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Student Values Small Community with Space to Grow

Small communities have big appeal for Sofia Prada, both as a student at Thames at Mitchell College and as a performer in the college’s performing arts program.

As someone who struggled with executive functioning and time management skills growing up, Prada thought that she could benefit from the year-long college transition program at Thames before entering an undergraduate program.

And she was right.

“I have gotten much better at these skills over time, thanks to the intensive work that we do with our instructors. Something else they do that I like is to push us to talk about something that might feel uncomfortable in the moment, then guide us to turn it into something that will help us in the future. The Thames program has a good method for teaching that to students. It’s helpful because so many students can go overboard with their emotions.”

Prada said that the spectrum of neurodiversity in the program stood out to her when she visited as a prospective student. As a current student she is struck by the level of support given to students.

“Thames is really small, and the support given is an incredible thing. It’s 110% and such a good resource for students. You don’t feel so limited because you have those resources to grow. At the same time, you’re living on a college campus, going through college life.”

She said that when she began at Thames, she was afraid that she would be judged by the Mitchell College students, but found the opposite to be true.

“What shocked me about Thames is how accepting of its students the Mitchell College students are. I found out that many Mitchell students have gone through the same process at Thames. Seeing this gives you reassurance to know that you’re okay and have a team behind you and a good foundation to build on.”

The small size of the community (both Thames and Mitchell College) has allowed Prada to grow as a student, a person, and a performer. She has enjoyed the community service projects that are part of the Thames curriculum, including working in a soup kitchen. She is grateful that “Thames pushes you to do those kinds of things” and notes the “profound kindness” that springs from the experiences.

Prada is passionate about performing arts and has found opportunities on the Mitchell stage, performing in the fall production of “It’s a Wonderful Life–A Live Radio Play” and the spring musical, “Of Thee I Sing.”

“I am the kind of person that likes small and intimate communities and feel over-stimulated in a larger environment,” she said. “In a smaller performing arts community like this one, you have more freedom to grow and craft something in your own way. You don’t have to feel so overwhelmed or pressured to be like ‘I have to get up to this person’s level.’”

Having made many friends through performing arts, Prada is confident in her work as a performer and a person. She credits Jonathan (Jono) Babbitt for her growth, both in his role as a professor in the classroom and as a director on stage, and she looks forward to continuing her studies and performing at Mitchell College next year.

“Jono has taught me much about the true meaning of being a well-prepared and confident performer and what it means to truly work with an ensemble. His teaching is quite memorable, and it is also a challenge. I am taking a music theory class with him, and we’re working on the confidence of the performer and the human. It is super complex and very profound and can help you in many ways. I hope to continue to work with him in the years to come.”