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! 

The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY Brings “The Niceties” to Campus

Welcome back, Saints! As the Spring semester starts to unfold, the Creative Arts Department is already bringing new theatrical experiences to campus. 

This past weekend, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY presented The Niceties, a play by Eleanor Burgess, directed by Jean-Remy Monnay, and assistant directed by Steph Saint Germain, in Foy Hall’s Beaudoin Theater. The troupe is dedicated to promoting artists of color through the performance of theatrical pieces. Through their work, the Black Theatre Troupe aims to generate a greater understanding, appreciation, and participation in the performing arts within communities of color. 

As Siena enters our 3rd Annual MLK Week, the performance served as an emotional and thought-provoking kick-off to the week’s scheduled events. Dealing with race, American history, issues of social injustices, and politics all within the walls of a professor’s office, The Niceties captures the drastic differences in perception between a White Ivy League professor and her highly-motivated Black student. Comprised of both Siena students and faculty as well as local community members, the audience could not turn away from the mesmerizing performances of the show’s stars; Monet Thompson & Christina Reeves. 

The Niceties takes place solely in a casual office hours meeting of a history professor (Christina Reeves) and her student, Zoe (Monet Thompson). After reading over Zoe’s paper on the American Revolution, her professor provides Zoe some simple grammatical feedback. However, the tension between the two builds as the professor proceeds to question Zoe’s sources, thesis, and eventually, her mentality regarding race and American history. Zoe stands by her thesis, arguing with the claims that her professor makes. The audience was on the edge of their seats, watching closely as the intensified situation turned into chaos. I will refrain from spoiling anything, but I will say that both the professor’s and Zoe’s lives were forever changed in the end.

Although showings of The Niceties are over on campus, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY does have other productions, such as The Meeting, Camp Logan, and The Mountaintop, coming up soon. Anyone interested in seeing what other performances the group has to offer can find upcoming events on their website.

If you missed out on The Niceties, keep up to date with all of the other Creative Arts Department’s Spring semester events as they are sure to be just as entertaining! Make sure the check out our School of Liberal Arts’ Facebook page to stay updated on the MLK Week events as they occur from January 29th through February 5th! 

Sociology Film & Speaker Series Features “The Isis Trial- No History of Violence”

Last Wednesday evening, the Maloney Great Room was filled to near capacity as students and faculty came out to attend The Sociology Film & Speaker Series. This segment of the series featured a film screening of the documentary The Isis Trial-No History of Violence by filmmaker Ellie Bernstein. The film followed the journey of a group of young American-Somali boys, all with no history of violence, who were convicted of terrorism in 2016. After the screening, attendees held a lively discussion with expert panelists about their own experiences with preemptive arrest and imprisonment. 

The event was opened up by Tarik Shah playing the base as the audience situated themselves for the evening. Once the film began, the room grew silent as the story of controversial FBI investigations on Somali Americans unfolded. The main focus points of the documentary included the backstories of the individuals that were arrested, how community efforts to decrease ISIS affiliations were flawed, and an analysis of the tactics used by the FBI throughout the case.   

Starting off the discussion was attorney Steve Downs of Project Salaam who has a great deal of experience dealing with such cases. He gave the audience a brief overview of what preemptive arrest and imprisonment looks like from a wider legal context. This idea of being arrested without committing a crime is not new to panelist Abu Horayra Hossain whose father was preemptively arrested when he was just a child. Similarly to the Somali boys presented in the film, Abu expressed that, in his dad’s case, “There was not really any evidence because he never really did anything.” Both Steve Downs and Abu Horaya Hossain provided the crowd a small look into the issue of Muslim Americans being targets for being accused, investigated, and incarcerated without committing any crimes. 

Set up in an FBI sting operation, the next panelist, Tarik Shah, spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to provide aid to a terrorist group. He discussed the horrors of living in solitary confinement such as always being under surveillance and enduring freezing cold temperatures in his cell. Expressing that he never had any intent to join a terrorist organization and was a victim of entrapment, Tarik noted that he is not bitter about his wrongful conviction. He wants to see a change in what is occurring and stated that “Change can only happen through a lot of brave people.” 

The director and producer of the film herself, Ellie Bernstein, was also on the panel but made it clear that she wanted the real-life experiences of the other speakers to take priority. She did conclude the night by letting the audience know that how completely daunting the specific case showcased in her documentary still feels to her to this day. 

If you missed out on the Sociology Film & Speaker Series and have an interest in the criminal justice system, human rights, or community development, I highly recommend checking out the film The Isis Trial-No History of Violence. Co-sponsors for this event were the Sociology Department & Criminal Justice minor, the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, The Fair Trade and Social Justice Committee, the School of Liberal Arts, the Education Department, and the Multicultural Studies Minor.

Developing Your Career Over Winter Break

Students have approximately five weeks away from Siena coming up. Yes, that means it will be a month of having to open doors for ourselves. 

I cherish my time off from coursework. After losing a decent amount of sleep throughout the semester, I make sure to catch up on all of my rest during the first week of winter break. However, after sleeping for a week straight, I am ready to do everything that I don’t have time for while classes are in session.

With little time to do so during the semester, here are a few ways you can develop your career over winter break:

1. Don’t 

I was not joking about sleeping for a week straight. Students spend 15 weeks each semester working diligently to balance courses, jobs, internships, clubs, organizations, sports teams, etc. We NEED to take time to relax on break. Get enough rest, spend time with loved ones, and do whatever else it is that makes you feel at ease. If you want to work on developing your future, you need to first take care of yourself in the present.

2. Volunteer 

Organizations are always looking for new volunteers, especially around the holidays. Volunteering can serve as a way to give back to a community or to help the less fortunate. In the process, volunteering can also help you develop skills that are often sought after by employers. Many volunteer positions include collaborating with a team, managing limited time and resources, and communicating effectively to complete a task. Helping out at a local organization this break can help you support those in need while gaining valuable skills and building up your resume in the process.

3. Create or Update your Resume 

If you can before break, make an appointment with the Career Education and Professional Development (CEPD) office on CareerSaint. Whether you are making your first resume or just looking to update your existing one, the CEPD office can help! You can take the notes from your appointment home with you and implement them into your resume during break. If you are unable to make an appointment, use the CEPD’s resume section in the 2019-2020 Career Guide as a template for improving your resume from home.

4. Apply for Spring and Summer Internships

One of the most important aspects of preparing yourself for a career is having internships. Internships are a great way to network, learn how to navigate a specific work environment, and to figure out if the career path you are on is right for you. Login into CareerSaint to see what recent postings there are for upcoming positions that spark your interest. Applying for internships can be a little time consuming, depending on the company. Some employers require your resume, a cover letter, a writing sample, a separate application, and more to apply. Completing internship applications during break is a great way to plan for your future career without having the stress of coursework distracting you. Visit the Internship Programs page to learn more about applying for internships.

5. Search for or Apply to Graduate Schools

If you are considering continuing your education, use winter break as a way to get ahead and to get organized! If you are still on the fence about going on to graduate studies, check LinkedIn to see the education level of individuals currently holding the job you want. If you are sure you want to go to grad school, but not sure which school is best for you, try using Peterson’s or The Princeton Review to compare programs! If you are a senior like myself, this break will serve as a time to finally send out applications if you haven’t already. All grad programs are different and can require different materials for applicants to provide. A spreadsheet can serve as a helpful tool to organize what each application requires. 

After you have recovered from the demands of the semester, be productive this winter break. You will thank yourself in the future for taking the time to put work into your career goals. Above all else, remember to take care of yourself first this break, Saints!

Ms. Magazine Publishes Article by McKenna Donegan ’21

McKenna Donegan, a junior Political Science major and Pre-Law certificate student, recently had an article she wrote featured in Ms. Magazine. Her piece “Ranked Choice Voting Would Help Women Candidates in New York City- and Across the Country” delves into the research-based impacts that a ranked-choice vote election could have for candidates. Through her current participation in American University’s Washington Semester Program as an intern for RepresentWomen, McKenna has been researching the structural reform. 

RepresentWomen is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research hub that works to increase women’s representation in elected office and advocates for systemic reforms to the recruitment process, voting systems, and legislative practices. Since September, McKenna has been in Washington D.C interning and familiarizing herself with past research that the advocacy group has produced. “On Monday, November 4th, I was asked by my supervisor Courtney Lamendola and RepresentWomen Executive Director Cynthia Richie Terrell to write a short article about ranked-choice voting and how it helps women candidates, because the next day, New York City was voting on whether or not to adopt the measure” McKenna explained. 

With only a day before NYC voters would start arriving at the polls, McKenna quickly got to work. After leaving her internship that day, McKenna received an email from her supervisor stating that she thought the article was great and that she wanted to send it in to Ms. Magazine for publication. On November 5th, the same day that 73% of NYC voters said “Yes” to bringing ranked-choice voting to various elections, McKenna’s article was published. 

McKenna shared that what helped her most in composing her piece was a study done by RepresentWomen in 2016 that focused on women and people of color running for office in the California Bay Area after implementing ranked-choice voting. “This study was very helpful when I was writing the article because it showed that after the implementation of RCV, the California Bay Area saw an increase in the number of women and people of color running and winning local elective office.” In her article, McKenna further explains this shift, writing that “…the percentage of candidates of color for local elective office increased by 5 percentage points after the implementation of ranked-choice voting. To put this into perspective, neighboring cities that had not implemented RCV only saw a 0.3 percent increase in the number of candidates of color who ran for local elected office.” 

In reference to the publication of her piece and her research internship, McKenna expressed that “It was a great experience and one that I would have never had if it weren’t for the (American University’s) Washington Semester Program.” McKenna’s full article in Ms. Magazine can be found here. Congratulations on this awesome accomplishment, McKenna!