The Semester of Two Halls: S’17 Alumna Bridget Hall Reflects On Her Williams-Mystic Experience

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.

 

Going to school in Rhode Island gives a college student the opportunity to spend time exploring hiking trails and visiting the ocean. It also affords the opportunity to take a course on marine affairs that sparks curiosity about our nation’s oceans and coasts. For University of Rhode Island Senior Bridget Hall, this is exactly what happened.

After completing a marine affairs course taught by Dennis Nixon, once Williams-Mystic’s marine policy professor, Bridget realized how interested she was in the ocean and interdisciplinary education.

“I’ve always sought interdisciplinary connections in my studies, and was always happiest at URI when I could use knowledge from one of my classes in another course,” Bridget said.

Bridget knew a thing or two about the program prior to completing her application. Her mother is Attorney Katy Robinson Hall, the current marine policy professor for Williams-Mystic and an alumna of the Class of Spring 1984.

Katy and Bridget are the first alumni-turned-professor and child-turned-student pair in the history of the program.

Bridget looks back on her time learning and living at Mystic Seaport fondly.

“I loved living in Mystic and sharing house dinners, Carlton study sessions, classes on the grounds, and trips to Green Marble with some of the most intelligent, funny, and wonderful people I’ve ever met.” Bridget said.

Going offshore on the SSV Corwith Cramer gave Bridget a plethora of knowledge and memories.

“It was a surreal and wonderful experience to go to sea, and I deeply enjoyed the bonds I built with my shipmates out at sea,” Bridget said. “Also, you really can’t beat those Caribbean Sea sunrises.”

The experience of living and working at a museum is an aspect of this program that makes it stand out. As a history major, Bridget treasured her opportunity to work in Mystic Seaport’s collection.

“So few students get the experience of working in museums before they start graduate school, and I was fortunate to work and volunteer with multiple departments in the Seaport for the entire semester,” Bridget said. “This experience helped me get a job at the Seaport the summer after my semester, and redirected my career goal towards working with museums and cultural heritage.”

For Bridget, the hardest part of the semester was when it all came to a close. Leaving Mystic and her 16 new friends was incredibly difficult.

“I’ll never forget my last night in Mystic, when my class went out onto the grounds at 2 a.m. to sit in a whaleboat to watch a thunderstorm move up the river and reminisce about the semester,” Bridget said.

Bridget believes conducting multiple independent research projects at Williams-Mystic had a significant effect on her higher education experience.

“It also cemented my interest in pursuing a career in public history, exploring where climate change, cultural heritage, and memory intersect in the public sphere,” Bridget said.

Currently, Bridget is in the process of finishing her senior year of college. Two of her senior projects have ties to Mystic Seaport and the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program.

“For my history thesis, I’m focusing on the George Greenman and Co. Shipbuilding company and how they directly profited from slavery by building numerous ships for the cotton trade in the 1830s-1860s despite being vocal supporters of abolition,” Bridget said. “I’m also channeling Williams Mystic in my honors project, which is focused on Dulac, Louisiana, the history of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, and the threats the tribe and its cultural heritage is facing due to rising sea levels in southern Louisiana.”

The connections made at Williams-Mystic continue well beyond the end of each semester. What surprised and impressed Bridget was the vibrant Williams-Mystic alumni community, especially since the program is only one semester long.

“I go to a state school, so you don’t really know your entire class and there isn’t a strong culture of returning for alumni reunions or events,” Bridget said. “With Williams Mystic, alumni are really connected to the program and form a really tight knit community.”

The number of ways Williams-Mystic changed her life was too many for Bridget to count.

“It made me more confident in myself, gave me a lifetime of wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories, introduced me to 16 wonderful people that I’m happy to call my friends, gave me a chance to work in a world class museum, helped me work with renowned professionals and academics in policy, history, literature, and science, reshaped my career goals, and taught me how to cook dinner for four people.”

 

For Stewart Silver (S’18), Williams-Mystic is the Perfect Place to Make Connections (and Prize-Winning Chili)

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing. While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

Exploration is an integral part of the Williams-Mystic experience. Students come to us from all educational disciplines to explore the maritime world through multiple lenses. They also come to use to learn more about themselves and where they want to go in their career and in life, which is true for University of Pennsylvania Sophomore Stewart Silver.  

“I am taking a semester to explore some things I would like to do both academically and career-wise,” Stewart said. “I have been studying biochemistry but will likely switch my major to biology or environmental studies.”

Stewart hopes to make connections both academically and socially over the course of the semester in our program.

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing,” Stewart said. “While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

To accomplish this, Stewart has taken on two different jobs at Mystic Seaport.

“I am working with the sailing department to help maintain and repair any projects that they have going on there,” Stewart said. “I am also working at the shipyard helping maintenance and reconstruct the Mayflower II.”

Stewart believes that both of these jobs will give him valuable experience that will help him in his future endeavors.

“I am planning on going to grad school of some kind,” Stewart said. “I don’t know exactly what that looks like right now. It could be anything from law school to medical school or anywhere in between. I may take time off of school depending on what I get interested in here and over the next couple of years.”

Stewart said that community living has been good for him in this phase of his life and academic career.

“I am a member of Johnston House and living there has been a really good experience so far,” Stewart said. “It has been fun to interact with the other houses and students here in the program. I would say we all get along really well.”

Stewart says that everyone has the people they spend free time and study with but that the group as a whole truly enjoys spending time together.

Williams-Mystic seems to be famous for the all-in-good-fun pranks that occur between houses during each semester. Stewart said that pranks are definitely happening between the houses — and that it makes the experience even more memorable and exciting.

“Some houses are taking things from other houses but it is just to have fun,”  Stewart said.

Aside from pranking other houses and having fun with his classmates, Stewart has enjoyed all things about the program related to food.

“I have enjoyed cooking as a house, having lots of snacks around, and participating in the chili cook-off,” Stewart said. “This was the first annual Williams-Mystic chili cook-off and it was awesome. Each house brought a specialty chili that one or a few people from each house made. We tried them all at our program director’s home, voted on the best one, and, of course, Johnston House won.”

Stewart said S’18 is hoping to do more potluck dinners together and find more ways to share food, friendship, and fun memories.

Exploring the Seaport invigorates Stewart’s appreciation for this program. Stewart chose to take ship carving as his maritime skill.

“We have only had the chance to meet once but our first class was really fun,” Stewart said. “It was an awesome experience to see all the things that can be done with carving into wood, signs, figureheads, and smaller decorative objects. I am really excited to expand this skill and have it be a vehicle for learning more about the history of ships and all the small things that go on behind the scenes to make them work.”

A Journey Open to All: Olivia Glaser (S’18) on the Williams-Mystic Community

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs out there. No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

Williams-Mystic S’18 student and Skidmore College sophomore Olivia Glaser is originally from Los Angeles, California. She choose to go to school in Saratoga Springs, New York to experience something different: seasons.

The spring of her freshman year, Olivia happened to be in a class where Williams-Mystic executive director, Tom Van Winkle, was speaking.

“Tom came to talk in the class I was taking and I later talked to a Skidmore student who had done the program,” Olivia said. “This past fall I got in contact with Meredith [Carroll, Assistant Director of Admissions,] about an open house I wasn’t able to attend and she asked if I would be interested in applying, which I hadn’t even been thinking about.”

Olivia hadn’t been thinking about applying to the program because she didn’t think that was something she could do as a sophomore. She took time to contemplate if she was in a good spot in her academic career to be off campus for a semester as a sophomore and still thrive at Skidmore once she returned. Ultimately, she decided she wanted to participate in the program and chose to apply.

“It was a pretty big change from how I thought my sophomore year was going to go but I think I was ready for it,” Olivia said.

Since arriving at Mystic Seaport, Olivia said she has made many memories but that orientation week has been one of her favorite experiences so far.

“Getting to know everyone, my housemates in particular, has been a really positive experience,” Olivia said. “Preparing to go offshore with them was fun and that experience itself seems so surreal.”

Having been back in Connecticut for a few weeks, Olivia said that thinking back on the Offshore Field Seminar seems almost magical.

“We have all of these memories from the experience but I think about it sometimes and I think ‘did that really happen?’ because it seems so far away.”

One of the parts of the program Olivia was most excited for about living here in Mystic, Connecticut was being able to live in a house with her shipmates.

“I lived in a dorm while I was at Skidmore and that was fun but it is great to live in a house because I have my own space and I live with other people,” Olivia said. “Having that cohesive group is really nice and I enjoy all the responsibilities that come with it, like cooking and cleaning.”

Olivia said each house is different, so it is interesting to see how her house works together versus how other houses work together.

Each house receives an allowance for food each week, and must determine how to use and distribute the money. 

“Johnston House complies a grocery list and sends a few people to go grocery shopping for our food each week,” Olivia said. “Breakfast and lunch are on our own but dinners are cooked by usually one or two people for the group. Having family-style dinners has been good for us.”

Olivia wants people to know that this program is for any and all curious and driven students who want a change of view and pace in their academic career.

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs that there is out there,” Olivia said. “No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about or something related to what you are studying at your home school at Williams-Mystic.”

An Experience She’ll Never Forget: Katie Maddox (S’18) on Sailing Offshore

Being offshore “gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling. Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

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Our program prides itself on providing undergraduate students a semester of original research opportunities, extensive travel, and timely snack breaks. For University of Georgia Senior Katie Maddox, getting glimpses of the program via social media made her think that Williams-Mystic was the place for her to spend her last undergraduate semester.

“I decided to do Williams-Mystic because I don’t know what I want to do until I go to grad school,” Katie said. “I need to bridge that gap and it is a way for me to figure out what I want to do for the next few years.”

At the University of Georgia, Katie was an ecology student. Her class sizes were small and she experienced research and fieldwork first hand. What she had never experienced until coming to Williams-Mystic was conducting science experiments aboard a tall ship. While aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer circumnavigating Puerto Rico, Katie experienced all sailing has to offer.

“I was a part of A Watch and one night we had watch from 2300 (11 p.m.) to 0300 (3 a.m.) and we were motor sailing so it was pretty rough seas,” Katie said. “About half of our watch was clipped into the leeward rail because we were all seasick.”

Katie said that was the time aboard the ship where she asked herself why she had chosen to do the program, but that the seasickness subsided and there were many positive moments out at sea.

“My journal reflects some of the negative moments but all of my best memories are bonding with everyone,” Katie said. “The watches were made so well and now all of us are best buds. The class came back a big family.”

Being at sea was an experience Katie will never forget.

“It gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling,” Katie said. “Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

Katie’s motto in life is that you have to try everything at least once. Even though she didn’t let it show, she worried about surrendering contact with the outside world and being a novice crew member on a ship for ten days. Now, worries and seasickness aside, she believes that sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer is the best experience she has had in her college career thus far.

 

Aside from sailing in Puerto Rico, the S’18 class got another unique experience: visiting Old San Juan and El Morro, the fort at the entrance to San Juan Harbor.

The class as a whole was able to see the rebuilding process going on in Puerto Rico since hurricanes devastated the area in fall 2017.

“I had been to the same area last March prior to the hurricanes,” Katie said. “I got to see how things in the area had changed. It was depressing to see but it was good to see that the city is recovering.”

Prior to heading to Puerto Rico, Literature Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards told the class to imagine what it was like to get off the ship in a place they had never been and go into town with your lump sum of money like sailors did long ago. Katie said she thought about that while she was in San Juan and it was an interesting perspective to view the excursion from.

“I was glad we started at El Morro because as you work your way toward the bottom of old San Juan it gets more and more touristy,” Katie said. “It was cool to see that dynamic.”

When the SSV Corwith Cramer was coming back into San Juan Harbor, Katie said she felt like a real sailor because seeing the fort first is what the sailors would have seen back in the day.

For Katie, being back at Mystic Seaport is just as exciting as being out at sea. In addition to academic classes, each student takes a maritime skills class taught by those who work at the Seaport.

“My skill is canvas working,” Katie said. “I am very excited about it because we start with a literal and proverbial blank canvas.”

Katie’s will also hold a job while she is in the program. She is a lab assistant to Lab Manager Laurie Warren.

“I will help maintain the aquarium and take inventory in the lab,” Katie said. “This job is going to be a way to make a little money on the side and have fun.”

Williams-Mystic is more than just a maritime studies program. It is a place for people from all walks of life, and college majors, to engage in the study of ocean and beyond from many different angles. If you would like to learn more about the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, please visit mystic.williams.edu.