K Students take on the Civil Liberties & Public Policy (CLPP) Conference

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling with a group of students from K to the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) Conference in Massachusetts. CLPP is a yearly event that is dedicated to creating a space for individuals to come together and discuss reproductive justice– its history, the work that has been done, the work currently being done, and what is yet to come. The conference lasted from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and hosted a variety of workshops to attend with other events such as an opportunity to network and panels made up of activists explaining their work and organizations.

The schedule of the conference was as followed: checking in on Friday afternoon, attending a workshop, dinner, and then an abortion speak out (this is where anyone who has ever had an abortion is able to share as much or as little about their experience in a safe space). Following the speak out was the screening of the movie, Margaritas with a Straw, chosen for its representation of disabled folks and LGBTQ folks within the film. On Saturday there was an open plenary to start the day where activists from different organizations said a few words about their work or organization. This was followed by a quick lunch and then the opportunity to attend three workshops. Following the workshops was dinner with the opportunity to network with other individuals at the conference. Later that night there was an 80s themed dance party for everyone at the conference. On the last day, Sunday, we had the chance to attend one more workshop before attending the closing plenary, which was a panel consisting of four activists who talked about their work.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the closing plenary because the theme of the panel was how one can (and why one should) keep joy, liberation, and self-care at the front of their activism. All the speakers on the panel discussed how important it is to find time for self-care and to participate in the activities that make you happy. Most activists are “burnt out” by their late 20s which can mostly be attributed to the fact that many individuals keep themselves so busy and immersed in their work that they can forget to take a break, or don’t take a break for fear that it can be seen as being “weak” or “lazy” or “not as involved” compared to other activists. However, the panelists on Sunday said that self-care has only made their activism stronger and has made them feel more proud of the work they do, whether it be working to help mothers end sustenance abuse or helping women of color gain better access to education.

As someone who participates in small steps of activism and who would like to keep activism as an aspect and activity within their lives, it’s comforting to know that that doesn’t mean I should ever stop taking care of myself in order to help others. There is time and space to make sure that you are being taken care of while also improving the lives of others. No one can reach full liberation if we, as the activists, are allowing ourselves to suffer under the restraints of ourselves.

-Karina Pantoja ’20

The 2018 Career Summit: Past Hornets Return to the Hive for a Impactful Weekend of Professional Development

Springtime brings many joys here in Kalamazoo, Michigan – budding flowers, sunshine, and the long-anticipated arrival of Oberon beer from Bell’s Brewery (if you’re of age, of course!), but it is also that time of year on K’s campus when seniors begin searching for that ideal post-grad job and younger students hope to secure a summer internship. Regardless of what stage of college you are in, thinking about careers and career-building can feel daunting. There’s a lot to consider – resumes, networking, interviews, oh my! The Center for Career and Professional Development, or the CCPD, is always a resource on campus for anyone who needs their cover letters looked at or really any career assistance. But more recently the CCPD has begun facilitating a weekend-long career-building extravaganza for students to build resources and confidence when it comes to all things professional.

Conceived and sponsored by Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc., the Career Summit took place this year on April 6th and 7th, bringing in Silicon Valley executives, freelance photographers, nonprofit leaders, and more. This was the second year that K hosted the Career Summit, which provides students with an opportunity to network with professionals from various fields. The weekend consisted of many panels, networking receptions, lunches, dinners, and breakout sessions.

While the majority of the Career Summit speakers were owners of startups and businesses, students outside of the business major still found the event useful. “The conversations I had at the Career Summit pushed me to consider a wider range of career paths than my major,” says Claire Howland ’18, Biology major. “And [the Career Summit] reminded me of the versatility of a liberal arts education.”

The topic of the opening Friday night panel was non-linear career paths. Panelists shared their stories of twisting and turning paths that led them to their current job. They emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and always listening to what interests you, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what your career might look like.

“I think it was a great reminder that the K Community doesn’t go away when you graduate,” Claire continued. “The Summit made it clear to me that there is a vast network of alumni who are so generous with their time and so eager to help fellow Hornets succeed.”

Each of the twelve professionals who spoke at the Career Summit were so excited to talk to current K students; connecting them to resources and providing general career advice. They dedicated two days of their time and energy (some of them flying from the other side of the country!) purely out of a desire to help K students succeed. We can all rest assured that whatever the big scary world of career-building may bring, a robust network of alumni will always be there to support their fellow Hornets.

-Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Ten Ways to Get Through Tenth Week

It’s no secret that Kalamazoo College is academically rigorous. We may only take three classes a quarter, but all of the material that would normally be spread out across a 15-week semester is packed into only ten weeks. Luckily, there are plenty of resources on campus and off campus to help you through the tumult of finishing off the quarter.

  1. The Cavern

The Cavern is a space located underneath Stetson Chapel that has an assortment of comforts for students looking to take a break from the commotion of tenth week. Whether you need a cookie, tea, or merely a soft couch to take a nap on, the Cavern has it all. There is also no WiFi in this underground sanctuary, so if you are feeling like you just need to disconnect, this is a great place to gain some uninterrupted rest and relaxation.

  1. Exam Week Extravaganza

The Saturday night before exam week the cafeteria hosts what is called “Exam Week Extravaganza”. This event, put on by our Office of Student Involvement, has food, drink, and activities to provide students with entertainment and fuel they need to push through the final few days of the quarter. Students can come here for some food and fun – and one year there was even a mechanical bull!

  1. The A Cappella Concert

The weekend before finals week the A Cappella groups at K host their end of quarter concert. We have four a Cappella groups here on campus, and on Friday and Saturday night they perform the songs they’ve been practicing all quarter. This event is a campus favorite and provides students with a respite from studying to support their peers and hear some great music.

  1. Puppies on the Quad

The Office of Student Involvement here at K knows that tenth week is a stressful time for students. Each quarter they host some form of de-stress event during tenth week so that students can take a break from their studies. While their tenth week programming varies throughout the years, my personal favorite is when they partner with local animal shelters and bring in puppies for students to interact with. There is nothing better to energize you than cuddling a pup!

  1. The Lillian Anderson Arboretum

Sometimes, on-campus stress relievers just aren’t enough, and I need to get off campus in order to really relax. One great resource that is owned by the college is the Lillian Anderson Arboretum – a nature preserve about a ten minute drive from campus where students can reconnect with nature. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos and expectations of the end of the quarter, so having a peaceful afternoon on a nature trail is definitely one way to ease the tension of tenth week.

  1. Water Street Coffee Co.

There are several other off-campus locations in addition to the Arboretum that can help students survive their final week of the quarter. The city of Kalamazoo is full of funky little coffee shops such as Water Street Coffee Co., Black Owl Café, Fourth Coast Café and Bakery, and more. All of these locations are within walking distance from campus and can provide a way for students to get off campus.

  1. The Book Club

While taking breaks for self-care is definitely an important part of managing tenth week, sometimes the only way to get through is to hunker down and get to work. When this is the case, the Book Club – our campus coffee shop – can help. Located right on the first floor of the library, the Book Club offers brewed coffee, specialty beverages, and assorted food items. This is a great place to get the fuel you need to power through those tough assignments.

  1. The Library

Speaking of which, the library is also a great resource for students who need a quiet place to focus on their work. Our library has three floors, and as you ascend, it gets quieter. If you need to have absolute silence in order to work, you can find a private study cubby on the third floor to dive in deep with your work. If you work better in a more social environment with background noise, the first floor is the place for you. On the second floor we have the reading room – a gorgeous open space with two fireplaces, comfy arm chairs, and tall glass windows so you can soak in the sunlight while you study.

  1. The Counseling Center

Sometimes, the stress of tenth week can just be too much. When that happens, students can make an appointment with a trained, licensed professional at our student Counseling Center. This resource is completely free for any K College student, and appointments can be arranged within 24 hours of initial contact. This is an excellent resource for students who need that extra bit of support to navigate stressful times.

  1. The Fitness and Wellness Center

Self-care looks different for everyone. For those whose self-care looks like getting their body moving, the Fitness and Wellness Center is a great resource. This newly constructed building has state-of-the-art machinery that is available for free for all students and faculty. There are also squash and tennis quarts, yoga and dance studios, and a weight lifting area. Whatever exercise therapy you may need, the Fitness and Wellness center is the place to go.

Finals week is a stressful time for students at any college or university. Kalamazoo College cares about the well-being of its students and so the resources above and many others are here to ensure that everyone can navigate this intense time of the quarter. With tenth week quickly approaching, I’ll be sure to keep this list in mind!

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Going in Blind – The Roommate Search

When I was coming to K for my first year, I went into the roommate search blind. I was the only one from my high school coming to K, so I couldn’t simply live with a friend from high school. I decided to do what a lot of incoming First Years do– register for housing and hope for the best. Even though I was no stranger to having to share a space with someone, as I had already shared a room with my sister for a majority of my life, I was still nervous. What if my roommate (or roommates) were messy? What if they always wanted to blast music and never respect some quiet time for studying and homework? Or what if we just really didn’t get along? I was pretty anxious about the whole process, especially when all I could do was wait for the email with my roommate’s name and information.

I can’t lie and say that when that email finally came my worrying ceased. I think I actually became more worried. I now had the name and face of who’d I’d be living with for my first year at K, but I didn’t know what living with them would be like. I decided to reach out to my future roommate and get some basic introductions out of the way (this is something I highly recommend doing!). Even if you just talk a few times on social media or text, you can get a better sense of who your roommate might be as a person. Also, if you introduce yourselves and try to strike up a conversation in advance, it won’t be so awkward on move-in day as you two will already know a little bit about each other.

In terms of actually living with another person, it can definitely be a tricky thing. Sometimes people just click with their roommate or can adjust very easily to a new environment with new people. However, it’s definitely okay if you don’t. My roommate turned out to be super nice, very low-maintenance, and not messy at all. However, we still had to get used to each other’s presence and habits. No matter what rate you go in adjusting to living with someone, I think the best way to handle the change is to keep an open-mind. My roommate and I made sure to keep an open line of communication and not jump to conclusions over things we didn’t necessarily like or understand. For example, if your roommate is supposed to take out the trash and you come back and see it’s still there, it’s better to ask or just casually mention it to them without assuming they’re lazy or left it for you to do. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just talk and give each other the benefit of the doubt, for both the smaller and bigger things.

All in all, my number one advice to you is to trust the roommate process. once you receive your roommate assignment, remember that you both are experiencing a new place and new people together. Be sure to communicate and be understanding with one another, it can go a long way and be the first steps in creating a lasting friendship.

Karina Pantoja ’20

Make Your Way to K

Here’s the thing, at this point in the college process, you are deciding where you’re going to end up for the next four years of your life. The next four years – it sounds scary and almost like a decision too big for an seventeen or eighteen year old, but let me tell you this, you’re going to end up exactly where you need to. However, while you’re calculating the distance from home or trying to figure out what school colors you’d look better in, you should read this list of 10 reasons why you should make your way to K:

1. Our entire campus lies in (barely) a mile-long radius. It will literally, at most, take you five
minutes to walk from one end of the campus to another. Do you know how great that is in the winter?

2. We have free food at every. single. event. I’m serious, we have so much food to offer you!

3. Downtown Kalamazoo is only a short walk away. There’s everything from a movie theater to restaurants to a museum and stores just a few minutes away!

4. We have the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (also known as the best building on campus). You have the ability to get involved and attend various events with topics that range from Native American representation throughout history to resistance through art.

5. Jorge Gonzalez is the most wonderful, caring, and genuine man you might ever meet and he is also the President of the College (this is a fact). Come for Jorge, he’d love you!

6. We’re on a trimester system (three 10-week terms), which means we start school later (mid-September) and you get a six-week winter break (end of November until the second week of January) – it’s what you need, trust me.

7. The average class size at K is 13. Our small class sizes mean you get to make valuable connections with your professors, which comes in handy for recommendations and networking in the future.

8. STUDY ABROAD. I mean, let’s be real here, what schools allows you to study abroad for a full academic year and still graduate on time? (Hint: Kalamazoo College does.)

9. By the time you’re a sophomore, you have the opportunity to hold various leadership positions within student organizations. Typically, you wouldn’t serve on an executive board of a club or organization at a bigger university until your junior or senior year, but here at K, you can start as early as the end of your first year so you can go into your sophomore year holding certain positions.

10. You will literally get more in your four years here at K – from career development to study abroad to independent research, your work throughout your time here at K will put you on track to obtain more in a lifetime.

Now there you have it, ten reasons (although there are so many more) on why YOU should make your way to K. We hope to see you soon!

Karina Pantoja ’20

Monte Carlo: A Cherished Tradition

Five students dressed up for Monte Carlo
Savannah (far right) with her friends before heading off to this year’s Monte Carlo

Every college has that one event on campus that is everyone’s favorite. At K, that event is Monte Carlo. For one night during winter quarter, the Hicks Student Center is transformed into a multi-floor casino. Students, faculty, and staff arrive in their most glamorous attire to spend the night playing cards, eating delicious food, and taking pictures. The tradition dates back to the 1970s, making it something that both current students and alumni can share.

What is special about Monte Carlo, and all of the events hosted by OSI, is that it is largely planned and implemented by K students. “OSI set up a Monte Carlo Committee comprising of students from different class years and varying backgrounds,” Riya explains. “They were tasked with advising us on everything related to the event, even the minutest of all details, like what shade of white or yellow we should use for the lights.”  This committee met twice a week for several weeks leading up to the event to make sure that everything would be ready for the big night.

Four women in a photo booth photo
Photo booth pictures from Monte Carlo are a must!

One of the tasks for this committee was to recruit faculty volunteers. As is tradition, faculty members serve as dealers for the Craps, Blackjack, and Poker tables. “It’s fun to interact with your professors in a more personal way outside of the classroom setting,” Karina Pantoja ’20 comments. President of the College, Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, not only attends the event but has become quite a skillful Craps dealer over the past two years.

As a senior who has attended four Monte Carlos over the years, I can safely say that this is the most highly anticipated event of K’s academic year. In the weeks leading up to the event there is a buzz around campus as students ask each other about what dress they are going to wear and wonder about what food will be served. I am a personal fan of the spinach artichoke dip and chocolate fountain – and this year there was even sushi!

While the glamor and excitement are certainly part of the draw, the real value of this event lies in the community aspect of it. “It’s always fun to see everyone dressed up and enjoying a K tradition!” Elyse Tuennerman ’18 says. In a campus climate that deeply values academic success, it is refreshing to have a fun and fabulous event that everyone can enjoy together.

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

My Last KCACTF Experience!

While most students spent the weekend before the start of winter quarter preparing for their classes, I spent it packing. During the first week of the quarter, I only spent one day in Kalamazoo before heading to Indianapolis for the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is a national theatre festival that allows theatre departments and students from over 600 academic institutions throughout the country to showcase their work. (Kalamazoo College is a member of Region III, which includes schools from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.) In addition to attending panels, workshops, and productions, students can enter competitions related to different areas of theatre (performance, technical, etc.). Many Kalamazoo College students have earned recognition for their participation in these events: Grace Gilmore ’15 won the regional Irene Ryan Award (for Performance) in 2015, Lindsay Worthington ’17 won the regional award for “Best Sound” (in the “Theatrical Design Excellence” category) in both 2015 and 2016 (for her work on Peer Gynt and Carrie: The Musical, respectively), and Jane Huffman ’15 placed first in the “Critics” category at the National Level in 2014.

This year was my third year attending KCACTF, and each time it has been one of the highlights (if not the highlight) of my winter quarter. Our professors warned those of us in attendance that we would be exhausted by the end of the week, but I didn’t mind the early mornings and late nights, for they allowed me to fully enjoy every minute of my time in Indianapolis. I spent the week attending workshops (ranging from “On Camera Acting/Auditioning Technique” and “NYC For You And Me” to “LED Tape; A Designer’s Journey” and “Life After Graduation”), auditioning, networking, and watching shows that other schools had brought to the Festival. Not only did I bond with the other Kalamazoo College students at the Festival, I became friends with other theatre students from programs throughout the Midwest (and have remained in contact with many of them since coming back to K). I even reconnected with a girl whom I had not seen since we performed in a show together at age thirteen; now both seniors in college, we had a fantastic time catching each other up on the adventures we’ve had while pursuing the art that we both love.

Though I dreaded the end of the week, the conference ended in the most wonderful way possible: I had the opportunity to watch some of my closest friends showcase their talents onstage at the University of Indianapolis’ Ransburg Auditorium. Having been cast in an off-campus show that conflicted with the Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College’s production of Fun Home, I hadn’t been able to see the show this past November, when it was originally staged at the College. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when the news broke that Fun Home received an invitation to perform at this year’s KCACTF, because I finally had a chance to see it! The show exceeded my expectations—I was in tears at the end, both overwhelmed at the power of the story and bursting with Kalamazoo College pride/love for the department that has been my home four the past four years. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way; I saw many other audience members wiping tears from their faces after the show, representatives from the Festival awarded the company of Fun Home won the “Golden Hand Truck” (which recognizes the production that had the most organized load-in/load-out at the festival).

I would be lying if I said that coming back to Kalamazoo after such an incredible week wasn’t difficult, but I also returned to campus feeling reinvigorated, and excited for everything taking place in the Theatre Arts Department during my final two quarters at the school. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last KCACTF, and highly encourage all students who are interested in theatre to attend KCACTF at some point during their four years at Kalamazoo College.

Lauren Landman ‘18

Hornets Swarm Silicon Valley

Kalamazoo College’s winter break lasts almost seven weeks, an ideal time for students to engage in one of several career immersion experiences sponsored by K’s Center for Career and Professional Development. One of these is K to the Bay, made possible by the generosity and initiative of K alum Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc. The four-day program sends students to San Francisco to explore potential careers and network with Silicon Valley executives. K senior Elyse Tuennerman was one of the lucky students who participated this past winter break.

Students taking a photo in front of the Google building
Elyse taking a selfie in front of the Google headquarters.

As an anthropology and sociology major with a concentration in public policy and urban affairs, Elyse initially did not think she should apply.

“I thought that it was more of a technology-based program that I wouldn’t necessarily be considered for, but I met Brad [O’Neill] at the Career Summit last year and he encouraged me to apply,” she said. “A lot of the companies that groups have met with in the past and that we met with this year are either smart city- or Internet of things-based, which relate to my interests. I also talked to some people who had done it in the past and figured I might as well apply.”

And she’s glad that she did! K to the Bay provides the opportunity for Kalamazoo College students to interact with entrepreneurs and CEOs of major companies in the Bay Area and potentially jump-start their life after K.

“We got to meet with executives from Apple and Google as well as lawyers from Twitter, Facebook, and Square,” Elyse said.

Two students on bicycles in front of the Google headquarters
Elyse (right) and another “K to the Bay” participant taking a ride around the Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

The application process is very thorough for this life-changing career opportunity.

“We submitted a written application and then we had an interview with Chuck Stull, who was the academic advisor, and Valerie Miller from the Center for Career and Professional Development,” Elyse said. “And then after we were accepted, we had five training information sessions where we learned about Silicon Valley, and we prepared by doing research on the people that we would meet.”

After a month of preparation, Elyse, along with five other K students, found themselves on a flight to San Francisco.

“It was a really wonderful networking experience. It was great to get to spend a lot of meaningful time with both K alumni and executives in Silicon Valley,” Elyse said. “It was cool to get to visit office spaces and really see what life is like in these companies, which I think made it different than your standard networking event.”

Getting to meet alumni Val Cole ’83, former senior executive at Apple and now a consultant and philanthropist, was a highlight for her.

“My favorite part was getting to meet alumni like Brad [O’Neill] and Val Cole because they had so many interesting stories about their time at K and their paths  to where they are now,” she said. “It was really exciting to get to hear their stories and how much they love K.”

When asked what she felt was the value of programs like K to the Bay, Elyse said, “I think that it is a really amazing way to show students how far your K connections can go and how far alumni are spread. It can really help you get a sense of what life is like in a particular career or in a particular city and really get hands-on networking experience.”

For more information about the K to the Bay program, please visit the Center for Career and Professional Development website.

Interview conducted by Savannah Kinchen ’18

Roommate Anxiety: How I Survived Living with a Total Stranger

During the summer before I came to Kalamazoo College, one of my biggest concerns about the year ahead was how I would have to live in a small space with a complete stranger. I debated whether or not I should go in blind and let the college pair me with someone according to their Housing survey, or if I should find someone over social media to room with that had the same interests as me. Friends and family who had already experienced their first year at college had mixed reviews: stories of college roommates they were still close to into adulthood
that their school had paired them with, acquaintances they had chosen themselves, and roommates they did not get along with. To say the least, the prospect of choosing another person I would have to live and interact with everyday was overwhelming.

I waited to turn in my Housing survey, going back and forth between wanting to just get it over with and go in blind and trying to find someone online. Luckily, the Admissions Office sets up a Facebook page for every incoming class as a way for students to get to know each other prior to coming to campus. A lot of kids posted information about themselves on the page, like their prospective major, their interests and hobbies, their living and studying habits, and where they were from. I scrolled through most of the posts, noting people with similar interests or habits to mine. As the deadline for Housing requests was quickly approaching, I commented on someone’s post who said she liked to paint and loved the movie, Palo Alto – two of my favorite things. We bonded briefly and decided to room together last minute.

Since there wasn’t much on her social media pages and she went on LandSea without a phone for the last two and a half weeks leading up to Orientation, I was nervous that I knew very little about this random girl I had agreed to room with. Flash forward to move-in day, when we finally met and discovered we were in the same First-Year Seminar without even planning it. Since freshman spend the majority of Orientation with their seminar group, we got to know each other pretty quickly and ate most meals together with people in our seminar during the first couple of weeks of school. Regarding the time we spent together in our room, we laid out ground rules with our RA in the Roommate Agreement every resident has to fill out. During the first few days, we talked about standard issues, like how we preferred to study or what our sleeping habits were, but eventually we became more comfortable with each other and starting talking about our hobbies and our personal lives. As the year went on, we learned more about each other and now my roommate is one of my closest friends here at K. For something I came into college thinking would be a huge deal, living with a roommate turned out to be fairly easy. As long as you respect each other’s space, communicate about your habits and needs, and abide by the rules you and your roommate decided on in the Roommate Agreement, the two of you will be able to peacefully coexist and who knows? Maybe you’ll even become friends.

-Emiliana Renuart ’20