c/o Cole Zetterquist

c/o Cole Zetterquist

This week, the WesCeleb column returns with another juicy tell-all from a distinguished member of the University’s community. An avid squash player and campus-friendly face, Cole Zetterquist ’24 sat down with The Argus to talk about his favorite local restaurants, psychology research, and making Middletown a home. 

The Argus: Why do you think you got nominated as this week’s WesCeleb?

Cole Zetterquist: Ever since freshman year, I’ve tried to talk to a lot of people and be involved in different sides of campus. I don’t believe in tying myself down to just one sector of people. I feel like that ends up happening with a lot of people who go to this school. 

A: Where is your hometown, and could you describe what it was like growing up there?

CZ: My hometown is Weston, Massachusetts, 15 minutes outside of Boston, a small suburb. I feel like a lot of people come to Middletown and they’re like, “Oh, this is small.” But I grew up in a place that was like a fifth of this. Growing up, it was like living in a bubble. Coming here for school was much better; it feels bigger and is exactly what I wanted. It’s like a young people’s bubble. It’s surprising that it feels bigger here, too. People criticize Middletown for being in the middle of nowhere, but it’s not. It’s just a short 20-minute drive from two big cities and is technically a city itself. I like that it has its unique identity, not attached to Wesleyan.

A: What brought you to study here at Wesleyan?

CZ: My options for schools were kind of small because I knew I wanted to play squash in college, so I was looking at a bunch of NESCACs. What I liked about Wesleyan specifically was its open curriculum. Wesleyan allows you to explore more while pursuing a major. Also, the people. I stayed with a team member during my overnight visit here, and it was one of the most fun nights of my life. The people I met were awesome. That definitely helped solidify it and the feeling [that] I belonged here. It was more about a feeling than a strict checklist. I thought it was a lousy town in May, but I was still so drawn to it.

A: What are your interests and hobbies on campus? 

CZ: I’m on the squash team, and I’m a captain this year which is a very different experience than previous years. I’m involved in the DEI program within the athletics department, and I’m passionate about it. Outside of athletics, I’m a research assistant for a psychology professor, which I’ve been doing since my early junior year. I plan to pursue my master’s in psychology here through the BA/MA program.

A: Can you explain your role in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program at Wesleyan Athletics? 

CZ: I’m a representative for my team in the DEI program. We have regular meetings with [DEI Initiatives Intern] Dia Fortenberry…to discuss the current state of DEI in the athletic department. Last year was about acclimating her to the program, and this year we plan to implement more workshops and take more initiative.

A: What kind of psychology research are you doing?

CZ: I’m working on a project with…[Assistant] Professor [of Psychology] Michael Perez in social psychology, focusing on race and intergroup relations using a critical race theory framework. We’re currently studying the relationship between knowledge of Black history and people’s moral self-image. I spent two months over the summer on this project and presented a poster session, but it’s just the beginning. We’ll continue the research throughout the semester and the rest of the year to explore new findings.

A: Can you think of a situation that was a tough challenge for you here at Wesleyan that you’ve had to overcome and how you did that?

CZ: COVID was one thing. I feel like our grade made the best of it somehow. Also, transitioning from doing work in high school versus in college. These are very different beasts and can both be challenging, but it honestly took me two years to get a solid grasp on how to be a functional student at this school. I feel like I had the misconception when I got here I’d be able to [adapt], but I didn’t realize that that wasn’t even half the battle. Excelling at this school takes a lot of hard work, time management, planning, and patience. Learning patience and learning to manage my time effectively was definitely a hard struggle and something that I think everybody who goes here can relate to. I feel like I just started getting there, honestly, especially with our grade too. Each year has been so different from the last. I felt like I was a freshman again sophomore year just because it was completely different because of COVID. Whether it’s extracurriculars or academics, like it’s [all] tied together. It makes me a little sad sometimes. I almost feel that our grade is closer because of that though. I’ve seen that a lot this year, people are just a lot more willing to intermingle rather than stick to your strict circles.

A: As a senior now, do you have any tips for current first years? 

CZ: I would definitely say be very patient with yourself. You’re going to be so frustrated at many different points and it’s very important to know that, whatever it is, you will figure it out. That’s just a part of growing up. And especially [at] a school like this you’re forced to grow up really fast. So be patient with yourself, and also, I guess this is kind of a recurring theme in this conversation, but don’t tie yourself down to one circle or side of campus. You have no idea the people you’ll meet if you put yourself out there a little more. I feel like this school is too small to just talk to one side of the social scene. It’s never really made sense to me how a lot of people will only associate with one group. I think that’s really important. My final piece of advice: Space out the times when you get falafel. You will, you will, you will get sick of it very quickly if you abuse it as a resource. 

A: Best food on campus?

CZ: Does Story and Soil count? Story and Soil 100%. 

A: What is the best coffee on campus? 

CZ: Best coffee, best food—Story and Soil. 

A: What were some food vibes this summer?

CZ: Salsa’s 3 Mexican Grill is really good. And I went to this restaurant called Osa, and it’s really, very expensive, so it’s definitely not something that you can do that often, but it is really good. It’s owned by the same people who own Krust, which I personally think is the best pizza in Middletown. Oh, and Neil’s Donuts. I can’t believe I didn’t fully discover Neil’s until this summer. That’s ridiculous! Neil’s is so good, and it’s cheap. It’s awesome. You need to go. It’s donuts, but they also have breakfast sandwiches and coffee. I really like their sausage, egg, and cheese. You can add salt, pepper, and ketchup, and it’s the same cost as [one at] Dunkin’ Donuts.

A: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

CZ: Birria tacos. 100%. They’re so good. I love the way it’s cooked, the sauce. They have it at Salsa’s, and they have it at Iguanas Ranas [Taqueria]. The ones at Iguanas Ranas are so good. 

A: What would your superpower be? 

CZ: Superpower? Time travel.

A: What are your next steps after college? 

CZ: I’m going to try to be a professional student for as long as I can, and pursue my PhD somewhere eventually. Over time, my ideas of what I want to do get more and more narrow. I don’t think I could possibly give a concrete answer. I’ve become a little more secure in that as time has gone on. But it’s in the realm of psychology. 

A: Is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

CZ: Just have fun. Talk to each other!


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Eugenia Shakhnovskaya can be reached at eshaknovska@wesleyan.edu.

Dove Bonjean-Alpart can be reached at dbonjeanalpa@wesleyan.edu.