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Campus Profile: Derrick Newton

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

Class Year: 2017

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Major: Psychology

Extracurricular activities: Umoja Chair, ALANA Coordinator, Housefellow of Smith, Senior Admission Fellow, Student Advisor, and Member of MOCA.

Describe a little your summer internship.

This summer I conducted research that looked at both collegiate satisfaction and expectation of first-year students of color and first generation students at primarily white institutions. Working with Antonio Jefferson, Director of Unity House, and David Canton, Associate Professor of History and Posse Mentor, we analyzed and critiqued programs, similar to our own ALANA programs, that we found at other primarily white institutions. We collected data surrounding academics, social life, and overall wellbeing. One thing I found fascinating was the improvement in grades in these students when they were placed in a safe, inclusive environment while doing work together. Some of our collected data also came from our own ALANA program. We surveyed past ALANA members asking questions surrounding what worked and not work for them during their first-year in ALANA. This feedback was vital to the restructuring of the program. As an ALANA Coordinator this year, one of my main responsibilities is to ensure a smooth transition into college for these students and to promote community engagement. So, the ALANA program was revamped to include more events such as study hall sessions and self-facilitated social programming. It was a lot of work; especially since I was conducting this research all the while acting as a Senior Admission Fellow also. You could say I had a busy summer.

What is your intended job position?

Thinking long-term, I hope to work in a private practice as a psychologist. Before that I want to really explore the field of psychology, maybe act as a school guidance counselor, or work in a clinical setting of a hospital. Really, anything related to people.

What has been your favorite class so far at Conn?

My favorite class so far at Conn was definitely my Psych Dysfunctions and Disorders course with my advisor, Prof. Audrey Zakriski.  I loved learning all about the ins and outs of mental illnesses. We really dove into the DSM5 which was fascinating. Of course, I couldn’t help psychoanalyzing my friends and myself, even though Prof. Zakriski had advised otherwise. Now I’m taking a Practicum in Psychology (PSY441) with Professor Gomez. I really love this course too! I feel like I have the chance to put all my prior knowledge to work. I intern at the New London High School with their school psychologist, observing, assisting with group therapy, mentoring students, and working with special education students. It is so interesting seeing the job that I dream of doing in the future!

Plans after graduation?

After Conn, I’m taking a year off. Grad school is definitely in the future. Right now I’m considering pursuing admissions work. I’ve worked in admissions since the summer of my first year at Conn, and my love for it has only grown. I would love to be an admissions counselor at another small school like Conn especially doing “diversity recruitment” work. I think this would be a great job for me, not only because of my experience, but also because it allows me to travel! For some reason, I feel like California is calling to me! I’d love to do that type of work at a West Coast school for a while. Other potential plans include looking into different English teaching fellowships where I could potentially live abroad while teaching. During my study abroad trip in Perugia, Italy, my junior year spring, I taught English to 4th graders. I would love to go abroad again and to it all over.

How was your study abroad trip?

First of all, the food was AMAZING. Pizza is ruined for me because nothing will ever top the Italian pizza I had almost every day in Perugia. I think what I miss most about being abroad is the space itself. It’s so different from the States. So much beauty everywhere you look. Perugia is a hilly city too so the sights of the valleys and mountain ranges are to die for. I remember feeling like I was a part of something larger than myself. There is such a sense of community there. Sitting on the steps of the church in the center of the piazza, I’d see people hanging out, singing, playing guitar, or having a beer and cigarette. We felt like one. I don’t see those types of gathering holes in the States. We have Millennium Park in Chicago and Central Park in New York City, but the feeling is not the same. I also loved traveling while I was abroad too. My program was in Perugia, but I visited countless cities in Italy. I also visited Paris, Barcelona, and Copenhagen twice! I loved that city. It felt like a real city, similar to my home, but it was just so peaceful and chill. I loved that.

Now back to Conn…

What is your favorite place on campus?

My suite in Smith. I invested so much time, effort, and money into that space. It is my sanctuary.

Fav camel moment?

During my first-year, I would sleepover in my friends Maurice and Daniel’s room in KB. We wouldn’t go to sleep until 6 in the morning after the long nights of working and talking. Those were the good old days! HAHAHA!

What is it like being a senior?

Scary and fun. Interesting. If I had an extra year at Conn minus the classes, that would be awesome. Also, I’m super nervous and just too many emotions are running through my head. I will miss Unity House because it has been a second home for me. All of my friends use the place. I will miss seeing Antonio, Dulmarie, and Jennifer (Unity House staff members). It will feel like moving away from home all over again.

Advice for first-years?

Get involved! When you get involved, you will probably meet like-minded individuals. Those people usually end up becoming your friends. When I got here I joined a lot of activities. I tried new things.  I went to the first-year a cappella concert in the Chapel and I was blown away. I had never seen acapella in person and never sang in that way. I have sung in church and with family but this was just different. After that, I decided to join an acapella group; it was spontaneous. Basically, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

Final mark at Conn?

I want to make this place a home. I remember being scared my first-year. I hope to help POCs feel comfortable at Conn, especially first-years.

Thank you, Derrick, for providing some time in your very busy schedule. Catch Derrick baking cookies in Unity House or singing his way through campus!

Viangely Asencio

Conn Coll '20

A senior at Connecticut College from Miami. Triple majoring in Sociology, Government, and Italian Studies. Competitive eater and part-time pianist. Passionate about topics in race and ethnicity and The Simpsons.
Her Campus Conn Coll