Junior Maya Sopory ’22 credits Mount Holyoke with helping to expand her world view and enhancing her critical thinking skills. “I am told to question everything, interrogate the status quo, and push the boundaries of my thinking, regardless of the space I am in.”
Meet Lanie Richards ’21, who hails from Orange Park, Florida. Majoring in psychology and education, she was drawn to Mount Holyoke because of its academic rigor as well as it’s welcoming community. On campus, she’s also a research assistant in the Office of Advancement, a member of the MHC Rugby Football Club and an SGA Senator for the Rugby team.
Meet Marwa Mikati ’17, who came to Mount Holyoke from Beirut, Lebanon. A double major in neuroscience and behavior as well as mathematics, Marwa has found her voice as a student leader on campus, serving as the president of both the Student Government Association and the Model United Nations. Connecting her academic work with her career aspirations, Marwa used Lynk funding to pursue an internship working on drug development for malaria at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. A key component of The Lynk is guaranteed funding for all students to pursue one internship or research experience during their academic careers. Marwa’s success in this initial internship resulted in a paid internship the following year. When she graduates in May, Marwa will return to that same research lab as she prepares for medical school. She plans to pursue graduate degrees in medicine and public policy and intends to run for public office.
In a little over two weeks, over 550 seniors will be celebrating Commencement and awarded their degrees, as they prepare to leave these gates to go make positive change in communities around the world. From artists to writers and athletes to scientists, each student has had their own transformative experience at Mount Holyoke. Katie Ho ’16, a computer science major and Chinese minor, talks about her proudest accomplishment here at MHC:
"Cofounding HackHolyoke, the first collegiate hackathon hosted on a women's college campus. Being part of an all-girls robotics team named Einstein's Daughters through middle and high school back in California was when I first became aware of the lack of women in STEM. However, I have since started to build off of my imposter syndrome to encourage other young girls and high school graduates to pursue computer science and engineering. Through HackHolyoke, we were able to create a supportive space for both beginners and seasoned coders of all majors and backgrounds.
This month we have highlighted 28 student organizations that allow students to pursue their passions and make an impact in their community. There are currently over 100 registered student organizations at Mount Holyoke, and hundreds more that have existed over our 179 year history. These groups range from cultural orgs that celebrate our diverse community to sports teams that show the power of being a part of team, from musical ensembles that entertain thousands of people to advocacy groups that work to improve our wider community.
With so many wonderful student organizations at Mount Holyoke, we were only able to cover the tip of the iceberg. Did we highlight your favorite group?
The writers of Verbosity strive to bring the best creative expressions of the student body into the limelight, where they can be admired by the entire community. This Mount Holyoke literary magazine lays claim to being the only campus literary publication that believes in women's literature and art for its own sake; the group welcomes submissions from students from all political, ethnic, and gender backgrounds. Mount Holyoke has long had a tradition of literary greatness—starting with the publication of the Blackstick Review in 1909.
In 1999, Mount Holyoke College awarded Virginia Hamilton Adair ’33 an honorary doctorate degree. Adair was a member of the editorial board of Mount Holyoke’s literary magazine and a writer for the Blackstick Review during her time as a student. Adair graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College in 1933 having twice won the Irene Glasscock Competition for exemplary original poetry. A family tale states that Adair uttered her first poem aloud to her parents at the age of 2 and began writing them down at 6, but after graduation her long-running writing career was put on halt to raise her family and also in part, due to exhaustion from the infighting of the publishing community. As she got older, she began to notice pain in her eyes and a failing ability to see. Her return to publishing came in the 1990s, after her husband’s death, her retirement, and the loss of her sight due to glaucoma gave her the time and freedom to write again. She was published in The New Yorker in 1995, and subsequently published Ants on the Melon, her first book of poetry, at 83 years old.
The Mount Holyoke African and Caribbean Students Association (MHACASA) was likely founded in the early 1990s, and first appeared as a listing in the directory of campus student organizations during the 1993-94 academic year. Their mission is to act as a support group for African and Caribbean students. The group also aims to sponsor activities that will bring African and Caribbean culture to the College community, to provide awareness of current and pertinent issues concerning Africa and the Caribbean, to form a network of alumnae, and to aid in the recruitment of students from Africa, the Caribbean, and the African and Caribbean Diaspora. MHACASA also volunteers a board member to sit on the planning committee of the College’s Black Alumnae Conference.
Modern artist Jepchumba (Elizabeth Cheluget ’07), founder of African Digital Art, is an African alumna with her eyes on the rising star of African artists in digital media. Originally from Kenya and now based in Capetown, South Africa, Jepchumba started African Digital Art as a platform for the creation and expression of artwork in the digital age by African artists. The idea for her artwork and unique focus began in part at Mount Holyoke, where she says: “I took a course on Black Masculinity that really transformed the way I understood gender issues. Mount Holyoke College is an all-women's college; actually the first women's college in the United States, and I had spent an extensive amount of time studying the place of thought in issues such as gender, sexuality, equality, individuality and political expression.”
As the third-oldest college radio station in the nation—and the first women’s college station—WMHC holds a special claim to fame in the Mount Holyoke community. The station’s original equipment dated from 1951, and in 1980, its frequency changed from the familiar 90.7 to 91.5 FM, at which it remains to this day. The student-run organization began and continues to run on a small budget provided by the Student Government Association.
Mary Elizabeth Cantu ’01 has fond recollections of her years as a DJ, a passion which she discovered only upon attending Mount Holyoke. In addition to WMHC, Cantu also served as coeditor of the Mount Holyoke News, sang in Chorale, and performed in a Latin dance troupe. In her words, “Mount Holyoke offered me the opportunity to shape my identity, strengthen my voice, meet amazing women, and be a part of a long tradition of inspiring, fearless, and courageous individuals. This experience is invaluable and timeless. I can’t imagine life without my Mount Holyoke women’s education.”
The first Students’ League of Mount Holyoke College was founded in 1898, during the tenure of President Elizabeth Mead, as a response to assertions that the student body of Mount Holyoke would more readily follow the rules, should they have a hand in making them. Thus, the first foray of this college into student government was begun. Over the next few decades, the power of the Students’ League grew along with the student body, and they began negotiating for the important things—a later curfew, and an allowance for lights to stay on past 10 pm if one is studying. In 1922, the League reorganized itself to grow with the changing times and was reborn as the Mount Holyoke College Community. The power of rulemaking and enforcement still rested in large part in the hands of faculty and administration until 1945, when students seceded from the largely defunct Community and formed the first Student Government Association, which remains the body’s name to this day.
Aimée Eubanks Davis ’95, CEO and Founder of Braven, a leadership and empowerment education organization, was a member of the SGA during her time at Mount Holyoke. After graduating with a history major and politics minor, Aimée joined Teach for America as an instructor for 6th grade students. From there she rose through the ranks, becoming the Executive Vice President first of People, Community, and Diversity, followed by Public Affairs and Engagement. Aimée then broke off to create Braven, which partners with educational institutions, volunteer professionals, and employers to train the next generation of leaders. She knows better than anyone else the value of taking a leap into leadership and how taking initiative in something as introductory as student government can change a life. As Aimée says, “In my various leadership roles on campus, I realized I enjoyed leading teams of adults towards goals. I decided to take a risk and became a Teach For America corps member instead of going to law school. This allowed me to join a school team and led me on a path to a career in nonprofit leadership and management.”
Mount Holyoke students visiting Blanchard Campus Center today have a much different dress code than that of alumnae past! Built as the school’s gymnasium, Blanchard now functions as the campus social hub and beloved watering hole. Gone are the bloomers and full-body bathing suits of the early 1900s, when students practiced routines with “Indian clubs” and exercised gracefully in gymnastics classes. Today, Blanchard teems with students in down jackets and furry boots stocking up on coffee between classes, checking their mail, or grabbing a quick bite at the cafe.