J-Term: the most wonderful time of the year!

Hello Again!

I’m back and here to talk about my favorite time of the year: January Term! As I head home to Minnesota for winter break, I can’t help but look forward to coming back to Middlebury in a few weeks for January Term. January Term or, as it’s more commonly referred to, J-Term is a one month long term where students take one class and get a semester’s worth of credit for it. This means that although you’re only taking one class, it’s fairly intensive. Many J-Term classes are often taught by visiting professors, so there are all sorts of new and interesting classes offered. For instance, every year, the former Governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas, teaches a class on Vermont Government and Politics. Even cooler, he happens to a Middlebury alum!

J-Term is also fondly referred to as “yay-term” or “play-term” by Middlebury students because it is such a fun time to be on campus. There’s a long list of workshops offered every winter. Students or community members, who want to teach one of their hobbies to students, organize these workshops. The workshops range from learning to salsa dancing to learning to properly taste Vermont’s finest chocolate.

This J-Term, I’ll be writing my senior thesis. While I’m not working away in the library, I plan to take full advantage of the extra free time that J-Term offers. I’m hoping to take a juggling workshop taught by one of my friends (he can juggle fire!!!). I also couldn’t resist taking a cupcake-baking workshop taught by another friend. I plan to try to ski (either Nordic or alpine) almost every day. Last year, I studied abroad and didn’t ski at all so I have a lot of making up to do! Here I am, during my Sophomore J-Term, skiing at Middlebury College’s Snow Bowl:

Most importantly, my friends and I decided to start a new Harry Potter movie watching tradition. Once a week for four weeks, we will watch a double feature and, by the end of J-Term, we’ll have watched all eight movies. Plus, there will definitely be some Wizarding World themed movie snacks involved!

Be back soon,

Margot Graham ‘18

My First Winter at Middlebury

My first winter was both magical and miserable. Being from Southern California, I don’t really get to experience the four seasons. The environment is actually one of the reasons I chose to go to Middlebury; I wanted know what it would be like to shop for winter clothes instead of shorts and tank tops.

This is a picture of my first-year residence hall during my first winter at Middlebury. If you look very closely near the center of the photograph, you can see two friendly snow people.

Little did I know what Middlebury winters would be like. I was convinced—and remain convinced—that my first winter was, by far, the worst winter Vermont has ever experienced. It started out innocently enough; a gradual drop in temperature, some flurries of snow here and there. And then, during finals week in December, I walked into a 7 pm exam and walked out two and a half hours later to find myself almost knee deep in snow. It was magical; I took my time walking back to my dorm, opening my mouth to let the delicate snowflakes fall and melt on my tongue. And then the wind picked up and I was nearly blinded by all the snow. I also did not have enough layers on, as I had made the mistake of not checking the weather for that night.

So, on the run back to my room, I was not very happy with the show. My thoughts went from “Why did I decide to come here?” to thinking I had made a mistake, and that I could not actually handle the weather. When I got back to my dorm, my friends were rushing to put on snow gear. “Toni, let’s go sledding!” they yelled ecstatically. Just having come from outside, I was not sure I wanted to go back out again. But, part of me was curious, since I had never really experienced snow fall. So, I changed into my snow pants, boots, and jacket, and ran outside with my friends.

We walked (with our sleds borrowed from our Commons office) to Mead hill, and started at the top near where our lovely Mead Chapel sits. I remember being scared, because I was not sure if there was a wrong or right way to sled down a mountain. But, once my turn finally came, I went down the hill so fast I felt like I was flying. And I felt like I was 10 years old again. We spent about an hour and a half outside until our fingers were numb and our ski pants soaked. The dining hall was open late, so we decided to go in for some hot chocolate together.

This is a photo of me the night we went sledding! I never realized how much of a workout it could be.

I distinctly remember sitting around the table, laughing and talking with my friends, and then remembering that THIS was the reason I had decided to come to Middlebury. I had wanted a new experience, with new people, and my first time experiencing snow was exactly that. Although winters can be tough, my best memories are about my winters at Middlebury, and I am very excited (and sad) to spend my last winter at Middlebury enjoying it to the fullest.

Fall Family Weekend

Middlebury’s annual Fall Family Weekend is a very special time to be on campus. Why, you might ask? A number of reasons, but primarily the excuse to enjoy a weekend with your family, or meeting parents of your friends. In short, every year, about four weeks into the semester, the college invites current students’ families to campus for a weekend of activities. The setting on campus over FFW is festive, each Commons hosts some sort of event, whether it’s pumpkin carving or hot cider and donuts. Parents sit in on classes, ask questions, and get a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of their kids.

This year Fall Family Weekend (FFW) was remarkably special because it was the first year, of my four, that both my parents were able to make the trip from Montana. That said, I feel lucky that my parents could visit, not everyone’s families can. Being able to show my parents around the place I have lived for the past four years was special. Some of the added bonuses of having them come were getting to go out to eat (and not pay!) and getting some gas money. That said, my favorite part of FFW every year is the Snow Bowl Bash.

Middlebury is lucky enough to be one of two (or three) colleges in the country that own their own ski hill. The Snow Bowl Bash consists of a festival with live music, barbeque, and chairlift rides. All of the proceeds to the Middlebury College Snow Bowl Ski Patrol, to help the patrol be properly equipped for the upcoming ski season.

Ski patrolling has been an essential part of my experience at Middlebury and helped form my identity on campus. Aside from being able to ski 40+ days every winter, patrolling allows me to deal with real medical situations. I love the responsibility associated with volunteering at the Snow Bowl.

The best part of the Bowl Bash, though, is the atmosphere surrounding the event. Families, friends, students, and people from the Middlebury community all converge on the small ski hill for a festive Saturday. Alongside the festive vibe, the fall foliage provides a spectacular backdrop for “instagrammable” moments. Case in point: the photos attached to this blog.

Until next time,



How I Got to Middlebury

Hi all!

Well, it is Fall Family Weekend; the most difficult for me because my family has never been able to visit. Being from Los Angeles, California, it makes it difficult to arrange a visit that will not interfere with my family’s schedules. Even though I am a senior, there are times when I text my mom or call my dad to tell them how much I miss them. Talking to my brother over Skype is heartwarming and overwhelming because every time I see him again, it is as if he has grown two feet! The photos below are a testament to how much I have missed these past three years. The one on the left was June 2014 at my high school graduation, and the one on the right is December 2016 after arriving home for winter break. (I promise, I am not shrinking.)


My family continues to give me strength, even from almost three thousand miles away, because they are the reason why I am here and why I have to succeed. This weekend is also really important because I always find myself reflecting on how I got to Middlebury, and the network outside of my immediate family that got me to where I am today.

For the first ten years of my life, I grew up down the street from the University of Southern California. My entire childhood, I was convinced that I would be a Trojan. Even though that is not true because I am a Panther, where I grew up was integral in establishing higher education as a priority and possibility for me. (Below is a picture of me on my first day of kindergarten!)

Throughout my schooling, I have had many mentors who have invested their time and energy into my success, and the one who stands out the most is Dr. Lori Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes was the assistant principal at my high school during my first year and, although she moved on to another school, we stayed in touch. She was an integral part of my college application process because she actually sat down with me to help me create a list of schools that I would apply to. Once we were done with my list, she noticed that I had not listed any schools on the East Coast.  When she asked why that was, I told her that neither me nor my family were ready to commit to sending me across the country. She nodded her head and said that if there was one school on the East Coast that I should apply to, it should be Middlebury College in Vermont. She said that the small class sizes would be good for me since I came from a small charter high school, I would have access to a diverse curriculum, and I would be in a place that was demographically and environmentally different from what I was used to.

So, because she was my mentor and I trusted her, I decided to apply. It was not until I got accepted that I realized the magnitude of the journey I had just embarked on. When I told my college counselor that Middlebury had accepted me, she jumped out of her chair, gave me a huge hug and then started throwing words like liberal arts college and NESCAC around. I had no idea what these words meant at the time, so I decided to find out by visiting for Preview Days. (Below are some photos that I took on my visit. The snow was very exciting for me, considering I was born and raised as a city girl.)


Preview Days was so important because as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew that this is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. My few days on campus were a whirlwind, and I returned home excited and overwhelmed. Was I really going to leave home? Was I going to spend the next four years of my life living in Vermont? YES, I WAS. Decision day came and after I committed, I actually waited until a few days later to tell my parents where I had decided to attend. You can imagine my parents’ surprise when I told them I would be leaving home. But, I think now that I am a senior, my dad has finally gotten used to the fact that I leave home every few months for college.

So, while Fall Family Weekend can be a difficult time for those of us who cannot always have our parents around, it is important to remember what this weekend represents: that our families support us, no matter how far they are, and they are the reason why many of us have made it so far.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Toni Cuevas ‘18

First-Year Seminars and Picking Your Classes!


Classes are in full swing now that September is coming to a close. The first due dates for major assignments are looming and the smell of brand new textbooks is fading. Of course, the excitement is not!

First-year students are getting increasingly comfortable here on campus—getting lost less and feeling more confident. This is especially true in the academic setting because of their first-year seminars. This is the first course you enroll in as a Midd Kid. It’s a small, discussion-based, writing-intensive course.

First-year seminars exist in every department across campus. Professors are always excited to teach these classes and often come up with really creative courses. This fall, first-year students had cool options like Fifty Shades of Italy and The Women of Game of Thrones (read more about classes being offered here: http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/fys/courses-1).

I wish I could take The Women of Game of Thrones so I could learn how to be more like Denerys Targaryen…

During my first-year, I took a first-year seminar called Global Youth. It was a geography course where we discussed how young people occupy space and place. It was a great class to take seeing as I was a young person in a brand new place (Middlebury College!).

This semester I am really excited about the classes I’m taking. Harkening back to my experience in a seminar-style class during my first fall semester, I’m taking a history seminar on fascism during my final fall semester at Middlebury. I’m excited to grapple with questions like: what is fascism? Can it exist outside the time period of the Second World War? Are fascist movements defined by their leaders? Maybe I’ll fill you in on the answers we come up with later on in the semester….

Until Next Time,

Margot Graham ‘18

Moving In, 2017!

Ah, Autumn. The sun is shining, the leaves are turning, fall semester is starting…



It’s difficult to believe that my final year at Middlebury is starting. ‘Twas only three years ago that my parents were taking the obligatory move-in photo as I was just starting my career here at Middlebury.

Thanks for the pic, Mom.

For my first year, we had to rent a minivan in order to bring all of my belongings up. Let’s just say I’m not a light packer. It’s a struggle playing the annual game of Car Tetris, trying to place all of your variously sized boxes and bags in the perfect orientation. We manage to win, at least most of the time. I haven’t had to sit on the top of the car for any trip (yet). We’ve since been able to manage without a minivan since moving in, but it’s a tight squeeze.

Actually moving into my first-year dorm (Battell–#wonnacottcommons #squirrels #squirrelsarefriendsnotfood) brought its own excitement. As we pulled up to the building, a swarm of residential life students attacked our car, grabbing all of my luggage and belongings from out of my car and taking it up to my dorm room. Everyone was having a great time, enthusiastic about the new first-years moving in and thrilled to help welcome the class of 2018 to the college community.

So young. All moved in!

And the fun was just beginning! Later, we would meet with our whole Commons for our formal welcoming ceremony (stay tuned for more information about the Commons system!) and begin building the relationships that would continue with us throughout our four years at Middlebury and beyond.

As I watched the new first-years move into their dorms on campus and saw their bright, smiling faces as they embark on this next chapter of their lives, I know that their excitement will diffuse itself throughout campus as the semester begins. Just as they’re unpacking all of their belongings, they’re also unpacking the spirit and enthusiasm about Middlebury that I’ve felt throughout my time here.

Wishing the best of luck to the class of 2021 (WOW I’m old), and looking forward to viewing all of your accomplishments!

Back at it!

The new crew of Senior Fellows is here and ready to share what they love about Middlebury with you, both in person and on the blog. Stay tuned this year for regular updates about life on campus, and in Vermont. Senior Fellows from left to right: Josh Goldenberg, Margot Graham, Tabitha Mueller, Christian Jambora, Toni Cuevas, and Atticus Proctor. Not pictured are Elsa Alvarado and Anna Cerf.

200 Days Until… Another Semester?

The senior class recently attended the annual 200 Days Party. For most of us, this senior-only, semi-formal celebration kicks off the countdown to graduation and prefaces the 100 Days Party held later in the spring term. However, for many attendees, including myself, the countdown aspect of the party is not at all relevant. That’s because many of us are not actually seniors but instead senior “Febs.”

At Middlebury, Febs are students who will graduate in February rather than May. Several students become Febs after taking semesters off for work or personal reasons. The majority, however, began their first semesters in February rather than September, having taken the fall term off to pursue a gap semester, or “Febmester.” As a current senior Feb, I will still spend a full four years at the College, and in no way am I expected to condense or expedite my college career to graduate “on time” in the spring with the rest of my class. When my classmates finally don their caps and gowns in May, my fellow senior Febs and I will still have one final semester and winter term to complete before graduating. And we get to finish our college careers in style, receiving our diplomas after skiing down the Middlebury Snow Bowl in our caps and gowns!

The February-to-February timeline is undoubtedly unusual but also incredibly rewarding. My Febmester gave me plenty of time to step off my high school academic treadmill and breathe. Everyone curates their Febmester to their own interests and gains a ton of new stories to share for when they finally come to campus. One of my friends pursued a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica; another moved to Los Angeles to audition for television and movie roles. I used my time off to work, travel the world and visit friends at different colleges. Although we chose to use our Febmesters differently, my friends and I agree that our gap semesters gave us ample time to recharge and experience something totally new before beginning college. 

Graduating in February rather than May carries its own advantages, as well. For one, it allows us Febs to combat the dreaded “What are you doing after graduation?” question with a short, sweet and self-assured “I’m a Feb.” While many of my non-Feb peers are busy with job interviews and graduate school applications, my Feb friends are figuring out how they want to spend their extra summer break. I am using mine to pursue another internship, something many of my graduating friends wish they still had the opportunity to do.

The best perk of being a Feb is perhaps the most under-recognized: As a Feb, I will have spent only one semester as a first-year but three as a senior. For me and the rest of the class of 2017.5, this means another semester to take interesting upper-level classes and more time to plan and coordinate post-graduate opportunities. It also means we get to attend to another 200 Days Party, this time as “super senior Febs” alongside a new senior class. The countdown of the party will continue to mean nothing to us, but we will still get to enjoy the free food, drink and music. No complaints from us, as February Admissions continues to showcase its advantages, even years after arriving to campus in February!

Spotlight on A Cappella at Middlebury

Hello all!

It’s no secret that there are plenty of Middlebury students who love to sing. In fact, out of the eight Senior Fellows, three of us sing in an a cappella group!

Right now there are many different groups on campus to choose from (check out the full list here). Each has a unique style and vibe. Whether your music preferences tend more towards pop or classical music, and whether you’d prefer to be in a coed or a single sex group – there’s something for everyone!

No previous experience is required in order to audition for any of the groups. I am in an all-female group called the Middlebury Mischords that holds auditions twice a year. I always enjoy the audition process – Every time I am so impressed at the amount of musical talent among Middlebury students.

The Mischords represent a wide array of academic and extra-curricular interests. This diversity of interests was something that surprised me when I first joined. I was expecting everyone to be a classically-trained music major, and that’s definitely not the case! We also have representatives from a wide range of sports teams. Last year was especially diverse in terms of athletics; we had mischords who played soccer, softball, lacrosse, and track.

Although I love the stress-relieving aspect of taking a study break and singing a few times a week, what I love most about being in an a cappella group is the feeling of community. I joined in February of my first year at Middlebury, but I wish that I had worked up the courage to audition in September. Joining student clubs and organizations here is so rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to find the micro-communities within the larger campus community. Through a cappella, I have met some truly amazing people and formed a group of friends that I may not have been able to get to know otherwise.

Last Friday we held our end of semester concert – or “Jambo” – in the beautiful Mead Chapel with our brother group the Dissipated Eight. I am always so impressed by the number of students that take time out of their busy schedules to come watch our concerts. There’s nothing quite like singing to a full audience!

Until next time,

– Nicole


(from our Halloween-themed concert)


(Here’s a video of one of my favorite Mischords songs – it’s an older video but a song that we still sing today)


Feminism in the Global Arena

Every spring, the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies department at Middlebury hosts a week-long symposium called the Gensler Family Symposium on Feminism in the Global Arena. The symposiums focus on the many challenges that women face in our ever-changing social, political, and economic environments. Some examples of broad topics from past years include: “Interrogating Citizenship: Sex, Race, Class, and Regimes of Power,” “The F Word: Feminist Texts, Feminist Lives,” and “Sexual Straightjackets & Queer Escapes.” How exciting do these sound? This past spring, I was given the opportunity to help plan the 2016 Gensler Symposium: “#IntersectionalTV: Mediating Race, Gender, and Sexuality.”

This academic symposium, during the spring of my junior year, was one of the most memorable and exciting academic experiences during my time at Middlebury. I am a Film and Media Culture Major, minoring in Gender Studies –– so the topic of the intersection of television and race, gender, and sexuality was almost too exciting for me to handle. The symposium consisted of a bunch of panels, screenings, discussions, and meals with other students, faculty members, and visiting professors from other institutions. Some of my favorite academic topics included the concept of casting, the importance of women and minority show runners in Hollywood, and the growing Queer TV movement, focusing on self-expression and performance art. Can you tell that I geeked out over this the entire week?

My favorite event of the week was a talk given by Susan Douglas, author of the book The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild. Douglas presented in Dana Auditorium to an audience full of students across all disciplines, not just students of gender and film. Her lecture focused on everything from problematic contemporary television shows to Beyoncé’s self-proclaimed feminism. The best part of the day was when I joined Douglas and my four professors for dinner in town at Two Brothers Tavern. It was so special to share a meal with the author of a book that I have read in multiple classes and to discuss topics of feminism and pop culture with all of my professors outside of the classroom setting.

Middlebury is the kind of place where it’s cool to geek out over getting to meet an author. The 2016 Gensler Symposium was a week at Middlebury that I will never forget –– and I am looking forward to the upcoming one in 2017!

Here’s the poster from Gensler 2016: