Choose a destination. Choose Lynn ’19.

November 1, 2018 at 11:48 AM


Do you love nature? Are you interested in helping maintain Mount Holyoke’s stunning campus? Or are you passionate about supporting the academic growth of students? By choosing a destination — such as Academic Enrichment or Campus Preservation — for your gift through The Mount Holyoke Fund, you empower students, open doors and help Mount Holyoke continue its legacy of delivering a cutting-edge education on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. You support incredible students like Lynn Shen ’19.

An environmental science major and art studio minor with a Nexus concentration in journalism and public discourse, Lynn knows a bit about multi-tasking. Juggling so much isn’t a sacrifice, though; while she was initially drawn to these three disciplines individually, she also had a vision for how they could overlap and intersect in a career. Originally a biology major, Lynn felt frustrated by how isolated and disconnected the discipline felt. For her, studying invasive species wasn’t enough — she wanted to know where they originated and how they migrated. “I felt like so many stories were being left out,” she reveals.

Dissatisfied with the confines of the traditional approach to biological sciences, she felt that a cultural analysis was missing. This search for a broader framework for her studies brought her to environmental science, and then to the journalism Nexus. “Environmental studies is never just biology or ecology,” she explains. “It’s why I stepped in between the disciplines, because I feel that in order to tell the stories of our environment you have to cross so many issues and areas of expertise.” Lynn now has her eyes set on pursuing environmental journalism, a career path that combines her love of biological science with a more comprehensive, cultural approach. As required by the Nexus track, Lynn started an internship during the summer of her sophomore year at a place close to her heart: Mount Holyoke’s own Botanic Garden.

Upon discovering it during her first year, the Botanic Garden quickly became a sanctuary for Lynn while she battled homesickness. Thousands of miles from her home in Suzhou, China, the quiet tranquility of the garden felt like an escape from campus, a place where she could ground herself while surrounded by beauty and fragrance. Becoming an intern in this familiar space felt like a natural transition. During her summer internship she helped clean and maintain both the Talcott Greenhouse and the adjacent gardens, and worked to plant and propagate new species. She also helped spearhead a new project that involved labeling all the First-Year Plants with QR code stickers that, when scanned, lead to an infographic created by the interns about the proper care and maintenance of the specific plant. At the conclusion of the summer, Lynn stayed at the Botanic Garden, hired as a student worker for the academic year — a position she continues to hold today.

Throughout her time at the Botanic Garden, she’s observed the various ways that the space provides academic enrichment. Multiple professors utilize the Talcott Greenhouse for research in various STEM courses or labs. Similarly, several students have used species from the greenhouse in original research work for a thesis or independent study.

But she’s also seen how the garden has touched students in a more intimate way. “For international students, especially,” she explains, “it’s really special because they’ll go in and see plants that are not native to the United States but can be found in their home country. So I’ll hear, ‘Wow! This is a plant my grandma grows. I can't believe you have it here,’ and it’s a little piece of home, even from so far away.” Lynn has experienced this first hand. In Lynn’s hometown of Suzhou, the city flower is the Osmanthus, a flowering species known for its stunning fragrance. When she first walked into the Botanic Garden, she recognized its signature scent and found that the garden was home to three Osmanthus plants. “The smell will still catch me by surprise,” Lynn says, “but being able to walk into the garden and feel that connection to home is indescribable.”

Looking forward, Lynn is excited about her future career. Having the opportunity to cross and combine disciplines enabled her to create a personal path of study, tailored to her approach to the sciences.

At Mount Holyoke, Lynn was given the tools to shape a unique career path, while getting hands-on experience that both enriches her studies and helps maintain Mount Holyoke’s beauty. What matters most to you?

Your gift. Your choice. Choose your destination.

Rachel Nix ’20

Written by Rachel Nix ’20

Rachel, a politics major and sociology minor, is a marketing assistant in the Office of Advancement and a contributor to the MHC Forever blog. Hailing from West Virginia, she serves on MHC’s Admissions and Financial Aid Advisory Committee, is deeply involved with social justice initiatives and loves spending her free time with friends, reading on the green or trying to pet Jorge, the goose.