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December 2021

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By Kevin Corcoran
Staff Writer

Photo by Zora Duncan | Abby Poisson ’22 on a study abroad trip in Nepal.

With more than 100 programs around the world to choose from, The St. Michael’s College study abroad program has provided students the ability to travel the globe and explore new academic experiences. With five types of programs: intensive language, university liberal studies, community-engaged learning, international internships, and field-based research, students at St. Michael’s College have been able to simultaneously further their education, while also immersing themselves in unique cultures. However, like many aspects of life at Saint Michael’s, the Study Abroad Program has been deeply affected by COVID-19.

Before the Pandemic changed school and home life for St. Michael’s students, the study abroad program for the Spring of 2020 had an 88% acceptance rate, receiving 67 applications with 57 students being accepted.

However as travel bans, mask mandates, and quarantine orders began to increase, St. Michael’s ability to accept applicants decreased. 

In the fall of 2020, applicant numbers fell by 46% and only one of 31 students that applied was actually able to go on a trip. The spring of 2021 saw another decrease in applicants by 48%, but this time 4 of the 15 students who applied were accepted. The fall of 2021 saw 10 students applying and 4 students again being accepted. Looking ahead to the spring of 2022, 38 students have applied and 29 have been accepted as of November 1st.. 

Ellen Mckenna was one of four students to participate in the study abroad program in the spring of 2021. She studied in Seville, Spain. As a Spanish and MJD double major, McKenna  chose to study in Spain so that she could immerse herself in the culture and language to hone her skills. “My experience was absolutely incredible,” McKenna said.  “I became such good friends with my host siblings and their friends, and I would spend time daily with my parents,” said Mckenna. “All of my university classes were in person, and I also worked as an English assistant teacher every Monday in a 4th grade classroom, delivering lessons in English and helping the young students with their grammar and pronunciation skills of a second language,” said Mckenna. 

While she was not able to travel as much as she initially would have liked, Mckenna grew to call Seville and the city home, even becoming a local and a “regular” at her favorite cafe and wine shops.

Though COVID did restrict aspects of the study abroad program, when asked if she would recommend the program to other students, Ellen enthusiastically said “Yes! Absolutely. It was a blast, API did such a great job making us Americans feel at home, and the experience of living independently and under another family roof for four months is simply irreplaceable.”

Abby Poisson, ’2?  is currently studying in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester. “Studying abroad during the pandemic has certainly changed the trajectory of my experience in some ways, but less so in others,” Poisson said. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay with a homestay family in Kathmandu, as planned, which has made all the difference in my cultural and language-based immersion. Understandably many of my interactions with local people have had to be limited due to the risk of transmission of COVID.”

While Poisson’s experience with COVID in Nepal has provided some limitations to the experience, she is grateful for the opportunity to travel.  “Kathmandu has a mask mandate both inside and outside, so all of the students, as well as most local Nepalis, wear masks everywhere.I am incredibly grateful to be here, regardless of the restrictions and limitations that COVID has set into place, for our health and well-being.”

Poisson also has advice for students considering participating in the study abroad program for one of their semesters.

“I know that traveling during COVID can be anxiety-inducing for many and that there are inevitable risks involved, though they vary based on the country,” Poisson said. “As long as students exercise caution abroad regarding Covid, as they do in the U.S. and in our campus community, study abroad can be and still is a fulfilling and exciting experience.”

Director of the Study Abroad Program, Peggy Imai, has continuously been overseeing the study abroad process on campus amidst the COVID pandemic. 

“There are some schools that have found a pent up demand in study abroad because so many students for so long have not been able to go,” Imai said. “However, that’s not what’s happening on this campus.You have a lot of students that come here to have a community. I’ve had several sophomore students tell me that they would like to go abroad but what’s more important to them  is to make friends and establish the relationships they would have made in their first year”.

A recent survey conducted by the Study Abroad Office found that many students still wished to travel abroad but simply haven’t made it to the office to discuss opportunities. Imai  said  “This makes some sense because students have other things on their mind such as making friends and class and our application deadlines aren’t until a little bit later in the semester, but it would be better for some students to come in earlier to begin planning, especially students who are required to study abroad to complete their majors.” 

Imai said she wants students to understand that the opportunity to study abroad still exists. “We haven’t closed our doors or anything like that. Being able to experience different things is so important. If a student is for any reason not able to go abroad, I hope they don’t stop having experiences that are unique and challenging to them here at St. Mikes.”

If you wish to be a part of next semester’s study abroad programs you can find additional information and the necessary forms on the Study Abroad page on the official St. Michael’s website under the academics tab or type in the link: https://www.smcvt.edu/academics/study-abroad/  

The current deadline for the next set of trips is February 22, 2022.

By Kaela MacLaughlin
Arts, Culture, & Design Editor

Clockwise from top left: CeCe Horbat, host of the Environment and Sustainability panel, Jack Loomis, Caitlin Shea-Valentine, Chris Furlong as panelists on Nov. 2, 7:00 pm.

The annual Career Symposium at St. Michael’s College is running from Oct. 26-Nov. 17. It is a virtual event consisting of a series of webinars. Students can dial into fourteen different panels and speak with alumni from different fields. Panels include accounting, the arts and sustainability.

Ingrid Peterson, director of the Career Education Center, helps students with job searches, graduate school applications and academic major advising. 

The Alumni Board of Directors is run by former graduates of the College . According to Peterson, they select speakers for the annual Career Symposium. Angie Armour, director of Alumni and Family Engagement, explained that the first symposium ran in 2008, and is currently going fourteen years strong. Both 2020 and 2021 , were held virtually, she said.

Renée Davitt, coordinator of on-campus student employment, moderated student questions and invited three alumni panelists. Her panel is scheduled for next Wednesday. 

Davitt is an alumna from the class of 1986, and first worked with the Career Education Center as an unpaid volunteer until she was offered a full-time job . 

Josh Bardier ‘10, is on the arts and entertainment panel scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6:00 p.m.  This panel will be hosted by Heather Fichthorn ‘12. The two were in contact with each other already before he was offered a spot on the panel. He currently lives in New York City as an actor, singer, writer and director. 

“I’m going to try to tell ten years ago Josh what I would have liked to have known,” Bardier said. He explained that his reason for returning was because of his love for Saint Mike’s and its community spirit. 

Caiti Zeytoonian ‘14, was in the Law and Government panel on Nov. 2. She said that participating as a panelist was an opportunity to guide students who wished to pursue law. She said she liked the faculty and courses at St. Michael’s. She currently works at the Morgan Lewis law firm in Boston.

Margaret Wilk ’24 said she attended the symposium. “It’s good to make connections, so that’s what I took away from that,” she said.

Technology and education are taking place on Nov. 16 at 6 and 7 pm respectively. Arts and entertainment and exploratory are the final panels open for students. They are taking place on Nov. 17 at 6 and 7 pm. The registration link is as follows: https://www.smcvt.edu/outcomes/alumni/calendar/career-symposium/

By Alexander Foy
Sports & Opinion Editor

Photo by Rob Cattanach

When I packed for college, my plan was to bring my books and leave my workout gear but after a few days on campus I bumped into Bhuttu Mathews, the coach of the rugby team, and those plans changed. 

I accepted Mathews’ invitation to attend an information session about the club. At the meeting, the coaches and team emphasised the brotherhood that encompasses rugby and the team at St. Michael’s. This was appealing to me since that was one of the main reasons that I enjoyed wrestling. 

After the meeting, I was hooked. I started to fill out the forms so I could play. The upperclassmen on the team walked me through the process and offered to answer any questions I had about the forms. This support was invaluable as I was already bogged down with school work.

If I never took a step into the unknown, I wouldn’t have found this bond that eased my transition to college. 

“What happens outside of the classroom is such an opportunity for students to continue to learn about oneself, how to interact with those around them and also how to hone in on personal passions and interests,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for student affairs.

After I filled out my forms and purchased the necessary equipment, it was time for my first practice. I was nervous about going, since I knew nothing about the sport. To my surprise, I wasn’t the only one who felt outside of their comfort zone. A few upperclassmen confessed that they didn’t understand the game completely until their second season. 

My team members explained the rules and encouraged me that the game will make more sense with time. This continual support made me feel welcomed, and cemented my newfound sense of   belonging here. I started to view practice as a chance to escape class and learn rugby instead of feeling embarrassed for not knowing as much as the other players. 

I was invited to the pregame ritual of pasta dinner night and spent time with my teammates outside of rugby. After the dinner I felt more connected and less like an outsider. 

My first game action was towards the end of our first match. I was still unsure of how to play my position, but my teammates helped me figure it out.

The coaching staff asked about my experience playing for the first time. Despite my short time playing, I explained how much I enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to play again. I was glad the coaches showed interest in my experience.

As I attended practices and spent more time with the team, I learned  that some of our players were involved in other campus organizations. Some of them reached out and offered to help me get involved. Without realizing it, I became a member of the rugby brotherhood.

As the season came to an end, the team conducted a naming ritual where each new player was given a nickname. After receiving a new name, we were assigned an upperclassman to be our “big brother.” With that, we became a part of the rugby brotherhood.

Looking back on my experience on the rugby team I can not help but laugh. If I stuck to my initial plan, I would have never formed the friendships I did. I am glad that I deviated from that plan and am looking forward to continuing rugby throughout my college career. 

So, how will you scrap your plans and walk outside your comfort zone?

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon

By Lochlan Sheridan
Staff Writer

The decision to add an Equity Studies major was announced by the Saint Michaels Board of Trustees on Oct. 22. This announcement comes as the first semester winds down and students begin to prepare for finals and search the spring catalog of available classes. While the Equity Studies (EQ) program will not be implemented until the 2022-2023 academic year, interested students can take spring semester courses focused on equity, race, and disability that will set them up for the major’s future requirements. 

Katherine Kirby, philosophy professor and director of Global Studies, worked with a group of 10 other faculty members to develop the Equity Studies proposal during the 2021 spring semester.  

“We recognized a need–and a desire on part of the students– for a course of study on race and additional curricular opportunities on disability,” Kirby said in an email. This decision to add the new area of study comes to St. Michael’s at a time when racial discrimination and social injustice are talked about at high magnitudes throughout the U.S.

Vicky Castillo, ’20 assistant director of MOVE and member of the Civil Rights Alliance, also noted a need for the EQ major and how it can be beneficial to prospective students. “The knowledge and skills that would come with completing an Equity Studies major would benefit any area of work that someone could pursue, without a shadow of a doubt.” Castillo said in an email. 

In Vermont specifically, racial inequality and the marginalization of certain people have become growing problems that affect minority groups throughout the state. Because of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, minorities are still struggling to find decent-paying jobs and affordable housing. The fight for equality and racial justice is being pushed by Sen. Kesha Ram, state representative for Vermont’s Chittenden County. 

“It’s valuable to be versatile in your understanding of other communities, cultures and lived experiences,” Ram said. “Moving into a space where you’re really understanding and celebrating differences is critical for the job market and setting you up with a lifetime of enrichment and happiness.”  

Ram also explained the significance of critical race theory and why she believes it is an important concept within the EQ major curriculum. “We should be trying to create debate and the spirit that everyone can talk about different thoughts and ideas without it getting personal,” Ram said. 

Critical race theory is a highly debated topic, focused on the idea that racism is not only developed from personal bias or prejudice, but also through the legal systems and public policies that have shaped U.S. society.  While some opponents  feel that the theory is aimed to achieve racial equity through the discrimination of white individuals who have been the majority throughout the history of the United States, others such as Ram, believe that critical race theory is an essential concept for all college level students to understand and acknowledge.

Aspiring students interested in the EQ major will have the opportunity to become more diverse in their understanding of different cultures and communities they don’t personally associate with. Through a series of electives and core classes, the EQ major provides an inside look into the disparities that many minorities face throughout the U.S.

Peter Vantine, a professor of classical and modern language at St. Michaels, was another individual who worked with the group of faculty members to propose a new EQ major on campus. “The extremely wide variety of classes that will be a part of the major from across numerous departments (about 15, I think) will each bring different approaches, concepts, theories, and practices to bear on these questions,” saint Vantine in an email

While new classes related to race and disability are still being created for the EQ major, professors have a strong understanding of what the curriculum looks like for the up and coming program. “Students will take courses that explore how our society creates and perpetuates domination, oppression, marginalization and inequity in regard to race and ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality and class,” Kirby said in an email. 

Required courses for the major will fall into the following categories:  Seeing & Transforming the Systems & Structures of Society; Seeing & Transforming the Self; Competencies & Skills; Equity-themed Electives and Integrations. The major will also give students the option of concentrating in a specific track such as Race & Ethnicity, or Disability. 

Along with the continued development of future classes, Kirby explained how the group who worked on the EQ proposal, feels that the addition of this major provides a perfect opportunity for the college to hire more BIPoC (black, indigenous, and people of color) faculty members. 

President Lorraine Sterritt, who was also involved in the Equity Studies proposal, emphasizes the need for more curriculum surrounding this topic of study. 

“It brings attention to very important issues of diversity and equity which fit with the ethos of our college and are very much a topic at large” Sterritt said in an email. “I believe the EQ major will attract students who are interested in delving into topics of equity.”