First-Year Trinity Student Gets Involved in Hartford, Encourages Others to Explore the City

Garret Forst ’19 Enjoys Restaurants and Culture Downtown, Participates in Local Revitalization Efforts

​Garret Forst '19 (left) and fellow first-year students explored the city as part of the Amazing Race Hartford at the start of 2015-2016 academic year.

​Hartford, Connecticut, June 9, 2016 – Garret Forst ’19 just completed his first academic year at Trinity College and in the city of Hartford. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Forst was excited by the opportunities that studying at a liberal arts college in an urban setting might afford him. From his very first day at Trinity, he has been exploring Hartford. Forst participated last August in one of Trinity’s Bantam Beginnings pre-orientation programs, the Amazing Race Hartford. The program includes team-building activities through the Riverfront Adventure program, following clues and exploring downtown Hartford on foot, as well as a bus tour with stops at local restaurants and the State Capitol. To read more about last fall’s Amazing Race Hartford program, click here. Details on all of the Bantam Beginnings programs are available here.

Since participating in the Amazing Race, Forst has continued to engage with Hartford and has become comfortable navigating the city. He rides the bus on a free U-Pass, uses Uber, and has also taken a trip on the bus rapid transit system known as CTfastrak. Over the past year, he has frequented Hartford Wolfpack hockey games and tried out different restaurants with fellow Trinity classmates. Some of Forst’s favorites include Bear’s Barbecue, Piolin, and El Mercado on Park Street. He has made it a priority to get off campus several times a month and to encourage others to do the same. He worships at St. Lawrence Church, just a few blocks from campus, and he proudly shared that the church is very multicultural, as it offers services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese.

Above: Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin (center), Trinity students and Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney (right) recently discussed ways in which Trinity can be a part of Hartford’s continued growth.​ Below: Samantha Jarvis '19, Nazri Abdilahi '17, and Andrew Lewis '19 on Pratt Street in Hartford, where they went to a restaurant with members of their Bantam Network nests.

Academically, Forst is also taking advantage of Trinity’s urban setting. He plans to major in urban studies and history. He was enrolled this spring in Community Development Strategies, a Community Learning Initiative course that involves a partnership with the Southwest and Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ). Forst enjoyed the grassroots experience and found the experiential learning both interesting and helpful. He worked with the NRZ by assisting its efforts to start a Business Association in the neighborhood. He developed a survey to get a sense of the business needs that the NRZ might be able to address.

This past February, Forst attended an NRZ community meeting that featured a town hall style discussion with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. Forst was impressed by the mayor’s presence at the meeting and explained that he had never met the mayor in his home city of Cleveland. Bronin then visited Trinity’s campus on Wednesday, May 4, to discuss his vision for Trinity’s engagement with the city. President Joanne Berger-Sweeney and several students were present and helped strategize ways to keep students in Hartford upon graduation and to further engage them while on campus.

Trinsition Fellow Consuelo Pedro ’15 is working hard to encourage new students to engage with Hartford as part of her programming with the Bantam Network. She has made it a priority to incorporate Hartford into the first-year experience by taking weekly trips with her nest members. On Fridays, Consuelo and another Trinsition Fellow, Chanel Erasmus ’15, have taken small groups of students from their nests to explore the city and visit places like Bushnell Park, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Connecticut Supreme Court, and various restaurants and coffee shops.

 Pedro said that Hartford offers first-year students the opportunity to learn how to navigate a city, see societal and urban challenges, and learn to apply their liberal arts education to find solutions. “It gives them a real-life, firsthand opportunity to solve real problems the minute they step onto campus,” Pedro said. 

Written by Julia Rivera