"I come from a large family with big ambitions and tiny purses. My parents wanted the best for me and MHC gave me the opportunity to achieve those goals. To be a member of the LCS makes me feel proud and grateful. I’m proud to know that I can not only potentially help some young woman achieve her next step, but also grateful for a career that allows me to give back." —Katia deSouza (Evans) ’99
The Laurel Chain Society honors the generosity of all alumnae, family members and friends who support the College consistently each year. Their steadfast support of — and unwavering belief in — the College advances the mission of Mount Holyoke and empowers our students to change the world. Laurel Chain Society Member Katia deSouza (Evans) ’99 tells us why she supports Mount Holyoke:
Tell me a bit about your Mount Holyoke experience. What did you study? What was your favorite class? What was your favorite place on campus? What has been your path since leaving Mount Holyoke? I was biochemistry major, as I had planned to be since I was 10 years old. And I loved BIOCHEM 311. The independent research project and presentation were my favorite parts. That class really set the stage for where I thought my life/career was going to go and has gone. As planned, I pursued a doctorate degree in the sciences and graduated from Columbia University in 2005. I had always planned to be a professor and have a lab, but I left the academic world to pursue medical writing and medical communications, after a brief post doc. In November of 2013, I moved to Basel, Switzerland to pursue that work in-house at Novartis Pharma, AG.
Why did you choose MHC? I wish my story was more glamorous. My father suggested that I attend. I chose MHC sight unseen. I didn’t attend a campus visit program and only reviewed the PRINTED material that was sent to me. It was a leap of faith where I trusted my gut and said GO!
How has being an alumna of MHC impacted your life? Being a MHC alum has impacted my professional and personal life in so many ways. We can start at the beginning: I received a top-notch liberal arts education that taught me how to think critically and express myself completely. I gained so many mentors, with whom I still have contact after all these years, that have always welcomed me back. For example, I was having a particularly rough time during grad school (a 4th year with no data and failed projects). I called my advisor, Lilian Hsu and said “I need to come and talk to you." She welcomed me into her home and let me come to Amherst, make egg rolls, cry, and talk about my next step. She encouraged me to continue because she knew I still had one more good idea left… she was right! I was able to go back with a renewed focus and get the data that led to my graduation. I can’t think of how that would have been possible at any other place. It’s all about the bonds you form, not only on campus, but afterwards.
As a member of the Laurel Chain Society, you are one of Mount Holyoke’s most dedicated supporters. Why do you give to the College each year? What does it mean to you to be a member of the Laurel Chain Society? I give to the College because I want someone to be able to have a transformative experience. I come from a large family with big ambitions and tiny purses. My parents wanted the best for me and MHC gave me the opportunity to achieve those goals. To be a member of the LCS makes me feel proud and grateful. I’m proud to know that I can not only potentially help some young woman achieve her next step, but also grateful for a career that allows me to give back.
What is your favorite MHC memory? Convocation 1998… just kidding. My favorite memory was the epic prank we (chemistry and biochemistry seniors) pulled for April Fools in 1999. We dragged a bed up to the Hahn Room in Carr and TPed the entire building. What can I say, nerds gone wild?!?
Want to learn more about the Laurel Chain Society or share your story? Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.