people you should know: rachel brimmer!

Written by summer orientation assistant Rachel Brimmer 14F


My name is Rachel Brimmer and I use she/her pronouns. I am thrilled to introduce myself as the Orientation Assistant for the summer! I will also be an Orientation Coordinator in August, working closely with the Orientation Leaders. My job consists of a lot of organizing and scheduling behind the scenes of orientation as well as answering any questions you may have. I also have the pleasure of sending you the common reading, so know that your books will be packaged with care!

I have loved being a part of the orientation team, first as a two-year Orientation Leader and now I am delighted and honored to be taking on a larger role within the community. Of course, my orientation participation began when I entered Hampshire College! I will never forget when I first visited Hampshire. I had never heard of it before but (thankfully) my mother, being the intuitive woman she is, suggested we check it out on our college road trip and I am forever grateful. Just after one visit, I was certain I would be going to Hampshire. And here I am, 3 years later, passionately working for the college! As an orientee, I was extremely excited to jump in and get started but undoubtedly was super nervous. I didn’t know anyone and my first-year tutorial, Victorian Childhood, wasn’t something I planned on pursuing academically. Despite my fears, my fellow orientees in my tutorial were wonderful and not what I anticipated. I still keep in touch with many of my peers from my tutorial, one of whom I now work with closely through our work as Peer Chaplains and another with whom I collaborate with when they need a dancer to film! My initial assumptions and fears around not being able to connect with folks in my group based on the content of the class have taught me to stay open-minded and non-judgmental. This a lesson I am consistently (re)learning. So my best advice for entering Hampshire is to stay open, be bold, be humble, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Now as I enter into Division III, I hope to stay as open, humble, and bold as possible. During Orientation you can find me riding in a golf cart with my fellow OC’s or wandering campus – please feel free to say hi to me or ask me anything!

During the year, you can find me in Prescott, dancing in the small studio (or literally anywhere on campus, honestly), and with any and every cat I encounter. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! I love making new friends!

You can email me at

~ Rachel 14F

people you should know: claire saboe!

Written by program assistant Claire Saboe 16F

img_5191Hi! My name is Claire and I use she/her/hers pronouns and am currently a Div I student. My interests consist of philosophy, ethics, and the role that sexism plays in how sexual education is taught, especially in grade-school. For now, I’m writing to you as the new New Student Programs Program Assistant! This job consists of helping Jessica Ortiz, director of new student programs, compile data, organize, work on the blog, and general administration duties. New to the school, and part of a really awesome set of friends, I’ve become such a Hampshire cheerleader!

Yet, originally coming to Hampshire, from Northern California (so far away ah!), applying so many months before actually going, and moving across the country, I was scared and fascinated about what my Hampshire life would end up looking like. However, throughout my nearly three month stay, I’ve been able to participate in many of the New Student Programs and orientation events, such as kayaking on the pool, and through these events I’ve found such a wonderful outlet. I’ve also been able to watch environmental documentaries in FPH, listen to lectures on racism in the U.S., color multiple times at coloring night, and sit in awe as many other students perform at open mic. With these events, I’ve met new friends and opened my eyes to the wonders that Hampshire has to offer.

Thus, now being able to actually working with Jessica, I’m extremely excited to be able to be part of a program that functions to benefit students (like myself) that are fresh to Hampshire and help get the word out about!

Want to meet Claire? Stop by New Student Programs drop-in hours on Tuesdays from 3-4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 1-3 p.m. Either Claire or Jessica will be on hand during this time to answer questions, share information about upcoming programs, and hear how things are going. We hope to see you soon!

people you should know: abby hanus!


My name is Abby and I use they/them/theirs pronouns and am a proud plant parent. I am a recent graduate of Hampshire College and so excited to be the Orientation Assistant this summer. That title means I get to help assist with all the incredible things the New Student Programs does to make such a welcoming and exciting orientation! As a proud Virgo, it also means I get to organize and file A LOT of things, some of which you will get in the mail like the common reading! I can still vividly remember pulling into Hampshire for the first time, driving past all the farms and what have become some of my favorite local hiking spots, and being greeted by some of the friendliest faces. Hampshire quickly became my home and brought me some of my favorite people! In fact, I was randomly placed in a double and my roommate became my best friend!!

Coming to Hampshire was a really scary transition for me! Not only leaving the familiar people and places I had come to know so well but transitioning into a completely different academic system was very intimidating. Four years later I am a proud alum of Hampshire College. The interdisciplinary system of Hampshire allowed me to study education, youth programing, and photography in a fluid way no other college would let me. It was challenging and invigorating and led me to a three part Division III project I felt so deeply connected to. I had no clue I had such a passion for learning until I had the opportunity to learn on my own terms and was provided the support and guidance to do so. My best advice as you enter Hampshire is to keep an open mind about everything, to leave yourself room to adjust, and that it is always okay to ask for help.

Now that I’ve graduated you will probably find me hiking, biking, befriending any dog that will give me the time of day, hanging with my plants, Instagraming and hopefully answering any questions you may have about any aspect of the Hampshire experience. To know is not enough and that is certainly true with the next few months leading up to your arrival here at Hampshire College. Don’t be hesitant to reach out, I am here for you!

You can email me at 

You can find me instagramming plants and animals @abbyhanus

~ Abby 12F

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.