“Everyone Has the Right to be Heard”: Political Science Major Prepares for Law Career

The freshman year of high school for many college-bound students means focusing on strong academic performance, selecting challenging classes, and participating in extracurricular activities, all to build a solid record of achievement for the college application process.

Mary Offutt ’20 was already looking ahead as well to what would be her college destination.

During her freshman year, Offutt, who hails from Sterling, Virginia, met Ashley Browning, Hollins’ vice president for enrollment management. “We continued to stay in touch about admission events and other information about Hollins,” she recalls. What ultimately convinced her to choose Hollins, she says, were “the small class sizes and Ashley. Additionally, when I toured campus I fell completely in love with the beauty of the campus, and I appreciated how nice everyone was at the events I attended, from faculty and staff to current students.”

Considering her diligent early college preparatory work, it is not surprising that Offutt also determined her academic aspirations in advance. “I came to Hollins planning on majoring in political science, knowing that my goal was to go to law school,” she explains. To that end, she independently discovered internships throughout her Hollins career.

“In 2018,” she notes, “I started an internship with a family law firm in Leesburg, Virginia. Since then, I’ve worked there on all my breaks and throughout the year. This summer, I will be doing a clerkship with them.”

Offutt also credits Hollins’ study abroad program for having had “a huge impact on my life. I was in London for the entirety of my sophomore year and it was an amazing experience, being able to travel to a multitude of different countries to experience their culture and beauty. There are no words to truly describe it other than ‘life-changing.’”

When she began the application process for law school, Offutt says Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette was “a huge help. Her classes made me even more passionate about the law. I learned from her that cases are about people, and I believe that everyone has the right to be heard.”

This fall, Offutt will begin pursuing her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina. In many ways, her reasons for choosing the school for her legal education are similar to why she picked Hollins. “They have small class sizes, an individualized course experience, and an amazing externship program,” she says. “Plus, the beautiful city of Charleston was a large draw.”

After law school, Offutt  intends to take the Virginia state bar examination and join a family law firm in Northern Virginia as an associate.

 

 


Eager to Perform “Meaningful Work with Impact at the State Level,” Political Science Major Pursues Master of Public Policy at UVa

Since coming to Hollins as a first-year student, Hannah Byrum ’20 has been drawn to the study of legislation enacted by state government and the importance of leadership as it relates to policy.

Beginning this fall, the political science major will immerse herself in what she describes as “the best of both worlds” through the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. 

“As a student in the MPP program, you get to tackle the most pressing issues of the world in a variety of ways while also working on your leadership and team-building abilities,” Byrum says. “My emphasis while there will continue to be on state policy analysis.”

During her first two years at Hollins, Byrum laid the groundwork for a career in government and politics. She performed January Short Term internships as a first-year student and as a sophomore with government relations firms in Richmond, Virginia, that focus on state public policy issues: Commonwealth Strategy Group and Pickral Consulting. She subsequently completed a summer internship with the constituent services team in the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. In January of this year, she interned with the Office of Delegate Karrie Delaney, who represents the 67th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates. While in the latter role, Byrum helped write several pieces of legislation that were passed during the most recent Virginia General Assembly session.

“The internships provided me with an opportunity to apply what I had learned in class to the real world while also bringing conversation and a new perspective to the classroom,” Byrum says. “Seeing such strong and passionate people representing the needs of constituents and interest groups helped direct my career path of working with Virginia’s lawmakers on legislation.”

After completing her General Assembly legislation work, Byrum noticed discrepancies in how human sex trafficking laws in Virginia were approached. “The political science department requires a research methods course,” she notes, “and that was when I realized I wanted to focus my research on human sex trafficking.” Byrum went on to devote her honors thesis to examining the human trafficking laws and bills that were presented during the 2020 General Assembly.

“I dissect the language in those laws and bills and identify potential inconsistencies that could result in victims not receiving the safeguards and services they need. I make recommendations for language that should be included in future legislation. I also offer general direction for more assistance and general protections under the law that will be beneficial to victims.”

Byrum praises two of her professors, Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch and Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette, for having “a substantial impact on my education.” As a student in Lynch’s first-year seminar course, “How to be a President,” Byrum was invited to attend a lecture on international relations and global politics at the University of Virginia. “I knew then how much I wanted to attend UVa for graduate school,” she recalls.

Chenette was Byrum’s thesis advisor. “She has provided so much feedback, encouragement, and excitement for my work,” Byrum says. “I cannot thank her enough.”

The Williamsburg, Virginia, native believes that she would not have had the amount of success she has had at Hollins if it were not for Lynch and Chenette’s support. “Both of them care so much for the success of their students and want to see us work hard for what we want. They aren’t going to sugar-coat things and that’s what makes them incredible as professors.”

Byrum also cites the tools she has gained from her involvement with the Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins. “I can confidently navigate personal, academic, or professional conflict in a way that is extremely effective, and improve communication when tensions may be high. I learned how to be a better leader in every aspect of my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Batten when I started my first year, but thanks to (Executive Director) Abrina Schnurman, my experience went far beyond what I could have imagined.”

After completing the MPP program at UVa, Byrum says she “would love to dive head-first into meaningful work with impact at the state level,” whether that is with a government relations firm or state government entity. Working on a campaign or as a legislative aide for a state delegate or senator is also a possibility.

“All I know for certain is, I want to continue to serve my community to the best of my ability, however that may present itself.”

 


Johns Hopkins Internship Propels Senior Gates Millennium Scholar to MPH Program at Brown

One of the nation’s largest and most ambitious scholarship initiatives, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program helps African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with high academic and leadership potential, and with financial need, realize their higher education aspirations.

For Epa Cabrera ’20, GMS made possible her journey from her home on Saipan in the western Pacific Ocean’s Northern Mariana Islands to study at Hollins University. The program also enabled the business and economics double major to take advantage of real-world experiences outside the classroom. One of those opportunities was working as a research assistant during this year’s January Short Term at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“My J-term experience enhanced my interest in public health and inspired me to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree,” Cabrera notes. She subsequently applied to and earned admission at some of the country’s most prestigious MPH schools: the Milken Institute of Public Health at The George Washington University; the Boston University School of Public Health; the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Public Health; the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; and the Brown University School of Public Health.

“I was admitted to some amazing MPH programs,” she explains, “and after weighing the pros and cons of each, I decided Brown was the best fit for me. I was drawn by its emphasis on applying the skills that we, as students, would learn with hands-on practical experience through internships.”

Cabrera was also impressed with the caliber of Brown’s faculty. “The School of Public Health offers a cadre of world-renowned researchers who focus on a number of topics in which I am particularly interested in exploring. For instance, I’d like to work closely with Associate Professor of Epidemiology Eric Loucks. His examination into social factors that influence cardiovascular disease aligns with my current thesis on obesity in women and its consequences for the U.S. labor supply. I’m also intrigued by recent research undertaken by Bess Marcus, dean of the School of Public Health, which investigates low-cost interventions to promote physical behavior in habitual environments.”

After completing the two-year MPH program at Brown, Cabrera wants to engage in public health projects on a global scale. “I hope to contribute to protecting the well-being of individuals by supporting policies and strategies worldwide through the World Health Organization.” Her long-range goals include completing a doctorate in public health.

Cabrera praises GMS for enabling her to graduate this spring debt-free and able to continue her education without an economic burden. At the same time, she says, “I am grateful for the professors, deans, and the Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins. They have exceedingly given me support and encouragement throughout my time here.”


Rosie Wong ’22 Embraces Grass-Roots Activism During Peace Boat US Internship

As an international student, Chin Wai “Rosie” Wong ’22 is passionate about working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on different languages and cultures. So, when she learned Peace Boat US in New York City was offering four internships to Hollins students during this year’s January Short Term, she seized the opportunity.

Combining learning, activism, advocacy, and travel, Peace Boat enables people from the U.S. and around the world to study first-hand about global concerns such as war, environmental degradation, gender violence, and other issues. Wong and her fellow Hollins interns – Irina Conc ‘21, Leena Gurung ‘22, and Sajila Kanwal ’22 – worked closely with Peace Boat US Director Emilie McGlore on a variety of internal projects, including research, data entry, writing, and design. They also connected with other NGOs, United Nations (UN) departments, and colleges and universities to help build partnerships.

“This experience helped me gain a better understanding of how an international NGO operates and realize that the way to make a change is through action starting at the grass-roots level,” Wong said.

Peace Boat 2020 Interns
Peace Boat US in New York City welcomed four Hollins students as interns during this year’s January Short Term.

Wong, Conc, Gurung, and Kanwal attended and wrote articles about various special events such as UN programs, a fundraiser for Australian wildlife affected by the wildfires on the continent, and a New York City Council meeting on nuclear disarmament.

“At the council hearing we got the chance to read testimonies of the survivors of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Wong explained. “They described their personal experience and trauma and urged the council and committee members to support the total abolition of nuclear weapons and their development.”

The communication studies major called working with Peace Boat US “a wonderful internship experience. It allowed me to see what is expected and what it is like to work in real life. It was also a lesson in what an organization is looking for and what I am looking for, and to see what I am capable of and what I need to work on more.”

Wong stressed that her time with the NGO gave her a tremendous sense of pride. “I wasn’t just an individual working for Peace Boat US. I was actually a representative of the organization, which cultivated a greater sense of responsibility in me. I felt this honor whenever I wrote, talked, or even walked on the street. I also felt proud to be one of the Hollins students working with Peace Boat US, enhancing the connection between Hollins University and Peace Boat, and paving the way for myself and my fellow Hollins students.”

Back at Hollins, Wong said she is looking forward to studying different kinds of writing, and her interest in learning more languages has grown as well.  “In the future I would love to be a language teacher, spreading knowledge and love and bringing about positivity to society. I plan to volunteer as a language teacher on board a Peace Boat voyage one day and welcome a new chapter in my life.”


Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning Guarantees Access to a World of Possibilities

Hollins University is pleased to announce the creation of the Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning, which ensures undergraduates beginning in their first year can benefit more than ever from dynamic, real-world experiences beyond the classroom.

“The establishment of the Rutherfoord Center enables Hollins to build upon its strong foundation of experiential learning programs,” said Interim President Nancy Gray. “Bringing these programs together in a new way allows for more collaboration and interaction while at the same time expanding opportunities for students.”

Made possible by the generosity of Jean Hall Rutherfoord, Hollins class of 1974, and her husband, Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr. (pictured), the Rutherfoord Center encompasses study abroad at an array of destinations around the world; domestic and international internships; initiatives that promote innovation and engagement while connecting academic work with practical application; leadership practice; and undergraduate research projects conducted in close partnership with Hollins faculty.

“Through the Rutherfoord Center, students can develop a global perspective and build their creative thinking and problem-solving skills in a tangible way,” Gray said. “They acquire the experience necessary to thrive in both professional and educational settings after earning their undergraduate degrees.”

The Rutherfoord Center guarantees every student can pursue each of these programs throughout all of their four years at Hollins. At the same time, they gain mentorship; receive expert help in identifying leadership, study abroad, research, and career options; and explore prospects for financial assistance.

Gray emphasized that the power of experiential learning cannot be overestimated. “Experiential learning transforms personal and social development. It enhances resiliency, tenacity, curiosity, and self-reflection. It’s an immersive process by which students gain knowledge and skills by observing, inferring, and most of all, doing.”

To learn more, visit  https://www.hollins.edu/rutherfoordcenter.


The Princeton Review Places Hollins Among Nation’s Best for Alumni Networks, Internships, and Value

Announcing its Best Value Colleges for 2020, The Princeton Review has ranked Hollins University as having the #5 Best Alumni Network in the country and #21 in the category Best Schools for Internships.

The Best Alumni Network rankings are based on college student ratings of alumni activity and visibility on campus, while the Best Schools for Internships are determined by student ratings of accessibility of internship placement at their school.

The education services company also selected Hollins as one of the nation’s top 200 colleges “for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation at an affordable price.”

The Princeton Review chose its Best Value Colleges for 2020 based on data the company collected from its surveys of administrators at 656 colleges in 2018-19. The company also factored in data from its surveys of students attending the schools as well as PayScale.com surveys of alumni of the schools about their starting and mid-career salaries and job satisfaction figures.

In all, The Princeton Review crunched more than 40 data points to tally ROI (Return on Investment) ratings of the colleges that determined its selection of the 200 schools for the 2020 project. Topics covered everything from academics, cost, and financial aid to graduation rates, student debt, alumni salaries, and job satisfaction.

“The schools we name as our Best Value Colleges for 2020 comprise only 7% of the nation’s four-year colleges,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “They are truly distinctive and diverse in their programs, size, region, and type, yet they are similar in three areas. Every school we selected offers outstanding academics, generous financial aid and/or a relative low cost of attendance, and stellar career services.

“We salute Hollins University for these exceptional offerings and recommend it highly to college applicants and parents.”

 


Signature Internships, Leadership Development Prep Sami Makseyn ’19 for Law School

At age 14, Sami Makseyn ’19 faced the biggest challenge of her young life. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she spent 11 days in a coma and missed nine weeks of school. The experience transformed her into a force for change: Passionate about healthcare advocacy, she helped found a nonprofit organization for youth advocacy in politics and legislation when she was just 18. Before she turned 21, she had already worked in both American government and international government.

In part, Makseyn says she has been able to accomplish so much because of Hollins’ Signature Internship Program, one of the factors that convinced her to enroll at the university. “My choice in college was influenced by the fact that I later wanted to go on to law school, but internships intimidated me. How was I going to take time during a semester to do an internship? They’re not paid, so how would I live somewhere?

“With Hollins and the January Short Term, I was able to do an internship, receive a stipend, have housing provided, and not miss any school.”

Makseyn completed three Signature Internships, all in Washington, D.C. In her sophomore year, she interned with the office of U.S. Senator Al Franken (“I served on their healthcare, transportation, and Native American affairs teams.”); junior year brought her to the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“I worked on their economic justice project, which deals with discrimination in employment.”); and this year she interned with the American Healthcare Association (“I got to understand the kind of work that goes into healthcare legislation.”).

Studying abroad in London her junior year, Makseyn interned with a member of Parliament: Virendra Sharma, whose constituency is largely Indian and Southeast Asian. “Type 2 diabetes occurs among those populations at a much higher rate. Many people go undiagnosed for a long time and then they’re not sure how to deal with it. So, I created a type 2 diabetes guide that offers local resources and general information about the disease and treatment.”

Makseyn augmented her real-world experience, and honed her public speaking, multitasking, research, and debating skills, by participating in Model United Nations (MUN) and Model Arab League (MAL) at Hollins. MUN and MAL conferences feature “crisis simulations and you have to figure out how to deal with them,” she explains. “I learned how to find my voice. It’s something I think is particular to Hollins as a women’s college and an environment where your peers are so supportive. We go to conferences with coed schools and I’m assertive and well-spoken. I don’t think I would have gotten that confidence anywhere else.”

With a likely focus on healthcare law (her senior thesis, “Medicare for All?: An Analysis of American Healthcare and the Potential for Universal Coverage,” has received honors status), Makseyn will attend The George Washington University Law School this fall. Concurrently, she plans to complete a Master’s in public health. “Eventually I want to work in politics, so I want to be well-versed in healthcare policies. It’s so important to me and to a lot of people.”

Even though she knows she wants to perform legal work, Makseyn says she is grateful that Hollins and the Signature Internship Program in particular have given her the opportunity “to dip my toes in so many different fields. I’ve seen everywhere my political science degree can take me. If I wasn’t going to go to law school immediately, or decided I wasn’t going to attend law school after all, I would be completely confident I could find a job that I would enjoy based on everything I’ve done here. Nothing is off limits.”

 

 

 


“A Woman Of Action,” Lilly Potter ’19 Plans To “Do Something Positive In The World”

To illustrate his daughter’s fearlessness, Lilly Potter ’19 says her dad loves to tell the story of her childhood trip to India for a family wedding. “We encountered a cobra charmer and I just went and tried to pet the cobra. Fortunately, my dad got me away in time.”

The double-major in English and international studies has certainly learned to set boundaries in the ensuing years, but while at Hollins, her curiosity and sense of adventure have continued to flourish. She has devoted January Short Terms to traveling in Japan and Greece and spent full semesters studying abroad in London and Paris. She completed internships with Peace Boat US in New York City; the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired in Washington, D.C.; and the Nursing Times in London.  Her community service includes volunteer work last summer with the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center, where she gained firsthand experience with the inner workings of an international nonprofit organization. The trip was funded in part by Hollins’ Hobbie Trust Fund, which provides financial assistance for students to engage in a research or service project that is clearly connected to ethics or values.

“It’s a testament to Hollins and its flexibility that I was able to fit in so much,” Potter says. “The school made each of these experiences possible. I don’t hear from my friends at other schools that they receive the same support to participate in these kinds of extracurricular opportunities.”

Potter was drawn to Hollins because she says she knew that “Hollins makes good writers and good writers seek out Hollins. I think the ability to express myself orally and through the written word is something with which Hollins has gifted me, along with being able to synthesize different topics that may not have an immediate correlation. Everything connects if you really look for it.”

Believing Hollins has given her “a Renaissance education,” Potter has taken classes in philosophy, gender and women’s studies, statistical analysis, “and a lot of French” in addition to the coursework in her majors. She is also earning a certificate in leadership studies from the Batten Leadership Institute. “That was one of the strongest pulls of Hollins for me. I didn’t see women-centered leadership development courses at other universities.”

This fall, Potter will be attending William & Mary Law School. “It’s a really good fusion of my love of English and rhetoric and my desire to get out there and do something positive in the world. I’m interested in human rights law, and I’d like to live internationally and work in either the nonprofit or foreign service sectors.”

Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty has known Potter since her sophomore year, when she became Potter’s academic advisor in English. “Lilly is a woman of action, dedicated to her work and animated by a social conscience. She is intelligent and dedicated, works hard but remains modest about her accomplishments, and has the needed character traits to set goals, persevere, and achieve them. In addition to being capable and truthful, she is also tactful and kind. These many qualities convince me that she will make an excellent lawyer.”

When asked what she will miss the most about Hollins, Potter cites “a community that’s small and majority women, one that’s focused on women’s rights. I’m very grateful for the incredible, ferocious, and intelligent women and other people that I’ve met here. They really inspire me.”

 

 

 

 

 


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

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.’”


Senior Gains Crucial International Experience Close to Home

During her distinguished college career, Hanna Strauss ’19 has studied Arabic in Oman, completed a fellowship in Qatar, and spent an entire academic term living and studying in Cuba.

But this past summer, a part of the globe – one particular continent, to be exact – came to her.

Strauss worked with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a U.S. State Department program established in 2014 to promote economic growth and prosperity and bolster democracy in Africa. Each year, YALI brings 700 young African leaders to the United States to network with one another and with the American people.

Specifically, Strauss served as a summer program associate with a subsection of the YALI program called the Presidential Precinct, which was held largely at sites located just a few miles from her hometown of Keswick, Virginia. Featuring the homes of three U.S. presidents (Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, and James Monroe’s Highland) as well as such historic institutions as the University of Virginia and Morven in Charlottesville and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, the Presidential Precinct hosts representatives from across the African continent for six weeks of leadership training, academic coursework, and mentoring.

“They live at and learn about all these different sites and get to interact with activists who are involved with various initiatives here in the States,” Stauss explains. “Then they get to bring those connections when they return home to what they’re doing in their own communities. I met leaders from 16 different countries with a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Everyone I met was amazing.”

Strauss partnered with a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia and focused on meeting the Presidential Precinct’s needs for digital media and public image communications. Through her work, the double-major in Spanish and political science says she bonded with “a lot of activists who are doing things that I am interested in: human rights, women’s rights, and disability rights.”

While she is grateful for the opportunities she’s had to study abroad as a Hollins student, Stauss believes her summer internship with the Presidential Precinct was equally as important in terms of worldly experience. “This was completely new. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never been to Africa, so just the idea of traveling there and then actually meeting people who came from different countries was such an incredible honor. Everything I learned this summer is going to help me. It definitely gave me more perspective and just really validated why I chose Hollins and why I needed to have a liberal arts education.”

This year, Strauss is serving as president of Hollins’ Student Government Association. She is drawing upon all her experiences over the past three years to inform how she leads and works effectively toward achieving what she sees as her highest priority, building a more inclusive campus.

“Through actions as well as words, I want to make sure everyone knows their voice is important. There’s no reason someone should leave Hollins believing their voice is worth less than anyone else’s. That’s the whole point of empowering people.”