Everett Sesker always knew his daughter Tyler, class of 2022, was going places – but he wanted to let her choose where.
“I told her to find a school that she was comfortable with. She’s always attended small, private schools, so I told her I wanted her to find a school where she felt she was able to achieve her goals,” says Everett.
During her junior and senior years of high school, the Seskers toured many excellent schools, including the University of North Carolina, Boston College, and Harvard University.
“I really wanted to encourage her to go somewhere new, away from home,” says Everett. “Having new experiences allows you to grow.”
At that point, however, Hollins University was an unknown option. It wasn’t until the volleyball coach came to watch Tyler’s high school game that they learned what Hollins could offer. After speaking with the coach and hearing about the student-athlete experience, they decided to attend an admission event and learn more about the athletic programs, academics, and community.
“We went to Hollins to see the campus and get a feel for the university, and I fell in love,” Everett recalls. “I felt that this school would provide everything that I wanted for my daughter.”
It was clear upon their visit that Hollins would be an environment where Tyler would thrive. The opportunity to have one-on-one relationships with the professors, continue to play sports, and have a safe, tight-knit community to support her was exactly what they were looking for in a best-fit school.
Additionally, the location of Hollins University was ideal, only four hours south of Tyler’s hometown in Maryland. Everett liked that it was close enough that Tyler could come home when she needed but far enough away that she could really immerse herself in everything the school had to offer.
It was the perfect fit. And so, Tyler embraced the Hollins experience.
Upon arrival, she dove right into the athletics program, joining both the volleyball and basketball teams during her first two years while also taking on leadership positions in the student government, Model UN, and as president of the Black Student Alliance.
At the same time, Tyler flourished academically. The small class sizes and personal attention she had from professors provided the structure and support she needed to excel as she followed the pre-law track and pursued her degree in gender and women’s studies with a minor in social justice.
Throughout the last four years, Everett has been pleased at the continued involvement and support that he has had as a parent from many of the offices around campus. He worked closely with the Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid to secure additional academic and sports scholarships.
“It’s nice because now we’re to the point that they know me by name, which isn’t always the case for a lot of schools,” says Everett.
Possibly the biggest show of support the Seskers received from Hollins was when Everett faced a health scare back at home. He wanted to notify and comfort Tyler, but couldn’t do so in person.
“I called the president’s office and spoke with President Hinton. She was so great with the whole situation,” says Everett.
“President Hinton took the time out of her busy schedule to be with my daughter and reassure her that I was going to be okay. All she had to say was, ‘Don’t worry; we’ve got her,’ and that put my mind at rest.”
With only a few months remaining of her senior year, Tyler has big plans for her future.
“She’s applying for different fellowships right now in New York, DC, and Georgia,” says Everett. “I wanted to encourage her not to come back home immediately. Of course, home should be a place that you visit often, but I want my daughter to make a life for herself.”
After her fellowship, Tyler will begin applying for law schools.
Everett is proud of the woman Tyler has become through her time at Hollins. He notices that she speaks up for herself more and that she’s gotten involved in many opportunities she wouldn’t have received anywhere else.
“When I first heard of Hollins, I had some reservations about sending her to an all-women’s institution. I wanted her to get the full college experience,” Everett reflects. “They proved me wrong. Hollins does something other schools don’t: they empower women to believe in themselves, that they can achieve anything they want to achieve. Women at Hollins don’t come second; they lead.”
While Tyler is working toward graduating in May, her younger sister, Ryan, has begun her search for a college. This time, Hollins is high on the list.
“She’s the wild card,” says Everett. “You never know what to expect from her. She wants to be a veterinarian and has already been accepted to a lot of great schools, including Hollins.”
Ryan has become quite familiar with Hollins, visiting her sister frequently and taking a tour of campus to get to know what’s available for her personal interests. The equestrian facilities have been the main draw, and she has been embraced by the trainers and coaches there.
“It will ultimately be her choice, but right now, I think she’ll end up choosing Hollins,” he adds.