Student Lands Fellowship at World-Renowned Marine Research Organization

A Hollins junior will be spending her summer with a global leader in ocean research, exploration, and education.

Lan Nguyen ’18 is one of approximately 20 to 30 college and university students from around the world who have been awarded a 12-week summer research fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts.

“I applied to about 10 different summer fellowships and internships and this is the one that best matches my interests,” said Nguyen, who hails from Vietnam and is double majoring in environmental science and economics.

Nguyen will be assigned to WHOI’s Marine Policy Center, which performs social scientific research that combines economics, policy analysis, and law with the institution’s basic exploration of ocean sciences.

“I’ll be working with a researcher to identify the benefits of marine resources and address marine issues in Massachusetts and other coastal areas,” she explained. “I’ll learn about methodology in environmental economics research, which is what I want to do in the future. It will be really helpful to me to get that experience and connect to researchers in the field.” After graduating from Hollins, Nguyen plans to pursue a doctorate in environmental economics and added that the fellowship provides “an amazing opportunity” to build up her Ph.D. program applications.

When she enrolled at Hollins, Nguyen was already thinking about combining environmental science and economics. She was referred to Associate Professor of Economics Pablo Hernandez, who specializes in environmental economics and has served as her academic advisor since her first year. “He helped me to find projects that would allow me to identify my research interests. He also offered suggestions on Short Term and summer opportunities and how to best prepare my applications to internships and fellowships. I wouldn’t have had access to that level of advice at a big university where professors have a lot of advisees and don’t have the extra time to spend with students the way Professor Hernandez and others at Hollins do.”

Nguyen also credits Professor of Biology Renee Godard and Associate Professor of Mathematics Julie Clark for bolstering her research skills in environmental science and statistics, respectively. “Incredible” is the word she uses to describe the three faculty members who have actively supported her.

This will be the second consecutive year in which Nguyen has participated in a prestigious summer program. In 2016, she completed an eight-week residence internship at the American Institute for Economic Research. In addition, during the fall of 2015, she worked with the School for Field Studies’ Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia and subsequently received the organization’s Distinguished Student Researcher Award.

“Hollins students are able to get research experience even during their first and sophomore years,” Nguyen said. “That really helps us to secure other opportunities such as Woods Hole.”

 

Stay up-to-date on Hollins news and events…sign up here for the Hollins News email newsletter.

 

 


Hollins Sophomore Earns Second Study Trip to Persian Gulf Region

The National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR) has awarded Hanna Strauss ’19 a fellowship to participate in a week-long study trip to Qatar, one of the seven Arab states that border the Persian Gulf.

Strauss’ visit to Qatar is scheduled for April 21 – 28. She will immerse herself in the country’s culture, society, and economics, and learn more about government priorities, concerns, and needs as they pertain to U.S. – Qatari relations and Qatar’s role in regional and world affairs.

This is Strauss’ second study abroad experience in the Persian Gulf region in as many years. Last summer, she spent an intensive eight-week period in Oman studying Arabic at the Center for International Learning in Muscat, the country’s capital.

“I’m excited to discover the distinctions in Arabic dialect between Oman and Qatar,” Strauss said. “I’m also ready to learn about Doha, the capital of Qatar, and the differences it has with Muscat.”

In Qatar, Strauss will be part of a delegation accompanied by two NCUSAR escorts and various Qatari officials. She will be introduced to a broad range of government and business representatives, academics, policymakers, specialists, and student peers, as well as traditional and modern Qatari culture and life.

Strauss is actively involved in NCUSAR’s Model Arab League conferences, especially the Appalachian Model Arab League conference held annually at Hollins. Most recently, she and Hayley Harrington ’19 won the Outstanding Delegation Award representing Palestine at the Southeast Regional Model Arab League conference, held March 10 – 12 at Converse College in South Carolina.

“Next year, as part of this fellowship, I’ll be working to bring events and outreach opportunities to Hollins,” Strauss said. “I will be implementing most of my efforts through Model UN and the Model Arab League Club, which will be started this semester.”

 

Stay up-to-date on Hollins news and events…sign up here for the Hollins News email newsletter.


Students Win Major Awards at Model Arab League Conference

Hollins University students earned a number of honors at the Southeast Regional Model Arab League (SERMAL), held March 10-12 at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The Hollins student team represented Palestine at the conference, which is the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ flagship student leadership development program. The Model Arab League website states, “There is no comparable opportunity that allows emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. Model Arab League helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs activists. The skill sets acquired and practiced in the course of the Models are designed to serve the participants well regardless of the career or profession they elect to pursue.”

Hanna Strauss ’19 and Hayley Harrington ’19 won the Outstanding Delegation Award for their work on the Palestinian Affairs Council. Reilly Swennes ’20 and Clara Souvignier ’20 were awarded Outstanding Delegation for their work on the Council of Arab Heads of State, while Emmalee Funk ’20 won the Distinguished Delegation Award for representing Palestine on the Political Affairs Council.

Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, who serves as faculty advisor to the Model Arab League students, said Hollins is rightly proud of the students’ accomplishments. “These awards are based on the opinion of judges who observe the proceedings, along with the votes of students in the Councils. To win, delegates have to impress experienced Model Arab League experts as well as their own peers.”

Lynch added, “Hollins students at this year’s SERMAL have continued a long tradition of awards for our university in both Model Arab League and Model United Nations.” He noted that this year’s awards will be placed in Room 304 in Pleasants Hall alongside earlier honors won by Hollins.

Hollins Model Arab League students will next participate in the National Model Arab League in Washington, D.C., at the end of March. This is the first time that Hollins has earned a spot in the national conference, which is limited to 25 colleges nationwide.

SERMAL included 20 delegations from high schools and colleges in the region. Hollins will host the Appalachian Regional Model Arab League, November 10-12, 2017.

 

Stay up-to-date on Hollins news and events…sign up here for the Hollins News email newsletter.


Hollins Junior Selected for Prestigious Fellowship in Brain Research

This summer, Gabrielle Lewis ’18 will move one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming a physician.

The Roanoke resident has been selected to receive a neuroSURF Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) in Roanoke. The ten-week program runs from May 22 – July 28 and provides hands-on research experiences in one of VTCRI’s state-of-the-art neurobiology labs. At the end of the program, she and other fellows will deliver presentations based on their investigative work at the annual Virginia Tech Summer Research Symposium.

“The applicant pool for these fellow positions was extremely qualified and deep,” said Michael Fox, director of the VTCRI neuroSURF program.

Lewis is on the pre-med track at Hollins, double-majoring in biology and biochemistry. After graduating from Virginia Western Community College with an associate’s degree, she chose Hollins over an esteemed but much larger state university to complete her undergraduate education. “I went to a small high school and didn’t know if I wanted a small college,” she explained. “But after experiencing large classes in community college I realized that I liked the small classroom and the connection I would get with professors.”

Another deciding factor for Lewis in selecting Hollins was the university’s Batten Leadership Institute. “I learned about it during my tours here and I loved it. It was really important to me that I pursue Batten because I want to be a physician and that requires having strong leadership skills.”

As someone “more introverted than extroverted,” Lewis said she went into the program knowing that she wanted to change things about herself. She understood that she needed to build her self-confidence “and my relationship with my own authority so that I could speak up and feel validated in what I was saying. Batten has changed my entire perspective of my leadership role. I always thought that being a leader meant being in front of the group and loud. Abrina [Schnurman-Crook, executive director of the Batten Leadership Institute] has helped show me that sometimes it’s the person in the back pushing people forward that’s the strongest leader.”

Along with exploring team dynamics and organizational culture, Lewis said, “I’ve learned that leadership is really about the connection you make with people and how you can unite them in working towards a common goal. And Batten has provided me with a lot of opportunities and insights that a lot of people have to spend years and years in a profession to get.”

During her neuroSURF fellowship, Lewis will be doing translational neurobiology research (“why and how the brain works the way it does”) with a possible focus on glioblastoma (a malignant, aggressive tumor that affects the brain or spine) or brain cancer. She said she is going to go into medicine with an open mind, “but my heart lies with pediatric oncology.” After graduation next year she hopes to attend an M.D./Ph.D. program at either Georgetown, Ohio State, the University of Virginia, or Wake Forest.

In the meantime, Lewis is busy keeping up with a rigorous schedule, both academically and away from campus. She maintains a 3.95 GPA and still finds time to work as the youth sports coordinator at the Roanoke YMCA and serve as an EMT with a local rescue squad. She’s also preparing to take her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this summer.

“I’ve always been very organized and had good time management skills,” she explained, “and Batten has definitely helped me to prioritize things in my life.”

 

Stay up-to-date on Hollins news and events…sign up here for the Hollins News email newsletter.

 


Hollins Students Earn Accolades at Model Arab League

A team of Hollins University students was named Distinguished Delegation at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL), held November 4 – 6 on the Hollins campus.

Hollins represented Saudi Arabia at the conference.

Model Arab League (MAL) is the flagship student leadership development program of the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR). Similar in organization and format to Model United Nations, MAL focuses on the 22 member states that make up the League of Arab States.

According to NCUSAR, “MAL provides primarily American but also Arab and other international students opportunities to develop invaluable leadership skills. There is no comparable opportunity that allows emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners.”

Seventeen delegations from 11 schools, including seven colleges and universities, three high schools, and one middle school, participated in ARMAL. The turnout represented an increase of five delegations from last year’s conference.

“This is the second year Hollins has hosted this conference, and it was so successful that we have been invited to the National University Model Arab League conference, which takes place in Washington, D.C., this March,” said Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, ARMAL coordinator. “Only 26 colleges and universities nationwide are included.”

Aubrey Hobby ’18 was named Distinguished Chair for her leadership of that council. Recognized as Distinguished Delegates were Samantha Makseyn ’19 and Reilly Swennes ’20, who participated in the Council on Palestinian Affairs, and Shannon Gallagher ’20, who served on the Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers.

Hanna Strauss ’19 was the ARMAL secretary-general and Hayley Harrington ’19 served as assistant secretary-general.

Samuel Tadros, senior fellow at Washington’s Hudson Institute, was the keynote speaker. His address focused on the status of Christians in the Arabic-speaking world.

Among the colleges and universities joining Hollins this year were Converse College, Georgia Southern University, Radford University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Tech. The participating high schools were Chatham Hall, Franklin County High School, and Roanoke Catholic High School. Roanoke’s Community School Middle School sent an observer delegation, the first time a middle school has taken part in a Model Arab League conference.


Hollins Students Join Former Ambassador at Foreign Policy Dialogue

Students from Hollins University, George Mason University, and the University of Virginia took part in a candid conversation with the former U.S. ambassador to Oman at a panel discussion on U.S. policy in the Arabian Gulf Region. The event was held at UVa on September 14.

The panel’s featured speaker was Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer, who served as U.S. envoy to Oman from 2009 to 2012.

Three undergraduate students, one each from Hollins, George Mason, and UVa, joined Schmierer on the panel. Hollins was represented by Ashraqat Sayed Ahmed ’17, who is double-majoring in economics and international studies. Her paper focused on Oman’s economic prospects.

“I was certainly very impressed by the student presenters at the event,” Schmierer said. “It is nice to see that we have some great young talent entering the international relations field.”

Sayed Ahmed noted, “I was excited to participate in a panel with Ambassador Schmierer because it gave me the opportunity to debate and converse about a country and a topic that have always intrigued me. My time at the panel exceeded my expectations. It was an honor to be surrounded by people who are so knowledgeable and passionate.”

Most of the Hollins students who attended the event are first-year students enrolled in Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch‘s seminar, “How to be a President.” Lynch coordinated the event with Sonja Taylor, a professor in George Mason’s global affairs program, and members of UVa’s international relations club.

Lynch said he hopes the event’s success will lead to more joint efforts involving Hollins and other colleges and universities in Virginia.


Hollins Student Conference Winners Announced

Congratulations to this year’s winners at the annual Hollins Student Conference, held April 30 in Moody Student Center.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the conference spotlights students’ scholarly and creative endeavors through a variety of podium presentations, poster displays, and performances from across the disciplines.

“The conference reflects our goal of preparing our students for a life of educational and professional development,” said Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jill Weber, who each year coordinates the event with Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole.

Awards for first, second, and third place were presented by the judges to the following students:

Green and Gold (First Place)

Madi Hurley ’17: “Horses in Motion: Paintings and Drawings of the Mechanics of Equine Locomotion”

Rory Keeley ’17: “Statistical Dimension Analysis of Structural Permutations in British Medieval Monastic Properties”

Emili McPhail ’18: “Contemporary Women’s Travel Blogs and Millennial Identity”

 

Green (Second Place)

Dani Raymond ’18: “Hauntings at Hollins: The Social Impact of Ghost Lore and Legends at Hollins University”

Abigail Sease ’16: “Anxiety of the Unknown in Art: Xu Bing’s A Book from the Sky

Elizabeth Trout ’17: “American Stories: The Use of Personal and Familial Narratives in State of the Union Addresses”

 

Gold (Third Place)

Cici Earl ’18: “South Korean Perceptions of Black People”

Whitney McWilliams ’19: “When Speaking of the South and Her Children”

Mandy Moore ’16: “Howell and Lake”

 

 


Hollins Student Sets Goal to Master Arabic this Summer

A Hollins University first-year student is heading overseas this summer to engage in one of the biggest challenges of her academic career: becoming adept in the Arabic language.

Strauss
Strauss

Hanna Strauss ’19 of Keswick, Virginia, is tackling a grueling schedule of Arabic classes and practice sessions over a seven-week period at the Center for International Learning (CIL) in Muscat, Oman. The CIL is Muscat’s oldest language learning center and uses a “total immersion” method to give students as much proficiency in Arabic as possible in a short period of time. Formal learning sessions are supplemented by excursions to other parts of Oman so that CIL students are given ample opportunity to put their new language skills to the test.

Strauss first heard of the program through her participation in the Model Arab League last fall at Hollins. The conference was sponsored in part by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR), which has an ongoing relationship with both the AALIM and the CIL.

Strauss said the supportive and encouraging atmosphere at Hollins inspired her to apply to a program that involves living and learning in Oman, a country very different from the United States. “My time at Hollins makes me feel that all things are possible. Being here just naturally creates opportunities to do things I had never thought of before. I never felt I was doing this alone.”

Even though the CIL program will very demanding, Strauss is eager to begin. “Arabic is a growing language. It’s the language of an important part of the world.”

Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, who brought the Model Arab League to Hollins, said Oman is one of the most important countries in the Middle East, but one that is not well-known to Americans. He visited Oman last summer on a trip sponsored by NCUSAR.

“Oman is one of the safest countries in the world,” he noted. “The people of Oman have a very welcoming attitude towards Americans, and have a lot of curiosity about our country.” He pointed out that Condé Nast Traveler recently listed Oman as one of the globe’s top travel destinations.

Lynch added that he is delighted about having “one of my most enthusiastic Model Arab League participants excited enough and dedicated enough to take this huge step in their education.”


Jackson, Moore Capture Undergraduate Research Awards

Pria Jackson '19
Jackson

Pria Jackson ’19 and Mandy Moore ’16 have been honored by Wyndham Robertson Library as the winners of the 2016 Undergraduate Research Awards.

The annual awards recognize exemplary student research projects completed in Hollins courses. These projects showcase:

  • Extensive and creative use of the library’s resources.
  • The ability to synthesize those resources in completing the project.
  • Growth in the student’s research skills.
Mandy Moore '16
Moore

Jackson was selected the winner in the First-Year/Sophomore category for her research project, Nasser of Egypt and Egypt of Nasser, which was recommended by Associate Professor of History Rachel Nunez.

In the Junior/Senior category, Moore earned the top prize for A Quandary of Errors: The Problem of Innocence in Paradise Lost.  Associate Professor of English Julie Pfeiffer recommended the project.

Jackson and Moore will each receive a $250 award. Their work, along with the work of the other finalists, will be featured in the Hollins Digital Commons.


Professor to Join Panel Discussion with Feminist Scholar, Cultural Critic bell hooks

LeeRay Costa, John P. Wheeler Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology at Hollins University, is among the scholars and practitioners who will be in dialogue with noted author and social activist bell hooks this week at Wisconsin’s St. Norbert College.

As part of the Cassandra Voss Center bell hooks Residency, Costa will participate in the panel discussion, “Becoming Mindful: Practices for Education & Life,” on Thursday, April 21. The conversation will inform the First-Year Seminar course Costa is teaching this fall at Hollins entitled, “bell hooks: rage, love, and creating beloved community.”

Honored as a leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly and one of Utne Reader’s “100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life,” hooks has written nearly 40 books, including Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which was named one of the “20 Most Influential Women’s Books of the Last 20 Years” by Publishers Weekly. Her scholarship has impacted multiple disciplines internationally, from sociology to religious studies to media communication. She is currently the Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College.