Welcome Home, Class of 2025!

Each year, a special introduction is written for our blog to extend a warm welcome to the incoming class and your families as you enter not only a new school but also a new chapter of your lives. There’s a certain quality that attracts students to become Siena Saints, and in four years, you may know exactly what I mean. As I recognize the impact of my time here and all of the knowledge I have gathered, I think what makes a Saint a Saint is resilience.

My senior year unfolded in the midst of a pandemic. Each of us is uniquely aware of the uncertainty, loneliness, challenge, and loss of this past year. During my final year at Siena, I watched the school I have grown to love struggle socially, having to skip many major events in order to prioritize the health and safety of our close community. It is during the Spring 2021 semester that I watched and played a role in the resurgence of our living and breathing campus with the onset of spring and New York’s swift rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine. In this way, I witnessed and practiced Siena’s resilience; a school that rose from a long and dark winter stronger than it was when it entered it.

Is there anything prettier than Plassmann Hall in the Fall? Photo courtesy of Siena College.

As you become a Saint, you will recognize that Siena’s resilience will find a home in you, just as you will find a home in it. In light of our school’s Franciscan heritage, we glean an important and formative example of resilience in the Prayer of Saint Francis, in which we ask to become instruments of peace. Surrounded by the noise and indifference of the world, Saints strive to be voices of peace with and for others. We seek to sow love where there is hate, planting acts of kindness in the places and in the hearts of those who have been dulled by the world. Where there is darkness, Saints bring light, our optimism and commitment to change remaining unshaken. While observing Francis’ example, we come to know that it is in giving that we receive and in our resilience that we continue to grow stronger.

Saint Francis is the patron saint of ecology and an integral aspect of the Franciscan tradition is reverence for nature. At this point, you may or may not know that Siena’s campus has recently been named one of the top 50 Most Beautiful in the country by Conde Nast Traveler, and while this rings true, I am delighted to share that at Siena, you will encounter beauty in more than just your surroundings.

You’ll find beauty in the little things. Like the way your fellow Saints will hold doors open for one another, the way the light shines off the dome of Siena Hall, the way the leaves are tracked throughout your residence hall during the fall, the way you forget how you met your closest friends but are forever grateful for them anyway, the ways you will come to serve others, the way you’ll get to know the friars and their stories, the way everything will take shape for you over the course of your time here, and so many more small details that will hold a big place in your heart. 

There’s a pot of green and gold at each end of the rainbow! Photo courtesy of Siena College.

In sharing intentions for you as you enter the Siena Community, I hope that you find all of the ways to love this school. Afterall, through all of the peaks and valleys that you have encountered in the past year alone, you found your way here. We couldn’t be happier to have you. This is what makes you resilient. This is what makes you a Saint. As you set your sights on the future, I hope that you carry this inherent courage while you continue to pave your path here on Loudon Road and beyond. 

As you move in this August, the columns of Siena Hall will welcome you to your new home! Photo courtesy of Siena College.

Go Green, Live Gold: Siena College Earth Week 2021

By: Kiera Mitru

The phrase “go green, live gold” become more and more common around campus. Its bold letters are printed on the new Ozzi machine, on the free canvas bags sponsored by the Franciscan Center and the Environmental Club, and lived through the actions of Siena’s community. Through campus cleanups and outreach to students and faculty, Saints have started to adopt more sustainable habits and take steps toward climate justice. During Earth Week, April 19th-April 24th, students and faculty alike rallied in support of Earth Day, the momentum of which is intended to be carried forward for years to come. With joined efforts from the Environmental Club, the Franciscan Center, Habitat for Humanity, Student Senate, and more, each event was a resounding success.

Caution: Wet paint! Students grabbed the rollers and got to work on the Thompson trail. Image Courtesy of Abigail Sheridan.

“Lend a hand to save the land” was the theme of the Environmental Club’s 2021 Earth Week events, thoughtfully scheduled throughout the week to bring climate justice awareness and activism to students campuswide. Some of the activities included chalk drawing, outdoor yoga with Dr. K, a free succulent giveaway, a free canvas bag and Fair Trade product sample table, a virtual movie night, and a fashion show highlighting students’ sustainable steez. 

The Environmental Science Department’s Dr. Kolozsvary leads students in an outdoor yoga class in front of Roger Bacon Hall. Image Courtesy of Jessica Dupont.

For those that have adopted plant-based lifestyles in honor of the Earth, the Lonnstrom dining hall featured vegan and vegetarian options throughout the week, including quinoa veggie burgers, kale, beet, and sweet potato chips, as well as “worms n’ dirt” cupcakes and vegan mint “mulch” chocolate chunk blondies. Siena Fresh has also recently invested in an Ozzi machine, which collects and sorts reusable takeout containers for guests of the Lonnstrom dining hall. Before the introduction of this sustainability effort on campus, the Lonnstrom dining hall alone would dispose of around 112,000 single-use containers per week (Siena Fresh). Since introducing reusable containers, Siena has significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills, working to keep the Earth cleaner!

Good things come in sustainable packages! Image courtesy of @sienafresh on Instagram.

The week’s grand finale was Saturday’s Community Service Day, dedicated to the stewardship of the land we call home. This event celebrated and put into action the care for the planet that the Environmental Club vocalized throughout the week, as well as the Franciscan tradition that takes root and grows on our campus. In reflection of the example set by Saint Francis many years ago, Environmental Club Events Coordinator, Jessica Dupont shares that, “St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology, and we don’t really reflect that enough in the ways that students approach the environment. By having a week dedicated to celebrating the Earth and its connection to our Franciscan heritage, we take time to reflect on what makes our community’s Franciscan tradition special.” The Community Service Day commenced with a reflection from Frather Tito Serrano, who shared that Francis’ work was centered in service to the Earth. Mentioning Francis’ timeless Canticle of the Creatures, Father Tito urged participants to view features of nature and the Earth as brother and sister, just as Francis did. 

After receiving this reflection, Community Service Day participants dispersed in small groups across campus, completing projects out of reverence and service to the Earth. Some of these activities included building additional raised plant beds for the Rosetti gardens, painting and maintenance of the Thompson Trail, uprooting patches of the invasive Japanese Knotweed species, collecting recyclable bottles and cans at different stations in residential areas, bird house and bench building, as well as general trash pickup around campus. 

We Francis”CAN” find a way to make recycling more accessible to students! Image courtesy of Abigail Sheridan.

Jessica Dupont shares further that, “People smiled so much when interacting with us and you could tell that students and staff really believed in what we were doing and were excited to get involved. Many expressed excitement that we were holding a whole week to celebrate the earth.” By organizing a series of events, the Environmental Club is hopeful to maintain a powerful campus-wide momentum toward achieving climate justice. Looking closer at the projects they completed, the four-person team working on the general trash pickup mission shares that, “We retrieved 9 full bags of plastic, glass, cans, and a variety of other materials out of the wetlands on campus. These materials don’t break down, and if they did, would release toxins into our protected wetlands.” In the spirit of Francis’ example, students across campus are acting in reverence and respect for the spaces that we call home, as well as that of the wildlife at Siena. 

The closing lines of Francis’ famed Canticle share, “Praise and bless my Lord / and give Him thanks / and serve Him with great humility” (Saint Francis). In these final lines, we can observe the deep connection Francis fosters with not only his faith but also the natural world, making it only apt to name him the patron saint of ecology. It is in the final line that Francis calls us to action as Siena Saints. He asks us to serve the Earth with good care and forward-looking intention; aiming to harvest hope, dedication, and optimism among those that follow in his footsteps.

Katherine Arsenault dug deep to uproot climate destruction and the campus’ growing patches of Japanese Knotweed. Image courtesy of Anne Larsen.

Rachel Jones, Director of Dining Services, Cooks up Campus Positivity

By: Kiera Mitru

There is no better way to celebrate the recent observation of Women’s History Month than by expressing gratitude for the women in our lives and the lessons they teach us. At Siena, our community is made stronger and more vibrant by the hard work and intentional connection fostered at the hands of the strong women that surround us. 

Rachel Jones is the Senior Director of Dining Services at Siena, and is a true Saint among us. Her patience, warmth, thoughtfulness, and passion for cooking are woven into the work that she does, and her impact could not be more resounding. One of the most important aspects of one’s college education is the experience one participates in outside of the classroom, and Rachel Jones is someone that each of us can learn a great deal from. 

Good food and great company is what SienaFresh is all about – how could you not smile? Photo courtesy of Rachel Jones.

Starting as a restaurant hostess and working her way up to a serving position in her early twenties, Rachel came of age in an industry that is known for its misogynistic managers and oppressive business practices. Along with the guidance of her best friend and mentor, Julia Philippone, she learned lessons throughout his period of her life that still inform her work ethic to this day, the most important being:

  1. Always dress for your next position.
  2. No crying at work.
  3. Emails and texts are a record, not a conversation.

During her career as a restaurant server, she recognized that many of the people that she worked among were women and gay men. Witnessing the lack of support that was granted to herself and her coworkers, she became inspired to step into a managerial position as soon as the time was right. Showing up for herself and her coworkers is exactly what she did day in and day out for years, working at an Applebee’s in Atlanta, Georgia until she became the manager of the restaurant location. 

When returning to her hometown, she recognized the need to change her career path as a single mother. Work hours in the restaurant industry are often long, unforgiving, and irregular. Looking for consistency, she began a virtual position working to advocate for teachers in Chicago, Illinois. This position took place at UAlbany, where she gained experience in Human Resources and Administrative Tasks. While looking for her next position, she knew wanted to stay in the college atmosphere, but a piece of her missed working in the restaurant industry. At the time she applied to work at Siena, she was hired as the Office Manager for Siena Fresh, and within four months she was promoted to the position of Director of Operations. 

(Dining) service with a smile! Rachel loves chatting with students and ensuring that their dining experience at Siena is well-rounded. Photo courtesy of Rachel Jones.

Her position at Siena has celebrated a marriage, of sorts, of her career interests so far. She is able to flex her administrative muscles, organize budgets, get creative in the kitchen, and empower the people she surrounds herself with. Some of the most important connections she has made at Siena include her close friendships with Beth DeAngelis, Director of the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, and Kate Kaufman Burns, Director of Health Promotion. Through these connections, she has found support and empowerment – two superpowers she shares with the students and colleagues she works with.

Rachel shares that while the restaurant industry has come a long way in the past 20-25 years, there is a lack of intersectionality present among those in managerial positions across the board. There are more and more women in positions of influence, herself setting a glowing example of that. Jones shares that, “Women can be successful, independent, strong, and unique. A college campus is the perfect place to embrace that.” 

Cooking up connections: Rachel’s student-focused work with SienaFresh fosters positive and intentional relationships. Photo courtesy of Rachel Jones.

As she continues to forge her path forward, Rachel shares that she only has her Associate’s Degree. While the position she currently holds would normally require a Bachelor’s Degree, she got where she got because she works hard. Jones firmly believes, “There is no substitute for hard work. If college is not in the cards for you, hard work can and will get you to a similar place.” As she worked toward her Associate’s Degree, she was guided by professors who believed her lived experience played into her degree. Looking into the future, Rachel hopes to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree at Siena, completing a walk across The Stage at commencement that will bring everything full-circle.

When discussing the impact cooking has had on her personal journey, she mentions how cooking and baking have been grounding for her, especially through the challenges that have come with this past year. When asked who her favorite chef is, Jones responds, “I am my favorite chef. I love the way it makes me feel.” Her go-to dishes are her meatball and vegetarian lasagne. While she shares that they take a while to construct, putting them together is a labor of love. She doesn’t refer to a recipe because she knows that, “Recipes taste the best when they’re written in your heart.”

Rachel uses baking as an outlet, a way to clear her mind after long weeks. Here, we witness her culinary expertise via this gorgeous Frasier Layer Cake. Photo courtesy of Rachel Jones.

Jones wishes that, above all, more people understand that food service employees are people too. These people are the moms, wives, sisters, brothers, and best friends that keep our world turning and our bodies nourished. On campus, SienaFresh employees greet each day and each student with optimism and respect – they care about the work that they do and continue to show up for the community that they serve. Rachel hopes that her hard work and that of her dynamic team translates to the community that she cares for. 

SienaFresh employees are halftime heroes! Photo courtesy of Rachel Jones.

Food is a universal symbol for community and acceptance. On a college campus like Siena’s, these themes could not be more harmonious with our Franciscan values. Rachel Jones is a bright light in our community, and her work continues to feed us in both a literal and spiritual sense. We thank Rachel and the SienaFresh team for all that they do; Saints cannot march forward without them!

Employers Beware: Saints Prepare for the Fair

By: Kiera Mitru

Spring has sprung and along with it are budding opportunities for your future. Join the Career Education and Professional Development office at their annual Spring, the Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair. While offered in a virtual format this year, the Fair still presents promising employer turnout and ample opportunity to make your mark!

I sat down with Ashley Dwyer, CEPD’s Assistant Director of employer relations to chat about the importance of the Career Fair and how it can prove to be beneficial for both employers and students. If you don’t know Ashley as a fellow Saint from the class of 2008, you may be more familiar with her infamous email blasts, speaking to the masses via adwyer@siena.edu, being sure to keep Siena’s student body informed on all things career preparation. During our conversation, Ashley noted that, more than anything, the Fair is the perfect opportunity to work on networking skills. 

“While nobody wants to deal with networking, it’s the elephant in the room that never goes away.” Ashley shares that while networking can sometimes feel tedious, it’s crucial to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” After speaking with an employer’s representative, it’s a great idea to connect with them on LinkedIn and reinforce the initial conversation you have with them. In this case, it is important to reintroduce yourself and discuss how you would like the connection to benefit you. Ashley advises against using the generic “fill-in” examples provided by LinkedIn, as those are less personal. Instead, she encourages students to be specific and personable, tying in connections from the conversation you shared. An example being:

“Hello Sheila, my name is Kiera Mitru and I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with you about Bard College’s graduate course offerings surrounding sustainability. As I look to continue my grad school research, I will be sure to reach out with any questions!”

A message like this communicates your interest in the conversation with a nod to the topics you discussed. This form of communication will also provide your new connection with insight on how you visualize your level of contact going forward. 

The Fair has something for everyone! Photo courtesy of Siena College CEPD.

While it may be easy to go into the Fair with low expectations, Ashley Dwyer shares that companies participate in Siena’s Career Fair specifically to hire Siena students. This is because they have done so in the past and are pleased with the products of the “Education for a Lifetime.” It is rare that a company will participate in a Career Fair if they don’t have open positions, and if they do, it’s likely that they will have positions open for the following fall or spring. 

This fair is just as important for underclassmen to check out, since it’s wise to start making connections early. In this case, students can maintain their network and have a strong list of references to utilize when it comes to seeking internships. Even if you don’t hear about the position of your dreams opening up right after graduation, you enter the Fair with an open mind and leave with contacts and information that could prove to be helpful in time. 

Don’t forget to check out this week’s CEPD events to Prepare for the Fair! Photo courtesy of Siena College School of Liberal Arts.

Many students know that the Fair typically leans toward having more opportunities for business majors than any other major, but this does not mean that it won’t be helpful for students of all fields of study. As an English major in her undergraduate career at Siena, Ashley Dwyer understands the flexibility of a Liberal Arts degree. She recognizes that many Liberal Arts degrees like English, philosophy, and history are ambiguous and don’t have the same linear tracks that an accounting major may have. While this sounds daunting, it can also be seen as liberating. As Liberal Arts students, we have options. Dwyer shares that “Companies want someone with strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills. This is what Liberal Arts majors excel in.” Additionally, experience in Liberal Arts internships and research settings is impressive in the job market. It is important to communicate the value of your experiences in and out of the classroom. For example, maintaining a personal blog online, growing a social media following, writing for a small student publication, or developing your hobby into a small business is crucial to mention in an interview. This showcases ambition and leadership which are necessary to project in a professional setting.

Since the Fair is in a virtual format this year, I would like to share some tips for those that may be a bit apprehensive about interviewing online. While the job search via Zoom may feel awkward, the following tips are sure to make your interviews successful:

  • Look into the camera when you speak. This will feel more personal to the interviewer, making it seem as if you’re making direct eye contact with them while answering their questions. 
  • Pick a well-lit space with a professional background. The study rooms in the library are great for this. There is plenty of light, lots of quiet, and few distractions. If you book a study room for the time that you plan to attend the fair, you can give yourself the space to focus and nail your interviews!
  • Since it’s likely that you’ll be speaking with a number of potential employers, the safe way to go is to avoid clothing that may be revealing. Choosing a top that you feel comfortable and confident in will translate well to the people you interview with. If you are wearing a dress shirt, the Fair is a great opportunity to break out those ties you got as a gift for some past holiday or birthday or graduation long ago. Not to mention, this will tie your outfit together and present a polished look to the employers.
  • Be yourself when you meet potential employers or network connections! Your individuality is what makes you stand out, and in a virtual format it is important to foster a strong connection with the person or people you talk to. Your skills and experience are something to be proud of! In the job search, conveying confidence is about 50% of the work. If you can promote your personality in a positive way, odds are that this optimism will be contagious. You will come across as motivated and driven toward success – who wouldn’t want to work with that?

As you look forward to this Friday’s Spring Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair, feel confident in yourself and your passions. With support from campus resources like the CEPD office, the Office of Internship Programs, the SASE office, and countless others, your unique story will lead you toward success and countless opportunities to live a life driven by the desire to never stop learning. Looking into the future calls you to stand up and stand out as you seek to forge a path for yourself. As Friday’s fair approaches, know that you are capable, accomplished, and prepared to get your career on.

Welcome Home, Class of 2024!

At the end of every academic year, a special “Welcome” is posted to our blog, dedicated to making the incoming class feel at home as they prepare to take on all that Siena has to offer. However, I couldn’t welcome our newest Saints without addressing the disappointment you all must be feeling.

So let me start by saying I am so sorry you are not getting the final months of high school that you deserve.

No matter how trivial it may seem to feel devastated about missing prom, your last sport events or musicals, or spending your final weeks with your classmates, it’s ok to be upset. I won’t say I understand what you are going through, but college seniors are dealing with a similar heartbreak. I planned to be enjoying my last Siena Fest, finding shoes that looked cute with my cap and gown, and spending as much time as possible with my housemates right about now.

It took me a while to realize I shouldn’t feel guilty towards my disappointment in missing out on these memories while much more serious matters occur. I hope you all come to realize this too.

Looking to the future may be scary right now, with still so many unknowns ahead of us. I can’t promise you much about what the future will hold, but I can tell you with certainty, that you will be in good hands on campus. Siena brands itself as a close-knit community that takes care of one another, and as I prepare to become an alumna, I can assure you that this is nothing short of the truth.

(Yes, your new home is *that* pretty, photo courtesy of Instragram @sienacollege)

My advice to you is to take advantage of your time at Siena. It makes me feel so old to type this, but your college years are truly too short and will be over before you know it. You know first-hand what it feels like to miss out on making memories, so please, live it up on campus. Build meaningful relationships with professors, join clubs, attend events, get to know your dorm neighbors, and be sure to Saga sit (you’ll learn soon enough) at least a few times each semester. And, for Siena’s class of 2020 especially, make your first Siena Fest absolutely unforgettable.

So, with all of that being said, welcome home class of 2024! I wish you all the best in your endeavors at Siena. Remember to make the most of it and to embrace your new community.

Make sure to keep up-to-date by following our FacebookInstagramTwitterLinkedIn pages!

A Beginner’s Guide to Online Courses

As we wrap up our second week of distance learning, let’s do a quick self-check in: How are you handling the transition into an online course load? Do you find it hard to focus? Are you struggling to keep track of assignments without formal class meetings? Is having more free time actually making it more difficult to complete work on time? 

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, please know that you are not alone. Making the switch from in-person to online learning can certainly be challenging, especially if you have never taken an online class before. Here are a few easy ways to successfully manage your new online course load:

Create a NEW Schedule 

Maintaining a schedule is key for many students in their on-campus academic success. Of course, continuing with some aspects of your on-campus schedule, like sleeping times, can be helpful during this transition. However, it is important to realize that remote instruction requires students to design their schedules much more independently than in-person learning. If your classes no longer have designated meeting times, you now have to create time slots to learn the material you usually would learn in class. Try using this Free College Schedule Maker to design a new schedule that not only sets-aside time to complete assignments and study, but to also participate in discussion boards, watch virtual lectures, etc.

Recreate your Study Space

I know it can feel nearly impossible to focus on school work from home after living on campus. With that being said, try to think of the study environment you usually found yourself in at school. Was it quiet or did you enjoy background noise? Could you focus at a table on the main floor of the library or did you prefer working from your dorm room? Did you usually have a friend sitting with you or did you find yourself distracted when friends did stop by? Compile the characteristics of your favorite study spot and recreate it, to the best of your ability, at home. Depending on what works for you, this could include having a friend study with you via Skype or turning your dining room table into a make-shift workspace. The key here is to make sure that you are comfortable and feel confident in your ability to focus wherever you are studying. 

Keep in Touch with Professors

Without seeing them multiple times a week, it can be easy to fall out of touch with your professors. Not to mention, as the layout of your courses have been adjusted for remote instruction, it makes sense that you may have questions about your courses moving forward. If they have not already expressed it, email your professors and ask what is the most convenient way to contact them with any concerns you have. Your professors are your allies in this transition, so do not hesitate to reach out. 

While I hope these tips were useful, it is understandable if your academics are not your top priority during this crisis. Many of Siena’s support offices, like the Counseling Center, are now virtually available for students at this time. For more information on Siena’s response to the spread of COVID-19 and more information on remote learning, please visit the Siena Coronavirus Update page. Stay well, Saints. 

Cultural Awareness Presentation on the Refugee Experience

Last Friday, students and faculty gathered for a Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” on campus. The event featured representatives from “The Center”, a non-profit organization that offers resettlement resources to refugees in Utica, New York (aka my hometown and home of the world’s best pizza). Focal points on the discussion included an overview of how The Center supports refugees in their transition to a new culture, a real-life account of the relocation process, and how we as the American public can support refugees as they become part of our communities. 

Shana Pughe Dean, a translation and training manager from The Center, opened the discussion with the mission of the organization. “Our goal is to lead and build a community with many cultures, or our signature tagline is ‘many cultures one community’” she expressed. Pughe Dean explained that The Center, in its 41 years as a formal establishment, has examined what support systems refugees need outside of the core elements of relocating. “We offer interpreting, translation services, immigration and citizen assistance, we have employment opportunities, and also a traffic safety program.” Half of the staff at The Center are former refugees that came through the programs offered by the organization. Pughe Dead stated that her staff “understand the experience, but have also shown what it means to be willing to open your doors to people from other places.” The discussion emphasized how challenging the refugee experience can be, yet how positively refugees impact their communities and others going through the relocation process.

Following Shana Pughe Dean was Nan Han, a medical interpreter, college student, and former refugee from Burma. As a young child, Nan’s family fled from political persecution and lived in a refugee camp for 4 years. “Refugee camp was no joke, it was terrible. I don’t want anyone to have to stay there for the rest of their lives” she remarked. After years of waiting, Nan’s family was finally approved to start their new life in the city of Utica. As a non-English speaking elementary student from a family unaware of how to navigate the American education system, Nan was subject to bullying early on. She struggled to accumulate the to American culture. However, with aid from The Center and kindness from her some of peers, Nan was able to overcome adversity and helps other refugees today. 

Nan Han discussing her experiences as a refugee

Nan expressed that she and her family never wanted to be refugees and that they were forced into relocating. The hardships that she endured in having to learn a new language, culture, and way of life took years to overcome. She emphasized that when the community embraces refugees, it makes the massive transition much easier. When asked how people can act as advocates for refugees in their daily lives, Nan responded that we need to “just be kind”. 

The Cultural Awareness Presentation on “Understanding Refugee and Immigrant Students” was sponsored by First-Year Seminar, the Education Department, International Programs, the Franciscan Center, the Women’s Center, and the Damietta Center. If you want to learn more about the resources offered by The Center in Utica, be sure to visit their website. As always, follow our social media pages @sienaliberalarts to stay up-to-date on other events happening on campus!

“Oceans or Landfills?” Plastic Pollution Presentation with Expert Judith Enck

“Get active on these issues while you are still a college student” -Judith Enck

On the evening of Wednesday, February 12th, guests overfilled the Norm for “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastics”. The lecture featured Senior Fellow & Visiting Faculty member at Bennington College and Founder of Beyond Plastics at Bennington, Judith Enck. Judith delved into the dirty and devastating realities of the extreme increase of single-use plastic in the U.S over the past two decades. The presentation emphasized the urgency of this matter as the clock is ticking on how long the world still has to fix this issue. As Judith described the crisis, the Earth may be soon facing the irreversible effects of climate change and, at this point, “recycling is not the solution.” 

The event was sponsored by The Fair Trade & Social Justice Committee, CURCA, and The Stack Center and was opened by Dr. Vera Eccarius-Kelly of the political science department. Beyond Plastics at Bennington College in Vermont is an organization dedicated to ending plastic pollution through policy and societal change. During his presidency, Judith was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, she was in charge of overseeing the environmental protection of various regions across the nation. Judith was also Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the NY Governor’s Office. 

Judith Enck with former U.S President Barack Obama

Through her discussion, Judith expressed concerns regarding the continued increase in plastic production. “8.8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year” she noted. In explaining this unimaginable amount, Judith helped the audience conceptualize how generating this much pollution has been possible. A timely phenomenon, she stated that half of all plastic that has ever existed has been produced in just the past two decades. Judith indicated that the millions of tons of plastic in the ocean are not going away or even decreasing anytime soon with this rate of increase in plastic production. Furthermore, she noted that plastic in landfills will remain there until they begin to breakdown after roughly 500 years.

Judith explaining plastic pollution in oceans

At this point, the audience was left to wonder, what can we do to stop plastic pollution? Judith’s answer- produce less plastic. 

While she drove-home the point that this issue requires significant systemic and policy changes, there are ways that individual consumers can help. Judith urged the crowd to partake in eliminating what she referred to as the “Plastic Trifecta”, or single-use plastic straws, bags, and polystyrene, in their everyday lives. While it may seem like a small effort, Judith emphasized that change in plastic pollution can occur when a lot of people get on-board. Substantial progress can occur if the masses begin to reduce their daily plastic consumption.


Judith Enck closed out this event optimistically in saying she is “hopeful for the future because people are paying attention.” If you missed “Oceans or Landfills? Moving Beyond Plastic” be sure to check out the Beyond Plastics website for more information on the organization and how you can make a difference in ending plastic pollution. As always, be sure to stay up-to-date with what’s happening on campus by following Siena’s SOLA InstagramTwitter, and Facebook pages! Hope to see you at the next event, Saints!

3 Reasons to LOVE Liberal Arts

Love is in the air, Saints! With Valentine’s Day approaching, let’s share some appreciation for our liberal arts studies. Here are 3 reasons to LOVE being a liberal arts student: 

1. The Emphasis on Humanity

In studying liberal arts, students are faced with issues regarding the human experience. Whether it be reading moral arguments in philosophy or reviewing the ethical treatment of participants in psychological research, our work consistently emphasizes the importance of humanity. To be a liberal arts student entails approaching problems with the improvement of the lives of everyday people in mind. Our inquiries, discussions, and research regarding human experiences are crucial in the betterment of the greater good. 

2. Strengthening the Most In-Demand Skills

According to Linkedin’s list of Skills Companies Need Most in 2020, the top soft skills employers want to see in new hires are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Even if students do not realize it, we are constantly improving on all of these desirable skills through our coursework. Persuasion abilities shine through when political science students pose arguments in papers and copious amounts of creativity are put into every showcase, performance, and musical production that comes out of the creative arts department. Education students know how to quickly adapt to new classroom environments in their field placements while those studying communications learn how to collaborate effectively to accurately report on current events. Emotional intelligence is a staple of sociology and social work classes as students master reading and reacting to social situations. What’s not to love about gaining some of the most employable skills while also studying your passion?

3. Provides Room to Explore Interests and Career Paths

I have switched majors, traded minors, and even transferred schools. I have never been the type of person that has a clear academic or career path. It has been a frustrating journey, but being a liberal arts student has provided me the opportunity to explore my interests thoroughly. Liberal arts has allowed me to combine everything that intrigues me while working towards my degree. Looking to the future, having my B.A will help me explore multiple different career options as well. If you are a person that takes interest in many areas of study, you probably love (or will love) the freedom to grow that a liberal arts education provides. 

What do you love about your liberal arts program? Our SOLA Instagram (@sienaliberalarts) followers weighed in on the topic as well! When asked what they loved most about their field of study they responded…

  • @jordanglazier12 (economics major) : “The econ department at Siena is second to none and I’m confident that majoring in economics will open many doors and prepare me well for the workforce and/or grad school.”
  • @kaiti.hope (creative arts major with minors in English, psychology, and film studies: “I love how, with the Creative Arts major, I was able to tailor it to what I’m really interested in.”
  • @diannaapro (social work major with a pre-law certificate): “My favorite part of my field of study is that all of my professors are passionate and encourage us students to be our best!”

The day-to-day coursework can be stressful, but remember, there are so many reasons to love your liberal arts education. Share some liberal arts love and have a happy Valentine’s Day, Saints!

Spring 2020 Career Fair: Let’s Prep!

We are only three weeks out from Siena’s Spring 2020 Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair. Whether you are a first-year student exploring career options, a sophomore or junior hoping to land an internship, or a senior applying to jobs and grad school, get excited for all of the opportunities the fair has to offer! If you are at all nervous about attending, check out these pre-career fair events. These events are designed to help diminish any nerves and to get you career fair ready.

Before you do anything else, let’s register! Don’t worry, it only takes a minute. Log into Career Saint, click on the “Events” tab located on the left-hand side of the screen and select “Spring Career Fair”. Proceed by clicking on “ 17th Annual Spring Career, Internship & Graduate School Fair 2020” and then hit “RSVP”. Now you are good to go! If you forget to register by the deadline, Wednesday, Feb. 19th, don’t worry! You can still partake as a walk-in. Ok, now onto the pre-fair prep events. 

Resume Critique 

Have your resume critiqued by professionals before handing it out to potential employers! On Feb. 19th from 12-2 pm, the Foy Hall Lobby is the spot to gain outside perspective on your current resume. The Resume Critique Hour also gives students the opportunity to make a good first impression with employers before the career fair even begins. If you can’t make it to the Resume Critique Hour, be sure to check out the CEPD’s office’s weekly drop-in schedule so that you can get your resume reviewed in time for the fair!

Dress for Success

As an underclassman, I did not own a single article of clothing that would pass as business professional attire. I didn’t even know what a business professional outfit really looked like. If you can at all relate, attend the Dress for Success Fashion Show on Feb. 19th at 9 pm in the SSU conference room. At the show, watch students and faculty model business-appropriate attire and get inspiration for your own career fair look. Can’t attend the fashion show? Check out this Siena Her Campus article where Emily Roehl ‘15 provides some helpful tips on how to dress to impress employers. 

Stand Out!

Stand out from your peers by brushing up on your career search knowledge on Feb. 24th in the Standish Library, room L26. During free period, employers will be present to provide resume, job search, and general professional advice that has helped them in their own careers. Not only will you improve your own professional abilities, but this event also serves as a great way to become more comfortable speaking with business professionals.

In addition to attending these events, don’t forget to check out the official Spring 2020 Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair list of attending organizations prior to the fair. The career fair is on Wednesday, February 26th from 12 pm-4 pm in the MAC and after polishing up on your professional skills at the prep-events, you will be ready to meet your future employer. We hope to see you there, Saints!