people you should know: ilia silverman-esrig!

IliaHello dear ones! My name is ilia Silverman-Esrig, and I’m the Summer Orientation Assistant for New Student Programs. Although I grew up in Rockville, Maryland, I’ve spent the last four years here in the Pioneer Valley and just two weeks ago graduated from Hampshire. It’s wild to think that my undergraduate career came and went so quickly – I still remember my first day of college like it was yesterday. I remember how excited I was to decorate my dorm room with posters, lights, and more, all of which in one way or another represented both where I came from –- my past — and where I’d be headed – my future — for the rest of my time at Hampshire. I remember how nervous I initially was to introduce myself to my hallmates, how amazed I was at their apparent confidence, and how relieved I was to find out that actually, they were just as uncertain as I was.

My first months at Hampshire were an unbelievable opportunity to try my hand at anything and everything I could potentially be passionate about. In my first year alone I took a course on Palestine and Israel, Intro to Sculpting, a World Religions class, a Psychology course, Linguistics, and even an Ecology class! Having the chance to test out so many different areas of study really helped me to figure out what I was (or wasn’t) interested in. I was also able to begin the process of building my own micro-community of artists, creators, and activists – people who were curious about the world they lived in and who were inspired to make change in new and meaningful ways. I found these friends not just in my classes but in the student groups I took part in as well, from the Jewish Student Union to Sexperts (our on campus sexuality & sexual health group). I even found community in my work-study jobs in the Spiritual Life office, as a desk monitor in the Robert Crown Center, and as an orientation leader and coordinator for incoming students!

Everything that I did and everyone that I came to know while I was at Hampshire genuinely will inform everything that I’ll do in the future. My Division III, which turned out to be a three part process, was a chance for me to really put into action all of the theory I had learned previously. I created a curriculum for a workshop series that was built on the use of creative expression as a means of self exploration, understanding, healing, and embodiment; I then facilitated this six month long series with a group of womyn right here on campus. Hampshire’s unique academic structure allowed me to do this and curate an interactive gallery space that showcased these womyn’s creative works, all while writing and compiling a facilitation guide for this work that others can use. I was able to engage in a process that truly reflects the work I want to do in the future – work that is community engaged, creative, and empowering.

After four years at Hampshire, I can confidently say that I got everything out of this college that I wanted to – because I was encouraged to give my all and be present in all that I did. It sounds cheesy, but Hampshire is a place that truly changes lives – I hope you’ll take advantage of all it has to offer once you arrive.

Don’t hesitate to contact me at if you’ve got questions or want to chat – I’m excited and happy to connect. Welcome!

-ilia, 11F

people you should know: laura melbin!

Written by program assistant Kaylie Vezina 14F

LauraI have to admit, I was a little bit nervous to be walking into CASA, (The Center for Academic Support and Advising) but as soon as I walked into Laura Melbin’s office and saw her kind smile, all of my worries melted away and I felt comfortable. This is Laura’s third year as the Assistant Dean of Advising, where she works closely with Division I students, and her seventh year with the College. Needless to say, Laura knows a lot about the divisional process and has seen many students go through it successfully.

Sometimes, though, the divisional process may seem challenging or overwhelming, especially as one enters it for the first time. If you ever find yourself feeling that way, Laura is the person you want to talk to. In the most basic sense, Laura’s job is to work with first-year students by providing them with moral support and assistance as they work their way through the first year of their college experience. Some of the main aspects of Laura’s job include:

  • Helping new students negotiate academic programs — Laura can help you plan an academic schedule that works for you. She can also help you with pre-registration, as well as figuring out your portfolio.
  • Making sure you have the resources and support you need — By talking to Laura you can figure out who to talk to based upon your needs. She’s able to advise you on academic and enrollment matters in a way that is comfortable and supportive. Laura can also point you in the direction of faculty who work in your area of study so that you can begin conversing with them.
  • Helping new students stay organized and prioritized — I think it’s safe to say that most of us have found ourselves in places where we seem to be swimming in piles of work or other activities, not knowing where to start because we haven’t stayed organized, and that’s okay. If you need or want help staying organized and prioritized, Laura can help you with that.

Laura Melbin is here to help you, as is the rest of the CASA staff. They can help you with things like communicating with your advisor, to just getting used to life on a college campus. Just remember that this resource is here for you, and if you need assistance in any way don’t be afraid to ask!

Feel free to schedule an appointment with Laura by calling CASA at 413.559.5498. Not sure you need an appointment? Send Laura an email at

people you should know: kaylie vezina!

KaylieHello everyone! I’m Kaylie Vezina, the new Program Assistant in New Student Programs. I’m from Portland, Maine and am a first-year at Hampshire. I’m really excited to be in this position because I understand what new students are going through, and hope to share my knowledge with you so that we can make this year as enjoyable as possible. Here, I’ll be writing about the many events sponsored by New Student Programs so that those who cannot make the events will still be able to gather the information.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to study yet, but I am very interested in theatre, writing, and people. I hope to continue my studies in these areas, and find a way to bring them all together. I spend a lot of my time in EDH either rehearsing or sitting in one of the big comfortable chairs in the lobby. I’m a part of the NDC, Hampshire’s longest running improv troupe, and would be happy to talk to you about that or improv comedy for hours upon hours. If you have any questions about any of these things, or would like to just sit down and chat, I’d be happy to do either!

As a new student, I plan on using the experiences of my peers as well as my own to come up with new ideas, content, and events produced by New Student Programs that will be helpful for fellow new students as they transition into their time at Hampshire. If you have any questions, suggestions, requests, or just want to chat, my email is

people you should know: morgana smith!

Photo on 2014-06-02 at 11.20 #2June is finally here, and as all of you lovely incoming students get ready to wrap up your final year of high school, I’m just beginning my summer adventure here in New Student Programs as the summer orientation assistant. Looks like we’re all going to have an exciting few anticipatory months ahead of us!

Even though I started at Hampshire way back in the fall of 2008, I can easily recall the mixed emotions many of you are feeling now – the excitement, the anxiety, the suspense of the unknown. Change can be difficult, but Hampshire has been a wonderful, comforting place for me ever since I first set foot on this campus as a student.

Though I came in with the intention to study creative writing, I soon found myself drawn to the studio arts and to circus. My studies involved combining these two areas in the form of mask-making and clowning. I spent a semester abroad in Italy studying the masked theatre form known as commedia dell’arte. My time spent in the country my grandparents grew up in rekindled my passion for Italian history and folk culture, this time as viewed through the lens of feminism, and with a greater understanding of politics and poverty.

My Div III was a circus show that took place in South-Central Italy during the Fascist era, and my goal was to highlight some of the issues that my grandparents had to face: strict social rules for women, a war that the uneducated Southerners didn’t fully understand, and having a responsibility to your family beyond all others. Div III was a challenging year, but it was also a wonderful opportunity for me to bring my own perspective, skills, and identity into something important and often overlooked.

But Div III is still far away for all of you, and there is plenty of time to explore your passions. And as important as academics are, I hope that you all are able to meet lots of amazing, inspiring people and get truly involved with this campus. Student groups are one of the best ways to do this; I was involved with Hampshire’s circus group, Circus Folk Unite!, for all four years of my college experience, and it was one of the most important and influential aspects of my life here (and in some ways, it still is!).

Even though the bulk of my duties will be logistical stuff pertaining to your upcoming orientation experience, I want each and every one of you to know that I’m happy to answer your questions, chat about Hampshire, and help you ease into this next phase of your life. Beyond everything else, Hampshire is a community, and one that you will be able to help shape in the coming years.

Congratulations, and welcome!

~Morgana, 08F

people you should know: nina gunther-segal — our new program assistant!

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

3152c21Hi everyone! I’m Nina Gunther-Segal, the new Program Assistant in New Student Programs. I’m a first-year Hampshire student, so I know exactly what first years are dealing with (and I’m as excited as you all are about the cool new stuff that we’re experiencing). I, too, am figuring out how to navigate college and semi-adulthood, so as I write about helpful information I’ll also be learning it all myself. I’ll be at many of the events put on by New Student Programs, taking notes and participating as much as possible; I’ll also write about those events here on the blog for those who weren’t able to make it but still want access to that valuable information.

I’m a Div I, of course, so I’m not exactly sure what I want to study yet. However, I’m particularly interested in social justice/feminism, sustainable agriculture, and writing. I’m always up for a good conversation (or rant) about those (or other) topics. I spend a lot of time working on the Hampshire farm, heading over there to do chores (regardless of the severity of the weather–sometimes it’s a little treacherous, which adds some excitement to my days!) I’m also a part of the Black Sheep Journal and the Hampshire Climbers Coalition (the latter introduced me to rock climbing, which I now love and get to do for free–thanks Hampshire!) Having had great experience with both groups, I can highly recommend them. I also like to take advantage of Hampshire’s many yoga classes, and go on hikes up Bare Mountain and around Hampshire’s hundreds of acres of trails.

As a relatively new student myself, I’m doing my best to use my own experiences to come up with new ideas, new content, and new events for New Student Programs. I’m also hoping that my fellow first-years (or anyone else who has ideas) will approach me with their suggestions and requests–please feel free to email me at if you’ve got any suggestions.

Hope to see you all at New Student Programs events! Have questions about what’s coming up? Email us at!

people you (transfer students) should know: anne downes!

Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon 12F

0028449“Hi! What year are you in?” “Well, technically I’m a third year, but I’m changing my concentration, and I entered Hampshire last fall. You see, I’m a transfer student.”

Incoming transfer students may have similar experiences as first-years when they come to our school, but a transfer student’s adaptation to Hampshire is very different than that of a Hampshire first-year. This fall, 75 transfer students entered Hampshire (quite a large transfer class by Hampshire standards, if you were wondering). Let’s be honest: transferring into our school can be disorienting, but luckily for transfer students, Anne Downes can help in smoothing this transition.

Anne is a staff member of our Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) and she oversees students in their sixth through eighth semesters and transfer students. She’s been working at Hampshire College for 30 years now. Wait, let me emphasize that — she’s been working at Hampshire College for 30 years now. She started her work here as the Greenwich-Enfield House Director, then became the Associate Dean of Students, and later joined our Center for Advising (now CASA). There’s no question that she understands very well the nuts and bolts of our college and the needs of its students; when meeting with her, I couldn’t help but feel a huge level of understanding from her. As we talked, I inadvertently found myself getting much needed insight and advice into my own Divisional work (thanks Anne!).

Not being a transfer student myself, I asked Anne what common challenges transfer students face as they come to Hampshire. Other than, of course, our unique divisional system, transfer students tend to be surprised about the intimacy of our classes. This can probably be new to every incoming student, but because transfer students have had previous college-level class experiences, they are able to compare our courses to something different that they’ve experienced. Hampshire classes demand high levels of engagement, participation, and critical writing; it’s not about a grade or just passing a course. “Hampshire is more than course counting, and this is sometimes hard to understand for transfer students,” says Anne. At other institutions, what matters is getting credits in classes that can count towards your degree. At Hampshire, transfer students are expected to truly immerse themselves in their academic concentration, which often changes as we explore our interests through the divisional system.

Anne has the following words of advice for incoming transfer students:

  • It’s common to change your academic program. This is hard to grasp because transfers have already spent time during their education focused in certain fields, having coursework limited to that. Faculty and staff like Anne Downes can help you if you’re in this position. Staff at Central Records can also offer support for transfer students with regard to how their former classes can map onto Division I and possibly be included in students’ Division II portfolios.
  • Don’t feel you have to figure everything out on your own. Transfer students worry a lot about forming their committees for Division II and III. Because most of them enter Hampshire in the ‘middle’ of their divisional progress, they can sometimes feel that they are alone in the struggle, scrambling for unknown faculty just to get advisors and committee members. The fact is that regular students go through the exact same process, and there are tons of programming and resource to help transfers get through this. CASA is a fantastic place to start if you are feeling lost in the system. The five School Deans (of our Schools of Thought) are always happy to advise students in finding prospective faculty to collaborate with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
  • Focus on what you want to get out of your academic program. A Hampshire education is what you truly want to make out of it, not what your academics are ‘supposed’ to be or what classes you are ‘meant’ to be taking. Independent planning of your personalized curriculum is tough for everyone, but you should try to focus on what really interests you at an academic level.

It was fantastic talking with Anne Downes, and I would encourage all transfer students (and ending Div IIs and Div IIIs!) who are struggling with their academics to reach out to her at CASA. She also welcomes any new ideas or suggestions for her from transfer students, and encourages you to give her feedback!

You’re free to schedule an appointment with Anne by calling CASA at 413.559.5498, and she also welcomes drop-in visits to her office. Have a question that may not need an appointment, ideas or a suggestion for Anne? Feel free to email her at

Still have questions? Want more information? Email us at We’re happy to help!

people you should know: jordan perry — director of wellness promotion!

Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon 12F

Jordan PerrySomething that I’ve learned during my time at Hampshire is that before any commitment or academic demand, taking care of yourself matters the most. We all need space for self-care; without it, our physical, emotional and/or mental stability can be at stake. Last week, I visited Jordan Perry, our new Director of Wellness Promotion. She can help you in achieving holistic health and wellness in your life, something essential for your success at college.

A North Carolinian at heart, Jordan has been working at Hampshire for more than a month now. She is passionate about challenging commonly held misconceptions on what the ‘college experience’ really is. “We get a lot of messages from the media and from each other about what the college experience is ‘supposed to be’, but that isn’t true for everyone, ” argues Jordan. “You might be surprised to hear that most college students drink alcohol moderately or not at all. It’s actually a minority of students who engage in the risky behaviors we see so often in movies like Old School. Shockingly, there aren’t a whole lot of college movies about moderate drinking or safe, consensual sex.” She loves her new job at Hampshire College, as she sees a lot of structural support for her work and an approachable administration and staff. Jordan also appreciates the amount of room for growth and flexibility that is given to her, as well as the emphasis Hampshire College has in cultivating social justice in its students.

As the Director of Wellness Promotion, Jordan oversees the Wellness Center and all its activities. Located in Enfield, next to the basketball court, this student life center offers fantastic resources and support to our students. Its Relaxation Club gives free, drop-in 15-minute massages from Monday to Friday, between 3 and 8 p.m. It also has delicious warm drinks and healthy snacks (I had this delicious maple & brown sugar oatmeal after my visit with Jordan). Additionally, the Wellness Center can provide you with a diverse array of free safer sex supplies, and with information regarding substance use, healthy relationships, safe sex, stress management, mental health, and physical well-being. And as an added bonus, the Wellness Center has a sun room with light boxes that you can use there or check out and take with you. These tools can help you confront the rough New England cold and fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder (you know where to find me next JanTerm!).

Jordan says that she and the Wellness Center can give new students relaxation, something extremely important for you during your first year at Hampshire. She also hopes to serve as a friendly liaison between you and our Health & Counseling Services. In terms of the work she is doing right now, Jordan is promoting consent culture and figuring out how the Wellness Center can best meet students’ needs. If you have ideas, let her know!

Something that really struck me from my visit to Jordan Perry was her commitment to challenging misconceptions of college life. She sees as one of the most problematic ones the strange sleep culture embraced by college students. “Getting little to no sleep has become a sort of badge of honor,” she says. The less you sleep, the more bragging rights you seem to have. But the reality is that just like we need to breathe and eat to survive, our bodies cannot function without sleep. “Imagine you had a lot of work to do one night,” proposes Jordan. “You would never say: ‘Okay, I’m going to stop breathing for two hours to get my work done.’ But we give up sleep so quickly.”

Jordan and the Wellness Center have a lot to offer to you. Don’t hesitate to stop by whenever you’re feeling stressed, if you feel like you just need a break or a massage, or if you have an idea for the Wellness Center or Jordan herself. She’s always happy to talk with students, and she’s more than willing to share her experience and knowledge of public health. Jordan can be reached via e-mail at

And remember: Breathe, eat, and sleep!

Still have questions? Let us know! E-mail us at for more information.

people you should know: laura melbin — first-year advising dean!

Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon 12F

Laura MelbinYour first year at Hampshire will be full of learning experiences, challenges and multiple academic demands and expectations. Mid-semester is here, which means that your classes will burst with assignments, deadlines and projects. Fortunately, there are a number of resources here on campus to support you and your academics. Laura Melbin at the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) is one of them.

Laura has been working for Hampshire six years now, so it’s no understatement to say that she’s seen hundreds of students pass through Division I and the divisional system successfully. The main aspects of her job include:

  • Negotiation of academic programs for students— She helps you plan an academic schedule and experience in your first year that works for you
  • Making sure students progress well during their first year at Hampshire— Laura will help ensure that you’re on the right track to successfully managing your Division I, and will intervene if and when you need academic help this year (this includes anyone considering withdrawing, transferring, or taking a leave from Hampshire)
  • Management of the Peer Academic Resource Center (PARC) — located in the Johnson Library at the end of the Info Bar, PARC is co-managed by returning, knowledgeable Hampshire students and, among other perks, offers a cool resource library that allows students to look at sample divisional contracts and portfolios
  • Direction of the First-Year Mentor Program— Run by CASA in collaboration with New Student Programs (that’s us!), this new Hampshire initiative connects incoming students with First-Year Mentors who serve as a link to the more social and cultural aspects of our college

I asked Laura how she would summarize Div I in one word. Her response: “Foundation.”

She sees Division I as a strong base for an education at Hampshire College, as it provides a wide array of tools for students. Although a lot of us might struggle completing Division I requirements, or may complain about how ‘I don’t do numbers’, ‘I am not artsy’ or ‘I don’t want to study this’, Laura sees them as a fantastic and much needed experience. “A lot of students come thinking that they know exactly what they want to study,” says Laura. But in most cases, the opposite is true. In her years at Hampshire, she has seen how our interests and true academic passions evolve and narrow down throughout our Hampshire education; Division I is a key element in this process.

Remember: Laura and the CASA staff are here for you! In Laura’s words, CASA is a “safety net.” It will prevent you from falling through Hampshire’s experimental education system. They can help you from communicating with your advisor and professors to adjusting to college life. Don’t wait until you’re desperate. The resource is there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

You’re free to schedule an appointment with Laura by calling CASA at 413.559.5498, and she also welcomes drop-in visits to her office. Have a question, but not sure you need an appointment? Feel free to e-mail Laura at She’ll also be collaborating with us at New Student Programs throughout the year, so stay tuned!

people you should know: elora pindell!

Written by summer program assistant Jon Butler 11F

EloraSometimes, you have to share a room. About 75% of new student rooms at Hampshire are singles. But sharing can be fun, and if you knew Elora Pindell 08F, you’d wish you were in the 25% of doubles with me, sharing space with an awesome coworker.

Elora and I share an office in the Merrill Student Life Center, and we’re basically partners in crime. Together, we fight mayhem and confusion to bring you the best possible new student experience, day in and day out. She’s the summer orientation assistant (read: orientation logistics expert) and definitely someone you should know.

Elora was “born and raised on the playground,” in Philadelphia, PA. She is a brilliant writer, and came to Hampshire through the James Baldwin Scholars program. After her first year, she was impressed with the supportive community she found in her friends and classmates, and became a peer mentor for a first-year Baldwin Scholar. She did her Div. III in creative writing and Africana studies, writing a collection of short stories addressing the intersection of race and gender. The Writing Center was her second home; she worked there as a Writing Intern, helping other students craft and edit their literary endeavors. She also took classes there, and claims it is one of the best spaces on campus, closely contested by the quiet patios behind the Yiddish Book Center.

Elora’s pro-tip for incoming students is to plan a semester to study abroad. It’s a “once in a lifetime experience, just fill out the applications and go!” The cultural perspective is invaluable, and she notes that it’s probably cheaper to go while you’re in school (ask the Global Education Office about grants and scholarships!). She also got involved with the student group Excalibur, which screens sci-fi movies and TV shows with a large projector on Saturday nights. She didn’t expect to join the group, but after going to a screening and loving it, she was hooked. They always have amazing food from area restaurants, and that certainly doesn’t hurt. Elora recommends dropping in on lots of student groups, because they just might surprise you. And even if you don’t like it, most groups have food at their meetings, so at the very least you’ll get some free snacks out of it!

If you want more Elora (which you should), check out this short video describing how Divisions work at Hampshire, she’s the narrator:

That’s all for now, keep asking questions! I’m putting together ideas for videos, so stay tuned for fresh content in the coming weeks.



people you should know: jon butler!

Written by super secret insider/“summer program assistant” Jon Butler 11F

Jon ButlerHope everyone is enjoying their summer! My name is Jon Butler, I’m your new Super Secret Insider on Everything to Do With Hampshire. They tell me my job title is “Summer Program Assistant,” but that’s just a cover. Armed with video equipment, a bicycle, killer sunglasses, and an extremely attractive squishy foam robot, I will voyage across campus to bring you into the world that is Hampshire College. It’s a beautiful world, and there is so much to know! I’m here to help answer your questions, make sure you are comfortable and confident, and generally run around campus asking questions, having fun, and making videos for you! I am a current Hampshire student, going into my final year (Div. III!), so I have plenty of ideas for things to show you. However, I want to highlight the things YOU want to see, so hit me up on the We Got In! Facebook page with your questions and ideas. Your wish is my command!

I am a transfer student; I came to Hampshire from Connecticut College in 2011, and I never looked back. Hampshire is an incredible place, and every year I find more reasons to say so! If you are anything like I was when I graduated high school, you’re hoping that college will be a bit different. Tired of having to learn things the same old way, sitting in rows and listening to teachers talk about the same old ideas, copying them down so you can study for the same old tests? That is not Hampshire. As a transfer student, I can talk about Hampshire not only from my own experience here, but also comparatively, from the perspective of someone who has attended a more traditional liberal arts college. Get at me with your questions!

I study Marine Ecology, and love everything to do with the ocean. I’m captain of the Men’s Soccer team, and spend lots of time with Hampshire’s outdoors program, OPRA. Want to try kayaking? Rock climbing? Maybe restorative yoga or aikido? OPRA offers tons of (free) programs that are super fun, get you out meeting awesome new people, and oftentimes take you to some of the most beautiful spots in the Pioneer Valley. If you log onto TheHub, click “Search for Courses” and search for classes under the Subject “Outdoor and Rec Athletics,” you can see the offerings for next year. I’m taking Restorative Yoga, because what better way to start your Wednesday morning?

It’s going to be a great summer, and I’m almost as excited to start making videos as I am to meet you all in the fall. Get stoked!

Your Super Secret Insider on Everything to Do With Hampshire,


Don’t use Facebook? Have questions that you want to ask via email? You can always find the office of new student programs at We’re happy to help!