“Good morning everyone! Breakfast is ready!” I hear a voice call from outside my tent at 6:30 a.m. The air is crisp and still on this early January morning in the Mojave National Preserve.
Into the desert
We are about three hours outside of Los Angeles, California, but we are the only people within 10 miles of our base camp. Jess Pelaez, the founder and CEO of Blueprint Earth, has been up for the past hour. She has been checking to make sure our Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and Thermo-Hygro-Anemometers — which are used to calculate wind speed, humidity and air volume — are fully charged for our eight-hour expedition into the desert.
As a child, spinning on an office chair at my dad’s desk, I discovered the power of digital technology. Playing “Myst” and other computer games transported me to another world: an awe-inspiring journey with nooks and crannies, ready to be explored.
As a visual learner, I also spent a lot of my childhood exploring museums and making art. Coupled with my interest in history and the humanities, I found the decision to attend a liberal arts college to be an easy one.
My Mount Holyoke journey began with a jolt: culture shock. Followed by waves and pangs: homesickness.
I endured a 22-hour flight — my first solo intercontinental journey — and arrived in a country that my Nigerian parents and I knew mainly from maps and news stories. Where I had no parents to move me into my first residence hall room or help me adjust to foods so radically different from what I’d eaten all my life. Where I soon met 2,200 strangers who would become the closest thing I had to family in this new land.
My journey wrapped up with emotions cut from a much different cloth — pride, appreciation, awe, excitement, connections — as fittingly symbolized by the College’s Stoling ceremony.
In a few days, I will walk across the stage of Gettell Amphitheater to receive my degree. Soon after, I will navigate life as a young alumna in Amman, Jordan. To think that for an unspecified amount of time I won’t be at Mount Holyoke, with its shimmering lakes and whispering trees and majestic buildings, is daunting.
In choosing to come to Mount Holyoke, I was expecting to encounter incredible experiences. I don’t think I ever anticipated such life-changing ones.
You know you’re a Mount Holyoke student when, as the spring semester nears to a close, you start getting excited for Pangynaskeia Day. By putting it on your calendar. Mentioning it on social media. Hoping for sunny skies and warm temps. Digging out a favorite lawn blanket. All perhaps to the initial puzzlement of those beyond the College’s gates.
“What’s … that? What do you mean? Where are you going?” asks your younger sibling or high school friend or parent.
“Oh, it’s just a spring thing!” you reply with a smile. That smile of knowing that at Mount Holyoke, a bevy of fascinating and slightly curious traditions continues with reckless abandon.
And so it begins: your story, your quest, your journey.
Propelled and amplified by our global community.
A sensational, all-senses-activated community.
An inclusive, forward-looking community steeped in tradition.
In February 2017, you may have spotted members of the Mount Holyoke College rowing team erging for 12 hours in Blanchard Campus Center. We’ll repeat again for emphasis: erging for 12 hours. Their goal was to row 400,000 meters — and to raise funds for both Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a South Hadley food bank, and their team’s March training trip to Clemson, South Carolina. They even offered free rowing lessons to other students.
Some Mount Holyoke traditions bend more with the times than others. A clear tipoff that a tradition is anything but static? A history of changing names. Take DisOrientation … which is also known as Dis-O and was formerly known as both Freshman Day and Hazing Day.
In January 2017, the prestigious American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, comprised of dancers ages 16 – 20, came to perform at Mount Holyoke. In addition to performing three shows that included U.S. and world premieres, the company also held a master class for advanced Mount Holyoke dancers.
Why Mount Holyoke? For an exceptional experience. Here’s my story.
When I saw Mount Holyoke College for the first time, I felt slightly breathless. I had seen hundreds of images of the campus since I’d been admitted early decision. But I couldn’t help but stare. I was relieved to look around and see other students sporting the same awestruck expression.
Sometimes first impressions say it all.
“The first thing that struck me was the community. The people you meet here are going to be life-changing.”
“I came for accepted-students weekend. I was so excited to be in a place where finally it was fun to love school.”
Students come to Mount Holyoke for the inclusive global community. For the love of amazing classes, conversations, opportunities and empowerment. For the company of seriously surprising and inspiring peers who seek to redefine frontiers of every field imaginable.
See how current students, in this video produced for newly accepted applicants to the class of 2021, express why they came to Mount Holyoke — and what sets the MHC experience apart.
Watch the video.
What comes to your mind when you hear “networking”? A room full of strangers? Professional business attire? Handshakes? Business cards? A paralyzing fear of awkward conversation?
OK, hopefully not that last one, true though it may be. As a junior, soon to be jumping into my senior year, I suggest you put those clichéd notions aside. Networking is not as bad as you might think. And it can even be quite different from what you think. My path to debunking networking myths has been paved by my friends, colleagues and other amazing people that I’ve met at Mount Holyoke. Look no further: Much needed help is already around you.
The second annual Mount Holyoke College Girls in Tech Conference (MHC GIT) took place March 5. The one-day event, founded in 2016 by Onji Bae ’17/18 and Hashma Shahid ’17, is dedicated to inspiring local high school students to explore technology through engineering and entrepreneurship. It included interactive programming, hardware workshops and talks by inspirational women who employ technology in a variety of fields. Participants also practiced public speaking, networked during lunch, brainstormed together and experienced the power of mentorship — high school students were paired with Mount Holyoke student mentors.
“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
– Muriel Rukeyser
“Scientists say that human beings are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are also made of stories.”
– Eduardo Galeano
When I first arrived at Mount Holyoke College in January 2017 — and even before that — I knew that my time here would be about making stories, and about remaking myself through these stories. Gladly, I cannot say this didn’t happen. Because it most certainly did.
A warm breeze, the unmistakable scent of life and growth, the riot of colors in the blooms of early flowers — all are welcome harbingers of warmer, brighter days to come. That’s perhaps why the Mount Holyoke College Flower Show remains a perennial (ahem) favorite among Western Massachusetts residents.
After my final round of job interviews in New Jersey, three in one day, I kept re-running them in my head. I thought I had done OK — I’d gone through the cases calmly and quickly and felt that I’d connected with the interviewers. But was my best their best? So many questions, so many emotions: an unfiltered look at the modern quest for employment.
So, there is this local children’s theater group. The director, known for her eccentric and involved theatrical style, was looking for an assistant. I was thrilled to get the job.
At one of our first meetings I casually brought up my trans-ness. Relieved, she said, “I saw your trans-ness on your resume. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be the one to bring it up.”
Junior Show, one of the College’s most creative and student-driven traditions, has been a source of entertainment and general merriment on campus for more than a century. It features an original play that is typically heavy on humor and parody. Costumes, dance numbers, songs, inside jokes and a smattering of stereotypical representations of both Mount Holyoke and the other members of the Five Colleges? Yes, yes, yes!
Initially produced by the senior class, and known as Senior Show, the tradition was passed to the junior class in 1920 and subsequently recoined. It comes around each February — a welcome bright spot during a predictably bleak time of winter.
To a college student at any other institution, 9:30 p.m. is just a time. But for Mount Holyoke students, 9:30 – 10 p.m. means only one thing: M&Cs. And M&Cs, in case you don’t know, means milk and cookies.
The Big/Little program is one of Mount Holyoke’s oldest traditions, tracing its origins back to the early 1900s. At its heart, the program is a really simple recipe for friendship: a junior (the “Big”) is paired up with an incoming first-year student (the “Little”). Big + Little = friends.
Is penning a blog in your future? Oh good! The only thing standing between you and the splash you are bound to make is … a blank page. Ferocious in its blankness. Blanketed in its blankness.
Fear not. Here are a few pointers that may guide you in the blog-drafting process.
Wondering whether a certain career or organization might be the right fit for you? An informational interview with an experienced professional can give you an insider’s perspective.
The 2016 accomplishments of our College community are, it should come as no surprise, too many to list! And yet we took our best shot at it. Enjoy the season-by-season wrap-up. And stay on the pulse of it all by subscribing to The Gates blog.
Swimming in free time? Looking for fresh ways to spend it?
Riiiight. I didn’t think so. But even with classes, athletics, orgs, jobs, and everything else a Mount Holyoke College student commits to, it’s important to keep career planning in the picture. Who knows when the next great opportunity will come your way? Luckily, Mount Holyoke is filled with resources to help you. Here’s a month-by-month guide to finding the perfect internship.
As most players know, there comes a moment when you realize a game is lost. When you realize that time is not on your side—and that no last-ditch effort can close the gap.
Saturday, November 21, MHC rugby played for the 2016 New England Collegiate Rugby Cup for the first time in over a decade. And that moment came to me with about 15 minutes left on the clock, when we were down 30 to 7. We still continued to give it everything we had, but it was too late.
In honor of November, which was National Career Development Month, advisors at the Career Development Center highlighted their favorite tools and resources. The six listed below can give you a serious leg up in your job or internship search.
For many of my early years, I thought everyone experienced the world as I did. When I encounter certain stimulus, such as hearing the musical note A, it involuntarily elicits another seemingly unrelated sensation, such as seeing the color red. It wasn’t until I read about synesthesia in V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee’s book The Phantom of the Brain that I had a serious “Aha!” moment.
Before there was speech, was there song? Before there was ready light, was there a flickering glow? The deepest reaches of the human heart seem to know these truths instinctively. That such simple sensory experiences—voices raised, candles held close, warm bodies seated side by side—can elicit such profound feelings of comfort, peace, and kinship speaks to the power of embedded memory. Were we made to sing? To make music? To be together? To reflect? To connect?
Mount Holyoke community members—and members of the public—contemplate these questions year after year at the College’s annual Vespers concerts. The 2016 concerts are Sunday, December 4, at 4:00 and 7:30 pm.
“That’s so interesting!”
I smile politely as yet another person reacts to finding out that I am a biology and film studies double major. I’ve always struggled with responding to that statement. It definitely is interesting—that’s why I’m studying the two! But for me, these two disciplines, which seem galaxies apart for some, simply use two different lenses to understand the world: one through a microscope, the other through a camera.
You might know that Mount Holyoke has been home to pioneers since its founding in 1837. But did you know it’s also the first women’s college to host a hackathon?
After two years of dogged fundraising—and raising of eyebrows throughout Massachusetts—one woman’s dream became a reality. In a time when higher education for women did not exist. When educating women was seen not just as unnecessary, but as harmful and subversive.
Mount Holyoke + Amherst + Smith + Hampshire colleges + UMass Amherst = Five Colleges!
10. The mind-blowing opportunities! Tried, tested, perfected.
The Five College Consortium is one of the oldest—and most robust—alliances of colleges in the country. Through it, Mount Holyoke students can—and do—take courses, join clubs, and socialize on all five campuses. Think 36,000 students, 700 clubs, and more than 6,000 classes. Plus an eclectic mix of lectures, conferences, and performers. All within a six-mile radius. The idea of linking access to resources, first hatched over a century ago, really works. The vibe at clubs? Welcoming. Registering for classes? Easy. Professors at other institutions? Encouraging. Events, films, parties, and music festivals? Frequent and popular. The nine million volumes of books in 14 libraries? Online orders are delivered daily.
The 2016 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence is Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi-American author, media presence, and activist. Salbi has dedicated her life to women’s rights and freedom. She is the founder of Women for Women International, a humanitarian organization that distributes aid and microcredit to help women survivors of wars to rebuild their lives. As editor-at-large for Women in the World, a news platform produced in collaboration with the New York Times, she reports on the intersection of Middle Eastern and Western cultures.
Professionalism is not a simple concept to pin down, but it’s a quality that virtually all employers look for. Beyond having the right mix of technical and executive skills, understanding what it means to be professional can help you stand out from the crowd when looking for jobs and internships. Here are six keys to professionalism.
“Have you built a restaurant for the school?” a teacher asked on his first visit to the Baale Parwaz Library. I laughed in response. The space—bare except for some newly set up furniture—did not yet give off much of a library feeling. The books had not even been delivered yet. But his question revealed something even greater: a cultural lack of familiarity with an open, peaceful space for studying and collaborating.
Don’t just show up. Run the show!
If you’re anything like the majority of women searching for the right college, you’re likely not thinking about attending a women’s college at all. If that’s the case, we’d like to let you in on one of our best kept secrets: Employers actually seek out women who go to women’s colleges because of the leadership potential that our unique environment fosters.
This article was originally published in the Hindustan Times Education Supplement.
As more and more students become interested in liberal arts colleges abroad, many discover that some of the best options in the United States are single-sex colleges for women only. Often the mere suggestion of such a learning environment evokes a strong “no” response from parents and students alike. “The real world is coed,” some parents assert. Or, “it doesn’t seem normal to study without boys around,” female applicants argue.
Like the College itself, “Nothing ever seems to be average around here.” So says House Manager Brenda Adams of the President’s House, which was built in 1908 and remains a bustling hub of campus activity, events, visits, and goings-on.
As Mount Holyoke College’s oldest tradition, Mountain Day is clearly doing something right—very right. As it has since it began in 1838, just months after the first students arrived on campus. As it has through evolutions in transportation, attire, rules (think chaperones and special permissions), and best-practices in picnicking.
The community at Mount Holyoke will inspire you—and powerful, global conversations.
Changemakers seize opportunities. They raise their voices. They harness the power within their reach and set things in motion. They discover leadership potential they never knew they had—or that the world never knew they had.
Ever since I chose Mount Holyoke, I have had a little dream stirring around in my brain. This dream was to combine my two greatest passions, journalism and horses, into a career. For a while my goal seemed almost like a fairy tale: magical to think about but nearly impossible to achieve. But thanks to my experiences at Mount Holyoke this summer, I am even closer to making my dream a reality.
15 workshops + 600 students + 9 leaders = 1 amazing program, Flourishing 101!
If you’re a smart woman (and you are), you’ve probably already heard this advice: find a mentor who is willing to invest in you and your future. Research shows that mentors help you identify your strengths, persevere in school, gain access to new opportunities, and, ultimately, achieve greater satisfaction in the work you do.
Mount Holyoke’s 200+ faculty are making news, busting boundaries, researching, creating, and leading for change—and inspiring their students to do the same.
Q.What has the power to turn a tranquil grassy amphitheater into a pounding, pulsing epicenter of energy, noise, and spirit? Of “Oooaaah, oooaaah!” and “Twenty-seventeen! Twenty-seventeen!”
A. Convocation. Watch the video!
What makes Mount Holyoke’s move-in day so #MoHome?
The O-Team! Via an in-depth Orientation, a warm welcome from alumnae of the 50-year connection class, and the first of many beloved Mount Holyoke traditions that kick off day one.
The energy? Raw and electric.
The bags? Packed—and repacked—with care.
The scene? Equal parts meet-and-greet and homecoming.
MoHome? It comes alive as students from the classes of 2017–2020 converge on campus.
Watch the video to see Acting President Sonya Stephens and Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall out in the thick of it—bearing witness to the arrivals, the wonder, the greetings, the anticipation, and the farewells that define move-in day festivities.
Ask me what I thought about computer science as a senior in high school and I would have told you that I’m not interested in sitting in some windowless basement learning to code. I knew I wanted to pursue music.
Mount Holyoke has been setting the stage since 1837 for trailblazing, can-do students who know that life is never a dress rehearsal.
At Mount Holyoke, carrying on the tradition of bold students doing bold things is a given. You’ll question, reflect, and observe. You’ll perform, serve, and lead. You’ll sprint, shadow, and roar. Watch the video to see how one bold choice spins futures into action.
Imagine you are navigating a maze—not knowing which route to take, mystified by what lies ahead. You are at crossroads, and nothing matters more than the course you will pursue. Then you gaze past the thicket and set foot on a trail, with high hopes of reaching the dale.
That, in a nutshell, was how I felt right before my adventurous journey to Mount Holyoke College commenced. I set my course, packed my suitcases, and flew west, into the land of opportunities.
Getting to compete at nationals for a second year in a row with the most amazing team? An utterly unforgettable experience. The Mount Holyoke College equestrian team, aka MHC Eq, brought the fire to the 2016 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association national championship in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Mount Holyoke student experience?
It unlocks potential.
It inspires leaders.
It forges connections.
It transforms futures.
It endures, shines, and forever shall be.
It is also a reflection of alumnae generosity—your gifts shape and sustain the College and our students.
Do you live to create? Do you create to live?
Do you live to imagine? Do you imagine to live?
Do you live to express? Do you express to live?
The arts at Mount Holyoke College open students to a greater sense of possibility—and to the power and wonder of their own voices and visions.
I am what you call a Model UN veteran. Through my involvement in Mount Holyoke College Model United Nations (MHCMUN), I have been on the collegiate circuit long enough to recognize many faces from across the country—and to know who the strongest delegates are. These power delegates are there to win.
When it comes to Mount Holyoke College Model United Nations (MHCMUN), I was a little late to the party. I joined the second semester of my sophomore year. I knew instantly that I had found it: a group that I would stay a part of until the end of college.
So here’s a hard truth: no matter which job or internship you are going for—in any field—you are one in a sea of candidates who share a lot in common. You are smart. You have a good school on your resume. Driven and ambitious? Yes and yes.
People who know me are aware of my relationship with Model United Nations. We first met in middle school. After competing—and winning awards—in both the national competition and the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model UN conference in the United States, I fell madly and deeply in love. The constant rush of adrenaline that comes with having to think so quickly and frequently on my feet? It’s both challenging and gratifying.
More than 600 graduates and certificate recipients. One amphitheater full of family, friends, faculty, and staff. A momentous weekend of celebration and camaraderie. Moving forward and reflecting back. Inspiration to listen, join, and lead. An invitation to dare to make the make the world a better, brighter place.
There is no way to do this without you. We need psychologists, chemists, philosophers, musicians, poets, librarians, programmers. We need all of you. We need to disrupt and rebuild this world.
—Joia Mukherjee, keynote speech
Bravery. Activism. Solidarity. Truth-telling.
Check out the videos and social posts below. (Missed the wrap-up story? Read it here.)
Watch the highlight video.
It began with a trip visiting my aunties in some place called Amherst, Massachusetts, and my father speaking sternly to me over the Formica kitchen counter.
“While we’re up North visiting them,” he said, “I want you to look at Mount Holyoke College.”
“Mount Holyoke? What is that?”
“It’s a women’s college,” my father replied. I think he even braced himself for my reply.
“A women’s college?” I spat. “Over my dead body!”
Famous last words.
I was 25 when I came to Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins scholar. My son, Dominic, was two. I was filled with self-doubt and insecurity. I didn’t know what, exactly, I was doing at Mount Holyoke. All I knew was that I wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree. I believed it would somehow transform a life that was, at the time, fairly stagnant.
The gap in pay between men and women has barely budged in the last decade. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), “women working full time in the United States typically are paid just 79 percent of what white men are paid, a gap of 21 percent.”
You may not think that your job as a dishwasher in Dining Services or as a tutor for a math class is preparing you for work outside of Mount Holyoke College. But it is! Virtually every job supports your professional growth through the development of transferable skills.
“Hello Choreographers! Congratulations! You have been selected to participate in our spring 2016 Biomorphic Dance Festival!”
I could not believe I was reading this email from the Asterial Dance company as I rushed to my physics exam. The nerves I had for my exam melted away as I considered the gravity of what had just happened: my choreography had just been accepted into a dance festival for the first time. Yes, there were the logistics of actually traveling to New York City with my seven dancers. But I had been accepted!
The first time I visited Mount Holyoke, the summer before my senior year in high school, I came by myself. I didn’t want my parents to sway me toward a college closer to home that I did not want to attend.
On Thursday, April 28, the students of Professor Corinne Demas’s English 303 short-story writing seminar will launch the 11th edition of the Blackstick Review. Founded in 2004, the literary journal is the culmination of my classmates’ hard work over the course of the semester.
It’s almost time to head home to see your family and friends. You’re likely to get lots of questions about what you’ve been up to—and where you’re headed. The advisors at the Career Development Center have come up with some common questions and stress-free answers.
In a word ... yes!
As a first-year student, I joined Mount Holyoke College Model United Nations, or MHCMUN, because I needed a club. And I wanted to make friends. I stayed because it became my family.
I have always had a thing for flying. Not so much airplanes as birds. I love the feeling of being in the air. And I’m drawn to the stars, imagining what it would be like to be part of something so hypnotic and beautiful. I found, and continue to find, these same sensations in ballet.
Mount Holyoke College is a bold choice.
It’s the right choice for students who want to face, embrace, and effect change. It’s the right choice for students who seek a vibrant community that is intellectual, diverse, and inclusive. It’s the right place to gain the skills and mindset to thrive in the twenty-first century, an era when career evolution is the norm. And it’s the right choice for students who value lifelong friendships and a powerful global network of alumnae that connects graduates to one another and to opportunities.
Mount Holyoke is pretty rad. It’s filled with forward-thinking individuals from all over the world who spend every day learning, challenging themselves, and dreaming big. We are branded as progressive intellectuals, gliding across well-kept greenery, with a thirst for changing the world. But there is more to the community here than academics, career goals, and activism.
“Erin, wake up, you have 30 minutes until watch.”
With half-open eyes and a great yawn, I give a delirious thumbs-up in response to my shipmate’s whispers. Clambering out of my bunk, I slide into my work pants, windbreaker, and harness.
On deck, the sharp breeze and salty ocean spray against my hands and face is routine for the start of every watch. We stand watch twice over a 24-hour period, totaling ten hours. The rotation keeps each day flowing effortlessly into the next. Watch is intensely focused on the ship: where she needs to go, what deployments need to be done, and how we intend to make it all happen. Each movement—hoisting sails, towing the neuston net, plotting our position—becomes second nature.
Montpellier’s blue skies. Lifelong friendships. Architectural feasts for the eyes. Croissants for lunch. This is what it’s like to study abroad in France as a Mount Holyoke student.
Before I came to Mount Holyoke College, student-athlete was simply a title I knew fit me. Now, it’s my identity. It’s an identity that I take an incredible amount of pride in, and one that I've built with the tremendous support of the Mount Holyoke community. At Mount Holyoke, my professors are curious about—and supportive of—my athletics. And the athletics department cares greatly about my academic career. The net effect of this appreciation and encouragement? Totally positive.
Since September 2015, I have worked as an Administrative Fellow for the Community-Based Learning (CBL) Program. I found this job through our student employment portal and contacted CBL to see if the position was still available. I was excited to come across this opportunity as it felt like an awesome new challenge to take on during my final year at Mount Holyoke.