over the past three weeks, three or four weeks, I’ve had at least like 14 different informational interviews and a lot of those came from Midd2Midd, but Middlebury grads just sharing other information, other contacts with me and it’s really nice just to be in a community where everybody just wants to keep paying it forward. So yeah, I think no matter where I go or no matter what I decide to do, I know that I have the support of Middlebury, so…

- Terrific, and Joe?

- Completely agree with everything that everybody else has said so far. I think I will just say that for me, I can say with near certainty that I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in today, I probably would not be, you know, doing what I’m doing and having such a rewarding and invigorating career in journalism were it not for Middlebury and if you were to take out kind of any one of those three legs of that stool of extracurricular, academic, career advice at Middlebury, that looking back on it, I think really helped get me where I am. You know, I don’t think I’d be here and you know, like my fellow alumni were saying, I think Middlebury impacts you in ways that you can’t really predict how it’s going to influence the rest of your path after you leave. And so it’s a really exciting thing to be able to take advantage of everything the school has to offer. Yeah, that’s all I got.

- So thank you to everybody for sharing. It is really inspiring to hear the flexibility of the liberal arts, you know, in action in all of your experiences and I know that it was rewarding for our participants tonight to hear not just about your time at Middlebury, but what you’re up to today. So I want to thank everyone, especially the Admissions team that pulled this all together, this conversation, and I’m looking forward to more reunions with senior fellows and having conversations about the way that Middlebury has been a connection for you. So good evening to everyone, thank you for joining us and thank you, thank you for your inspiring words and your reminder to find passion and enjoyment in the college process. Good evening.

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