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Campus Profile: Hannah Boal

Meet Hannah Boal! Hannah is putting in a TON of work behind the scenes of the beloved show, The Women’s Empowerment Initiative. We hope you’re as pumped for the WE show as we are here at Her Campus! Read on to find out where Hannah studied abroad, where she interned over the summer, and why she had to scale a wall at 4:30 in the morning!

Class Year: 2017

Hometown: I primarily grew up in Lakeville, CT, but New York City is also home

Major: Philosophy

Minor: Art History with a Museum Studies Certificate

Where did you study away, and what was your experience like? I studied abroad in Paris and it was an absolute dream. I lucked out with a homestay with the cutest old couple in their 70’s in the most stunning apartment right near the Champs-Élysées. I was totally immersed in French culture and got to meet a lot of young Parisians while also exploring with other Americans in my program. I think study away is the best thing ever – I took a gap year in Europe before I came to Conn, so I’ve done a lot of traveling on my own and would recommend it to anyone.

Where did you do your internship after junior year? I lived in LA last summer and interned at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA is a revolutionary museum and is really at the forefront of LA’s booming arts scene, and I was very lucky to get to work on a daily basis with some incredible art – everything from Egyptian mummies to Lichtenstein prints to Mapplethorpe photographs. I loved every second of both being in LA and working at the museum, which has really helped inform my post-grad plans.

Extracurricular activities: Mostly just WE Initiative these days – I used to do a lot more clubs and was pretty involved in the LGBTQIA center, but I tried this year to set aside all my time outside of class to focus on WE so that I can help with all the different committees and be present for the directors should they need me, on top of directing four pieces of my own. Otherwise, though, I do dabble a little bit in the Theater Department – I’ve directed two plays and am about to start working on publicity for my dear friend Eva Murray’s Theater capstone project which is coming up in late April!

What is the Women’s Empowerment Initiative? The WE Initiative is an organization which seeks to represent the experiences of women and gender-non-conforming individuals on our campus through unique but unifying voices. Each year we put on a production written entirely by anonymous authors from the Conn community. In the fall, we accept the pieces and our Reading Committee goes through them to select which ones we will perform in the show. Then our Writer Liaison communicates with writers to make edits and compile the final script. In late January, we cast each of the pieces, and now we’re at the tail end of our rehearsal process in preparation for tech week, which is next week! On Saturday, March 4th at 2pm and 7pm in Evans, our cast of more than 120 will put on our production, which is titled She Is a Tempest, a quote picked from one of the monologues that didn’t get chosen for the official show. I’m the Artistic Director, so I oversee the Directors and deal with all the creative decisions regarding the show. I also work with the fundraising, outreach, PR, event planning, and day-of committees, and I’m also a Director. I’ve seen each monologue in rehearsals and the show is going to be absolutely AMAZING, so I really encourage people to come hear the incredible pieces our cast has been working so hard on.

Why is it called the Women’s Empowerment initiative instead of The Vagina Monologues? The Vagina Monologues was a trademarked production that we performed here at Conn for thirteen years, the last of which was my freshman year. The seniors that year led a conversation on campus as to whether we felt The Vagina Monologues was something we still wanted to do, or whether we should change it. The consensus was that TVM was outdated and not representative of us as a community; there were no stories about the experiences of college-aged women, or people with disabilities, or women of color, or trans women, and it was pretty heteronormative and vagina-centric, so we decided it would be much more empowering to scrap it and start fresh. And our new, student-written movement was born from there!

Where do the proceeds from the WE Initiative show go? All the money we raise throughout the year from all our fundraising and events and from the show goes to Safe Futures, an incredibly important organization in New London which serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. They do everything from counseling, to providing housing, to having a 24-hour hotline, to holding programs to help survivors boost their resumes and find jobs to get back on their feet. It is an absolutely wonderful place, and they’ve been operating at over capacity for a while now, so they really depend on the funds we raise every year.

Party anthem: Gotta go with Get Busy by Sean Paul. No lie I have been dancing to that song since I first heard it on the radio in the car on the way to horse camp at age 9.

Last movie you saw: Hidden Figures. It was everything. Go see it.

Favorite part about Conn: Well WE Initiative of course, but also the sense of community. It’s a cliché, I know, but I love that I can leave my wallet and computer in the library for hours and know they’ll still be there when I come back. I love that all my friends are constantly involved in amazing projects on campus and that I have the chance to learn from them every day, and that they want to be a part of whatever I’m up to. I love that my professors have become good friends that I no longer see as authority figures. I love knowing that no matter where I go on campus, I’ll see people I know. I get that some people want to be anonymous in college, but I personally love the security of knowing that Conn is a tiny family and that we’re all looking out for each other, as corny as that may sound.

Favorite class or professor at Conn: Anything with Professors Vogel/Feldman in the Philosophy Department, Steiner in Art History, or Ken Prestininzi in Theater. Professor Coats in the Government Department is also a boss.

Do you have an embarrassing Camel moment? There are so, so many, but one recent memory comes to mind… Don’t ask how, but I got locked out of Smith at 4:30am in negative temperatures in a towel and ended up having to scale the wall to climb in my first floor window. I’m 5’1 so it was QUITE a struggle. No regrets.

What is one thing you have not checked off your Conn bucket list yet? Definitely a polar plunge in the Thames and/or more adventuring in the arbo.

As a graduating senior, what advice would you give to underclassmen? Get out of your room and go do everything. See weird plays, go to obscure talks, watch sports games even if you hate sports, go out on weekends even if it’s cold and you’re tired, meet new people every day, and just involve yourself in any way you can. Conn is overflowing with creative, smart people doing amazing things, and it can be such an adventure if you make the most of your short four years here.

What do you hope/plan to do after graduation? The dreaded question! Right now I’m looking at jobs and even some internships in museums. I’ll probably end up in New York, but I may also move back out to LA for a few years if the right opportunity comes along.

Anything else you would like to add/? Just two more WE Initiative plugs: Tickets to the show are available here: https://sheisatempest.ticketleap.com/she-is-a-tempest/

And in addition to the show this year, we’re working on putting together a written compilation of both this year’s pieces as well as others that didn’t get accepted or that people might want to write after seeing the show, so that’s something fun to look forward to in the spring!

Carolyn Cross is a junior at Connecticut College and is excited to be the Campus Correspondent for the fall! She is a Sociology major and a Psychology minor. She also plays club soccer and is in Habitat for Humanity at Conn.
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