Signature Internships, Leadership Development Prep Sami Makseyn ’19 for Law School

At age 14, Sami Makseyn ’19 faced the biggest challenge of her young life. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she spent 11 days in a coma and missed nine weeks of school. The experience transformed her into a force for change: Passionate about healthcare advocacy, she helped found a nonprofit organization for youth advocacy in politics and legislation when she was just 18. Before she turned 21, she had already worked in both American government and international government.

In part, Makseyn says she has been able to accomplish so much because of Hollins’ Signature Internship Program, one of the factors that convinced her to enroll at the university. “My choice in college was influenced by the fact that I later wanted to go on to law school, but internships intimidated me. How was I going to take time during a semester to do an internship? They’re not paid, so how would I live somewhere?

“With Hollins and the January Short Term, I was able to do an internship, receive a stipend, have housing provided, and not miss any school.”

Makseyn completed three Signature Internships, all in Washington, D.C. In her sophomore year, she interned with the office of U.S. Senator Al Franken (“I served on their healthcare, transportation, and Native American affairs teams.”); junior year brought her to the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“I worked on their economic justice project, which deals with discrimination in employment.”); and this year she interned with the American Healthcare Association (“I got to understand the kind of work that goes into healthcare legislation.”).

Studying abroad in London her junior year, Makseyn interned with a member of Parliament: Virendra Sharma, whose constituency is largely Indian and Southeast Asian. “Type 2 diabetes occurs among those populations at a much higher rate. Many people go undiagnosed for a long time and then they’re not sure how to deal with it. So, I created a type 2 diabetes guide that offers local resources and general information about the disease and treatment.”

Makseyn augmented her real-world experience, and honed her public speaking, multitasking, research, and debating skills, by participating in Model United Nations (MUN) and Model Arab League (MAL) at Hollins. MUN and MAL conferences feature “crisis simulations and you have to figure out how to deal with them,” she explains. “I learned how to find my voice. It’s something I think is particular to Hollins as a women’s college and an environment where your peers are so supportive. We go to conferences with coed schools and I’m assertive and well-spoken. I don’t think I would have gotten that confidence anywhere else.”

With a likely focus on healthcare law (her senior thesis, “Medicare for All?: An Analysis of American Healthcare and the Potential for Universal Coverage,” has received honors status), Makseyn will attend The George Washington University Law School this fall. Concurrently, she plans to complete a Master’s in public health. “Eventually I want to work in politics, so I want to be well-versed in healthcare policies. It’s so important to me and to a lot of people.”

Even though she knows she wants to perform legal work, Makseyn says she is grateful that Hollins and the Signature Internship Program in particular have given her the opportunity “to dip my toes in so many different fields. I’ve seen everywhere my political science degree can take me. If I wasn’t going to go to law school immediately, or decided I wasn’t going to attend law school after all, I would be completely confident I could find a job that I would enjoy based on everything I’ve done here. Nothing is off limits.”

 

 

 


“A Woman Of Action,” Lilly Potter ’19 Plans To “Do Something Positive In The World”

To illustrate his daughter’s fearlessness, Lilly Potter ’19 says her dad loves to tell the story of her childhood trip to India for a family wedding. “We encountered a cobra charmer and I just went and tried to pet the cobra. Fortunately, my dad got me away in time.”

The double-major in English and international studies has certainly learned to set boundaries in the ensuing years, but while at Hollins, her curiosity and sense of adventure have continued to flourish. She has devoted January Short Terms to traveling in Japan and Greece and spent full semesters studying abroad in London and Paris. She completed internships with Peace Boat US in New York City; the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired in Washington, D.C.; and the Nursing Times in London.  Her community service includes volunteer work last summer with the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center, where she gained firsthand experience with the inner workings of an international nonprofit organization. The trip was funded in part by Hollins’ Hobbie Trust Fund, which provides financial assistance for students to engage in a research or service project that is clearly connected to ethics or values.

“It’s a testament to Hollins and its flexibility that I was able to fit in so much,” Potter says. “The school made each of these experiences possible. I don’t hear from my friends at other schools that they receive the same support to participate in these kinds of extracurricular opportunities.”

Potter was drawn to Hollins because she says she knew that “Hollins makes good writers and good writers seek out Hollins. I think the ability to express myself orally and through the written word is something with which Hollins has gifted me, along with being able to synthesize different topics that may not have an immediate correlation. Everything connects if you really look for it.”

Believing Hollins has given her “a Renaissance education,” Potter has taken classes in philosophy, gender and women’s studies, statistical analysis, “and a lot of French” in addition to the coursework in her majors. She is also earning a certificate in leadership studies from the Batten Leadership Institute. “That was one of the strongest pulls of Hollins for me. I didn’t see women-centered leadership development courses at other universities.”

This fall, Potter will be attending William & Mary Law School. “It’s a really good fusion of my love of English and rhetoric and my desire to get out there and do something positive in the world. I’m interested in human rights law, and I’d like to live internationally and work in either the nonprofit or foreign service sectors.”

Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty has known Potter since her sophomore year, when she became Potter’s academic advisor in English. “Lilly is a woman of action, dedicated to her work and animated by a social conscience. She is intelligent and dedicated, works hard but remains modest about her accomplishments, and has the needed character traits to set goals, persevere, and achieve them. In addition to being capable and truthful, she is also tactful and kind. These many qualities convince me that she will make an excellent lawyer.”

When asked what she will miss the most about Hollins, Potter cites “a community that’s small and majority women, one that’s focused on women’s rights. I’m very grateful for the incredible, ferocious, and intelligent women and other people that I’ve met here. They really inspire me.”

 

 

 

 

 


With Gratitude To Her Parents and Professors, Yitazba Largo-Anderson ’19 Finds “The Power Of My Voice”

When deciding on a college, Yitazba Largo-Anderson ’19 needed to look no further than her own family for sound advice. “My dad is a professor and my mom is a librarian, and they value education,” she explains. “They urged me to go to a liberal arts school because they knew it would help me round out who I am as person.”

The campus beauty and “a really strong creative writing program” are what Yitazba says drew her particularly to Hollins after living most of her life in Phoenix, Arizona. “I came here not knowing what I wanted to study, I’m interested in so many things,” she adds. After taking classes from several disciplines, she chose to major in English with a concentration in multicultural literature and a minor in social justice.

Yitazba describes her Hollins experience as “finding the power of my voice,” and she cites the crucial roles many faculty members have played in that quest. “[Professor of English] TJ Anderson, [Professor of English] Pauline Kaldas, and [former Visiting Assistant Professor of English] Nick Miller challenged me to think differently and critically about literature, how it was going to impact me, and what I was going to take from it.”

Those lessons deeply influenced the ways she has transformed her love of writing poetry.

“Poetry to me is not only something you read or that’s visual. It’s also very sensory. I love doing music with my poetry.”

Yitazba’s talent for expression evolved when she met Mary Eggleston, a voice instructor in Hollins’ music department. “I had never taken voice lessons before, and Mary helped me come out of my shell with singing. I’ve never had someone teach me how to challenge my voice to go higher than it did the week before, or become a sound that carries in a room.” This spring for the first time, she sang opera for a campus recital.

Last year, Yitazba felt another important breakthrough while participating in theatre. “Hollins professors make suggestions to one another about students who could benefit from some activity. [Professor of Anthropology and Gender and Women’s Studies] LeeRay Costa talked to Rachel Nelson in the theatre department about asking me to play a part in a production she was directing. I’m shy and I never considered being on stage, but I loved it. I want to speak my poetry more now in public, and instead of just submitting my work for publication, I’d like to get into slam poetry.”

Yitazba’s roots are Scotch-Irish and Diné (the Navajo Nation’s preferred name, it translates to “of the people”), and while she has always been attached to Native American culture through her grandmother, she never had the opportunity to engage in a serious exploration of Native American studies until she came to Hollins. “It was the first time I had ever experienced a whole class dedicated to Native American women and taught by a Native American woman, [Visiting Instructor of Sociology] Shari Valentine.”

Yitazba will spend the next year engaged in a fellowship at the College of William and Mary’s Swem Library. She’ll be working with their Project Outreach initiative on making inclusivity and diversity more prevalent in academic research. She then hopes to attend law school and focus on some aspect of Native American law, but doesn’t intend to make a legal career her lifelong vocation.

“I’d like to get an M.F.A. in creative writing after law school and eventually teach Native American voice through poetry in conjunction with Native American studies. My parents and my professors have all inspired me – Shari Valentine has especially been a constant source of encouragement, and I want to make an impact on a student like she’s done for me. I want to pass that gift down to someone.”

 


Discovering Her Passion at Hollins, Mary Daley ’19 Heads To Grad School At Vanderbilt

She describes it as “kind of a running joke” between herself and the Office of Admission, but no one can say Mary Daley ’19 wasn’t diligent in researching Hollins before enrolling at the university.

“I first found Hollins during my sophomore year of high school when I was just starting to look at colleges and I visited about once a month for the rest of the time that I was in high school,” she recalls. “I also did the Hollinsummer creative writing program. Everyone I met – students and faculty – I loved.”

But while Daley was certain about Hollins, she wasn’t as sure initially about what she wanted to study. Having become a classical painter as a middle schooler and then engaging with portrait photography in high school, the visual arts were a passion for her. So was building relationships with others: As a student at North Raleigh Christian Academy in North Carolina, she was drawn to counseling as a result of helping others in their spiritual journeys.

“Coming into Hollins, I was looking at combining art and psychology and becoming an art therapist,” she explains, “but ultimately I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I took a class in every department on campus in which I was interested. I landed in [Professor of Practice – Business] Karen Messer-Bourgoin’s marketing class and just fell in love with the subject. I even did my own marketing research projects for fun.”

Daley says she knew she would have that kind of flexibility at Hollins, which “wouldn’t have been afforded me at other schools.” She developed an interest in business-to-consumer marketing after performing a Signature Internship with Atlanta-based Scout, an advertising agency that focuses on healthcare and consumer goods.

“It was a different project every day and multiple projects every day, which is the kind of thing I enjoy,” she says.

Next fall, Daley will begin an advanced degree in marketing at Vanderbilt University. “I had the same feeling walking onto their campus and into the Owen Graduate School of Management as I did when I first visited Hollins.”

Even though Daley chose not to pursue art therapy at Hollins, the activities that were key in considering that career have remained important. As a sophomore, she interned with Roanoke’s Boyd-Pearman Photography. “That was when my photography skills went from ‘mediocre’ to ‘there’s something there.’” Daley has photographed weddings and senior portraits as a freelancer, and has worked extensively on behalf of Hollins’ marketing department.

Since her sophomore year, Daley has served as student chaplain, helping to plan events for duPont Chapel and provide a support system for the campus community. “It’s not my style to just go up to students and ask, ‘Are you okay? Do you want to talk?’ But, students will come to me, whether it’s spiritually related or they just need some guidance or someone to listen. Sometimes we may seem a little more approachable since we’re peers. It’s just been great to build those relationships and facilitate feelings of belonging.”

Daley also discovered a creative way to boost students’ spirits, one that landed her a spot on the website Women You Should Know. “I make bottle cap pins with inspirational messages and hand them out to students. [University Chaplain] Jenny Call has a huge vase of them in her office. It’s just a simple way of saying, ‘Here’s a little something to brighten your day and remind you that you’re loved and you’re important.’”


With Tick Study, Ciera Morris ’19 Launches Career in Tackling Infectious Disease

When biology major Ciera Morris ’19 wanted to challenge herself by completing a voluntary senior thesis, she sought a project that would reflect her interest in infectious disease research as it relates to public health. Collaborating with Assistant Professor of Biology Elizabeth Gleim and Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson, she found the perfect vehicle: Exploring tick ecology in southwest Virginia and its possible connection to the risk of Lyme disease.

“Given there are a lot of public health implications in regard to tick research, working with Dr. Gleim and Dr. Wilson was the best option for me,” Morris says. “We decided my project should focus on species composition and the abundance and phenology of ticks in southwest Virginia to better comprehend disease ecology in the Roanoke Valley. This included understanding what tick species are present and what times of the year they are active.”

“Her project has been incredibly intensive involving a year of monthly filed collections of ticks at sites all over the Roanoke Valley,” Gleim explains. “She collected almost 20,000 ticks and did a lot of lab work, too.”

With the sheer volume of ticks involved, Morris notes that the process of analyzing the ticks she gathered will have to be continued by other students after she graduates. But, she adds, “I could see this study being published in a couple of years or so.”

Another highlight of Morris’ undergraduate career was a signature internship two years ago with Climate Central, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that performs ecological research and produces nonpartisan information regarding climate change. During that January Short Term opportunity, “I was investigating the impact of wildfires on air quality and human health in California and Washington State,” she says.

Morris’ impressive record of research has earned her a two-year, post-baccalaureate fellowship at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana. The facility is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s a really impressive fellowship,” Gleim states. “Some of the premier research on tick-borne diseases has historically come out of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories,” including the discovery of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

“I’m primarily going to be looking at how pathogens are transmitted to hosts, and how disease development occurs out of that,” Morris says. “I’ll be working with and learning from a laboratory team that brings different backgrounds of knowledge and skills. I’m excited because I think it’s going to be a good transition from dealing with tick ecology to viral research in general. It’s a good stepping stone to where I want to be.”

After completing her fellowship, Morris expects to go on to graduate school and pursue either a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. focusing on infectious disease. Whatever path her career ultimately takes, she is confident her experience as a student-athlete has given her the tools to maintain a healthy work-life balance. A member of the Hollins soccer team for four years, three of which she served as team captain, Morris says her professors supported her active participation in interests outside the classroom while her coaches encouraged her to pursue undergraduate research.

“Continuing that type of balanced relationship with both academic and extracurricular interests is important. It teaches you a lot as you move into a career setting.”

 

 


Meaghan Harrington ’19 Says Her Liberal Arts Education “Opened My Eyes To New Conclusions”

Meaghan Harrington ’19 once believed her inability to focus on one interest or a single area of study reflected poorly upon her. “I labeled that as uncertainty, and in a lot of places there’s really no space to be indecisive,” she recalls. “It’s viewed as a negative thing.”

But at Hollins, Harrington says she has been able to immerse herself in a liberal arts environment that encourages exploration and self-discovery. “It always frustrates me when people talk down the liberal arts, because the opportunity to do whatever I want and dabble in all these different fields has opened my eyes to new conclusions. Eventually, I found a mishmash of things that work for me.”

“Meaghan is what I’d describe as a ‘big thinker,’” says Associate Professor of History Rachel Nunez. “She really exemplifies the power of a liberal arts education to help students find new ways of thinking and being.”

Harrington’s quest to find the right academic combination included considering majors in international studies and gender and women’s studies. Ultimately, she landed upon double-majoring in history and classical studies, but she’s never hesitated to continue embracing any topic that she finds compelling. “I’ve taken classes in fields from environmental studies to music, and most recently I’ve been really interested in dance,” she notes. The latter helped inform her choice to examine in her senior history thesis the rhetoric of Mormon women on the female body in the late 19th century.

During the summer of 2017, between her sophomore and junior years, Harrington brought her interest in archaeology, a field that has fascinated her since fifth grade, to fruition. She performed six weeks of hands-on fieldwork at the annual Archaeological Field School in Jamestown, Virginia, site of the first permanent English settlement in North America (her research is detailed in this article). The following February and March, her desire to work in a diverse cultural setting was realized during an internship with the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan. Then, she continued growing her experience in archaeology as a volunteer with the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

Field excavation is drawing Harrington back to Jamestown this summer for an internship that she says is designed to help “demystify archaeology.” She will help conduct research on The Angela Project, an effort to explore the life and landscape of one of the first recorded Africans brought to English North America in slavery. “I’m excited to contribute to the creation of more diverse stories about the past,” Harrington says.

She adds that she is especially looking forward to using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to collect data at the site. A GIS captures and analyzes spatial information and offers a wide range of applications,  from the study of history to urban planning and architecture. “With this software-based technology, you can create maps and three-dimensional images,” she explains. “It’s the perfect way to visualize everything in which I’m interested.”

Harrington is so excited about GIS and its possibilities that she will be completing a post-baccalaureate certificate in the field, and employing the knowledge she gains to determine her future educational and career plans.

“I’m probably going to graduate school at some point, but in the meantime I think I will spend a couple of years in the field using GIS. The creativity in that work will certainly help me to define my future interests.”

In other words, no matter where life takes her after Hollins, Harrington will go on thinking big.

 


“Anything Is Possible”: April Arnold ’19 Successfully Juggles Family, Academic Responsibilities To Earn Her Degree

As a student at Roanoke’s Virginia Western Community College, April Arnold ’19 wasn’t certain a four-year degree was in her future. Her mom was raising Arnold’s four younger siblings (three of whom were actually cousins who were adopted after their own mother passed away) when she suffered an accident that left her on disability. Arnold had to take on significant responsibility in helping care for her family.

“I was thinking I wouldn’t transfer to a four-year college like I had planned,” she recalls. “I was in Virginia Western’s early childhood program and figured that with a two-year Associate of Social Sciences degree, I could get a job working in childcare right out of school.”

While attending a college fair with her sister, Arnold first heard about Hollins’ Horizon program for adult women. “A few weeks later I came to a meeting to learn more, and something clicked. I met these amazing Horizon students and said, ‘I have to be here.’”

Thus began Arnold’s two years at Hollins and a remarkable balance of meeting family obligations while attending the university as a full-time student. “I love psychology and decided to major in it,” she says. “But, I’m not letting my early childhood education degree go to waste. I want to work with kids, so I’m going to become an adolescent counselor. Because of Hollins I’m already in contact with employers.”

Typically, Arnold’s day begins with getting her siblings off to school and arriving at campus by 9 a.m. for her first class. She’s done by three or four in the afternoon and meets her siblings when they arrive home on the bus. Then there’s household chores, dinner, and homework. “It’s a group effort. My homework, their homework, we do it all together.”  Getting everyone to bed at a decent hour is of course also a priority, but Arnold says her own bedtime doesn’t usually arrive until at least midnight.

Arnold credits faculty and her fellow students for helping her make it all happen. “Luckily, my teachers know and work with me. [Professor of Psychology] Bonnie Bowers, my advisor, is the most amazing person ever.

“At the same time, my Horizon sisters understand the stresses of taking care of my siblings and juggling schoolwork. They’re ready when you need a shoulder to cry on or someone just to listen.”

Arnold is also grateful to the traditional undergraduate community for their cooperation. “Working on group projects, for example, residential students can meet at 11 or 12 at night, but I live 20 minutes from campus. Still, once you actually talk to the students and explain that you’re a commuter, they’re very accommodating.”

Arnold has excelled academically, earning induction into Pinnacle, a national honor society for nontraditional students that seeks to support leadership and scholarship. In addition to completing her psychology major, she took piano, choir, and voice, and performed solos at three music department recitals. “Mary Eggleston [adjunct voice instructor] helped me channel my energy and stress into singing and come out of my shell. It built my confidence level so much.”

Graduating, Arnold says, is “bittersweet. My first year was spent adjusting to campus, but now, I’ve made so many relationships and friends, I don’t want to leave yet.

“On the other hand, I’m very excited to have my diploma. I can’t wait for my mom and my siblings, who have been my biggest support system, to share that. It’s 40 percent for me, 60 percent for them. I know I’ve made all of them proud, and I’ve shown my younger siblings that even with all the stresses and hardships, anything is possible.”