Unique Learning Opportunities Highlight January Short Term

Putting together navigation plans, learning more about the Roanoke Valley, touring with a children’s theatre production, producing comic books and graphic novels, researching the history of Hollins University, and even identifying and avoiding BS are some of the distinctive course offerings engaging Hollins students during the school’s January 2015 Short Term session.

Throughout the month, while many students participate in travel/study programs (the Caribbean, France, Greece, Japan, Spain, and Turkey are among this year’s destinations), internships, and independent study projects, others are choosing from a creative mix of on-campus seminars that are unlike anything they experience during the rest of the academic year.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Learning Navigation Skills. Associate Professor of Chemistry and licensed pilot Daniel Derringer leads this class in which students learn to navigate using a compass, sextant, and GPS technology.
  • Getting to Know the Roanoke Valley: A January Term Primer. This course is part of a broader project intended to educate students about the entertainment, cultural, recreational, and culinary scenes within the greater Roanoke Valley. Students will work throughout the semester designing and publishing a new website designed for Hollins students focused on the Roanoke Valley. Students will go into the community, meet and speak with local business owners and groups, and write reviews about their experiences.
  • Touring Theatre Production for Children. Taught by Associate Professor of Theatre Ernie Zulia and Theatre Technical Director John Forsman, this class will mount a production of The Adventures of Iris and Walter, based on the award-winning children’s storybooks by Elisa Haden Guest and adapted by Nicole B. Adkins. Both Guest and Adkins received their Master of Fine Arts degrees from Hollins in 2012. The production will be staged at Hollins Theatre, February 5 – 6, and on Mill Mountain Theatre’s Trinkle Stage, February 7.
  • Think It, Ink It, Bind It. Students will learn how to make prints that will be incorporated into book formats. They will explore the mechanics and terminology of books and how to design and bind them. Students will also be introduced to three different printmaking processes that will be used for the imagery in their books. Students will make their own comic books, graphic novels, and zines.
  • History of Hollins and Its Social Movements. After reviewing the fundamentals of public history and strategies of social change, this class will create a smart technology application based on research of the Hollins campus. Possible objects of study include campus artifacts, buildings, and artistic representations. Students will use resources at Hollins’ Wyndham Robertson Library to investigate social change movements at the university. Groups will create a museum-quality feature display at the library based on their study.
  • On BS. The aim of this class is to recognize BS in all of its many forms and then prevent it in one’s own thinking.

Other on-campus courses at Hollins in January cover such diverse topics as jazz cinema, snakes, female scientists in film, women’s travel writing, and wilderness survival for the modern world.

Hollins’ Short Term began January 5 and continues through January 30. It has been a valuable component of the Hollins curriculum since 1968 and serves as an avenue for Hollins to inject fresh courses, programs, and approaches to education into the curriculum.

Hollins, Roanoke College Team Up for Model UN

For the first time, Hollins University and Roanoke College students joined together to attend the annual American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference, held November 22-25 in Chicago.

Eight students from Hollins and six from Roanoke made the trip, representing Tunisia and Gabon, respectively. The two delegations worked together on the Economic and Social Council and the Economic Commission for Africa.

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch fostered the collaboration. He is filling in as the Roanoke College Model UN Club’s academic advisor. Roanoke Professor of Public Affairs Joshua Rubongoya, the club’s regular advisor, is on sabbatical leave.

“Hollins students have attended AMUN in Chicago since 2003 and it made sense for me to accompany Roanoke College students to this conference as well,” Lynch explained. “Moreover, AMUN is the best-planned and best-organized academic conference I have ever attended.”

Students from Roanoke College have been attending a similar conference in New York each spring.

AMUN includes over 70 colleges and universities from around the United States, with more than 1,000 students attending. During the conference, students act as country representatives and debate resolutions over issues ranging from human trafficking to arms control. The “diplomats” meet in formal sessions and informal caucuses; intense negotiations take place over the wording of resolutions.

The conference also includes a graduate school fair, internship opportunities, and chances to see Chicago’s many attractions. The timing, just before Thanksgiving, means most of the representatives miss little or no class time.

“The students from both Hollins and Roanoke welcomed the opportunity for hands-on learning and to practice public speaking, effective writing, one-on-one negotiation, and parliamentary procedure,” Lynch said. “I think having both delegations there prompted some competition, bringing out the best in both groups.”

Students Take Part in Quest to Build the Largest Fractal Ever

Fractal projectHollins University is participating in an exceptional construction project composed of over a million business cards and encompassing the entire Earth.

Hollins is one of 27 sites around the world supporting MegaMenger, an effort to build what is believed to be largest fractal ever. Over a dozen students, including those enrolled in Professor of Mathematics Caren Diefenderfer’s first-year seminar, “Games, Puzzles, and Logic,” are spearheading the construction at Hollins, which began earlier this month and continues through Saturday, October 25.

The university’s Wyndham Robertson Library serves as the primary build site. However, Diefenderfer and her students have also taken the project into the community at large. During the Virginia Science Festival in downtown Roanoke on October 11, they encouraged area adults and children to join in the construction.

According to the Fractal Foundation, a fractal is “a never-ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales. Although fractals are very complex, they are made by repeating a simple process.”

A Menger Sponge is a three-dimensional fractal that can be made from cubes attached together. Twenty single cubes made from business cards can be joined to make a Level 1 Menger Sponge, 20 Level 1 sponges make a Level 2 sponge, and 20 Level 2 sponges make a Level 3.

Each site will build one of 20 Level 3 sponges, each made of 8,000 cubes and in total making up a giant Level 4 sponge, spread around the entire world.

Diefenderfer estimates that Hollins will use between 50,000 and 60,000 business cards to complete its Level 3 sponge.

For more information, visit www.megamenger.com.

Photo by Abrian Wilson ’18

Hollins Names Albaugh to Lead Graduate Studies in Screenwriting and Film Studies

albaughHollins University has named writer/producer Tim Albaugh as the new director of Hollins’ master of arts and master of fine arts programs in screenwriting and film studies, beginning in the summer of 2012. He succeeds Professor of Film and Founding Director Klaus Phillips, who passed away suddenly in early October.

Albaugh, who has taught in Hollins’ M.F.A. screenwriting program since 2007, is a graduate of the M.F.A. screenwriting program at UCLA and has taught screenwriting at UCLA, UC Irvine, Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Feature Animation. He wrote Trading Favors, a film starring Rosanna Arquette and Cuba Gooding, Jr., and his students have sold scripts to numerous studios, producers and production companies, including HBO, Showtime, Lifetime, Nickelodeon Films, the Coen Brothers, and all the major television networks. The film The Machinist, starring Christian Bale, was written by Scott Kosar, a student in Albaugh’s class at UCLA.

“While the campus community continues to miss Klaus’ presence, we know he would like nothing more than for the graduate programs in screenwriting and film studies to continue and to grow,” said Hollins’ Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeanine Stewart. “Tim is the person we believe is best able to take on this challenge. He has been a wonderful asset for the past four years and offers a wealth of experience as well as familiarity with our students and faculty. He will do an excellent job of leading these programs.”

Hollins has offered an M.A. in screenwriting and film studies since 1999 and an M.F.A. in screenwriting since 2005. The summer programs draw instructors from the ranks of Hollins’ permanent faculty as well as visiting screenwriters, filmmakers and distinguished scholars from other institutions. The Summer 2012 session will be held June 18 – July 27.

Graduates of Hollins and Other Liberal Arts Colleges Feel Better Prepared for Life’s Challenges, Study Finds

preparedWhen it comes to getting a first job out of college, gaining admission to graduate school, or generally preparing to meet life’s challenges, graduates of residential liberal arts colleges such as Hollins University give their college experience higher marks than do graduates of any other type of colleges, according to a new national study.

The study was commissioned by the Annapolis Group, a non-profit alliance of 130 liberal arts colleges. Hollins is a member of the consortium, which sought to determine how its graduates perceive the effectiveness of its member institutions in comparison to others.

“On virtually all measures known to contribute to positive outcomes, graduates of liberal arts colleges rate their experience more highly than do graduates of private or public universities,” said James H. Day, a principal of the higher education consulting firm Hardwick Day, which conducted the study.

Among the study’s career-related findings:

  • Seventy-six percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66 percent who attended public flagship universities;
  • Eighty-nine percent of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor while in college, compared to 66 percent for public flagship universities;
  • Sixty percent of liberal arts college graduates said they felt “better prepared” for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34 percent who attended public flagship universities;
  • Liberal arts college graduates are more likely to graduate in four years or fewer, giving them a head start on their careers.

The study is based on a total of 2,700 telephone interviews made in 2002 and again in the summer of 2011. It is one of only a few studies that explore the lasting effects of college in such areas as career preparation and advancement, skill development, development of personal and professional values and attitude, and community involvement.

Among other key findings in this year’s survey:

  • Seventy-seven percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their overall undergraduate experience as “excellent,” compared to 53 percent for graduates of flagship public universities;
  • Seventy-nine percent of liberal arts college graduates report benefiting “very much” from high-quality teaching-oriented faculty, compared to 63 percent for private universities and 40 percent for alumni of flagship public universities;
  • Eighty-eight percent of liberal arts graduates said there was a sense of community among students, compared to 79 percent for private universities and 63 percent for public flagship universities.

The study determined that liberal arts college graduates are more likely than graduates of both private and public universities to give their college a high effectiveness rating for helping them learn to write and speak effectively.

The study found also that liberal arts college graduates are more likely than alumni of other types of institutions to say all of the following about their college experience:

  • Their professors often challenged them academically and personally helped them meet those challenges;
  • Most of their grades were based on essay exams and written reports;
  • Their experience often included extensive classroom discussions;
  • They participated in faculty-directed research or independent study;
  • They often engaged in conversations with professors outside of class;
  • They participated in service-learning or community service;
  • They were involved in an extracurricular activity.

Alumni of all three types of institutions – liberal arts colleges, private universities, and flagship public universities – were more likely in the 2011 survey to rate their overall experience as “excellent” than in the 2002 survey, Day noted. The increase was particularly pronounced for graduates of liberal arts colleges, who went from 66 to 77 percent, and public universities, who went from 41 to 53 percent.

Hollins Appoints Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing

brownHollins University has named author and professor Carrie Brown as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing. She will join the Hollins faculty in August.

Brown is the author of five novels, including The Rope Walk (Pantheon Books, 2007), Confinement (Algonquin Books, 2004), The Hatbox Baby (Algonquin, 2000), Lamb in Love (Algonquin, 1999), and Rose’s Garden (Algonquin, 1998), and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle (Algonquin, 2002). Her short fiction has appeared in such journals as One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, and The Oxford American, and she regularly reviews fiction for major newspapers. Her work has been translated into several languages, and she has read at literary festivals, libraries, bookstores, and colleges and universities across the country.

Brown is a two-time winner of the Library of Virginia Book Award and a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. In 2009, The Rope Walk was selected by the Iowa Public Library as the “All Iowa Reads” book and as the “Lynchburg, Virginia Reads” book by the Lynchburg Public Library.

Brown earned a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia and is currently associate professor of English and Margaret Banister Writer-in-Residence at Sweet Briar College, where she teaches creative writing courses in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She also serves as coordinator of international programs for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a year-round residential working retreat center for visual artists, writers, and composers.

Brown succeeds David Huddle, who has served as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing at Hollins since 2009. The professorship is a one-year, full-time, renewable position.

Hollins Celebrates the Class of 2012 at 170th Commencement

commencement2012Hollins alumna Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter wished graduates “a life ahead full of continuous discovery” during the university’s 170th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20.

Hollins conferred 182 bachelor’s degrees and 71 master’s degrees during the ceremony, which was held on the university’s historic Front Quadrangle.

Kolmstetter, a member of Hollins’ class of 1985 and this year’s guest speaker, is deputy associate director of national intelligence for human capital within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Previously, she served as the director for human capital development at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security. An industrial-organizational psychologist, she was one of the first federal employees chosen in 2002 to be part of the creation of the TSA in the aftermath of 9-11. She was directly responsible for establishing and managing the new standards and hiring system that resulted in the largest civilian workforce mobilization in U.S. history – the hiring of over 55,000 security screeners at 430 airports across the nation in less than one year.

Kolmstetter focused on the importance of maintaining “your own journey of discovery that must never end” in her address.  She shared four stories of what she personally has discovered in life:

  • “Be grateful and show it.” (“We are all here together today because of the dreams and commitments of those who have come before us and we must give thanks….”)
  • “Plan, prepare, work really hard, and be open to the unexpected in life.” (“…even those curve balls life will throw at you, that is when amazing things happen resulting in real discovery.”)
  • “Know and keep your real friends…forever.” (“[They] only have your best interest in mind, no hidden agendas, no personal gains – they will encourage you and sometimes give you the courage you need to take your own leaps of faith.”)
  • “Do what’s hardest…even something you don’t think you can do.” (“There is nothing like taking on the toughest task and surviving – indeed, thriving. It engages your mind and a sense of purpose fills your heart.”)

Following Kolmstetter’s address, Suzanne Smith Whitmore ’60, chair of Hollins’ Board of Trustees, awarded her with the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her personal and career achievements. “Since graduating from Hollins in 1985, you have ably served your nation and your alma mater with intelligence, perseverance, originality, and integrity,” Whitmore told Kolmstetter, who was joined on the commencement stage for the presentation by her mother, Paula Brownlee, who served as president of Hollins from 1981 to 1990.

Four graduating seniors were honored during the morning ceremony for their academic achievements. Chelsea Rose DeTorres, Laura Chelsea Woodrum, Melissa Susanna Hammond, and Eileen Michelle O’Connor each received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. DeTorres and Woodrum tied for the highest grade point average among this year’s graduates, while Hammond and O’Connor tied for the second-highest grade point average.

The following awards were also presented at this year’s Commencement:

  • The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, recognizes members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities that evidence a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s honorees are senior Kylie Louise McCormick and Professor of Psychology Randall Flory.
  • The Annie Terrill Bushnell Award, established by the late Mrs. William A. Anderson in memory of her mother, is presented to the senior who has evidenced the finest spirit of leadership during her days at Hollins. Elizabeth Price Dodd is the recipient this year.
  • The Jane Cocke Funkhouser Award, honoring a member of the class of 1911, recognizes a junior or senior who, in addition to being a good student, is pre-eminent in character. Senior Jessica Maria Hall was presented this year’s award.
  • The Hollins University Teaching Award, supported by an endowment established by Mary Bernhardt Decker ’58 and her late husband, James DeWitt Becker, honors secondary school teachers who have devoted their lives to preparing students to achieve and excel in a higher education setting. Each year, Hollins seniors are invited to nominate the teachers who inspired them or contributed significantly to their intellectual and personal growth. This year’s winner, nominated by senior Nancy VanNoppen, is Jack W. Bonner IV, associate head of the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is also the assistant head for academic affairs, chair of the curriculum committee, and on the English/Humanities faculty.

Hollins Education Program Helps Future Teachers Earn Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Only Five Years

hubbardWhen Melissa Hubbard ’13 began her first year at Hollins, she was pleasantly surprised to discover she could earn a bachelor of arts degree, a master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) degree, and a Virginia teaching license – all in just five years.

“I came here with the intention of majoring in psychology, but I had also always wanted to teach. I was jazzed when I found out we have an education program that offers such an option,” the senior from Chantilly, Virginia, explains. She lauds the program’s approach (“It really gives you a sense of the liberal arts, it overlaps something with everything.”) and flexibility (“You can pretty much pick out whatever undergraduate major you want to do.”).

Here’s how it works: During the first four years, the combined undergraduate and M.A.T. program integrates the education components with the requirements for the bachelor of arts degree. Traditional undergraduate students work closely with an education advisor beginning in the second semester of their first year to map out a plan to meet general education licensure requirements; transfer and Horizon students begin this process during their first semester on campus. The education department recommends all students who are interested in the program enroll in EDUC 141: Schooling in American Society as their first course in order to learn about topics in education and start immediately with field experiences. At the same time, students work on completion of Education through Skills and Perspectives and major requirements with their major advisors. In their fifth year, students complete their remaining professional studies requirements, including a thesis, for the M.A.T., and student teach.

Hubbard says one of the program’s strongest attributes is its emphasis on getting students into the schools. “Every class requires 15 hours of observational work. It’s very important because it’s given me the opportunity to go into the classrooms, interact with students, and see that this is for me, this is something I want to do. It’s also super-helpful experience in preparing me for student teaching.”

Hubbard adds she is also benefiting from the $20,000 “Teaching with Today’s Technology” grant Hollins received in 2011 from the Verizon Foundation to redesign and enhance the education program’s classroom technology integration course. “We have all this new technology we’re practicing with, and we can work that in with what we’re learning and what we can do. It will really be an advantage when I try to get a job.”

Because “there’s so much to get done,” Hubbard says students must begin the program during their first year and embark on it with a sense of purpose: “You have to love learning and love wanting to teach.” Still, she has found time to become an active member of the campus community, playing soccer and lacrosse and serving on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the university’s Honor Court. She even holds an off-campus job.

Hubbard doesn’t hesitate to answer when asked which course she’s taken epitomizes the combined program. “For me, it was Psychology Applied to Teaching and Learning. It was just so interesting to see the two things I love put together into something that’s going to be very applicable to me.”

Students interested in pursuing a teaching career at the elementary (grades K-5) level should contact Anna Baynum, assistant professor of education, at abaynum@hollins.edu. Those interested in teaching at the secondary (grades 6-12) level should contact Rebecca Cox, associate professor of education, at rcox@hollins.edu.

Hollins Student Hopes to Blend Dance and Physical Therapy to Help Others

chaniceAnyone who tears two of the four major knee ligaments can face a long and often painful road to recovery. But for an aspiring dancer, such an injury is especially devastating because it calls into question when, if ever, they will be able to fully recapture their ability to perform.

Chanice Holmes ’15 faced this dilemma during the summer before her senior year in high school. The Hollins University sophomore and life-long dancer from New Orleans tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in June 2010 while playing basketball, just as she was preparing to choreograph and join three other performers in staging a dance piece as her senior thesis.

“The doctors told me I would need six to 12 months to heal and return to dancing, and I said ‘No, I need to be back dancing so I can be in my piece.’ I was so determined to do that,” Holmes recalls. Remarkably, after having surgery that July, she returned to dancing in November.

Holmes credits her experience rehabilitating her knee not only with getting her on her feet and performing by her self-imposed deadline, but also with influencing her education and career path.

“The physical therapist who treated me kept saying, ‘You can do this, you can do this.’ She motivated me so much. After that, I decided I wanted to combine dance with physical therapy to help others. The two go hand-in-hand as far as learning different muscles and how they work and how they can stop functioning if you do a certain move the wrong way or if you don’t stretch as much as you should.”

A Hollins admission counselor’s visit to her high school was critical in Holmes’ decision to enroll at the university in the fall of 2011 to pursue a double major in biology and dance. “She told me about the dance program, which of course interested me. But the  options Hollins offers during January Short Term (J-Term) and the chance to travel anywhere I wanted to go through the study abroad program also caught my attention, as did the Batten Leadership Institute. I never visited the campus until I got here, but I fell in love with it as soon as I arrived.”

In her first year at Hollins, Holmes took immediate advantage of J-Term opportunities. Associate Professor of Dance Jeffery Bullock helped arrange for her to dance with the renowned American Dance Festival at the Alvin Ailey dance studio in New York City during the first two weeks of January 2012. She then spent the last half of the month interning at a physical therapy clinic in New Orleans. Last spring, she also got to travel and pursue another of her passions, volunteer service, by participating in Hollins’ Jamaica Service Project, which takes place each year during Spring Recess.

Another milestone for Holmes last spring was winning the first scholarship pageants she had ever entered, both sponsored by the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. By excelling in  the interview and talent competitions, she won the Miss Teenage Daughters of the Promise state contest in Louisiana in April, and then went on in June to capture the Miss Teenage Daughters of the Promise International title in Atlanta, where she was also selected as Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants and voted Most Elegant and Most Influential.

During her reign, Holmes says she is promoting her youth outreach platform as often as possible, beginning by talking to Sunday School classes at her home church, Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans.

“I am speaking to my peers and those younger than me about avoiding the distractions from the media and other sources that divert us from what we need to doing as far as going to college, getting a degree, and prospering,” she explains. “No matter what, you can do all things you set your mind to do.”

Holmes is hoping again this academic year to devote half of her J-Term to dance and half to something related to her biology major, and she already has at least one specific goal in mind for herself after graduation.

“I want to start a non-profit organization for kids to get them interested in science through dance. A lot of kids say they don’t like science because it’s boring, but if you approach it with them from a different perspective, maybe that will open their minds.”

“I Have Found a New Home for Myself Here”

kelseydeforestHere is a transcript of the address delivered by SGA President Kelsey Deforest ’13 at the Family Weekend Worship Service on October 21, 2012, in duPont Chapel:

Thank you, Jenny [University Chaplain Jenny Call], for inviting me to speak today. As a first-year, I never would have expected to be speaking at a worship service as a senior, but during my time at Hollins I have found my spirituality and I have built a relationship with God.

For many of you, this is a time of transition. The parents in the room are figuring out how to live now that they are no longer full-time parents and students are figuring out how to live away from home. At times, life can unexpectedly or expectedly draw you away from the place that has always felt like home. Coming to college, even though you know it’s coming, can feel like an exile. However, if you act as the scripture suggests and hope in the plan of the higher power, this new place can become home. The more you lay down roots in this new place, the more it will come to be a home. Since coming to Hollins, I have found a new home for myself here, and in doing so I have gotten to know myself better and built a stronger relationship with God.

When I first came to Hollins, I was not worried about homesickness at all, but after a couple days here it bubbled up. Coming from Ohio, I was not sure how I felt about this place so far south, where people were friendly for no reason. With time, though, Hollins became home and became a place that I am completely in love with. My mother tells the story all the time of the first time I came back to Ohio from Hollins. Many of you have probably already heard it. At the end of Thanksgiving Break, I was excited to hit the road and told my mom that it was time for me to go home. Though the moment was bittersweet for her, because I no longer just saw Ohio as home, she also knew it meant I was in the right place. That transition didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual process of laying down roots and settling in. Home can be found in so many places during these four years at Hollins—in the people you meet, the places you explore, the time you spend here, the purpose you learn, and within yourself as you grow here.

Home can be found in the people you meet at Hollins. In your classmates, you will find a mirror for your own experience. The homesickness you do not want to acknowledge in yourself you will see in them. In them, you can see the growth you cannot see in yourself. As Hollins becomes home for them, it will also become home for you. In the faculty and staff, you will find mentors and guides who will be with you for a lifetime. In many ways they will become quasi-parents at Hollins. When you cannot get a hold of your parents, there will be faculty or staff who will open up their offices for you to vent or cry. These relationships are the first support system for you at Hollins, until this place becomes home. They will help tide you over as you settle in.

The places you fall in love with at Hollins become holy through your experience with them. Alumnae talk about the feeling they have when they come back to campus. For them, it really is a homecoming and that feeling can be healing. Many times, they will drive through campus, not even stop, just drive, to feel that sense of home, again. Some of these places may become homey and holy through your time in them. I feel this way about the theatre. It is where I found my first Hollins family. The time and dedication I have put into the theatre have made it a home for me. When I walk in the doors, I feel the burdens fall from my shoulders. You will find similar homes in Pleasants, practice rooms in Presser, or even in the SGA office. Other places may feel holy when you first encounter them; a bench in Beale garden to reflect at, the top of the hill on the loop, or within the chapel itself. For me these places are the hot spots on campus. They are warm because of the hot springs and can be found by theatre, by Pleasants, and on back quad. The little places of happenstance warmth seem set out to improve your day. For me, they remind me of the moments in your life where you suddenly feel connected to and loved by God.

The four years you spend here can feel like an exile or they can become a home in your memory. In one of my courses this term, we read Abraham Heschel’s “The Sabbath,” which writes how time can be made holy through the thoughts you put into it and the time you set aside in it to build your relationship with God. These four years can become memories that will bring you that feeling of home after you’ve graduated. No matter where you are in the world, those memories will be something to fall back on. The traditions we have here can be spiritual experience as the community comes together. When you are standing at the top of Tinker Mountain, surrounded by other Hollins women, there is no way to feel disconnected from the community. In White Gift Service, the community comes together in the dark of winter to share warmth and joy together. During Founder’s Day, we celebrate the man whose mission ensured our time at Hollins today. For me, it is a form of thanksgiving. You can also find time in your busy schedule to make holy—to work on your relationship with God. In my own life, this time usually must happen before 7 am. While this may make you cringe, watching the sunrise over the mountains on a quiet campus gives me inner peace and the time to talk with God.

At Hollins, you will find a higher calling. This passion is a home you can take with you wherever you go.  Learning to love learning again is one of the best gifts you get out of your Hollins education. As you come to invest in your academics at Hollins, you are laying down roots in a very significant way. Deciding you love what you are studying will make Hollins home faster than anything else. At Hollins you also learn how to serve and how to want to be of service. This service may be in the traditional sense, with SHARE or on the Jamaica Service Trip. Even outside of these activities, all Hollins women learn to serve. They are always willing to be called upon by friends when they are needed. This continues long after graduation. This sense of passion and service will bring you closer to your higher power.

Ultimately, at Hollins, you will learn to carry your home with you because you will learn to feel at home in yourself. As I prepare to leave Hollins, I know that I will never feel that sense of exile, again. At Hollins, I have grown, become more confident, and come closer to God. Between those assets and my everlasting bonds with my Hollins sisters, I know that I am ready to go anywhere and do anything. In reflecting on the scripture, I can only think that this is what God wanted when he told his exiles to lay down roots and connect with their communities. Like the exiles, I have learned that home can really be anywhere.

I sincerely hope that Hollins already feels like home to you. If not, have patience, keep faith in God’s plan, and work to lay down roots. With time, the people you meet, places you find, time you spend, passion you discover, and self you develop will ensure that home is always with you.