More (Friends) in Four. More (Friends) in a Lifetime.

Here I am at the end of my sophomore year feeling sentimental because three of my closest friends here on campus are graduating soon. This may seem like something that is completely irrelevant to some but I think that this particular situation speaks to how the dynamics at Kalamazoo College work in terms of creating friendships and relationships, and maintaining those connections. During my first year here at K, my friend group primarily consisted of other first year students due to participating in LandSea, orientation week, First Year Seminars, and living in one of the all-First-Year dorms. This wasn’t a bad thing by any means. I was very comfortable within my group of friends and was glad I had a stable and strong group of individuals that made my transition from high school to college seem so smooth and comfortable. However, I’ve been able to connect with more people this year for various reasons.

Being a sophomore is very different from being a first year student, and I’m sure that is not a surprise to anyone reading this. When you’re a sophomore you have a year of college experience and have become familiar and more comfortable with the college environment. Yet here at K, the sophomore experience is a little different since you and the seniors essentially run the school. Due to a new wave of first year students and practically all the juniors being on study abroad, student organizations and events typically come down to the responsibility of the sophomores and seniors. This dynamic serves as a catalyst for communication and connection between the two different classes. I have been lucky enough to really get to know seniors in the student organizations and classes I am in because of this dynamic.

Specifically, I have gained three senior friends that I am so grateful to have gotten to know. The three of them have helped guide me through sophomore year (which can be overwhelming because of the responsibility you now have). Through them, I have gained more confidence in certain areas of my life (such as writing and leading) and have been reassured that I don’t have to have everything figured out. One is a Psychology major that will go to medical school, one is an English major who has actually graduated early and will pursue her MFA at a graduate school in northern Michigan in the fall, and the other is an English major who will attend a publishing program at the University of Oxford in England from September to December. The three of them through their own experiences, challenges, and triumphs have taught me that even though their post-grad plans sound so sure and concrete, it took time and effort for them to fall into place. I am beyond thankful that I have had the three of them to serve as friends, mentors, and supporters. That’s the thing about this weird dynamic here at K, it can expose you to some of the most influential people, and I hope one day I will pass on all that they have given to me.

Karina Pantoja ‘20

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

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

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

Making an Impact at K

Guess who’s back, back again. After a summer of work and new adventures, I’m happy to return back to the Zoo (although I do live only 30 minutes away from it) and surround myself with the people and opportunities that make me want to dive deeper into my surroundings. It has been interesting to be back on campus and not be the “baby” of the school anymore. Last year was dedicated to figuring out what I was passionate about and what I wanted to further pursue, both academically and socially. It was during last year that I was able to solidify a pretty great, empowering, and diverse friend group while getting involved in organizations on campus that made me excited about their opportunities. One organization that I absolutely fell in love with, and will be in charge of along with a few other members, is a workout group called K Team. K Team really did find a special place in my heart (I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true) and made me want to be a part of the organization’s future and impact on campus.

The student organization K Team is a newly founded self-care and workout group on campus whose goal is to create space for marginalized bodies in the gym environment while taking part in self-care practices. This organization has to be one of my favorites because we emphasize the importance of becoming comfortable in your body and connecting with your body. This year I will be holding the position of Co-Facilitator along with four other women. As excited as I am to change exercise and self-care culture at K with some wonderful women, it is intimidating to take on such a big leadership role as a Sophomore. I often feel nervous about holding this position because I feel as if I’m not qualified enough to do so. However, I have to remind myself that this entire experience is a learning one and that the organization itself is still in the stages of improvement and growth.

I think that’s one thing I really enjoy about Kalamazoo College– that you’re able to take on leadership roles early on in your college career. Typically at bigger universities, you more than likely wouldn’t take on a leadership position in an organization until your Junior or Senior year. Fortunately, K’s small size and opportunity for Juniors to Study Abroad or Study Away, open up a platform for underclassmen to step into that position. I am really thankful and excited about this new leadership role, along with a few other ones that I will hold this year, and will keep you all posted on how it goes, so stay tuned!

-Karina Pantoja ’20

Top 5: What I Look For In an Application

As students begin the college search and application process, one of the things they’re often anxious about is how their application will be evaluated by a college. A lot of students stress themselves out trying to craft an application that represents who they think colleges are looking for—rather than an application that best represents their individual achievements and interests.

When I read applications, I’m looking for students who are academically qualified and will enrich our campus’ living and learning community. Read more below for insight into specific pieces of the application process.

Kalamazoo College Admission Counselor Rudi Goddard
Rudi Goddard                         Assistant Director of Admission
  1. Academic Strength

This one is pretty obvious. You are applying to be a college student—you’re going to spend a lot of time taking classes. I review a student’s transcript thoroughly, especially noting their GPA and the rigor of curriculum. I want to see a student has challenged himself or herself by taking the most rigorous courses their school offers—especially in junior and senior years.

  1. Personal Passions and Involvement

Who are you? What do you like to do? What are you most passionate about and how will you be involved on our campus? Students at Kalamazoo College keep themselves very busy—we don’t want to enroll someone who is going to spend all of their time in the library—so I look for students who have invested significant time, energy and/or leadership in a few activities.

Don’t join 10 new clubs senior year just so you can write them on your application.

Don’t list the activity you think “sounds good” at the top of your extracurricular activities if it’s not the one to which you’re most devoted.

And don’t forget to mention participation you might not think of as a traditional school activity; for example, working a part-time job, publishing your creative writing in a local paper or online journal, shouldering significant family responsibilities, etc. Anything you do between sitting in class and sleeping could be an extracurricular activity!

  1. Writing Ability

Kalamazoo College’s curriculum is writing-intensive—no matter your major—so a student’s writing ability (demonstrated in the personal statement essay) is very important. A well-written essay will be error-free, interesting and tell me something about the student I wouldn’t have learned from any other part of their application. The best essays I’ve read are very focused: it’s not possible to distill everything that makes you a unique individual into 650 words or less, so don’t try. Instead, think critically about one idea or experience that is meaningful to you and/or has shaped you in some way.

  1. Fit With K

This one may seem obvious, but it should be apparent from your application you like Kalamazoo College and are interested in spending four years on our campus. If you’ve done your research, you know K is a good fit for you, so don’t be shy to tell us why you think we’re a great match!

  1. But What about Test Scores?

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the ACT or SAT. That’s because Kalamazoo College uses a Test Optional application process. You are not required to submit standardized test scores as part of your application materials and your scores will not determine your admission decision, nor will they factor into merit scholarship allocation. If you think your test scores are a strong indicator of your academic potential—or perhaps a stronger indicator than, say, your GPA—you are more than welcome to send them to us.

Read more about our Test Optional admission policy.

Note: International students must demonstrate English language proficiency, and they may choose to use ACT or SAT scores to do so. Read more about English proficiency requirements for international students.

Rudi Goddard, Assistant Director of Admission

Entering College with an Undeclared Major

There is a common misconception that students should know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives the moment they step foot on their college campus. In actuality, a large portion of students enter college with an undeclared major or have little to no idea what career path they want to follow and use their college experience to figure it out along the way. I like to think Kalamazoo College’s K-Plan works best for students who are unsure of what they want to do, because it allows for a little trial and error with minimal consequences. The K-Plan is built to prepare you for what’s next, and one important piece of that is to give you opportunities to explore with the support of the institution behind you.

Jessica Williams     Admission Counselor

Let’s take a look at the first component of the K-Plan Depth and Breadth in Liberal Arts. At Kalamazoo College, students do not officially declare their major until the middle of their sophomore year. Although some students are very certain what they want to major in, we encourage everyone to take different kinds of classes and explore different departments. By the time you declare your major, you will have taken fifteen classes. That’s fifteen opportunities to figure out what you like and we hope by then you land on one (or two!) department(s) you want to major in. One question I always get when I say this is “But will I still graduate on time? I REALLY don’t know what I want to major in”. Yes, you will still graduate on time *Hears sigh of relief from every senior around the world*. With our open curriculum and minimal requirements, time to explore different areas of study is built into a 4-year graduation plan.

In the same vein, there are students who know what they want to study, but they do not know how they can turn their interest into a career. Many people have grown up with the notion that there are three major career paths – doctor, lawyer, and teacher – and feel a little out of place when they come to the realization that their passion does not perfectly align with any of these careers. Kalamazoo College has an externship program called Discovery, and just as the name implies, it provides students with the opportunity to discover a variety of career paths as early as the end of their freshman year. Students get the chance to take a glimpse at what their life can look like 5, 10, or 30 years from now and are able to decide whether this is something they want to pursue before diving deep into a major. The ability to see a variety of career possibilities helps our students find a career path that is right for them early in their undergraduate career.

In short, I know walking into college not knowing what you want to do can seem scary, but the K-Plan provides you the space to ask questions, explore, and grow, so that you can be successful and thrive at anything you decide to do.

Jessica Williams, Admission Counselor

The Kalamazoo College Dictionary

Here at Kalamazoo College, we have a LOT of slang: we abbreviate everything and make up nicknames for what can’t be abbreviated. As upperclassmen, we utilize many of these terms every day—therefore, we’ve compiled a vocabulary list that we think all incoming students (and even some current students who haven’t quite got it down yet) need to know.

Behold! You are about to read the essential guide for understanding what all of the students are talking about on campus: the first edition of the Kalamazoo College Dictionary!

K: This is how we all refer to our beloved school. No one calls it Kzoo, and very rarely do people say Kalamazoo College. When off campus, the word College is usually added to the end to clarify for any non-Hornets.

DOGL: stands for Day of Gracious Living, a beloved tradition at K. It started a few decades ago as a volunteer day after a tornado, but has since developed into an annual, impromptu day off of classes in the last few weeks of spring quarter. To celebrate, the majority of students take a trip to the nearby beach in South Haven.

NOGL: Night of Gracious Living occurs the night before DOGL, commencing when DOGL is announced. Students can often be found swarming Walgreens down the road or a nearby Meijer for beach day provisions, and later many students gather to celebrate with friends. There’s no time for homework on NOGL. In recent years, NOGL has turned into a campus-wide event with variety of outdoor games, prize giveaways, and free food taking place on the Quad.

Lib: refers to Upjohn Library. Very rarely do people say this out loud, but it’s often abbreviated on social media, in text messages, and sometimes even on a class syllabus.

Stacks: The Richardson Room is the technical term for this on-campus sandwich shop; however, you’ll never hear anyone call it that. The school’s former food supplier was a company called Stacks, and the name was quickly adopted for the cafeteria alternative. Though the school switched suppliers in 2013, Stacks stuck with us!

Cavern: The basement of the Stetson Chapel. Student volunteers and the Chaplin work here, spiritual/religious groups meet here, and there is always free tea and cookies available for students. Fun fact: this is also the only study space on campus with no wifi!

Caf: The Cafeteria. Enough said.

Quad: the grassy area in front of Hicks Student Center. On nice warm days, many students can be found here studying, eating lunch, or just hanging out with friends. (And when it starts to snow, you can bet that we go sledding!)

Sev-Crissey Lot:  the parking lot where most students park their cars. Sev is short for Severn, one of the upperclassmen residence halls.

SIP: Senior Individualized Project; it’s a thesis/very large project completed during a student’s senior year that is required to graduate.

Stress Culture: A term dropped very often by both students and faculty, K students will often compete with each other about who is the most stressed. As easy as it can be to join, DO NOT FEED INTO THIS—you will feel much better if you don’t!

Book Club: The on-campus coffee shop located on the first floor of the library. It’s also a very popular study spot, or a good place to meet for group projects.

FAB: The Lights Fine Arts Building, home to the arts and music departments. You will often hear students saying that they “live in the FAB”, meaning they spend the majority of time there.

OU: refers to Olds-Upton, an academic building that houses the Psychology, Math, Physics, Political Science, and Computer Science departments.

K Bubble: (1) the campus; (2) the mindset acquired from spending time on our small liberal arts campus.

Zoo Flicks: Every Friday night, there is a movie shown on campus, complete with free soda and popcorn. Often, the movies are new releases (sometimes they’re even still in theaters!).

Zoo After Dark: Events held every Saturday night that are organized by different student organizations (examples include laser tag, roller skating, karaoke, comedy nights, mini golf, etc.).

Everything suddenly starts with “K”: If a word starts with a hard C sound, when you get to Kalamazoo, you’ll find you start spelling it with a K instead. If it’s an event that has a generic name, odds are there will be a K stuck in the front of it. (Many students even refer to the school as “Kollege” on social media, or when text messaging.)

K-Plan: What you do with your time at K; it’s the College’s individualized approach to the college education.

Frelon: (1) The on campus dance group—anyone can join, no experience necessary. (2) The shows put on by the Frelon organization every Fall and Spring.

Quarters/Weeks: Instead of a semester system, our schedule is comprised of three 10-week quarters. K students will often measure time by referring to the specific week of the quarter rather than the actual date. Example: “I’m going to present my SIP during the 6th week of spring quarter.”

CCPD: The Center for Career and Professional Development; a resource center that helps students with internship and externship placements, resume building, and many other professional services.

CIP: The Center for International Programs, which is the home for all things related to study abroad or study away. (It is spelled out like C-I-P, to avoid confusion with “SIP”).

Study Away: An additional option for students who want the experience of studying away from K’s campus without leaving the country. Programs are located throughout the United States, and usually involve an internship and/or a large academic project near the end.

Living Learning House: The closest thing we have to Greek life on our campus. Each has a certain theme chosen by the students who live there. Members of each house also put on community events related to their specific themes twice a quarter.

Tender Tuesdays: Another awesome food deal! At the edge of K’s campus is a restaurant called the University Roadhouse: all around awesome food, but their chicken tenders are to die for—and on Tuesday nights, you can get a basket of them for $3!

Sweetwaters: the famous 24/7 drive through donut shop in Kalamazoo. A car is needed to get here (its a pretty far walk, about an hour one way) but every once in a while, teachers will bring them to class. Occasionally, the caf will serve them for breakfast on Tuesday and Thursdays, and you can also find them in the Book Club at least once a week.

The Dungeon: The school’s black box theater, located in the basement of the FAB.

The Playhouse: refers to the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, where most of the productions put on through the Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo occur (located next to Dow Science Center).

Dalton: refers to Dalton Theater, the largest performance space on campus. It holds the capacity of an average-sized incoming first year class (about 390-400 people, located inside the FAB).

Monte Carlo: The biggest event on campus all year: a winter formal. Students dress up (cocktail party style), and student volunteers (along with faculty and staff volunteers) run “gambling” tables all over Hicks. There’s amazing free food, prizes, and a even a dance floor.

Meal swipes/Munch Money: Purchased with your meal plan at the beginning of each quarter, you use these to eat on campus. Meal swipes grant you access to the Caf, as well as meals in Stacks or the Bookclub. Munch Money is also on your student account, and can be used to buy snacks in Stacks, coffee and food in the Bookclub, and sometimes even used to order delivery from neighboring restaurants.

K-Fest: an annual event held on the quad at the beginning of every school year. All student organizations set up tables so students can add your name to email lists, see demonstrations from clubs, and other fun events. There are also a fair number of organizations from around the community who come to give information to students about off-campus opportunities. (And, again, there are lot of free treats!)

Hicks: The student center: a.k.a., the place that has everything you need to survive at K. Home of the bookstore, the mail center, the cafeteria, Stacks, the health center, the counseling center, the intercultural center, the security office, and student housing (there’s even a game room on the second floor!).

StuDev: Student Development, where all things related to student life occur (e.g. housing and support for student organizations).

ACSJL: The Arcus Center for Social Justice and Leadership, also commonly referred to as “Arcus”. This is the newest academic building on campus (it opened in 2014): it is also a community center for all things social justice related. Its location at the top of the hill, surrounded by a wildflower garden, makes it the ideal place to study.

Art Hop: The first Friday of every month, there is an art fair in the Parks Trade Center (located downtown), Local artists open their studios so members of the community can see (and purchase) everything from paintings to sculptures to metal work. There is also a studio owned by Kalamazoo College, where seniors often display their art SIPs.

The Arb: The Lillian Anderson Arboretum is a large area of land owned by K College: it offers a look into wildlife without leaving the city of Kalamazoo. A car is required to get there, but most people are willing to go so they can around the nature preserve. Be careful! The driveway is hidden and a little hard to find the first time you go (or the second…or every time).

Trow: refers to Trowbridge Residence Hall, one of the first-year residence halls. It is the oldest residence hall on campus.

Well, there you have it—all of the terms you would ever need to know, whether you’re spending an overnight on campus or all four years!

-Izzie Kerivan ’17 and Lauren Landman ‘18

“Look, I’m Dancing!”: How an Internship at a Studio that “Inspires the World to Dance” Inspired Me

 

A now-vivid memory for me: while sitting in the holding room for one of my first auditions since temporarily moving to New York City, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who, after seeing the “Broadway Dance Center” sweatshirt I had tossed on over my dress, commented on the importance of casting musical theater performers with extensive dance experience. Though I smiled and nodded at his remarks, I had no idea how to tell him the truth: that, while I did work at Broadway Dance Center, I am not–and never have been–the trained dancer he assumed I was.

Trust me, my parents tried: when I was a toddler, they enrolled me in the first level of dance classes at the local studio, hoping to channel my constant excitement into a hobby they thought I would enjoy. However, I didn’t stick around for long, throwing tantrums every time they tried to take me to class–though I did not do so because I hated dancing. In fact, I loved dancing, but I hated “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, the song to which our recital piece was choreographed. Despite the number of toddler-style pirouettes and arabesques that I performed across our kitchen floor, my stubbornness overruled my potential dance career, and I stopped taking classes, turning to acting and singing instead.

Lauren Landman visiting Times Square
Lauren in Times Square

Fast forward seventeen years and, excluding a season on my high school’s dance team, a few quarters of jazz and modern classes here at K College, and the dance numbers in the various shows on my resume, I’ve remained relatively untrained in my dance skills. As someone who hopes to one day make a career performing on Broadway, I knew that I had to find a way to quickly catch up to my friends who had trained in dance for years–especially in tap and ballet, two styles I had never studied, but know are fundamental disciplines for any musical theater performer. Luckily for me, I received the opportunity to study away during winter quarter through the New York Arts Program, which places students from the Midwest into a ten-week internship based on their chosen career path in the arts. When chatting with my program advisor about possible internships, I mentioned wanting a job that would allow me to take dance classes on the side–to which she responded, “I know just the place.”

I started my internship with Broadway Dance Center in mid-January, spending most of each weekday working in the Public Relations/Marketing department, where my bosses welcomed me with open arms. Additionally, I received numerous opportunities to represent BDC outside of the studio. My two favorites were BroadwayCon (I saw sneak peeks of all the new shows coming to Broadway this year) and attending Good Morning America’s Oscar Nomination Celebration (where, as a VIP audience member, I watched as they announced the 2017 Academy Award nominations live–I even got my fifteen seconds of on-camera fame!).

However, my favorite moments at BDC were those when–you guessed it–I got to put on the dance shoes I had been longing to wear and spend ninety sweaty, challenging, glorious minutes in one of BDC’s many studios. While I dabbled in as many different styles of dance as I could (ranging from hip hop and barre to street stilettos and burlesque jazz), I primarily focused on developing my ballet and tap skills. I also loved that BDC offered classes in disciplines other than dance, giving me chances to further develop my acting and voice technique on days when I wanted a brief break from dancing.

Now that my internship has ended, I can honestly say that my experience at BDC has changed my perspective on dance; not only am I a more proficient dancer, but I’ve come to appreciate and respect dance as an art form much more than I did before. Dancers make their work look so easy, but finding myself in classes with many of BDC’s program students, who take classes every day from early morning until late at night, forced me to work so much harder in order to keep up. Adjusting to the daily dance classes also motivated me to take better care of myself; for dancers, but for actors and singers as well, our bodies are our instruments–and we only get one, so if we don’t listen to it and treat it as well as we can, we can end up dangerously hurting ourselves. Though I occasionally pushed myself a little too hard, as I took more classes I felt stronger and more grounded, causing me to leave each one with a smile on my face.

As for my new and improved dancing skills–well, let’s just say that I still have a long way to go. It will take a very long time for me to catch up to dancers who have been training their entire lives, but I now feel more confident in the expertise that I do have. Toward the end of my time studying away, I attended an audition in Boston where I was asked to stay and dance and, though I still found the combinations they taught us extremely challenging, I felt that I handled them much better than I could have before my time at BDC. While my schedule this quarter doesn’t have enough room for me to continue my dance training, I’m hoping to take classes consistently throughout my senior year, especially hoping to continue with ballet. Additionally, once I graduate next year, I’m also strongly considering applying to BDC’s training program, a three-to-six-month full-time program for dancers of all levels.

While I’m happy to be back in Kalamazoo, I do miss the studio (and the city) very, very much. Thank you, BDC, for a wonderful ten weeks–and for inspiring me to dance!

-Lauren Landman ‘18

Health is Wealth

One of the biggest things I struggled with during my high school career was figuring out when to keep pushing myself on assignments and when to realize I was absolutely drained and needed to give myself a break. In my specific academic environment, it seemed that if you weren’t getting A’s, you weren’t working hard enough. Anything less was unacceptable and embarrassing. With the attitude I was surrounded by, I always did my best to push myself academically while staying involved in plenty of extracurricular activities. However, there came a point during my senior year where I realized I had to give myself a break. Though my grades were achieved fairly easily and my involvement in clubs and sports had not been faltering, my body and mind were hurting. During that year I went home sick more times than the previous three years combined, and looking back, most of those instances were a result of wearing my body down from stress and fatigue. Even after resting until I was “better,” I would jump right back into the same pattern of work, work, work. It wasn’t until I came to K that I learned how vital your physical and mental health are.

The summer before my first quarter at K, so many people told me, “Don’t worry if you feel like you’re drowning. The stress culture at K is very real.” Although I heard these words from many people, I didn’t know what they meant until my second quarter here at K. Fortunately, my Fall Quarter was pretty calm. I loved the classes I was taking and worked hard in them, but I never felt overwhelmed. Yet, I didn’t know Winter Quarter would have an entirely different atmosphere. The classes I decided to take all required more from me, both inside and outside of the classroom. Along with a different course load, I was involved in more student organizations and started to work on the weekends. It all seemed so familiar that I thought nothing of it. It was exactly what I did in high school. But I didn’t last long. The overwhelming feeling soon settled in and it hit me, “This is the stress culture everyone talks about.” It was almost a scary feeling because I realized that it was hard and I wasn’t necessarily used to hard, but the professors at K knew that.

The thing I appreciate most about K is that professors understand that the stress culture is real on campus and that it is draining. Most professors encourage you to make sure your mental health is intact and that you are at a healthy place to learn and work. I have been lucky enough to have professors, especially during my Winter Quarter, that encourage my classmates and I to make sure our minds and bodies are well because if they’re not, we will not be at our full potential and will not focus as best as we can on the material and participate in the discussions. Looking back now, if I could give myself one crucial piece of advice before coming to K, I would say, “Health is wealth. Your academic performance is important, but the state of your mind and body outrank it.” I strongly encourage everyone to remind themselves that their minds, bodies, and souls come first, always.

-Karina Pantoja ’20