AFTER FOUR YEARS, NOW WHAT?
Hollins Hollins Magazine Vol. 70, No. 3 January - March 2020
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From infrastructure enhancements and robust fiscal health to academic progress and career development initiatives, Hollins is primed for continued success. By Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray
GUEST EDITOR Jean Holzinger M.A.L.S. ’11 ADVISORY BOARD Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray, Vice President for External Relations Suzy Mink ’74, Director of Alumnae Relations Lauren Sells Walker ’04, Director of Public Relations Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Ann Atkins Hackworth ’82, M.A.L.S. ’95; Mary Ann Harvey Johnson ’67, M.A. ’71; Lucy Lee M.A.L.S. ’85, C.A.S. ’03; Linda Martin; Brenda McDaniel HON ’12; Sharon Meador; Kathy Rucker; Karizona “Rory” Sanson ’19
DESIGNERS Sarah Sprigings, David Hodge Anstey Hodge Advertising Group, Roanoke, VA
Magazine Editor Hollins University Box 9657 Roanoke, VA 24020 email@example.com
After Four Years, Now What? Be inspired by these profiles of recent graduates, who made the most of their time at Hollins and used those experiences to lead them to the next step. By Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11
The articles and class letters in Hollins do not necessarily represent the official policies of Hollins University, nor are they always the opinions of the editor. Hollins University does not discriminate in admission because of race, color, religion, age, disability, genetic information, national or ethnic origin, veteran status, or sexual orientation and maintains a nondiscriminatory policy throughout its operation. For more information, contact the director of human resources/Title IX coordinator, (540) 362-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions, comments, corrections, or story ideas may be sent to:
Research: “It’s What We Do” Hollins students in the sciences and beyond gained major research experience last summer, giving them a decided advantage in competing for coveted grad school slots. By Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11
CLASS LETTERS EDITORS Olivia Body ’08 and Meredith Cope-Levy ’12, M.F.A. ’18
PRINTER Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA Hollins (USPS 247/440) is published quarterly by Hollins University, Roanoke, VA 24020. Entered as Periodicals Postage Paid at Roanoke, VA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Hollins, Hollins University, Box 9688, Roanoke, VA 24020 or call (800) TINKER1.
This Is Us Recent highlights of the Hollins experience.
Asking Hard Questions, But Not Providing Answers Dhonielle Clayton M.A. ’09 writes about diversity, belonging, and what matters. By Karen Adams M.A. ’93 creative writing; M.A. ’00, M.F.A. ’10 children’s literature
Spearheading Change— with a “Pinch of Rebelliousness” Bivishika Bhandari ’13 hopes to use her graduate studies at Oxford as a springboard to further women’s rights and environmental activism in her home country. By Jeff Hodges M.A.L.S. ’11
In Plain Air By Elizabeth Poliner, associate professor of English and director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing
D E P A R T M E N T S 3
In the Loop
Focus on Philanthropy
Class Letters, with profiles of Susan Woods Jennings ’73 and Kathryn “Katie” Henningfeld Fort ’99
Visit the online version of Hollins magazine at hollins.edu/magazine.
S Rory Sanson ’19
ince my return to campus as interim president for the 2019-20 academic year, I have had the pleasure of experiencing on a daily basis how Hollins continues to be such a remarkable place to live, learn, and work. I am inspired by the many important ways in which our students, faculty, staff, graduates, trustees, and friends of the university are ensuring that we fulfill our educational mission through a position of strength that will enable us to thrive for years to come. Phase I of the new student apartment village symbolizes our momentum and optimism. Seeing this initial $4 million investment come to fruition last fall, and witnessing the immediate and profound gratitude for the new apartments from the students who have become their first residents, increases our desire to raise the remaining $1.1 million needed in gift funds to complete Phase II of the project. The village construction further advances our record in recent years of improving an array of campus facilities that includes the $3 million renewal of the Hollins Theatre, the $3 million renovation of the Hill Houses, and the $6.5 million update of the Dana Science Building. A solid financial foundation underpins this success. At the end of the last fiscal year, our endowment stood at $182.7 million. Over the past 10 years, we have raised an average of $13 million in gifts annually to support that endowment, along with our annual fund and capital projects. And we have operated with no debt during that same time period. In this competitive and challenging time in higher education, this financial foundation gives us an important advantage. 2 Hollins
From infrastructure enhancements and robust fiscal health to academic progress and career development initiatives, the university is primed for continued success. B Y I N T E R I M P R E S I D E N T N A N C Y O L I V E R G R A Y The quality of our students is notable. Our incoming first-year class boasted an average GPA of 3.7 and average ACT and SAT scores of 26 and 1180, respectively. We are also pleased with the diversity of our student body. Approximately 37 percent of our firstyear domestic students identify as African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific, or biracial. Last fall, we enrolled the largest group of incoming international students in our history, hailing from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Congo, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Hollins continues to enhance academic programs. We have introduced new major and minor programs in public health. We are one of only 11 colleges and universities across the nation selected by Google this year to partner on its Applied Computing Series, an initiative focusing on computer science education. To help prepare professionals who meet the ever-growing demand for mental health services, our psychology major has established a new concentration in clinical and counseling skills. Revisions of the general education program and student advising are also underway. Our master’s programs are garnering well-deserved acclaim. For example, a recent Roanoke Times editorial noted that “over the past decade, Hollins has quietly established itself as a national theatre powerhouse. … Last year, students and faculty at the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins won 12 awards from a prestigious annual festival at the Kennedy Center— akin to, say, Virginia Tech winning a major bowl game 12 times over.” Promising new possibilities in graduate studies are also currently under consideration.
Our experiential learning opportunities, including career development, are burgeoning. Students have increased opportunities to study abroad, complete undergraduate research, earn the certificate in the Batten Leadership Institute, and participate in the new Entrepreneurial Learning Institute. The expansion of our annual Career Connection Conference (C3) to two days last fall typifies our concerted effort to prepare students for lifelong professional success. Three out of every four members of the class of 2019 completed internships, and half completed more than one. The breadth and scope of our internship opportunities and their geographic diversity continue to build. At the same time, students are engaging more than ever with our Career Center, which is promoting new in-person and online workshops that cover job search, resume and interview preparation, workplace etiquette, and other important topics. The Career Center is also collaborating with Handshake, a career management system that connects students with Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of other organizations for jobs and internships, and this March will present the second annual HireHollins: Employer-Talent Showcase, which features a dynamic mix of mentoring, networking, and recruiting. As our search for a new president proceeds, I am confident that the individual who becomes our next leader will be taking the reins of a vibrant, forward-thinking, results-oriented institution that is meeting the challenges of higher education head-on. I thank all of you who remain devoted to this crucial work and to keeping Hollins among the vanguard of the nation’s outstanding liberal arts universities.
SNAPSHOT OF THE
CLASS OF 2023 Average GPA Average SAT Average ACT
3.7 1180 26 on a 4.0 scale
Number of states represented
Number of legacy students
Number of Batten Scholarship winners
Number of countries represented
Percentage of incoming international students
Percentage of first-year domestic students of racial and ethnic diversity
Number of winners of The Secular Society Scholarship
New major and minor in public health Recognizes growing interest and demand in the field
s an interdisciplinary endeavor that teaches students to recognize, assess, and address various issues of health on individual, community, and global levels, the study of public health is “an ideal fit for a liberal arts education,” says Associate Professor of Communication Studies Lori Joseph, who is directing the program at Hollins. “Specifically, what differentiates the public health program at Hollins from similar programs at other colleges and universities will be our emphasis on the principles of social justice while maintaining a scientific basis.” Joseph explains that students “will be encouraged to take classes in each of our four academic divisions, creating a rich educational experience.” Joseph adds that the program at Hollins will include internships and experiential learning opportunities that enable students to study diverse communities on both a macro and a micro scale and conduct significant undergraduate research. Cynthia Morrow, M.D., M.P.H., has been named a visiting professor in the public health program. Currently a member of the teaching faculty at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, Morrow is a member of Virginia Tech’s Public Health Advisory Board and the American Public Health Association.
MODEL PERFORMANCE AT MODEL UN Second year of award-winning delegations
our Hollins students received honors last fall at the 30th Annual American Model United Nations International Collegiate Conference in Chicago.
Hannah Jensen ’20 and Mollie Davis ’22 won Outstanding Delegation for the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, while Emma Jensen Babson ’23 and Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23 were named the Outstanding Delegation for General Assembly Second Committee. This is the second year in a row Hollins has returned with two award-winning delegations from the conference, which draws more than 900 participants each year. Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette ’09 serve as faculty sponsors.
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Loop Guide to the guides How Hollins fares in some popular student sources
Princeton Review’s 2019 Guide to Green Colleges
U.S. News and World Report: 2020 Best Colleges National Liberal Arts Colleges category
Listed as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, based on a survey conducted of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges about their institutions’ commitment to the environment and sustainability
Placed #24 among the country’s top performers for social mobility, a new ranking in the guide that recognizes how successful colleges are at graduating students who receive federal Pell Grants
Ranked #30 in the list of best-value schools Ranked #102 overall
Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020 •••
Cited as “one of the South’s leading women’s colleges” •••
Included among the nation’s small colleges and universities that are strong in art/design, dance, and film/television
Princeton Review’s Best 385 Colleges •••
Ranked #4 for most politically active students, #16 for most active student government, and #19 on the best college theatre list •••
Track and field off to a running start New program is the university’s ninth
he new track and field team started competition during the 2019-20 indoor season and continues into the spring 2020 outdoor season. “We are excited to add track to our slate of intercollegiate teams at Hollins,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “We plan to focus on distance events at first, so we expect that it will enhance our ability to recruit for the cross country program as well.”
Robert Sullivan Jr., who was promoted to head coach of Hollins’ cross country team last August, has been tapped to lead the new track and field program. He is also the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville, Virginia, and is a level-one certified coach for USA Track and Field.
Photos by Amy Cavanaugh Pearman ’97
“A new way to experience neighbors” In the student village, the living is easy
n September, when we last reported on the new student village at the top of the Loop, the grass had just been planted, the cement walkways were dry, the green rockers for the porches had been delivered, and students were about to take possession. Four months later, says Jeanette Morsberger ’20, one of two community assistants, “I love the community we have built together between the four houses. We’re like our own little neighborhood.” Kaitlyn Phillips ’21 echoes Morsberger’s comments: “It’s a new way to experience neighbors.” Morsberger and Phillips are two of the 40 students who live in the village. “While it is primarily full of seniors, there are quite a few juniors as well,” says Melissa Hine, assistant dean of students and director of housing and residence life. They got there through
a three-night lottery process last spring, with rising seniors assigned to the first night, rising juniors the second, and rising sophomores the third. The lucky lottery winners enjoy such indoor amenities as a washer/ dryer, dishwasher, and granite countertops. Phillips “loves the fact that it’s a house, so it feels a bit more like a home. And we have gotten to decorate and make it our own.” And did we mention the view? “Our back porch is definitely my favorite outside feature,” says Morsberger. “I love sitting out there and watching the sunset.” To Morsberger, one of the biggest advantages to village life is that “it’s been a great trial run for post-grad life. I am learning a lot about what it means to take care of myself and an apartment.”
From left: Kaitlyn Ellis ’21, Kaitlyn Phillips ’21, Jeanette Morsberger ’20, and Isabel Meyers ’21.
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Loop Unwavering Commitment Darla Schumm, John P. Wheeler Professor of religious studies, remembers Jong Ra, professor of political science, who retired last summer after more than 50 years at the university.
hen Jong Ra began teaching at Hollins, the Vietnam War was raging, the Hollins library was located in what is now the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, bell bottoms were in style (for the first time), Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States, the name of our campus was Hollins College, and there was no such thing as the internet. Many things changed on campus and beyond in the ensuing 51 years, but one constant held steady: Jong’s dedication to educating Hollins students about American government and electoral politics. It is difficult to measure the breadth of Jong’s influence over the course of his distinguished career. I can barely attend a social or public event in Roanoke without encountering one of his former students. When it comes up in conversation that I teach at Hollins, someone in the room inevitably declares: “Do you know Dr. Ra? He was my favorite professor!” Almost a decade ago I landed in a new office across the hall from Jong. A few years later we served together on an ad hoc committee tasked with reviewing the sociology program. The result of the work of the committee was the creation of a new and experimental interdisciplinary department, global politics and societies (GPS), housing four major programs (sociology, international studies, religious studies, and political science) in addition to a minor in social justice. Over the course of a few short years, I went from occasionally crossing paths with Jong at faculty meetings to interacting with him on a regular basis as my hallmate and department colleague. I quickly understood why so many former students referred to him with such fondness. Jong welcomed me into the department and office pod with overwhelming warmth and generosity. Despite having many more years of experience, Jong always made me feel as though my opinion was valuable and worthy of consideration. It is not an exaggeration to say that Jong was one of my most supportive and encouraging senior colleagues, an experience shared by other faculty.
Among Jong’s most distinctive characteristics are his wicked sense of humor, his unwavering commitment to Hollins, and his unceasing energy. Jong often sauntered into my office to discuss the latest happenings about campus or to relay insights regarding the most recent political controversy. I usually left these conversations laughing at one of Jong’s witticisms, and also with a new nugget of knowledge about the world. Jong’s influence stretches beyond Hollins and the Roanoke community. For many years he also taught in the political science department at Virginia Tech. More times than I can remember, I greeted him in the hall on a Monday morning inquiring about his weekend, only to be regaled with stories about his two- or three-day adventure to Korea, China, or other parts of the world. When I marveled at his ability to recover from jet lag so quickly, or to function with little to no sleep, he simply laughed and mused that he only requires four hours of sleep. Clearly, while most of us were sleeping, Jong was busy preparing to teach one of his many classes or producing scholarship for his numerous national and international connections. A friend recently reflected that one of the greatest gifts we can give to other people is to make them feel blessed. To feel blessed is to be noticed, to be heard, to be valued. Jong’s long career certainly can be measured by the number of students he taught, by the number of colleagues with whom he worked, by the number of international trips he took, or by the number of scholarly papers he presented and published. To be sure, these numbers are laudable and should be celebrated. More impressive, however, are the number of students, faculty colleagues, administrators, and trustees whose lives he blessed. In the words of another colleague: Jong is a true “mensch.” I am grateful to have learned from him, laughed with him, and counted him as a colleague and friend. Darla Schumm is chair of the faculty.
Oh, Joy! Alumnae celebrated Tinker Day around the world.
California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Australia, France, Japan, United Kingdom
More than 200 alumnae celebrants
Countless (OK, 100) Krispy Kreme Doughnuts consumed
INCALCULABLE SMILES AND LAUGHS SHARED
Myriad memories made
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Philanthropy New York, New York 1842 Society members enjoyed music, museums, and more
embers of the 1842 Society met in New York last November for a weekend of arts, culture, food, and Hollins news. Daytime activities included visits to New York museums, a reading by Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91, a tour of Central Park, and a rehearsal of the renowned Choir of Men and Boys of Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue. The group also enjoyed a luncheon program by voice artist Fred Newman of A Prairie Home Companion fame. The evenings featured gatherings at the home of Julian Robertson (brother of Trustee Emerita Wyndham Robertson ’58) and the headquarters of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust on the Upper East Side. The weekend culminated in a celebratory dinner at the Links. During the program, former trustee Sandra Frazier ’94 was honored with the Hollins Medal, and June Brill Myles ’64 was recognized for her generosity to Hollins with an induction into the Levavi Oculos Society. Interim President Nancy Gray provided an update on Hollins today. The 1842 Society comprises donors of annual gifts of at least $1,842 to the Hollins Fund. The society’s weekends began more than 16 years ago, with the location of the event changing annually. Recent weekends have been held in Nashville; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco.
THIS PAGE: TOP: Debbie Meade (Board of Trustees member), Hazel Bernard ’76, and Mary Page Evans ’59. MIDDLE: Sandra Kiely Kolb ’70 (Board of Trustees member), Elizabeth “Betsy” Akers Crawford ’70, and Frances Leitner ’73. BOTTOM: Sandra Frazier ’94, Alexandra “Alex” Trower ’86 (chair of the Board of Trustees), Interim President Nancy Gray, and June Brill Myles ’64.
THIS PAGE: TOP LEFT: Abigail “Abby” Ross Sioussat ’81, Pierce Sioussat, and Catharine “Kate” Nicolaides Lyons ’81. MIDDLE LEFT: Miriam “Mim” Hayllar Farmakis ’67, Tom Farmakis, and Betsy Akers Crawford ’70. BOTTOM LEFT: Sandra Frazier ’94, Wyndham Robertson ’58, and Paige Smith Jernigan ’87. TOP RIGHT: Anne Hipp Habeck and Zelime Gillespie Matthews, both class of 1968. BOTTOM RIGHT: Sandra Kiely Kolb ’70, Elizabeth “Libby” Hall McDonnell ’62, and Leslie Dunne Ketner ’84.
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RESEARCH: “It’s Rory Sanson
Hollins students in the sciences and beyond gained major research experience last summer, giving them a decided advantage in competing for coveted grad school slots. B Y J E F F H O D G E S M . A . L . S . ’ 11
Left to right: Catherine Stricklin ’20, Bronte Hoefer ’22, Marie Hengelhaupt ’21, and Kathleen Lydon ’21.
lexandra “Alex” Lesniak ’20 has learned as an undergraduate to “not be afraid to ask for what you want.” That assurance served the psychology major well when she sought to grow her research skills in a lab at Virginia Tech. “When she got there they said, ‘We see you have experience doing social media, so that’s what we’d like you to do,’” recalled Tiffany Pempek, associate professor and chair of psychology at Hollins. “That’s not what Alex had in mind. She let them know she had been running studies in our department’s Child Development Laboratory for the past three years.” Lesniak investigated at what age toddlers can actually learn from screen media, and if adding parental reading tips to children’s books enhanced parent-child interactions. “They decided to let her work with their study participants, something their undergraduates don’t get to do in a big research lab,” Pempek said. The defining element Lesniak and other Hollins students share, one that fuels their confidence and gives them a leg up over their peers at other institutions, is the chance to engage in research beyond the academic year during the summer. As Catherine “Cat” Stricklin ’20, a
chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration and a physics minor, noted, “I’ve been able to dedicate myself fully to my project, which many students don’t get the opportunity to do.” That continuity has been crucial for Stricklin, who is in her fourth year of using nuclear magnetic resonance, “essentially a big MRI for molecules,” to synthesize different chemical compounds and study their symmetrical properties. “Working on a single project for four years is something most undergraduates haven’t done by the time they’re applying for master’s or doctoral programs,” she explained. “It has shown me how persistence can pay off despite the complications that happen. It lets you think through and solve the problems you’re facing to get the desired results.” Madison “Madi” Simms ’20, a biology and environmental science double major, also lauds the free time that summer offers for field study. She and her research partner, Bronte Hoefer ’21, are exploring the devastating impact in Roanoke County of the emerald ash borer, a small beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in North America. Simms said her summer research is not only convenient, it also provides “a way to mesh my passion for environmental science and ecology with
What We Do” Jeff Hodges
veterinary science.” She was able to split her time last summer working for an emergency veterinary practice. Hoefer, who is majoring in environmental science and biology, cited necessity as another compelling reason for summer research. In the fall and winter, “ash trees lose all of their leaves and it’s harder to score and identify them,” she noted. “During the springtime, adult ash beetles emerge from their pupa form. They begin to eat the ash leaves from the top of the tree, which results in defoliation, another sign of infestation that we can report.” Assistant Professor of Biology Elizabeth Gleim ’06 invited Hoefer to study the emerald ash borer after the junior’s interest in plant and insect ecology was sparked by Gleim’s plant biology course. “The class lab involved going out into the woods and learning how to identify about a hundred species,” Hoefer said. “I found it very rewarding.” Now she plans to study ecological etymology in graduate school. “I’m really interested in how plants interact with insects, and vice versa, and the resulting impact on the environment.” According to psychology major Marie Hengelhaupt ’21, research is an important component of clinical psychology, the field she hopes to pursue. Last summer, she partnered with
Professor of Psychology Bonnie Bowers to replicate a study that was previously done with a Burmese python. “We taught a corn snake to press a button in order to get food,” she explained. “They’re active foragers and have the ability to adapt to different environments. Typically, they’re calm and they have to solve problems to find food. That makes them good for studying.” Hengelhaupt hopes the study will help dispel the stereotype of reptiles as slow and dull, and through food retrieval show they are able to learn the same as mice and other animals. Since there has been little previous research in this area, she is also anticipating that this study will offer prospects for networking. “I plan to present our results at state and national conferences, which will enable me to meet people in my chosen field.” Summer research opportunities at Hollins extend beyond the sciences. Kathleen “Kate” Lydon ’21, who is majoring in studio art with a concentration in printmaking, spent last summer honing her skills using a Glowforge Pro, a powerful laser cutter and engraver and one of the newest pieces of equipment in the university’s printmaking studio. “I learned new technologies and software. It’s really a melding of digital and traditional methods, which is huge
in the printmaking field,” she said. “I believe it’s opened a lot of doors for me going forward with internships or graduate programs.” Lydon divided her time working on her own and collaborating with Elizabeth Dulemba, a visiting associate professor in Hollins’ M.F.A. program in children’s book writing and illustrating. “I definitely want to be the conduit for everyone else on campus to learn this equipment. At the same time, I have a whole list of projects that I want to complete and I’m hoping to enter some juried exhibitions.” Lesniak likely speaks for all her fellow summer researchers when she describes her work as “life changing. I would not be the person I am today without this experience. It has reaffirmed my love and desire to go into research. I am currently applying to some clinical psychology Ph.D. programs, and if you don’t have that undergraduate research experience, it really does set you at a disadvantage.” “At Hollins, this is what we do,” said Pempek. “It’s a very clear demonstration of the value of a Hollins education.” Jeff Hodges is director of public relations.
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AFTER FOUR YEARS, NOW WHAT?
Be inspired by these profiles of recent graduates, who made the most of their time at Hollins and used those experiences to lead them to the next step. B Y J E F F H O D G E S M . A . L . S . ’ 11
t age 14, Samantha “Sami” Makseyn ’19 faced the biggest challenge of her young life. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she spent 11 days in a coma and missed nine weeks of school. The experience transformed her into a force for change. Passionate about healthcare advocacy, she helped found a nonprofit organization for youth advocacy in politics and legislation when she was just 18. Before she turned 21, she had already worked in both American and international government. Hollins’ Signature Internship Program made much of her achievement possible, she says. “My choice in college was influenced by the fact that I later wanted to go on to law school, but internships intimidated me. How was I going to take time during a semester to do an internship? They’re not paid, so how would I live somewhere? With Hollins and the January Short Term, I was able to do an internship, receive a stipend, have housing provided, and not miss any school.” Makseyn completed three Signature Internships, all in Washington, D.C.:
with the office of U.S. Senator Al Franken, the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the American Healthcare Association. Studying abroad in London her junior year, she interned with a member of Parliament, Virendra Sharma, whose constituency is largely Indian and Southeast Asian. Makseyn augmented her real-world experience, and honed her public speaking, multitasking, research, and debating skills, by participating in Model United Nations (MUN) and Model Arab League (MAL). At MUN and MAL conferences, she encountered “crisis simulations—and you have to figure out how to deal with them,” she explains. “I learned how to find my voice.” With a likely focus on healthcare law, Makseyn is attending George Washington University Law School. Concurrently, she plans to complete a master’s degree in public health. “Eventually, I want to work in politics,” she says, “so I want to be well-versed in healthcare policies.”
THE POWER OF INTERNSHIPS
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SENSE OF ADVENTURE
o illustrate his daughter’s fearlessness, Lillian “Lilly” Potter ’19 says her dad loves to tell the story of her childhood trip to India for a family wedding. “We encountered a cobra charmer, and I just went and tried to pet the cobra. Fortunately, my dad got me away in time.” At Hollins, her curiosity and sense of adventure continued to flourish. She devoted January Short Terms to traveling in Japan and Greece and spent full semesters studying abroad in London and Paris. She completed internships with Peace Boat US in New York City; the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired in Washington, D.C.; and the Nursing Times in London. “It’s a testament to Hollins and its flexibility that I was able to fit in so much,” Potter says. “The school made each of these experiences possible. I don’t hear from my friends at other schools that they receive the same support to participate in these kinds of
extracurricular opportunities.” A double major in English and international studies, Potter was drawn to Hollins because she knew that the university “makes good writers, and good writers seek out Hollins.” She took classes in philosophy, gender and women’s studies, statistical analysis, “and a lot of French” in addition to the coursework in her majors. She also earned a certificate in leadership studies from the Batten Leadership Institute. “That was one of the strongest pulls of Hollins for me. I didn’t see women-centered leadership development courses at other universities.” Potter is attending William & Mary Law School. “It’s a really good fusion of my love of English and rhetoric and my desire to get out there and do something positive in the world. I’m interested in human rights law, and I’d like to live internationally and work in either the nonprofit or foreign service sectors.”
THE MUSIC OF POETRY W
hen deciding on a college, Yitazba Largo-Anderson ’19 turned to her family for advice. “My dad is a professor and my mom is a librarian, and they value education,” she explains. “They urged me to go to a liberal arts school because they knew it would help me round out who I am as a person.” The campus beauty and “a really strong creative writing program” are what drew her to Hollins, after living most of her life in Phoenix, Arizona. “I came here not knowing what I wanted to study. I’m interested in so many things,” she says. After taking classes in several disciplines, she chose to major in English with a concentration 14 Hollins
in multicultural literature and a minor in social justice. She describes her Hollins experience as “finding the power of my voice. Poetry to me is not only something you read or that’s visual. It’s also very sensory. I love doing music with my poetry.” Her talent for expression evolved when she took voice lessons at Hollins. An experience in the theatre department helped her overcome her shyness. “I want to speak my poetry more now in public, and instead of just submitting my work for publication, I’d like to get into slam poetry,” she says. She has a fellowship this year at the College of William and Mary’s Swem
Library, working with its Project Outreach initiative on making inclusivity and diversity more prevalent in academic research. She then hopes to attend law school and focus on some aspect of Native American law (her roots are Scotch-Irish and Diné, the Navajo Nation’s preferred name, which translates to “of the people”). “I’d like to get an M.F.A. in creative writing after law school and eventually teach Native American voice through poetry in conjunction with Native American studies,” she says.
A WOMAN YOU SHOULD KNOW S
he describes it as “kind of a running joke” between herself and the Office of Admission, but no one can say Mary Daley ’19 wasn’t diligent in researching Hollins before enrolling. “I first found Hollins during my sophomore year of high school when I was just starting to look at colleges, and I visited about once a month for the rest of the time I was in high school.” She also took the Hollinsummer creative writing course. “Coming into Hollins, I was looking at combining art and psychology and becoming an art therapist,” she explains, “but ultimately I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I took a class in every department on campus in which I was interested. I fell in love with [Professor of Practice-Business] Karen Messer-Bourgoin’s [’84] marketing class. I even did my own marketing research projects for fun.”
In addition to honing her photography skills through an internship with Boyd-Pearman Photography (co-owned by Amy Cavanaugh Pearman ’97), Daley served as a student chaplain. She discovered a creative way to boost students’ spirits, one that landed her a spot on the website Women You Should Know. She made bottle-cap pins “with inspirational messages and handed them out to students. It was a simple way of saying, ‘Here’s a little something to brighten your day and remind you that you’re loved and you’re important.’” Daley developed an interest in business-to-consumer marketing after a Signature Internship with Atlanta-based Scout, an advertising agency that focuses on healthcare and consumer goods. Last fall she started a master’s degree program in marketing at Vanderbilt University.
Winter 2020 15
hen biology major Ciera Morris ’19 wanted to challenge herself by completing a voluntary senior thesis, she sought a project that would reflect her interest in infectious disease research as it relates to public health. Collaborating with biology professors Elizabeth Gleim ’06 and Morgan Wilson, she found the perfect vehicle: exploring tick ecology in Southwest Virginia and its possible connection to the risk of Lyme disease. “Given there are a lot of public health implications in regard to tick research, working with Dr. Gleim and Dr. Wilson was the best option for me,” Morris says. “We decided my project should focus on species composition and the abundance and phenology of ticks in Southwest Virginia to better comprehend disease ecology in the Roanoke Valley. This included understanding what tick species are present and what times of the year they are active.” “Her project has been incredibly intensive, involving a year of monthly field collections of ticks at sites all over the Roanoke Valley,” Gleim explains. “She collected almost 20,000 ticks and did a lot of lab work, too.” Morris’s research, along with a Signature Internship with the nonprofit organization Climate Central, earned her a two-year post-baccalaureate fellowship at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana. The facility is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, where she’ll “be looking at how pathogens are transmitted to hosts, and how disease development occurs out of that. I’m excited because I think it’s going to be a good transition from dealing with tick ecology to viral research in general.” After completing her fellowship, Morris expects to go on to graduate school and pursue either a master’s degree or a Ph.D., focusing on infectious disease.
eaghan Harrington ’19 once
believed her inability to focus on one interest or a single area of study reflected poorly upon her. “In a lot of places, there’s really no space to be indecisive,” she says. “It’s viewed as a negative thing.” But at Hollins, Harrington could immerse herself in an environment that encourages exploration and selfdiscovery. “Meaghan is what I’d describe as a ‘big thinker,’” says Associate Professor of History Rachel Nuñez. “She really exemplifies the power of a liberal arts education to help students find new ways of thinking and being.” Ultimately, Harrington double majored in history and classical studies, but she continued to embrace topics she found compelling. For example, a class in dance helped inform her choice to write her senior history thesis about the rhetoric of Mormon women on the female body in the late 19th century. Interested in archaeology since grade school, Harrington spent six weeks in the summer of 2017 doing hands-on fieldwork at the annual Archaeological Field School in Jamestown, Virginia, site of the first permanent English settlement in North America. Field excavation drew Harrington back to Jamestown last summer for an internship designed to help “demystify archaeology.” She helped conduct research on the Angela Project, an effort to explore the life and landscape of one of the first recorded Africans brought to English North America in slavery. “I’m excited to contribute to the creation of more diverse stories about the past,” Harrington says. She used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to collect data at the site. “With this software-based technology, you can create maps and three-
MAKING IT HAPPEN
dimensional images,” she explains. “It’s the perfect way to visualize everything in which I’m interested. “I’m probably going to graduate school at some point,” she says, “but in the meantime I think I will spend a couple of years in the field using GIS. The creativity in that work will certainly help me to define my future interests.”
s a student at Roanoke’s Virginia Western Community College, April Arnold ’19 wasn’t certain a four-year degree was in her future. Her mom was raising Arnold’s four younger siblings (three of whom were actually cousins who were adopted after their own mother died) when she suffered an accident that left her on disability. Arnold had to take on significant responsibility in helping care for her family. “I was thinking I wouldn’t transfer to a four-year college like I had planned,” she recalls. “I was in Virginia Western’s early childhood program and figured that with a two-year degree, I could get a job working in childcare right out of school.” While attending a college fair with her sister, Arnold first heard about Hollins’ Horizon program for adult women. “A few weeks later I came to a meeting to learn more, and something clicked. I met these amazing Horizon students and said, ‘I have to be here.’” Thus began Arnold’s two years at Hollins and a remarkable balance of meeting family obligations while attending the university as a full-time student, majoring in psychology. Arnold credits faculty and “my Horizon sisters” for helping her make it all happen. “Luckily, my teachers knew and worked with me. [Professor of Psychology] Bonnie Bowers, my advisor, is the most amazing person ever.” Arnold excelled academically, earning induction into Pinnacle, a national honor society for nontraditional students that seeks to support leadership and scholarship.
Graduating, Arnold says, was “bittersweet” because she wasn’t quite ready to leave her Hollins friends. “On the other hand, I’m very excited to have my diploma. It’s 40 percent for me, 60 percent for [my family]. I know I’ve made all of them proud, and I’ve shown my younger siblings that even with all the stresses and hardships, anything is possible.”
To read longer versions of these stories, go to www.hollins.edu/news.
Jeff Hodges is director of public relations.
Winter 2020 17
Fall soccer practice.
Painting class taught by visiting professor Andrea Martens.
Sharon Meador Amy Cavanaugh Pearman â€™97
Amy Cavanaugh Pearman â€™97
The campus celebrated Tinker Day on October 10, a beautiful, bright, cool autumn day.
Seniors took their “First Step” on Front Quad just after the opening convocation in early September.
Amy Cavanaugh Pearman ’97
Students enjoying a Hatha yoga class in Tayloe Gymnasium.
C3 was a two-day program in October for students and alumnae guest speakers and panelists.
Winter 2020 19
e , S N O I UEST
s r e w s n A g n i d i v o r P t o N t u B Q D R A H G N I K AS
tters. a m t a h w ng, and i g TURE n o l e ITERA b , y t i EN’S L s R r D e L I v 0 CH . F. A . ’ 1 about di s e t i 00, M ’ r . w A . G; M RITIN M.A. ’09 n o IVE W t T y A E a l R eC ND C LISH A Dhoniell 3 ENG 9 ’ . A . REN BY KA
hen children’s author Dhonielle Clayton M.A. ’09/children’s literature was working as a school librarian and teacher in Harlem a few years ago, she could not find the diverse books she was looking for—so she ended up writing one herself.
But the point is that it is not a story about diversity, explained Clayton, 36, speaking recently by phone from her home in New York City. “It’s a story that includes diversity,” she said. “It’s about ballet and that world and about these diverse characters just living their lives.” In that cutthroat world, female bodies are a commodity, and true friendship is rare and endangered. Clayton observed
In that cutthroat world, female bodies are a commodity, and true friendship is rare and endangered. Clayton observed these realities as an English teacher at a ballet boarding school back home in the Washington, D.C., area. That young adult book, Tiny Pretty Things, cowritten in 2015 with her friend and business partner Sona Charaipotra, tells the stories of a diverse group of young women, including an African American lead character, at an elite ballet boarding school and the competitive, often cruel world in which they live.
these realities as an English teacher at a ballet boarding school back home in the Washington, D.C., area, during the years she studied at Hollins in the summer. Those sad realities for some of her students—competition, isolation, and mistrust among women—were markedly
different from her own, especially during her time at Hollins. “I love Hollins, and I thought, ‘This is where I need to be,’” she said about arriving in 2005, just after earning a B.A. in English from Wake Forest University. She developed supportive, nurturing female friendships at Hollins, and she will return to campus as a faculty member in the graduate program in children’s literature in summer 2020. Tiny Pretty Things was so successful that she and Charaipotra wrote a sequel, Shiny Broken Pieces, in 2016, also to great acclaim. Netflix has since created a series, Tiny Pretty Things, based on the books. Ten hour-long episodes are scheduled to air sometime in 2020. The pair’s creative friendship began when they met at the New School in New York, in the M.F.A. program in creative writing. Clayton, who earned her degree there in 2012, had moved to New York and wanted to better understand the canon of children’s literature and learn the mechanics of writing, intending to remain a librarian. Charaipotra, an Indian American, told Clayton that, until college, she had never seen a book that featured someone who looked like her. And she
was unable to find diverse picture books for her infant daughter. “We both said that people don’t know what to do with characters that aren’t like them,” Clayton said. “So often if there is diversity, it’s all about their struggle. There is a place for those stories, of course, but we also wanted other books to balance that, stories that showed them just living their lives.” She recalled her days teaching in Harlem at a Title I school. “I had trouble finding books to teach with diversity and that were engaging,” she said. “So many of my students spoke Spanish, and some spoke four languages, and they were not reflected in the books we had available.” She and Charaipotra decided to form a creative development company, Cake Literary, for publishing, packaging, and marketing diverse books and other materials. But first they wanted to write a book to demonstrate what kind of diversity they sought, and they began their collaboration. They are also working on a third book, Rumor Game, about the power of rumors to harm lives. Clayton is also the chief operating officer of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, whose mission
“I’m asking the question, ‘What are we willing to do to ourselves in order to be considered beautiful?’” Clayton said. “The way you look determines a lot of things. This is true in real life. But in a fantasy, it’s exaggerated and darker.” is to spark change in the publishing industry and “to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” “Every kid deserves to be the hero of the story, and not just have it be about the pain of their background,” Clayton said. She has written two young adult fantasy novels on her own, The Belles (2018) and The Everlasting Rose (2019). Both are about the lives of women in a place called Orléans, a dangerous world of beauty, power, and changing identity, and about who gets to decide who is beautiful, often at a high cost. “I’m asking the question, ‘What are we willing to do to ourselves in order to be considered beautiful?’” Clayton said.
“The way you look determines a lot of things. This is true in real life. But in a fantasy, it’s exaggerated and darker.” She has also published short stories of loss, love, fear, and courage in three anthologies. They include: “Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing About Love,” in Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (2018); “The Way We Love Here” in Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet (2018); and “The Trouble With Drowning,” in Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America (2019). “My goal as a writer is to ask the hard questions, not to provide answers,” she said. “That’s the teacher in me: to ask readers what is important to them.” Karen Adams is a Roanoke writer.
Winter 2020 21
SPEAR HEADING CHA NGE — with a “Pinch of Rebelliousness”
B Y J E F F H O D G E S M . A . L . S . ’ 11
Bivishika Bhandari ’13 hopes to use her graduate studies at Oxford as a springboard to further women’s rights and environmental activism in her home country.
n 2008, Nepal’s newly formed Constituent Assembly (CA) voted almost unanimously to bring to an end the country’s monarchy, which had ruled the Himalayan nation for hundreds of years. In its place, the CA established a federal democratic republic that divided the country into different states with autonomous governments to augment a centralized federal government. As the proposal for putting the republic into effect stated, “Nepal has turned into an independent, indivisible, secular, inclusive, federal democratic republic with sovereignty and state authority vested in the people.” Eleven years later, Bivishika Bhandari, a native of Nepal who graduated from Hollins with a degree in gender and women’s studies (GWS), says her home country still has much work to do to make that proclamation a reality. “Although power has been reorganized to local bodies, the political system continues to exclude women and nature during developmental planning and decision-making,” she explained. “The challenge my country faces is building inclusion. Because of intolerance from local leaders and glass ceilings imposed by those who have been corrupted by a patriarchal mindset, women suffer from a lack of representation.” Bhandari is leading two major projects in Nepal to highlight women’s rights and increasing environmental degradation: a social enterprise designed to create jobs for Nepalese women, and a network in which spaces are created where diverse women and girls can talk about taboo issues related to their bodies, gender, and sexuality. “The social enterprise is part of a larger nonprofit called the Himalayan Climate Initiative, which is intended to create a climate-smart world with sustainable solutions,” she said. “The challenge for me was to create green employment opportunities for women, and to do that I started and operated stores to promote green products made by women entrepreneurs.”
Bhandari trained, mentored, and engaged women in discussions to reimagine what development should look like in Nepal and led campaigns to ban plastic bags. At the same time, she was alarmed by the potential impact of road expansion projects and efforts to build a new international airport, which would result in the unnecessary clearing of millions of trees. “My activism and social entrepreneurial experience opened my eyes to larger cross-cutting issues, especially between women and the environment.” Bhandari was intrigued by the idea of further exploring the interconnectedness between social structures and the ecosystem. She applied to and is currently enrolled in Oxford University’s
says. “The program also offers various seminars to equip scholars with leadership tools.” Bhandari’s goal is to help Nepal “re-envision an inclusive developmental system, one that acknowledges the fact that investing in our environment helps grow a green economy and a harmonious community. We are rich in biodiversity and wildlife, and there are many ways in which we can prosper by conserving and working with nature.” She believes her Hollins experience and especially her GWS education are the foundation of her motivation to foster collective work on a solution whenever there is a problem and wherever inequalities and injustices are systematically embedded.
“The challenge for me was to create green employment opportunities for women, and to do that I started and operated stores to promote green products made by women entrepreneurs.” Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance (NSEG) program. This oneyear Master of Science degree in the institution’s School of Geography and the Environment describes itself as “grounded in the conviction that responses to global challenges requires researchers and practitioners trained in the social sciences, with the ability to think flexibly across disciplinary and sectorial boundaries. This is not an ‘environmental policy’ programme— it is a programme that will prepare you to grapple with contemporary global challenges from the perspectives of critical social theory informed by a range of disciplines.” At Oxford, Bhandari has been accepted into the Louis Dreyfus Weidenfeld and Hoffman Scholarship and Leadership Program. “As a part of the scholarship, I get placed in an internship after graduation,” she
“I was never the number-one student in my class, but I am a passionate, dedicated, and action-oriented person with a pinch of rebelliousness who learns best from experiential engagements. Hollins provided me with a nurturing and inspiring space where I could come into my own, and GWS helped me to be courageous, compassionate, and wise. The department enabled me to understand how power structures permeate political structures, and that personal is political. “I really began to see the implications and strength of that perspective when I returned to Nepal after graduation, and I used it to inform my work and push the women’s rights and empowerment movement further. I hope to be able to do the same after my graduate studies at Oxford.” Jeff Hodges is director of public relations.
Left: Bhandari is a student in Oxford University’s Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance program.
Winter 2020 23
The day was already brilliant: sky swept clean, air charged with the cinnamon scents of late October. Yet in this elm— ablaze with color, backlit by a low-lying sun— I was sure I’d found it: a little perfection. And then what? Once you’ve seen it what do you do? Weep? Run along as if nothing has happened, as if you could go on?
In Plain Air
By Elizabeth Poliner, associate professor of English and director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing
A painter I know gets up early, a whole day’s looking ahead of him. He sees perfection, natural and obvious, all day, each day. “Sometimes,” he says, “the tension’s too much.” And about that tree: “You can’t paint a fall tree when it’s glowing! You settle for smaller: this backyard or my garage or the neighbor’s laundry drying on the line. Maybe your face, maybe.” He gestures toward the back steps, angled with wear; the fall garden, cosmos still wildly in bloom; the tilting, makeshift picnic table; his tenant’s motorcycle, flickers of red and silver. He says, “Some days I could die from it,” as, words failing, he points at the air, then at the light in the air, as good a way as any to embrace it— perfect light, plain air.
“I wrote this poem in the midst of an autumn in Washington, D.C. My neighborhood there, just off Connecticut Avenue in the upper Northwest section of the city, was filled with old, beautiful trees that I had the pleasure to observe as I took daily walks. The look of the trees often took my breath away, but this was especially so in the fall. I was close friends then with a visual artist, a landscape painter, and upon telling him about one particularly lovely tree he seemed to know just what I was feeling— a little undone by the beauty—and this poem ultimately came of our talk. The poem reminds me of many wonderful (and often funny) talks with this talented artist, and of how enriching a friendship between a painter and writer can be.” —Elizabeth Poliner
Poliner’s novel As Close to Us as Breathing won the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. In May 2017, the book was named a finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award. It was selected as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016 and was an Amazon Spotlight Pick in Fiction for March of that year. Poliner is also the author of Mutual Life & Casualty, a novel in stories. She was a finalist for the 2019 Nelson Algren Short Story Award for “Sabelle,” published in the Chicago Tribune on July 20, 2019.
“In Plain Air,” by Elizabeth Poliner, from What You Know in Your Hands, © 2015 WordTech Communications LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Anne Lindblad ’79 Winner of the Distinguished Alumna Award Summer 2019
nne Lindblad holds a B.A. in statistics, an M.S. in biostatistics from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Ph.D. in statistics from George Washington University. In 1982, after a yearlong stint as a statistics teacher, she joined Emmes, a contract research organization tackling challenges that impact human health. She worked her way up the ranks and became president and CEO in 2013. During more than 35 years at Emmes, she has led major projects in oncology, neurology, and ophthalmology, as well as transplantation, stroke, traumatic brain injury, dental disease, and swallowing disorders. She has hosted a Hollins intern at Emmes. Lindblad has served as a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health on multiple projects and has chaired several data and safety monitoring committees. She is a former president and board member for the Society of Clinical Trials. She is married to David Quanbeck, and they have two children. Explain why you decided not to become a doctor but turned to statistics instead.
I have always been interested in medicine. In sixth grade, I had to dissect a frog. Sadly, I mutilated it. That’s when I concluded that being a physician would not be a good career choice. When I was a senior in high school, I took my first course in statistics, and I loved it. Hollins was one of the few colleges at the time offering a major in statistics. My sister had introduced me to Hollins; she’s an alumna as well [Sharon Lindblad Wilson ’75]. Hollins’ other draw was that it had an impressive equestrian center. I was (and remain) an avid horsewoman, so applying early decision to Hollins was an easy choice. Through
the Hollins Career Center, I learned about biostatistics. It was a fantastic discovery because it gave me an opportunity to blend my passions for both statistics and medicine without the requirement to perform surgery. I have never looked back. What have been the most rewarding experiences during your time at Emmes?
What I find most rewarding now has shifted from when I started working there in 1982. My most rewarding experiences early in my career were when I successfully tackled study design challenges. In these cases, the physicians with whom I worked learned and appreciated the importance of objectivity and appropriate analysis techniques, and I was able to absorb the clinically important areas associated with the diseases they were researching. This gave me a deep perspective on the impact to patients when the study was completed. As my career advanced, developing others to further their careers and achieve their dreams has been a great source of satisfaction. Above all, when a study Emmes has been a part of results in a new drug or a device approval or ends up on the shelves in pharmacies and is contributing to improving human health around the globe, that is the ultimate satisfaction. I have had the privilege of working across a wide variety of disease and disorder areas. From my early career until now, I feel like I’ve been a vicarious physician. What role does statistics play in public health?
Humans are quite adept at seeing patterns and convincing themselves they know “the truth” based on those patterns or
based on memory of experiences. The field of statistics helps us design the right studies and evaluate the results with objectivity so that we can assign probability, or likelihood, that the patterns we are observing are real or just due to chance. This allows us to interpret the data and make decisions on what to study next. These approaches help us create a pathway for discovery that can be replicated and give us confidence that a new therapy or device can actually help improve the disease or condition— by how much, and with what risk. What is your favorite memory of Hollins?
I loved sitting on Front Quad and absorbing the peace and greenness. Walking to the barn and savoring the mountains. Arriving and feeling excited to see which horses I would be riding that day. Meeting and learning from professors who were always ready with a smile and willing to help. I remember and strive to emulate them when I find myself in a teaching moment. If you could give any advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?
That’s a great question! It’s okay to have no idea what you’ll be doing in five years or even next year or next month. It’s great to look ahead and plan, but it’s important to be open to change when new opportunities present themselves, as long as you’re making changes with pure intentions. Have self-knowledge regarding your strengths, and don’t be afraid to tackle your weaknesses— think of them as continued opportunities for growth. I love the saying “Seek progress, not perfection.” Above all, find mentors you can trust who will let you talk through the hard decisions in life and whose candor will keep you honest.
Hanna DeVarona ’21 HOMETOWN Woodbridge, Virginia MAJOR Business with a concentration in marketing MINORS Economics and communication studies ACTIVITIES AT HOLLINS Member of the swim team, SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) representative for swimming, member of the Entrepreneurship Club, member of the French Club, student representative for Career Connection Conference (C3), working toward earning a Batten Leadership Institute certificate, student ambassador/ tour guide PLANS FOR AFTER GRADUATION I want to attend graduate school, studying marketing, with the hope of working for a professional sports team.
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