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

Mary Daley '19

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.’”