HU Connect supports first-generation college students, low/limited-income (FLI) students, and those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) to succeed at Hollins University and beyond. We are committed to the academic pursuits, sense of belonging, and empowerment of all HU Connect participants. Through our pre-orientation programs, mentorship opportunities, academic support, and campus/community partnerships, HU Connect strives to cultivate confident leaders of tomorrow.

Meet some of our HU Connect mentors.

Below our HU Connect mentors from the 2023-24 academic year. Please check back for updated information for the 2024-25 mentors.

Elizabeth Barker

Elizabeth Barker

Hi! My name is Elizabeth, I’m a second-year student and I use she/her pronouns. I plan on majoring in English and minoring in gender and women’s studies. I am involved in several clubs at Hollins, such as The Young Writers Initiative, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, mock trial, and the student chaplains. Outside of school, I enjoy music and reading, and having movie nights.
Elizabeth Barker
Hollins University, Class of 2026
she/her/hers

Kya Folkes

Hellooo! My name is Kya Folkes (she/her), and I am a sophomore pursuing a biology major and gender and women’s studies minor. I will be the treasure for the BSU council for the 2023-24 academic year. I’m a house member of Mae Jemison: Specialty Housing and a member of the Pre-Med Club. I enjoy painting, listening to music, cooking, spending time with my mom and little brother, and of course relaxing.

Pulari Gilbert

Pulari Gilbert

Hey! I am Pulari Gilbert, a sophomore here at Hollins (the r in my name is pronounced as a t, btw), and I am thinking about majoring in film and minoring in creative writing. I live in Sandusky (the service house) and I’m SAGA copresident, and Senate vice-chair.

Jennifer Gomez

My name is Jennifer Gomez and I’m a rising junior double majoring in psychology and Spanish while also obtaining my teaching licensure. I am the president of La Casa Hispánica for the following year. I enjoy going out with friends in my free time!

Jennifer Gomez

Kailee Hall

Hi everyone! My name is Kailee Hall (she/her), and I am a junior art history and international studies double major. Currently, I am the arts and media coordinator for Hollins’ Public Health Outreach Club, and this is my second year as a FLI mentor. I plan on studying in Italy during the 2024 January Term and have also been conducting provenance research (i.e., cultural repatriation and WWII artwork recovery). After I graduate, I plan on pursuing my master’s degree and learn more about museum collections through provenance. I also enjoy walking, drawing, and driving

Leia Hernandez

Hi there! My name is Leia Hernandez (she/her) and I’m a senior chemistry major with a physics minor. I’m so excited to be one of the Early Transition Program peer mentors for the 2023-24 academic year! I’m also a governing member of the Chemistry Club, Hollins Repertory Dance Company senator, senior class senator, and cochair of the Level Up! Gaming Club. I enjoy dancing, reading manga, and experimenting with new bubble tea recipes!

Leia Hernandez
Katie McBride

Katie McBride

Hi! My name is Katie McBride and I’m a psychology major and part of the class of 2026. This coming fall, alongside serving as a FLI guide, I will be serving as Roarin’ Ink Poetry’s media manager. Originally from Illinois, HU Connect has helped me create a community where I feel just at home in Roanoke as in Illinois. Being surrounded by such a supportive community has taught me so much about myself and taught me the skills to achieve more than I ever imagined. I enjoy photography, cooking, and watching movies with my roommate.

Dorian Meekins

Hi I’m Dorian Meekins (she/they)! I’m a sophomore from Franklin County, VA, planning to double major in history and political science and am the proud senator for FMLA. You can also find me in the Writing Center as a tutor. I have a passion for using history to educate, inform, and empower! I adore reading, napping, and connecting with nature.

Dorian Meekins
Amber Persinger

Amber Persinger

Hey y’all!! My name is Amberosia Persinger but feel super free to call me Amber. I’m a sophomore history and education double major! When I’m not busy with class, I enjoy hanging out with friends or going on long drives with the windows down and music up!

Blair Turner

I’m Blair Turner, class of 2025, and an environmental science (B.S.) major and economics minor. They have a fascination with plant research and participated in research on the J-Term 2023 Ecuador trip. They planned on furthering their plant studies with an internship at Cornell University in the summer of 2023. Coinciding with plant research, they are an active member in the Hollins community. They participate in the clubs Black Student Union and Students for Environmental Action. In addition, they are an ETP (Early Transition Program) mentor for HU Connect which caters to mentoring first-year BIPOC and minority communities at Hollins. They plan to go to graduate school for conservation science and work for environmental conservation and justice.

Blair Turner
Ty'Aija

Ty’Aija

My name is Ty’Aija and my pronouns are she/her(s). I’m a junior, declared biology major and chemistry minor on the pre-nursing track. I am a second year FLI guide and an outdoor program leader. In my free time I work out, play videos games, and watch TV.

Vanity

Hello! I’m Vanity! I am a senior creative writing and psychology double major. I collect old clown dolls and classic novels from antique stores.

Vanity
Kaylin Wallen

Kaylin Wallen

Hello, my name Kaylin Wallen and I’m from the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’m a junior double majoring in biology and public health. I spend most of my time in the biology department working as a lab technician, so if you’re ever looking for me, you’re guaranteed to find me there! I studied abroad in Tours, France, this past J-Term 2023, and I am now a global ambassador for the study abroad office. I am often seen around campus in a quiet corner reading and listening to music. HU Connect allowed me to truly find my home on campus, meet new friends, and get out of my comfort zone. I’m one of the Early Transition Program (ETP) peer mentors for the 2023-24 academic year. I’m so excited to meet you all.

Facts

  • Of all active Hollins undergraduate students (including Adult Horizon), 25.9% are first-generation students.
  • Approximately 38% of our degree-seeking undergraduates for 2018-19 are Pell Grant/limited-income students.