Spend just a few moments with Arin Waters ’23 and you realize that the empathy and compassion she feels for others is almost palpable. Throughout her time at Hollins, the senior biology major and social justice minor has devoted herself to practicing behavior, conceiving initiatives, engaging in research, and planning a career to improve the quality of life for her fellow students and society at large.
One way in which Waters has impacted the campus during her undergraduate years is through her work as a resident advisor (RA), which she began during the second semester of her sophomore year. “I wanted to become an RA mainly because of the students,” she explains. “I love my residents. Sometimes you’re their support system, the only one they have. So, while a lot of our job is pointing students in the right direction, we also take on a lot of emotional labor. College can be hard, and we are on call 24/7 to support someone in any way we can.”
Not surprisingly, Waters says the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges encountered at colleges and universities nationwide. She believes that for herself personally, the encouragement she received as an RA was just as vital as what she was able to provide for others. “Even now it’s apparent that we are still not okay from all that. My wanting to become an RA in the first place came in part because I needed that external support from more than just my friends. Many times, during the pandemic, my residents kept me going.”
Another key factor Waters cites in her success at Hollins has been the Batten Leadership Institute, where she has been completing her certificate in leadership studies. “I have taken the skills I have learned in conflict management, teamwork, and negotiation, and applied them to the many hats I wear on campus.” In addition to working as an RA, she has also served for three years as an SGA class senator and has been active in ADA, which is dedicated to building school spirit on campus. “I learned so much about how to work with people. I think it is an absolutely amazing program and I love [Batten Executive Director] Abrina Schnurman. She taught me about the different ways a leader can lead, and she taught me about myself along with understanding the mindset of others.”
Beyond the classroom, Waters interned with the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, where she focused on sexology, gender, and reproduction. At Hollins, she conducted extensive research into the Black maternal health crisis in America. “I explored the intersection of natural and social sciences and why Black women have such disparities in their birth rates,” she says.
That study was the impetus for Waters’ social justice capstone project, in which she and other students completing the minor were asked to develop a program that would have a positive impact on the Hollins community.
“I really love studying reproduction and sexual health and awareness of sexual well-being, so I’m working with [Vice President for Student Success, Well-being, and Belonging] Nakeshia Williams and SGA to put together an initiative I call Healing at Hollins,” she says. “The main focus is getting a medicine vending machine that would provide over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and allergy meds along with products such as condoms and dental dams, basic items that should be quickly accessible to all students. Hopefully, we can make this service free, or at least payable through students’ financial accounts with flex dollars.”
Waters’ goal after graduating from Hollins is to become a physician’s assistant (PA), either in emergency medicine or gynecology, with a focus on nonprofit work. To build the patient contact hours required for acceptance into PA school, she has earned qualification as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and is currently pursuing jobs in either labor and delivery or gynecology in her hometown of Baltimore. She also plans to volunteer as a health educator with some of the area high schools. Long-term, after completing PA school, she would like to open a sliding scale practice in Baltimore that serves youth and young adults and provides access to primary healthcare and sexual well-being products.
When asked how she feels she’s changed since coming to Hollins, Waters sums it up in one word: “Boundaries. I have learned the importance of protecting your peace and taking care of yourself. I’m a person who is willing to give my all to everyone at any time, but being able to decompress and take care of yourself is important.”
She adds, “Growing and learning who I am as a young adult, and knowing which battles to fight and what I can control and what I can’t, those little personal skills have really transformed me.”
From her friends and the Hollins community at large to the Batten Leadership Institute, Waters is generous in recognizing those have “supported me and supported my dreams, that’s why I came to Hollins,” but she reserves special praise for one particular person.
“I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much without my mom. Her sacrifices have made it possible for me to shine as much as I can. She’s my rock!”