"One of the most important things I've learned at HCC is that everyone has to go at their own pace. Even if something may seem like an obstacle or a setback, there are other opportunities that come along."
Granby native Natalie Richards joined Student Senate last spring and will serve as Student Senate president for the 2016-2017 school year. She's a marketing major at HCC with an interest in art history and plans to continue her education in the Washington, D.C., area after graduating from HCC.
Just changed from Education to Marketing
I've always had an appreciation for art. Execution not so much. Can't draw to save my life, but I love art history, and I love pretty things.
Who's your favorite artist?
I'm definitely more Euro-centric. I like the classical stuff. I also really love the post-impressionism movement, Van Gogh, Monet, pretty typical. I did a year-long project in high school on Van Gogh for my French class, so I read a bunch of books and felt very connected to him. I know, everybody picks Van Gogh, but I do love him. I really like John Singer Sargent, who did a lot of aristocratic portraits.
Student Senate president (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017); Student senator (Spring 2016); sales associate, Megan's Treasures, Holyoke Mall; past substitute teacher, Granby public schools
Awarda & honors:
John & Abigail Adams MCAS Scholarship (from the Dept. of Education); Agnes M. Lindsey Scholarship (from Dept. of Higher Education); Student Activities Rising Star Award (Spring 2016)
Favorite course or teacher:
During my first semester I took Art History I with Victor Katz. That was two years ago and it made a big impact on me. It was the hardest course I've every taken, the most challenging, but I feel like I got the most out of it. In high school I was kind of one of those kids who got by just from classwork. I didn't need to study outside of school, but then when I got to college, obviously, it's a lot more independent. If you don't do the reading, it's on you. I had to learn to study and find a way to memorize the stuff I was learning on my own, so that class forced me to do that. I still go visit Victor. I pop by his office whenever he's free and we talk about art and pop culture and stuff.
What classes are you taking this year?
Because I just changed my major, I'm taking all my marketing classes. This fall (2016) I'm taking Professional Etiquette, Money Management, and Principles of Accounting I.
Why did you choose HCC?
My mother got her associate degree from HCC – Julie (Pellerin) Richards (Class of 1984). She actually ran the secretarial sciences lab when she was here back in her day. My mom encouraged me to come here because she got a good education here, and I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. She explained that this was a chance for me to dip my toes, rather than diving in. So, HCC gave me a chance to figure out what I wanted to do and also get a university education for a fraction of the cost.
What's been your most meaningful experience at HCC?
Joining Student Senate has given me a real sense of community. I've been able to meet people with similar interests and goals and really find a good network of people I can connect with on campus. Having that community and support system has been a really big for me. And also the advisers here: Liz Golen (Coordinator of Student Activities) has been super helpful and Lauren Leclair (Student Clubs Coordinator) and I get along really well. I feel like I've met so many more students and faculty through senate and made some really great connections.
What is your favorite thing about HCC?
I want to say the fact that all the buildings are connected so I never have to be in the rain. But I guess, it would be that personal connection that we get with our professors here on the faculty and the staff. I feel like I've had a very good relationship with a lot of my professors. They were very personal because I wasn't in a lecture hall of 200 people. This summer I was in the Student Senate office a lot doing work with Liz and Lauren, and I felt like not only are they mentors but they're here for you and they care about you. It's nice to have that kind of connection with so many different people on campus. I also like that there's a Starbucks.
What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
I guess that would be finding confidence and figuring out how to navigate college. Coming in from high school I'd usually coasted by without studying, and I always did pretty well for myself based on the stuff we did in class so when I came to college it was a complete 180. I had to learn how to study and better manage my time and still feel confident I wasn't fumbling my way through school. So, just finding my footing here in the college world, especially in math. Math was rough.
What's the most important thing you've learned at HCC?
I've had a lot of setbacks with my schedule, and at first I was really upset I wouldn't be graduating on time or with my friends who I graduated with in high school. But I realized that everyone has to go at their own pace even if something may seem like an obstacle or a setback, there are other opportunities that come along, like an executive board position on Student Senate, or getting a chance to stay with your friends for another year, you know, networking. So I guess just seeing the bright side of things and focusing on myself and not comparing myself to other people.
Why is education important to you?
You won't succeed at anything better without education. You'll have better opportunities, you'll be more knowledgable, and you'll probably do better at whatever you're trying to do. Education is important to me as well because I feel like there's so many different components to education. It's not just memorization and knowledge; it's a wider sense of awareness for people and things that you are learning. I think that education just opens every door and makes you more well rounded as an individual, not just as a scholar.
What are you looking forward to this year at HCC?
I'm looking forward to the new construction projects that are getting underway and seeing the campus revitalized. I'm looking forward to serving as president of Student Senate. I'm looking forward to all the fun stuff we do, like the Welcome Back BBQ and the the Halloween costume contest, and the little things like that. Changing my major – so I'll be taking a lot of different courses than I've known, so I'm excited to see what those will hold.
What are your goals for Student Senate?
We really want to focus in on campus with so much stuff going on, like the construction projects and the presidential search. We really want incoming students and returning students to feel comfortable on campus, and we want to help with that, cause that's what we're here for. Really just focusing on our student population and making HCC the best it can be for them even though it may be a little hectic.
What are your plans after HCC?
I'd like to work in the art field and continue my college career focusing on art history and marketing or museum studies. I hopefully will be transferring to a four-year school to round out my degree, and I have been looking in the Washington D.C. area: University of Maryland College Park, the Catholic University of America, Georgetown, American University. I just came back from a vacation. I did five college tours down there, and I fell in love with like every campus. Hopefully I will pursue school down there for my bachelor's degree. I have a friend at American University and I've always liked the atmosphere of Washington D.C. It's a very young city, and it's very historical and has tons of great resources for museum studies, obviously the Smithsonians, and the culture there is really cool and diverse.