My senior year of high school, I made two of the most important decisions of my life. The first was where to attend college. The second was to share a secret I’d harbored since age 11.
I spent most of my first car ride to Mount Holyoke kicking the back of my stepdad’s seat. No, really, I was that terrible.
By the end of my junior year of high school, desperate to find the perfect fit, I had become a pro at touring colleges. Nearly every weekend, our itineraries filled with different schools to visit, my family hopped in the car and drove all around New England. After I showed interest in gender-minority institutions and absolutely fell in love with Bryn Mawr, Wellesley and Smith colleges, my parents suggested that we go check out Mount Holyoke.
“No,” I insisted, picturing the words “Holy Oak” in my head. “I won’t go to a religiously affiliated school.”
Before taking the fall 2018 course Making the Past: Geosciences in the Makerspace, I had never stepped foot in the Mount Holyoke Makerspace (which has since been relocated, expanded and renamed the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab).
I had heard about the makerspace through advertisements for staff-led events and from friends who had taken classes there. I also knew that it was different from makerspaces at other colleges, which friends reported were only available to people with certain majors or were so restrictive that it was nearly impossible to reserve a time to use the equipment. I knew that ours was accessible for all Mount Holyoke students. I’d just never had a reason to use it. Until I signed up for a 100-level class. Part lecture, part design workshop, the class promised to explore dinosaurs and ancient species by utilizing high-tech equipment, which sounded like an intriguing combination.
The Moroccan sun was blazing outside, lighting up Rabat, the city that would come to feel like a second home to me. In the maze-like medina, the oldest part of the city, women were bargaining for fish and bread. Pastry chefs were selling fresh almond candy to children who were leaving school for their afternoon break.
Old men sat in cafes on the side of the road — smoking cigarettes and sipping espresso for hours, talking to old friends. Fishermen were hauling their daily catch in the bay next to Le Dhow, a traditional Arab wooden boat with a bar inside. Businessmen were catching trains and university students were cramming into trams. And in the middle of the city was me. Sitting alone in McDonalds, eating french fries and crying my eyes out.
Now that the admission question is settled, the real question is this: What will you do with your strength and conviction and awareness and intellect and curiosity and caring?
We say it’s time to get moving. To get inspired. To get global. To get intersectional. To find mentors and form networks. To land internships and study abroad. To confront environmental, political and ethical challenges. To develop the skills to influence and empower others. To take advantage of everything Mount Holyoke stands for.
Watch the video for a message from current students.