Editor’s note: During the summer, New College News will feature selected student blogs that focus on the New College experience.
By Kallie Delis
Something that New College students and staff always seem to mention is how personal of an experience your studies and research can be. The school is small, most of the class sizes are small (less than 20 usually), and the professors can get to know you well as an individual. But what does that even mean, or look like?
I had never really understood that before, but I was lucky enough to find out this year. As I’m writing this, I am on the Georgetown University campus in Washington, D.C., attending a prestigious literature conference (the American Comparative Literature Association). I’m not alone, though! One other New College student, Ashley Miles, and a New College professor, Dr. Jessica Young, are here with me. Ashley and I were prompted by Dr. Young to submit abstracts from our final papers or previous works from Dr. Young’s class, since the topics aligned fairly well with the call for undergraduate papers that she forwarded to us and our classmates.
Ashley and I were among the 15 students out of 80 applicants nationwide whose works were selected to be presented in a special undergraduate seminar at this ACLA conference. This was especially shocking to me, because – and I’m going to be completely honest here – I am a political science student who has very little experience with literature. Dr. Young’s class “Migration and Memory” was the first and only literature class I have taken at New College so far.
This just goes to show how interdisciplinary your studies at New College can be. You can expand your studies and explore beyond your chosen Area of Concentration, and even have the opportunity to go to conferences that cover these potentially unfamiliar subjects.
But we should embrace unfamiliarity! My experience is proving to be both terrifying and exhilarating. Trying to rework and revise a final paper into a presentable conference paper while taking five classes and trying to keep up with all other assignments or obligations has been a challenge, to be certain, but the added stress has been so worth it.
This is an adventure full of firsts — My first time on a plane by myself, my first time at an academic conference, and my first time presenting at an academic conference (which isn’t even in my field!!??). And, unintentionally, it became a time for me to see snow! It was mainly snow flurries and sleet, but still extremely cool to a Floridian like myself.
I’ve also ended up working closely with Dr. Young throughout this process, meeting with her several times to prepare for the conference and get feedback about my paper that needed to be ready for presentation. Ashley and I have also had a great time coordinating with Dr. Young while at the conference, attending a few sessions with her as well as the three of us grabbing coffee and lunch together. It has been a phenomenal opportunity to work with a professor one-on-one, and to receive continuous guidance and encouragement about my research.
The biggest takeaway from this experience, I would say, is this: New College’s small size has become an immense advantage for me. Small classes mean that my professors can get to know me, and push me to do something crazy like present at a conference outside of my field. Not to mention, it’s much easier to stand out at a school with less than 1,000 students than it is at a school with tens of thousands of students. An opportunity like this is hard to come by as an undergraduate, and being at New College has given me something of an edge. At a larger school, I might not have even heard about this conference or been encouraged to apply for it, much less receive the individual help or push that I needed to pursue this.
So, take it from me: Individualized research and mentorship opportunities are possible at New College, and they could very well come from the most unexpected places. My advice would be to keep yourself open to the possibilities, because they are out there somewhere!
— Kallie Delis is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing.