Three students. Three hours. One city.

During an afternoon this fall, Alya MacDonald ’25, Hana Dolan ’25, and Oliver Zhao ’24 took some time to visit the city of Utica, located just 20 minutes from campus.

On their whirlwind tour, they learned about a range of ethnic food options, fascinating architecture, and the entertainment venues in this city of roughly 65,000 people, which represents more than 40 nationalities and includes a significant number of refugees from around the world.

Together, they provide a compelling look – through a student lens – at a vibrant city.

Top photo: The Utica sign at the Adirondack Bank Center by Hana Dolan ’25

“The mural had gorgeous colorful flowers alongside black and white images of what I think are scenes from early Utica. I love that the artist is honoring the city’s history while adding some modern touches that keep the area alive. It’s also great that passers-by can watch the artist work–it made me feel as though I was a part of the process.”

Hana Dolan ’25 Hana Dolan ’25

“Utica has a large immigrant population and thus great diversity. Bleecker Street is like a small cultural hub where ethnic restaurants featuring different kinds of cuisine, including Dominican, Mexican, and Vietnamese, serve the population and add flavor to the city.”

Oliver Zhao ’24 Oliver Zhao ’24

“While I was in the Hotel Utica, I talked with the manager of the hotel. He was from Spain so we started chatting in Spanish as he gave me a tour of the building. As we walked around I learned that he was also a photographer, and enthusiastically entertained our conversation about cameras while suggesting different areas to photograph within the hotel.”

Alya MacDonald ’25 Alya MacDonald ’25

Alya MacDonald '25, Hana Dolan '25, and Oliver Zhao '24 are Digital Media Interns for the Office of Communications and Marketing.

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