M.F.A. Student Wins Essay Award from the Children’s Literature Association

Amanda Becker, who is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s literature at Hollins, has been honored with a 2021 Graduate Essay Award by the Children’s Literature Association (ChLA).

A four-member committee of children’s literature scholars selected Becker’s essay, “A Story in Fragments: An Analysis of Poetry and Perspective in October Mourning,” as the winner of this year’s master’s level award.

The Graduate Student Essay Awards recognize outstanding papers written on the graduate level in the field of children’s literature. They are considered annually and awarded as warranted. In 2008, the ChLA Board approved giving two separate awards each year, one for an essay written at the master’s level and one for an essay written at the doctoral level.

“A Story in Fragments” focuses on Leslea Newman’s October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, a novel in verse responding to the 1998 murder of Shepherd, a gay 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming. “Written with love, anger, regret, and other profound emotions, this is a truly important book that deserves the widest readership, not only among independent readers but among students in a classroom setting, as well,” noted Booklist in its review. “Most importantly, the book will introduce Matthew Shepard to a generation too young to remember the tragic circumstances of his death. Grades 8-12.”

Of Becker’s essay, a judge stated, “One thing good scholarship does is strengthen its readers’ commitment to the literature it discusses: it prompts some to return to works they thought they knew and others to pick up those works for the first time. I think this is good scholarship. The analysis of the poetic effects of diverse perspectives…is sharply focused, sensitive to textual detail, and above all resists the temptation of reductive readings.” Another judge called it “original and interesting – not just related to interpretation of the specific text but also to the larger genre of poetry.”

Becker will receive a $400 award, a one-year complimentary ChLA membership, and an invitation to present her paper at the ChLA’s annual conference, which will be held virtually this year, June 9 – 13.

ChLA is a nonprofit association of scholars, critics, professors, students, librarians, teachers, and institutions dedicated to the academic study of literature for children.

Honors Convocation Spotlights Student and Faculty Excellence


Hollins recognized students for high academic achievement during the university’s annual Honors Convocation on May 4.

Held each spring since 1978, Honors Convocation also highlights those faculty members whose exceptional work and dedication have earned them special academic designation.


Student and faculty awards announced at this year’s Honors Convocation include:

Alice Bull Biology Award
Shravani Chitineni ’21
Hanna Vance Schleupner ’21
Established in 1991 by students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Alice Bull, who taught biology at Hollins from 1964 until her retirement in 1990. The purpose of the award is to provide recognition to a deserving senior and/or junior student in biology.

American Chemical Society, Division of Analytical Chemistry, Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry
Uyen Nguyen Thanh ’23
Given to encourage and to recognize students who display an aptitude for a career in this field. The award consists of an eight-month subscription to the journal Analytical Chemistry and an eight-month honorary membership in the Division of Analytical Chemistry.

American Institute of Chemists Award
Maria Ibrahim Jdid ’21
Presented to the outstanding senior chemistry major.

Andrew James Purdy Merit Scholarship in Creative Writing
Isabel May Houck ’21
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this scholarship is given to a senior English major pursuing an honors project in short fiction or a related literary

Andrew James Purdy Prize for Short Fiction
Winner – Laura Schmitt M.F.A. ’22
Runner-up – Griffin Plaag M.F.A. ’22
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this award is given to a graduate student in the creative writing program who has written a body of fiction of outstanding quality.

ARETE Award in Classical Studies
Elizabeth Lindsay Lauderdale ’22
Established in 2006, this award is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South (CAMWS) and is given to the junior and/or senior student(s) who have completed outstanding work in the field of classics in the past year. The awardee receives a certificate, a subscription to Classical Journal, and a free membership in CAMWS for the following academic year.

CRC Press Chemistry Achievement Award
Tram “Amy” Nguyen ’24
Keegan Leigh Clark ’24
Given to an outstanding first-year or sophomore student with interest in pursuing a career in chemistry.

Daniel M. Murphy Prize for Spanish
Ivana Esther Martinez ’21
This award, named for Dan Murphy, professor of Spanish at Hollins from 1993 until his death in 2012, is presented to a student of Spanish who, following Professor Murphy’s example, exhibits on a daily basis a profound love of the Spanish language and a dedication to learning about and teaching others about Hispanic cultures and literatures.

David L. Longfellow History Prize
Nathalie Jean Fortier ’23
This prize, established in 1982 in honor of David L. Longfellow, former assistant professor of history at Hollins, is awarded to the outstanding first-year student in history.

Elise Deyerle Lewis Award
Akshita “Akshi” Agarwal ’22
The late Elise Deyerle Lewis, class of 1927, donated a silver cup to honor the student in the junior class showing the greatest promise in mathematics. The award is in memory of Isabel Hancock, class of 1927, who was Mrs. Lewis’ roommate at Hollins, and later an outstanding teacher of mathematics at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The name of the student chosen is engraved on the cup, which remains on display at the university.

Elizabeth Alexander Thomas Award
Sara Ann Ficke ’23
This award, in memory of Elizabeth Alexander Thomas, class of 1968, recognizes and rewards one or more rising sophomore, junior, or senior art history majors whose academic work in art history shows exceptional depth and promise and to provide support for the art history department. Awarded funds may be used by the recipient(s) for any expenses related to academic work in art history, including museum admission fees and travel to collections and galleries.

Elizabeth Kennedy Chance Award
Summer Yvonne Jaime ’22
Shuvechchha Kunwar ’22
Established by John K. Chance in memory of his mother, class of 1922, this award is given for excellence in economics.

Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence
Irina Conc ’21
This award, established in 1997 and given in honor of former Horizon Program Director Evelyn Bradshaw ’88, recognizes an outstanding Horizon student who inspires others through her perseverance, positive attitude, pursuit of knowledge, and love of Hollins. The chosen student will have her name engraved on a plaque that will remain at the university.

F.J. McGuigan Psychology Awards for Excellence
Hinza Batool Malik ’21
Established in 1974, this award, consisting of books and a certificate, is presented for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education and research.

Frances Niederer Scholars
Art History:
Madison Elizabeth Harr ’22
Amy “Faith” Herrington ’22
Studio Art:
Victoria “Tori” Queenette An’Jannique Cobbs ’22
Maddie Alexandra Zanie ’22
An anonymous donor established a scholarship fund in 1983 to honor Frances J. Niederer, professor of art history at Hollins from 1942 until her retirement in 1980. The art department selects two outstanding art majors, at least one of whom is specializing in art history, as recipients in their senior year of the Frances Niederer Scholarships.

Freya Award
Angela “Andi” Brown ’21
Paige Arianna Russell ’21
Caylin Hathaway Smith ’21
The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who throughout her time at Hollins has remained dedicated and committed to her activities on campus in a way that provides a quiet yet vital force in our community. It is for someone who has never reached out for the spotlight and has not been recognized for her efforts formally, but has still continued to work humbly and diligently in what she does to positively affect our campus.

Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize
Winner – Tyler Starks, MFA ’21
Runner-up – Madeleine “Maddie” Gallo, MFA ’21
Runner-up – Makenzie “Kenzie” Hampton ’22
This prize of the Academy of American Poets is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best poem or group of poems.

Goethe Award
Victoria Taylor Anderson ’24
This award, in recognition of special accomplishments in the study of German language and literature, is presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herta Freitag Award in Mathematics
Sarah Elizabeth Hayashi ’21
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding senior student in mathematics at Hollins who plans either to teach mathematics or pursue a career field related to mathematics.

Hollins Fiction Prize
Virginia “Ginny” Lee Lucey ’24
Established by Sally Durham Mason, class of 1959, in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to an undergraduate student who has done outstanding work in the writing of fiction.

International Studies Award for Academic Excellence
Claire Michaela Hintz ’21
This award is given to a student for outstanding work in international studies during the academic year.

James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry
Jaclyn “Elizabeth” Ward ’21
This award is sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society and is given each year to the outstanding chemistry major from each of the 14 colleges or universities within the section’s boundaries.

Jane Lyell Stephens Ayers Scholarship
Jonea “Joey” Alexa Mathis ’21
Hannah Nicole Marcum ’22
Given in memory of Jane Stephens Ayres, class of 1961, by members of her family, colleagues, fellow students, and friends, this scholarship was established in 1986. It is awarded to a rising junior or senior who has shown special ability as a writer and serious interest in publications or journalism.

J.F. Maddox Foundation Award for Excellence in French
Savanna Virginia Huffman Sewell ’21
Awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated superior achievement in French.

Judith Gregory Smith Award
Winner – Nupur Sehgal ’23
Winner – Uyen Nguyen Thanh ’23
Honorable Mention – Olivia Kathryn Sacci ’24
This award is given by Judith Riddick Reynolds, class of 1915, in memory of her granddaughter, Judith Gregory Smith, who would have been a fourth-generation alumna in the class of 1990. It recognizes excellence in the natural sciences.

Lisa Lindsey Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts
Tatiana Alexis Durant ’21
Anna Mitchell Johnson ’21
Lilyana Marie Miller ’21
Chloe Fiona Mahalek ’22
Established by Mary Varner Meryweather, class of 1941, as a memorial to her classmate and friend, Lisa Lindsey, this award, consisting of a cash prize and a certificate, is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in theatre arts.

Mae Shelton Boger Award
Emma Valentine Fitzgerald ’21
Mae Shelton Boger, class of 1941, derived particular pleasure from her studies in French. This endowed award, given in her memory, is presented annually to an outstanding student of French who combines sound scholarship with pleasure in the pursuit of her studies.

Margaret Markley Smith Awards
Art History:
Shelby Lynn Barbee ’21
Studio Art:
Candice Marie Housden ’21
Winner – Joanna “Jay” Wright ’21
Runner-up – Averi Danielle Greenstreet ’21
Runner-up – Carly Pawlowska Lewis ’21
In memory of Margaret Markley Smith, class of 1938, these awards are given to a senior majoring in art and a senior majoring in English for outstanding work.

Marion Garrett Lunsford Music Award
Mary Elizabeth Simmons ’21
Established as a fund in memory of Marion Garrett Lunsford, class of 1926, this award is given annually to a member of the senior class for distinguished accomplishment in music.

Mary Houska Scholarship
Elizabeth Katy Brown ’22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding upperclass economics or business major who has demonstrated superior academic performance.

Mary-Barbara Zeldin Award
Julia “Jules” Jackson ’21
This award, established by students, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Mary-Barbara Zeldin, who taught philosophy at Hollins from 1953 until her death in 1981, is given to a rising junior, rising senior, or senior for excellence in philosophy.

Mary Vincent Long Award in English
Claire Michaela Hintz ’21
Renee Marie Roberts ’21
In memory of Mary Vincent Long, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1938 to 1959, this award is given to a senior English major who exemplifies in the study of literature “a mind capable of going beyond concern with immediate facts to understanding and creation.”

Mary Williamson Award
Aysia Skye Brenner ’21
This award is given in memory of the late Professor Mary Williamson of the department of philosophy and religion for the best study submitted in the field of humanities.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in Creative Nonfiction
Winner – Jennifer “Jen” Lazar M.F.A. ’21
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22
Runner-up – Sharon Christner, MFA ’21
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a book-length work of nonfiction.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel
Winner – Cory Crouser M.F.A. ’21
Runner-up – Zoe Wright M.F.A. ’21
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a novel.

Mildred Persinger ’39 – Shocky Pilafian Award in Gender and Women’s Studies
Te’ya Kaye Mitchell ’21
This award acknowledges excellence in academic achievement as well as significant contributions to social activism both within the Hollins community and beyond. The award seeks to recognize gender and women’s studies graduates who are working to effect social change and bring about social justice in a variety of arenas. This award is given to a graduating gender and women’s studies major.

Nancy Ellen Couper Ault Award in Ethics, Morals, and Values
Emily Michelle Bulifant ’22
Available to any student of the college and is accordingly an interdisciplinary honor, encourages students to think critically about important ethical questions affecting a broad range of endeavors.

Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize in English
Winner – Fanny “Isabel” Estrada Lugo ’22
Runner-up – Amity Jane Williams ’22
In memory of Nancy Penn Holsenbeck, class of 1938, this award is given to a rising sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has demonstrated both a love and a command of the English language.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize
Isabel May Houck ’21
In memory of Nancy Thorp, who attended Hollins from 1956 to 1958, this award is given to an undergraduate student who has written the best poem to appear in the student-produced literary magazine Cargoes.

Nicole Kohn Film Award
Anja Elizabeth Holland ’21
This award is given in memory of Nicole Kohn, class of 2002, to a filmmaking student of exceptional promise.

Patricia Dowd Overall Award
Mary Rose Christian ’21
Patricia Dowd Overall is a member of the class of 1954. In her honor a prize is given annually to the student who, in the judgment of the department of education, has demonstrated in the schoolroom the greatest mastery and promise in the art of teaching.

Pi Sigma Alpha Award
Saoirse Eire Healy ’21
This award is given to the senior with the highest grade point average in courses taken in political science.

Sarah McCutchen Cook International Studies Award
Christine Marie Emeric-Martinez ’22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in international studies.

Stephanie Mahan Hispanophile Award
Mary Elisabeth Cochran ’21
This award is given to a senior Spanish major or minor whose enthusiasm and outstanding interest in things Hispanic most closely mirror the example set by Stephanie Lynn Mahan, class of 1995. Specifically, this student must have sought out first-hand experience in the Spanish-speaking world, and must have generously shared her knowledge of that world with her peers.

Wyndham Robertson Library Undergraduate Research Award
Faith Jaqueline Clarkson ’22
Joanna “Jay” Wright ’21
Established in 2011 by the library for the recognition of exemplary undergraduate student research projects completed in Hollins courses. Two prizes are awarded, one to a first-year or sophomore and one to a junior or senior.


The Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award
Ángel Diaz, professor of Spanish
Awarded to a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition of professional excellence from the last three years in the form of publications and papers, exhibits and performances, prizes, and other related expressions of their work.

Senior Class Faculty Award
Pauline Kaldas, professor of English
Given by the senior class  to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on their lives.

Hollins Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Initiated in 2021, recognizes two members of the faculty – one full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty member, and one non- tenure track faculty member – who motivate and inspire students through the demonstration of exemplary teaching practices, and who have made a positive impact on the teaching culture of the University through innovative and high-impact teaching methodologies, inclusive pedagogies, community engagement in teaching/learning, creative and/or interdisciplinary course development, instructional support, and/or campus leadership around pedagogy. Given that the inauguration of the award last year was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the award was presented to two tenured or tenure-track faculty and two non-tenure-track faculty members.
Tenured/tenure track category:
Renee Godard – professor of biology
Tina Salowey – professor of classical studies
Non-tenure-track category:
Ashleigh Breske – visiting assistant professor of global politics and societies
Jeanne Jegousso – visiting assistant professor of French

Roberta A. Stewart Service Award
Ernie Zulia, professor emerita of theatre
Granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.



With a Passion for Academia and Social Justice Advocacy, Emily Lauletta ’22 “Invigorates the Feminist Community Through Her Research”

Emily Lauletta ’22 was recently awarded the opportunity to showcase two of her research projects at a prestigious academic conference.

The Southeastern Women’s Studies Association, a feminist organization that actively supports and promotes all aspects of women’s studies at every level of involvement, invited Lauletta to present “‘Radical Feminist Nuns’: Spiritual Activism, Catholicism, and the Power of (Sister)hood” and “Women and Femininity in the Modern Superhero Film” at their 2021 conference, which was held virtually this year. Both projects began as research papers in Hollins classes taught by Professor of Anthropology and Gender & Women’s Studies LeeRay Costa and Associate Professor of Communication Studies Lori Joseph.

As a gender and women’s studies major and social justice minor, Lauletta noted that her studies at Hollins motivate her research. She added that her courses inspire what she describes as her “passion for equity and liberation, and to pursue feminist research through an intersectional lens.” Last year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to interview Sister Emily TeKolsie of the social justice organization NETWORK to augment her study of religious leaders and spiritual activism.

Over nearly two years, Lauletta has practiced her love of academia and social justice advocacy as an intern with the League of Women Voters of Hudson, Ohio. “I learned that fostering community and bearing witness to the experiences of others is key to both feminist research and social justice work,” she said of her experience.

“From campus organizing and her partnership with the League of Women Voters to presenting at regional conferences in her field, Emily invigorates the feminist community through her research,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette.

Lauletta will also present “‘Radical Feminist Nuns’: Spiritual Activism, Catholicism, and the Power of (Sister)hood” at Hollins’ Student Performance and Academic Research Conference (SPARC) on May 8. She looks forward to continuing her research in the future.



Hollins Anticipates “the Beginning of a Return to Normal” in Fall 2021

Hollins University has announced the initial measures the school plans to put into effect regarding campus life when classes resume this fall.

Students will be expected to be in residence for the 2021-22 academic year, courses will be taught in person, and vaccination for COVID-19 will be required for all campus community members.

“As we wind down the current academic year, we are already looking ahead with anticipation to next fall,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “In many respects, we foresee the beginning of a return to normal while maintaining our focus on the health and well-being of our community.”

Hinton noted that Hollins is continuing to explore how it will adapt for the 2021-22 academic year its Culture of Care, which has guided the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. “We anticipate there will still be CDC and VDH requirements related to physical distancing, especially in our indoor spaces, and masks may continue to be required in certain situations or environments. Our overall goal, however, is to return as much as possible to the regular campus schedule and interactive community we knew at Hollins prior to the pandemic.”

Reinstating the residential requirement for undergraduate students, which was suspended during 2020-21, “will promote regular, in-person contact with others in the Hollins community and allow us to provide the best educational setting possible,” said Hinton. “Possible exceptions to this requirement will be considered based on complexities and barriers related to international travel and for certain specific medical conditions.”

At the same time, Hinton explained, “we know that in-person instruction and interaction between professors and classmates provides the richest educational benefits for our students. As such, and in keeping with pre-pandemic practice, courses will be taught in person, with many incorporating some of the technological enhancements learned over the current academic year.” She said that Hollins recognizes the benefits of online instruction “when it can be delivered with pedagogical excellence. As such, we are considering supporting a limited number of requests for courses that could be delivered virtually. These courses must meet stringent criteria that will ensure the academic excellence that is core to the Hollins educational experience.”

Hinton emphasized that the vaccination of students, faculty, and staff is critical to the university’s ability to continue meeting its highest priority since the pandemic began – maintaining the health and well-being of all members of the campus community. “With the increasing availability of safe and effective vaccines, many at Hollins are already or will soon be vaccinated. Within this context, and in support of being in residence with an active university community, all students and employees will be required to provide proof of full vaccination in order to return to campus in the fall.” She added that exemptions for medical/disability-related or religious reasons may be requested.

Hinton said that Hollins is looking ahead to resuming competition for its athletic teams this fall in accordance with NCAA, ODAC, and public health guidance. The university is also planning to move toward a more regular slate of activities, performances, and events that will meet public health guidance and be supportive of a healthy environment on campus.

“These hopeful steps forward would not be possible without the ongoing commitment and hard work of students, faculty, and staff since March of last year,” said Hinton. “This has been a difficult journey that has required numerous sacrifices. Time and again, our community has risen to the occasion and overcome the challenges we have faced with courage and with heart. That foundation helped sustain us through this unprecedented year.”



Chi Alpha Sigma Inducts Eight Hollins Student-Athletes



Chi Alpha Sigma, the national honor society recognizing collegiate student-athletes for their achievements in athletic competition as well as in the classroom, is welcoming eight new members from Hollins University Athletics.



New inductees for the 2020-21 academic year include:

Kaeley Aroesty ’22 – Riding
Hannah Arthur ’22 – Volleyball and Riding
Madeline Evangelista ’21 – Swimming
Sarah Grace Himes ’22 – Riding
Summer Jaime ’22 – Swimming
Hannah Jones ’22 – Riding
Abigail Richards ’22 – Soccer
Kayla Surles ’22 – Basketball

The eight new members join the 18 Hollins student-athletes who were inducted for the 2019-20 academic year:

Juliette Baek ’20 – Tennis
Megan Bull ’21 – Swimming
Shravani Chitineni ’21 – Soccer
Grace Davis ’21 – Cross Country and Swimming
Hanna DeVarona ’21 – Swimming
Elizabeth Eubank ’21 – Tennis
Carsen Helms ’22 – Basketball and Lacrosse
Logan Landfried ’21 – Riding and Lacrosse
Emily Miehlke ’21 – Swimming
Hannah Piatak ’21 – Volleyball
Claire Reid ’20 – Riding
Cecilia Riddle ’20 – Basketball and Track & Field
Alex Sanchez ’20 – Swimming and Riding
Caylin Smith ’21 – Soccer
Molly Sullivan ’21 – Swimming
Madi Szurley ’21 – Lacrosse
Keyazia Taylor ’21 – Basketball
Yasmine Tyler ’21 – Basketball

Chi Alpha Sigma honors college student-athletes who participate in a sport at the varsity intercollegiate level, achieve junior academic standing or higher after their fifth full time semester, and earn a 3.4 or higher cumulative grade point average.



With Microbiome Study, Geneva Waynick ’21 Prepares to Launch a Career in Biological Research

The microbiome is one of humanity’s unsung heroes. A community of microorganisms that includes trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses may not necessarily sound like a good thing, but as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes, “In a healthy person, these ‘bugs’ coexist peacefully, with the largest numbers found in the small and large intestines but also throughout the body. The microbiome is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the body.”

“It’s extremely important for human health and nobody realizes it,” explained Geneva Waynick ’21, who first became intrigued by the microbiome early in her undergraduate career. Since then, the biology major/chemistry minor has immersed herself in studying the factors that influence the composition of the human oral microbiome.

When considering college, Waynick recalled, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” But of all the schools she visited as a prospective student, “Hollins was definitely the most fitting for my personality. I enjoyed the fact that it was small and you matter more here as a student than at big colleges. You could make connections with your professors.”

“Lasers, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Medicine,” a first-year seminar taught by Associate Professor of Biology Rebecca Beach and Assistant Professor of Physics Brian Gentry, convinced Waynick that science was her calling. “In high school I had only taken the most basic level of science to graduate and had never been exposed to that kind of science before. I loved it so much that I decided to become a bio major.”

By the end of her sophomore year, as she got more and more involved with science at Hollins, Waynick realized that above all, “I loved the lab aspect of my classes. I talked to my professors and they suggested I start my own research project.” Assistant Professor of Biology Mary Jane Carmichael, “one of my favorite teachers,” agreed to help Waynick, “and at the start of my junior year I started working on getting together a fully formed research project on the oral microbiome.”

Geneva Waynick Atlanta Botanical Garden
Geneva Waynick ’21 interned at the Atlanta Botanical Garden during the January 2020 Short Term, studying orchid seeds. “It solidified that I love doing research.”

Waynick and Carmichael spent the entire 2019-20 academic year carefully creating the project that was intended to be Waynick’s honors thesis, the capstone of completing her biology degree. Another of the year’s highlights was interning during January Short Term at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “That was the first internship I’d ever done and it was so amazing, one of my favorite experiences at Hollins. I worked in the conservation lab down there, looking at the viability of orchid seeds stored in a seed bank. It solidified that I love doing research.”

At the outset of the spring term, Waynick looked forward to serving as a summer research fellow at Hollins between her junior and senior years. As a crucial part of her microbiome research, she would be identifying and quantifying the bacteria that are naturally present in human saliva samples and answering questions based on that data. The COVID-19 pandemic however would have a profound and unfortunate impact on that plan: Safety concerns surrounding the virus prevented the use of human biological matter in her research, meaning Waynick had to go back to drawing board and “shift the method by which I approached those questions.”

Rather than be discouraged, Waynick recognized an opportunity. “I was somewhat disappointed when I had to start over, but I was not going to give up. I was going to get something out of this. I didn’t know what I was going to do next until I started reading papers and I stumbled upon this subsection on infant health. I was drawn in by the complexity of the factors that influence the acquisition of the oral microbiome through infancy. In addition, there was a plethora of unanswered questions on the subject that interested me, including how different brands and types of commercially available infant formulas affect the composition of the oral microbiome.”

Waynick realized that infant research in this subject was conducive to using culture-dependent methods. “The difference between working with collected samples and a culture-dependent model is kind of comparable to the difference between ‘in vivo’ and ‘in vitro’ methods,” she explained, noting that “in vivo” refers to processes occurring within a living organism (i.e., in nature) and “in vitro” refers to processes occurring within a controlled environment (i.e., a test tube). “With culture-depended lab work, we purchased the species of bacteria that were pertinent to my research and cultured them in the lab under experimental conditions. I could grow the bacteria that I selected to represent commensal (beneficial) and pathogenic (detrimental) colonizers or the oral microbiome directly in the different infant formulas and measure how well each species grew. My final project ended up looking at how probiotic and non-probiotic infant formulas affected the growth of a commensal species and a pathogenic species.”

Waynick believes changing her project was “actually kind of a good thing, I ended up learning a lot of things I never would have learned otherwise.” Still, revamping her honors thesis was “a long and challenging process,” and she praises Carmichael for her unwavering support. “I deeply appreciate how much she has helped me throughout my evolution as a student and as a researcher. During the summer fellowship, we were in contact multiple times a week. Even though it was all on Zoom, she really helped me make sure I could still get a project completed, and when we finally decided on the infant oral microbiome project, it was a ‘hallelujah’ moment.” Over the summer, Waynick and Carmichael performed substantial literature review and then finalized the project’s introduction and proposed research methods so that they could “hit the ground running in the fall.”

Waynick presented the preliminary results of her work, “The Influence of Infant Formulas on the Growth of Commensal and Pathogenic Streptococcus Species in the Infant Oral Cavity,” in early April at Hollins’ 63rd Annual Science Seminar. “The results of this study may assist mothers in selecting alternatives to breastfeeding that will support the proper development of the infant oral microbiome by favoring the growth of commensal bacteria,” she reported. Waynick will deliver the final results of her honors thesis in May. “There are so many questions to ask about the microbiome,” she stated. “I really enjoy learning about it.”

Waynick credits having had a work-study position within the biology department during her undergraduate career as being “the most important factor in helping me build a close relationship with both the department and with science as a discipline.” In addition to her professors, she cites Biology Lab Technician Cheryl Taylor for helping her grow her research capabilities. “I have worked for Cheryl since my first year at Hollins and having that stable connection with the department has kept me really engaged. In addition to my constant exposure to all things biology, I have learned so many valuable skills from Cheryl. I believe I am ahead of the curve because I have been exposed to so many different lab techniques.”

After graduating from Hollins, Waynick plans to bolster her experience for graduate school applications, and pinpoint the schools and programs she’d like to pursue, by spending a year working as a lab assistant.

“It would be amazing to make a career out of research,” she said. “I just really, really enjoy learning about the intricacies of the physical world.”




Hollins Names Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., as the University’s New Provost

Hollins University has announced the appointment of Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., as provost, effective July 1. She will serve as Hollins’ chief academic officer.

McLary comes to Hollins from the University of Portland in Oregon, where she first joined the faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of German. She was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and full professor in 2015. The following year, McLary became academic associate dean for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), where she worked closely with the dean on issues ranging from strategic priorities and budgeting to communication and personnel. In July 2020, she was named interim dean for CAS, which is the largest academic unit at the University of Portland with 15 departments, nearly 250 full- and part-time faculty, and over 1,300 student majors. She guided CAS last fall through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring excellent teaching in a remote environment while advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice goals.

“Laura is a creative and proactive problem-solver who leads with compassion and courage,” Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton said. “She will be a dynamic and gifted collaborator with a variety of constituencies across our campus.”

“Laura impressed the search committee with her depth of understanding about the current challenges facing higher education, and I believe her innovative, action-oriented leadership will usher Hollins into a bold new future,” added Darla Schumm, professor of religious studies and chair of the university faculty as well as chair of the provost search committee. “Her passion for and commitment to the liberal arts, women’s education, and creating diverse, equitable, and just communities resonate deeply with the priorities of the Hollins faculty. Clearly, she places people at the center of all her work and decision-making.”

McLary will focus on strengthening Hollins’ position as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges for women at the undergraduate level, and as an exemplary provider of coeducational graduate programs. She will pursue opportunities such as cultivating and sustaining a diverse undergraduate and graduate faculty; infusing existing academic programs and departments with new energy and vision while also developing new programs to enhance the intellectual life of the university; participating in the design and implementation of a new general education curriculum; and strengthening the university’s graduate and non-degree programs.

“We are excited to have Laura help us imagine and evolve our academic mission, building on strong traditions while moving Hollins forward,” Hinton noted.


Supported by Hollins’ Alumnae Network, Megan Bull ’21 Lands NASA Summer Internship

During her first visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center when she was eight years old, Megan Bull ’21 announced to her dad she wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. A return trip when she was 16 found her no less resolute.

“I was in total awe watching a video on the Mars exploration program,” she recalled. “I leaned over to my mom and told her I would work at NASA one day.”

Bull’s dream will come to fruition this summer when she embarks on a ten-week virtual internship with NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The mathematics major with a concentration in data science will be participating in the Enrich Knowledge Graphs Through Graph Data Science intern project from June 7 – August 13. She will help create a people analytics knowledge graph using Neo4j (Network Exploration and Optimization 4 Java), a graph database management system designed to leverage data relationships and associate data as it is stored.

“Every organization collects data, but not many people know what to do with it,” Bull explained. “The idea is to be able to use the data we already have to predict trends: look at things that have happened and anticipate the likelihood of other things happening. The project itself focuses on occupation data within NASA and skills associated with certain professions. The objective is to analyze the similarities between jobs that share the same sets of skills and predict which people would be successful in these positions given their previous experience.”

When Bull first learned about the internship from Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Molly Lynch, “I knew it would be a long shot, but I was going to apply anyway,” she said, motivated by the goal she had steadfastly remained committed to through a significant part of her life. Later that same week, she took part in a Hollins Alumnae Board virtual event for seniors.

“Elizabeth Kolmstetter ’85 was one of the participants and she urged anyone who was interested to check out NASA internships.” Kolmstetter is NASA’s director of talent strategy and engagement.

Bull let Kolmstetter know that she was already working on her application, and that set the stage for a powerful example of how the Hollins alumnae network supports undergraduates in their career preparation. Kolmstetter gave Bull her email address, and the two scheduled a Face Time meeting the following evening.

“She served as my mentor throughout the application process,” Bull said. Kolmstetter subsequently told her that David Meza, chief knowledge architect at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was heading up the Enrich Knowledge Graphs Through Graph Data Science intern project, and would like to interview her.

Megan Bull Space Helmet
At age eight, Megan Bull ’21 enjoyed a life-changing first visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

“I thought it sounded fantastic,” Bull related. “A couple of hours after the interview, I received an email telling me I’d been selected for this internship. I called my mom (Rebecca Boone Bull ’90) – I was screaming over the phone – and my roommates were laughing. ‘We were going to ask you how your interview went, we guess it went well!’”

Bull was excited to share her senior project, “Examining Bias in Facial Recognition Programs,” with Meza. He told Bull he was particularly impressed with her commitment to learning new things, and her range of skills.

“Graph data science is not something I’ve worked with previously,” she said. “It’s something that’s entirely new to me, so he’s sending me resources on a daily basis to review.”

Bull’s internship with NASA will be the culmination of a Hollins career that began when she first toured the campus as a high school junior with her mom. “I fell in love with it. I loved how open everyone was, students kept coming up and asking me what I was interested in and what I wanted to do. Hollins was one of my first college visits, so it really just set the precedent.” A mentorship program that matched high school students with women in STEM professions encouraged her to pursue a mathematics major, and a class in the Google Applied Computing Series taught by mathematics professors Julie Clark and Steve Wassell convinced her to concentrate on data science.

“I was never interested in computer science until then, and Dr. Wassell is the reason I decided to pursue data science,” Bull said. She praises the entire mathematics faculty for how “they are able to nurture every single student who comes through. Dr. Clark has been my advisor since I declared. She’s been an amazing mentor and she’s wickedly smart. Seeing a woman who is just so successful in her career, it was so inspiring. I’d never really seen that before in academia.” She adds that Wassell has helped her figure out where to apply for graduate school, and that he, Clark, and Director of Quantitative Reasoning Erin Levering have all been generous in writing recommendation letters on her behalf.

Majoring in mathematics led to Bull tutoring for Hollins’ Quantitative Reasoning Center beginning in her sophomore year. She has served as an Honor Court member, vice president for the class of 2021, and member of the swim team for three of her four years. She’s also finishing a certificate in leadership studies from the university’s Batten Leadership Institute and works as ambassador for the university’s Office of Admission. “I’ve been an admission ambassador since my first year,” she said. “I started doing it because I love Hollins so much, and I want other people to love it as much as I do.”

Beyond campus, Bull has enjoyed two study abroad opportunities, spending Spring Term 2019 in London and the 2020 January Short Term in Florence, Italy. She’s completed two internships as well, one with Boyd-Pearman Photography in Roanoke her first year, and the second during her sophomore year that brought one of the most impactful experiences of her life full circle.

“Working with our Career Center, I created my own remote internship with Women in Technology (WIT) in Falls Church, Virginia,” an organization dedicated to advancing women in the field through leadership development, technology education, and networking and mentoring. Bull interned with WIT’s Girls in Technology initiative, the same program that placed her with women who are STEM professionals while she was in high school.

As she preps for her NASA internship this summer, Bull is busy applying to graduate schools. She plans to pursue a Master of Science in computer science but has not made a final decision on where she will be attending graduate school in the fall.

“I would really like to go into artificial intelligence engineering and machine learning,” she said. “They play pretty well together.”






Peace Boat US Internship Inspires Jonea Mathis ‘23 to “See the World and Learn from People in a Conscious Way”

Each year, Hollins sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for an exceptional array of internships through the university’s Signature Internship Program. Sponsored by Hollins alumnae in a variety of fields and available during the January Short Term, these internships carry academic credit and offer a stipend of $300. Housing is often provided.

Jonea Mathis ’23 so impressed her supervisor during her 2021 J-Term signature internship that she was asked to stay on with the organization this spring.

The communication studies major interned remotely with Peace Boat US, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization headquartered at the United Nations Plaza in New York City. Through educational programs and experiences intended to inspire positive action in a number of  areas, including social justice, the environment, and nuclear disarmament, Peace Boat US works to promote a culture of peace and sustainability through voyages around the globe.

“I was specifically looking for opportunities for communication studies majors,” Mathis recalled. “When I saw Peace Boat US on the list of available signature internships, it seemed like an interesting organization. I did some research on my own and decided I really wanted to work for them.”

Mathis also thought the organization had a familiar ring to it. She discovered that her academic advisor, Associate Professor of Communication Studies Vladimir Bratic, had served as a guest educator with Peace Boat as part of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. The connection between Hollins and Peace Boat US over the years has been reinforced by the fact that the organization has hosted Hollins student interns for a number of J-Terms.

“We truly appreciate all the support from Hollins students each year,” said Emilie McGlone, director of Peace Boat US. “Our intern team is a key part of our mission to educate young people, raise awareness about important global issues, and create a more peaceful future for all.”

In 2020, Peace Boat US launched a virtual internship program so that students could work online and participate in United Nations conferences and events from home. “I got used to a virtual internship faster than I expected,” Mathis said. “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to keep up, but my supervisor was very helpful and we were in constant communication. I was encouraged to speak up for myself and I learned a lot.” She played a vital role in Peace Boats US’s social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and also engaged in grant research and writing. As an important nuclear weapon prohibition treaty was going into effect, Mathis was actively involved in the effort to share news and information by writing articles for the Peace Boat US blog.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Jonea this year,” McGlone said, “and thanks to her support as an intern, we invited her to continue working with us into the spring semester.”

“I thought that sounded really good,” Mathis said of the opportunity to serve as the organization’s coordinating intern. She works closely with five new interns who joined Peace Boat US in February. “After my classes are done I look in to see what everyone else has been doing and make sure that we are all on the same page and things are getting done in the way I know our supervisor wants them to be done,” she explained. “I’m really happy I have worked with them as long as I have, and listing this internship on my résumé as extending beyond J-Term will be good.”

As a result of her Peace Boat US experience, Mathis is making international travel a priority in her future educational and career plans. While at Hollins she wants to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. In addition, she is already exploring global experiences post-graduation, including the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), which allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan and represent the U.S. as cultural ambassadors, and Peace Boat US’s Global English/Español Training Program (GET), where students are inspired to use language to make connections around the world. Mathis is minoring in Spanish and hopes to be fluent in the language by the time she graduates from Hollins.

“I just want to see the world and learn from people in a conscious way, and that’s something this internship has really helped me to see,” Mathis said.

For McGlone, Mathis’ internship demonstrates the partnership between Peace Boat US and Hollins is stronger and more productive than ever. “We look forward to having more Hollins students join us in the future as we continue to create opportunities to gain first-hand experience that can help them find meaningful work that they are passionate about.”




Art History Senior Symposium and Tribute to Professor Kathleen Nolan, April 24

Hollins will observe the 25th anniversary of the Art History Senior Symposium and pay tribute to retiring Professor of Art History Kathleen Nolan during two virtual events on Saturday, April 24.

The annual Art History Senior Symposium, the capstone experience for art history majors, will take place from 10 a.m. – noon EDT. Four members of the class of 2021 will present their original research through a series of 20-minute talks. Email knolan@hollins.edu for the Zoom link and more details.

From 1 – 3 p.m. EDT, art history alumnae will come together for a reunion to honor Nolan and her distinguished 35-year academic career at Hollins. Nolan shaped the art history department into a multi-faceted program and taught majors, minors, and non-majors the skills to perceptively and thoughtfully interpret images from the past and present alike. She has taught medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art history, and her scholarly interests include the history of women in the Middle Ages, and the works of art commissioned by women to tell their stories. She co-edited Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache. Her book, Queens in Stone and Silver: The Creation of a Visual Identity of Queenship in Capetian France (Palgrave 2009), looked at queens’ personal seals and effigy tombs. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Art Bulletin, the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Studies in Iconography, and Gesta.

Christine Holt Fix ’97, Zirwat Chowdhury ’05, Gwen Fernandez ’06, Sarita Herman ’08, and Rory Keeley ’17 will deliver brief reflections on how their experiences studying with Nolan shaped their career paths. Through short videos, many other alumnae will also offer greetings and share their recollections. The celebration will also include opportunities to catch up with classmates, provide updates, and make new connections. Preregister for the Zoom link, or contact Amy Torbert ’05 at amy.torbert@gmail.com to learn more about the reunion event or to contribute your own memories.