One of Adarra Blount ’23’s most cherished childhood memories is of the regular excursions she and her father would take to the North Carolina Museum of History, located across the street from the State Capitol in Raleigh. “I lived in the next town over, and as a kid I would always, even throughout high school, ask my dad to take me there on Saturdays. He was a history major, and he’d always say yes. It was a lot of fun.”
Blount not only followed in her father’s footsteps as a history major, but she also completed what she calls “my favorite internship at Hollins, a dream internship for me” at that same museum last summer, where she got what she considers to be “invaluable experience” working in adult education.
The senior says she was certain she wanted to study history when she arrived at Hollins (“I sat in on a class with Associate Professor of History Rachel Nuñez and I knew that I wanted to take more history classes”), but her academic journey ended up encompassing a second major that she didn’t anticipate until her first semester on campus. “I took a first-year seminar in political science, and I just kept going,” she says. Blount likes the fact that both history and political science give students ample education on “the different areas where you can go in each field. In political science, for example, we have [Assistant Professor of Political Science] Courtney Chenette, who is also an attorney and very knowledgeable about all things pertaining to law. [John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science] Edward Lynch focuses on the working of government. Seeing both sides and how both offer ample opportunities and amazing experiences has been really valuable.”
Blount devoted her senior honors thesis to the history of the metaphor of war in post-World War II American political discourse. “I love the history of 19th century America and the post-Civil War era, but I also grew up with five brothers who love comics,” she explains. “The summer before my senior year, I was watching Marvel movies with a friend, and I started seeing the history in each one. I remember watching Iron Man and thinking, ‘This reminds me so much of the War on Terror.’ I started looking into that and I just didn’t stop.”
One facet of that history which Blount found remarkable was the establishment during World War II of the Writers’ War Board. “The U.S. government pitched titles and storylines to comics publishers and advised them on how to portray German and Japanese people. Then they sent these comics to both kids and soldiers.”
Along with her work at the North Carolina Museum of History, Blount has enjoyed two other exceptional internships while at Hollins. During the 2022 January Short Term, she interned with the White House Historical Association in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the educational nonprofit’s quarterly publication. “Spending that time in Lafayette Square and learning about the history that was right there, it was a place I never thought I would be. That’s probably the most I’ve learned in such a small period of time.”
This J-Term, Blount interned with the Fuquay-Varina Museums, located not far from her home, and was able to extend the internship into the Spring Term. Her responsibilities have included building a social media presence for the organization’s six museum sites.
One of Blount’s goals is to attend graduate school, and to that end she spent a week last year enrolled in the Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute at Georgetown University. “I was part of cohort of five people immersed in developing a political science research proposal. Professors and graduate students would sit in. We would not only discuss our ideas but also talk about what getting a Ph.D. in political science would look like, discuss the coursework involved, and explore all of our options.”
Blount says the mission of the institute is “to diversify the doctorate in political science. A lot of us came in with similar backgrounds and we didn’t really know how getting a doctorate works. It was an amazing community, and the professors and grad students were very honest with us about their experiences. It was really helpful.”
Before grad school, Blount plans on spending a couple of years after graduating from Hollins working in the history and political science fields. “My idea is to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in history, but I want to be 110% sure. If I find a job that I really love and don’t need a Ph.D., that’s okay. If I find I’ve fallen in love with something else such as public policy, then I want to be very sure about what I do in grad school. That’s a really heavy decision to make without going out into the world first.”
And when the time comes, Blount believes Hollins has given her the confidence to make that decision. “I came to Hollins at 17 and I was very scared. But throughout my time here, I’ve developed wonderful, lifelong relationships with people who have guided me. I’ve gained mentors like I never knew I would, especially with [Assistant to the Dean of Students] Trina Johnson and [Vice President for Student Success, Well-being, and Belonging] Nakeshia Williams. I’m just so grateful for the support. Community is what everyone talks about at Hollins, and they do that for a reason.
“I can honestly say I’m a different person than I was when I first came here, and absolutely for the better.”