Rising Senior Is Among “The World’s Best and Brightest International Students to Experience The Real Saudi Arabia”

Katie Grandelli ’20, an international studies major and history and economics double-minor, recently spent a week immersed in the history, culture, academics, and politics of Saudi Arabia.

 

This past April, I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia for a week. This trip came as a result of my involvement in the National Council on US-Arab Relations’ (NCUSAR) Model Arab League program, which I have been a part of since my first semester here at Hollins.

One of the goals of NCUSAR and Model Arab League is to help students develop a better understanding of the region while also gaining leadership and diplomatic skills. The organization that led my trip, Gateway KSA, shares a similar focus: Its mission is to “invite the world’s best and brightest international students to experience the real Saudi Arabia.”

Katie Grandelli '20 - Saudi Arabia 2
Grandelli visited the cities of Riyadh, Al Ula, and Jeddah while in Saudi Arabia.

Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch, advisor to the Model UN/Model Arab League Club, said that my opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia was the result of the rapid growth of interest and participation in Model Arab League at Hollins. “NCUSAR can only ask a few faculty advisors to recommend students for trips like this, and they naturally tend to ask universities with the most active Model Arab League programs,” Lynch said. He added, “Katie’s leadership and dedication is a large part of the reason for that rapid growth, so her name instantly came to my mind when I was to recommend someone for the trip to Saudi Arabia.”

Our trip was split into three locations: Riyadh, Al Ula, and Jeddah. All three of these cities had many different opportunities to offer. Al Ula was a chance to learn more about ancient Saudi history, and Jeddah showed us the technological and cultural advancements that have been happening in Saudi Arabia (organically and due to Saudi Vision 2030).

The time we spent in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, was both academically and politically driven. These days were my favorite out of the entire trip. We had two enlightening panel discussions with women who represented the best success in both Saudi foreign policy and economic development. We were also fortunate to have dinner on our very first day in the country with HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, one of the major sponsors of our trip. The conversations we had with him revealed his skill as a diplomat (he had previously been the Saudi Ambassador to both the United States and the United Kingdom). All of us on the trip were grateful for the fact that Saudi culture does not beat around the bush when responding to tough queries, and we were all prepared to ask questions about the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s complex relationship with Iran. Prince Turki made it clear that there is a distinction between truth and media hype, as in the case of Khashoggi, and, while speaking about relations with Iran, the fact that a government is very different than the people of the country.

The people I met on this trip were even more incredible than the locations we visited. There were ten other students on the trip with me representing other American universities as well as Oxford University and even universities in Germany. Getting the chance to spend a week with these other ten brilliant and inspiring students is something for which I am incredibly grateful, and I know that we all will still be friends for many years.

Katie Grandelli '20 - Saudia Arabia 3
“I have always appreciated the entirety of the Middle East for its cultural diversity and the people who take such pride in their culture,” Grandelli said.

The many Saudi locals that we met throughout our week in the Kingdom were so hospitable, welcoming, and open to us. They were ready to answer the many questions we had and then ask us questions in return. We had three main trip leaders throughout our week, and all three of these women were so inspiring. They fearlessly led us through our itinerary of the week and dealt with any hurdles with great care and grace. Our main trip leader told us so much about her experience as a modern Saudi woman, and there was also a time when she drove us around the sand dunes in the middle of the desert in Al Ula. All of the people we had the chance to meet were so open to sharing their stories and experiences with us.

As a student of the greater international community, I have always appreciated the entirety of the Middle East for its cultural diversity and the people who take such pride in their culture. While meeting and chatting with students at Effat University in Jeddah, I realized even more so the importance of being able to appreciate and understand the person sitting next to you. To me, that ability is increasingly important today and every day.

 

 

 

 

 


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.’”


Meaghan Harrington ’19 Says Her Liberal Arts Education “Opened My Eyes To New Conclusions”

Meaghan Harrington ’19 once believed her inability to focus on one interest or a single area of study reflected poorly upon her. “I labeled that as uncertainty, and in a lot of places there’s really no space to be indecisive,” she recalls. “It’s viewed as a negative thing.”

But at Hollins, Harrington says she has been able to immerse herself in a liberal arts environment that encourages exploration and self-discovery. “It always frustrates me when people talk down the liberal arts, because the opportunity to do whatever I want and dabble in all these different fields has opened my eyes to new conclusions. Eventually, I found a mishmash of things that work for me.”

“Meaghan is what I’d describe as a ‘big thinker,’” says Associate Professor of History Rachel Nunez. “She really exemplifies the power of a liberal arts education to help students find new ways of thinking and being.”

Harrington’s quest to find the right academic combination included considering majors in international studies and gender and women’s studies. Ultimately, she landed upon double-majoring in history and classical studies, but she’s never hesitated to continue embracing any topic that she finds compelling. “I’ve taken classes in fields from environmental studies to music, and most recently I’ve been really interested in dance,” she notes. The latter helped inform her choice to examine in her senior history thesis the rhetoric of Mormon women on the female body in the late 19th century.

During the summer of 2017, between her sophomore and junior years, Harrington brought her interest in archaeology, a field that has fascinated her since fifth grade, to fruition. She performed six weeks of hands-on fieldwork at the annual Archaeological Field School in Jamestown, Virginia, site of the first permanent English settlement in North America (her research is detailed in this article). The following February and March, her desire to work in a diverse cultural setting was realized during an internship with the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan. Then, she continued growing her experience in archaeology as a volunteer with the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

Field excavation is drawing Harrington back to Jamestown this summer for an internship that she says is designed to help “demystify archaeology.” She will help conduct research on The Angela Project, an effort to explore the life and landscape of one of the first recorded Africans brought to English North America in slavery. “I’m excited to contribute to the creation of more diverse stories about the past,” Harrington says.

She adds that she is especially looking forward to using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to collect data at the site. A GIS captures and analyzes spatial information and offers a wide range of applications,  from the study of history to urban planning and architecture. “With this software-based technology, you can create maps and three-dimensional images,” she explains. “It’s the perfect way to visualize everything in which I’m interested.”

Harrington is so excited about GIS and its possibilities that she will be completing a post-baccalaureate certificate in the field, and employing the knowledge she gains to determine her future educational and career plans.

“I’m probably going to graduate school at some point, but in the meantime I think I will spend a couple of years in the field using GIS. The creativity in that work will certainly help me to define my future interests.”

In other words, no matter where life takes her after Hollins, Harrington will go on thinking big.

 


Hollins Honored For Best Undergraduate Theatre Program in Virginia

One of the world’s most-read theatre websites has named Hollins Theatre as the top undergraduate theatre program in Virginia.

OnStage Blog, which covers theatre on an international level, features Hollins in the 2019 edition of “The Best Undergraduate Theatre Programs in Each State.”

“Every year, OnStage Blog deep dives into college theatre programs to find what we feel are some of the best in the nation,” the website explains. “While the perfect program is the one that fits best with the student, schools can become that fit with fantastic facilities, strong faculty, [and] multiple performance opportunities, among other things. In truth, there are some schools that do that better than others and should be recognized for it.”

“There are some really terrific programs in our state, so this is quite an honor,” said Ernie Zulia, artistic director and chair of the Hollins theatre department. “I thank our incredible theatre faculty and staff for their brilliance and hard work. They are what makes us shine.”

In its review, OnStage Blog touts Hollins for the internship opportunities it offers “at some of the country’s most prestigious professional theatres, including: Cleveland Play House, Houston’s Alley Theatre, Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, New York’s Amas Musical Theatre, and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre. Other internships are being arranged at theatres around the country on a regular basis.”


62nd Annual Science Seminar Celebrates Student Research

Twenty-seven research projects representing the work of 30 Hollins science and mathematics students were showcased during the university’s 62nd Annual Science Seminar on April 25.

Students from the departments of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, physics, and psychology took part in this year’s poster session, which was held for the first time on the newly renovated second floor of the Dana Science Building.

This year’s seminar featured research conducted in a number of diverse geographic locations, from South America (the Peruvian Amazon’s white-sand forests), Central America (Panamanian coastal habitats), and the Caribbean (biodiversity and hurricane impact in the U.S. Virgin Islands), to southwest Virginia (tick activity/species abundance and emerald ash bore infestation), the southern Appalachians (forest and cave ecosystems), and the Hollins campus itself (avian window collisions and wetlands). Students also delved into topics such as Knot Theory, stock price prediction, and parent-child interactions.

Following their undergraduate careers at Hollins, seminar participants plan to pursue a wide range of interests, which include enrolling in medical school and veterinary school; completing graduate degrees in marine science, animal science/research, ecology, clinical psychology, and chemistry; and embarking on careers in quantitative analysis, wildlife rehabilitation, environmental education, and food justice.

Among the highlights of the 62nd Annual Science Seminar was the presentation of the inaugural Ella Faith Mode Award, recognizing outstanding student research. Catherine Flayhart ’20, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration and a physics minor, is the award’s first honoree.

 

Photo:  Savannah Goodbar ’20 (far left) and Autumn Woodbury ’20 (far right) share their research into vehicle driver responses to snake and stick models placed on the edge of two Virginia roads, one surrounded by rural farmland and the other in a mix of forest, residential, and light business.

 


Google Applied Computing Series Comes to Hollins

Google has selected Hollins University as a partner institution to implement its Applied Computing Series, an initiative focusing on computer science education.

Associate Professors of Mathematics Julie Clark and Steve Wassell, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Hammer, spearheaded the effort to bring the Applied Computing Series to Hollins, one of only 11 colleges and universities nationally that have been accepted into the program this year.  Semester-long Applied Computing courses will be offered to students who haven’t previously had the opportunity to study computer science or data science.

“Google and we see these courses as appropriate for students of all majors who are interested in applying data science techniques to their fields of study,” says Clark.Google Logo

Google administers the course content and platform for free, and Clark and Wassell will take part in faculty training this summer. Google’s Applied Computing I, which will be offered beginning in the fall of 2019, introduces students to computer science through an easy-to-learn programming language called Python. The course emphasizes such skills as problem solving; data analysis; design, implementation, testing, and analysis of algorithms and programs; formulating problems; thinking creatively about solutions; and expressing solutions clearly. There are no prerequisite courses necessary to enroll in Applied Computing I.

Google’s Applied Computing II, which will be launched in Spring 2020, explores the topic, “How to Think Like a Data Scientist.” The course is designed to help students make informed, data-based decisions with machine learning in combination with tools such as spreadsheets, Structured Query Language (SQL), and Python. Applied Computing I is a prerequisite for this course.

“These intro courses foster hands-on learning complemented by faculty-supported, collaborative project work,” Clark explains. “Our goal is to have students complete these courses with practical know-how in programming languages and the ability to make data-informed decisions in many disciplines.”


International Honor Society in Education Establishes Hollins Chapter

Hollins University is the home of the newest chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the international honor society in education.

The Alpha Iota Rho chapter was officially established on campus this month with 21 inductees. The mission of this organization is to advance quality education by inspiring teachers to prepare all learners for future challenges.

“Our goal is to have this newly installed society encourage all Hollins students and future educators to continue to achieve academic excellence at Hollins and beyond,” said Shalan Mitchell ’19 and Lindsey Grubb ’19, co-presidents of the chapter.

KDP was founded in 1911 to promote excellence in education and encourage fellowship among those dedicated to teaching. Featuring an initiated membership of more than 1.2 million, KDP champions four ideals, as articulated during the Alpha Iota Rho initiation ceremony on March 7:

  • Fidelity to Humanity: “Implies faith in the potential of human beings and in the improvement of the human condition through education; compassion in the contacts one has, as an educator, with humanity; and dedication to the concept that through continuous education based upon equal opportunity, persons of all ages, races, and creeds will find increased opportunity for experiencing more meaningful lives.”
  • Fidelity to Science: “Implies that, as an educator, one will be faithful to the cause of free inquiry and strive to eliminate prejudice and superstition by withholding judgement until accurate and adequate evidence is obtained.”
  • Fidelity to Service: “The very essence of education, which seeks advancement, not merely for self, but for society as well.”
  • Fidelity to Toil: “The will to do the task that must be done whether the task pleases one or not, faith in the social necessity and intrinsic reward of the education profession.”

To learn more about the Hollins chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, email kappadeltapi@hollins.edu.

 

Photo caption: Lindsey Grubb ’19 (left) and Shalan Mitchell ’19, co-presidents of the newly established Kappa Delta Pi chapter at Hollins.

 


Hollins, Virginia Western Announce Guaranteed Admission Agreements

Hollins University and Virginia Western Community College have established Guaranteed Admission Agreements (GAA) for graduates of four Associate of Science programs from Virginia Western.

Students who obtain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 in academically transferable courses and complete all requirements for Associate of Science degrees in business administration, general studies, social sciences, or social sciences – education, are guaranteed admission to Hollins.

“Hollins and Virginia Western recognize the need to partner and facilitate the path for women who seek to earn a four-year college degree and transfer their credits seamlessly into the Hollins curriculum and degree programs,” said Hollins President Pareena Lawrence. “Our GAAs will empower more students to continue their undergraduate education at an institution that prepares women to succeed in all sectors of society with an emphasis on leadership, life skills, and professional development.”

Lawrence noted that Guaranteed Admission Agreements students who enroll at Hollins will enjoy a number of benefits. “They are eligible for admission to competitive programs, financial aid, scholarships, parking, housing, and all other student services just as any other Hollins student. And, GAA students with a minimum of 58 credits will be given junior status and can enroll directly into 200 level courses or higher at Hollins.”

At a signing ceremony on Friday at Virginia Western, President Robert H. Sandel shared his excitement regarding the new agreements with a group of students. “Hollins is an outstanding university and has always been a wonderful partner for Virginia Western. These new agreements will give our students another pathway to seamlessly transfer and continue their education in pursuit of a strong career,” he said.

All of the courses that are accepted by Hollins will be applied towards the student’s baccalaureate degree and major program. A minimum grade of “C” must be obtained in each course the student wishes to transfer. GAA students can expect to graduate from Hollins with a baccalaureate degree after the successful completion of a minimum of 64 credits, two four-credit Short Term activities (classes, trips, independent study, or internships), and two physical education courses.

Moving forward, Lawrence said Hollins will provide up-to-date information to GAA students at Virginia Western pertaining to transfer procedures, financial assistance, housing policies, tuition and fee payments, and deadlines. Hollins will also develop a GAA guide for use by counselors, faculty, and students at Virginia Western.

Hollins is an independent liberal arts university offering undergraduate education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women, and community outreach initiatives. Founded in 1842, Hollins features nationally recognized programs in creative writing and theatre, extensive internship and study abroad opportunities, and a dedicated alumnae network.

Virginia Western Community College is a forward-thinking community college inspiring individual, community, and economic transformation. It provides quality educational opportunities that empower students for success and strengthen communities. The college provides credit based academic programs and non-credit workforce training along with distance learning online and dual enrollment courses in area high schools. To learn more, visit www.virginiawestern.edu.

Photo: Flanked by Virginia Western Community College students, Virginia Western President Robert Sandel and Hollins President Pareena Lawrence sign the Guaranteed Admission Agreements between the two institutions. 


Hollins Goes to Greece!

One of the qualities that makes January Short Term at Hollins so special is the opportunity for undergraduates to engage in a travel/study program. Professor of Classical Studies Tina Salowey and Associate Professor of Communication Studies Chris Richter are leading a group of 20 students as they spend three weeks this month immersing themselves in the history and culture of Greece.

“Tourists tend to think of Greece as a destination, but for this J-Term abroad course, we will study it as a crossroads, where people of different backgrounds have traveled from ancient times to the present,” Salowey explains.

The topics the group may experience onsite include Greek myths that involve travel quests, ancient pilgrims who traversed Greece to attend Panhellenic festivals, early modern perceptions of the territory as a crossroad of East and West, and the related ways that Greece historically has been a site for invasion, occupation, and empire, as well as a point of transit for refugees. Geographically, the Hollins student travel group will emphasize Athens/Attica, the Peloponnesus, and parts of central Greece.

Follow our students’ adventures this month on the Hollins Goes to Greece ’19 blog.


Hollins Senior Builds Upon Her Model Arab League Experience During Week in Qatar

For Hayley Harrington ‘19, one of the most rewarding aspects of her college career has been her involvement with Model United Nations and especially Model Arab League (MAL), a diplomatic simulation program whose goal is to give students a greater understanding of the Middle East and the Arab peoples.

“Learning on-the-spot public speaking and negotiation skills and how to conduct research quickly is an incredible skill set,” Harrington says of the benefits of taking part in MAL. “It’s served me well in taking classes that are heavy on oral presentations and in just being able to talk to people and collaborate. I have a deep love for Model Arab League.”

MAL is the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ (NCUSAR) flagship student leadership development program, and Harrington is currently president of the organization at Hollins. In November, she served as secretary-general for the Fourth Annual Appalachia Model Arab League, which welcomed to campus 12 delegations and nearly 100 students from middle school to college for the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the Arab Region.

Last summer, Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch nominated Harrington, who is double majoring in international studies and art history, for a fellowship with NCUSAR. She was one of only ten undergraduates from across the country who were accepted into the program, where over the course of the following year they “engage with the community, talk about what we have learned, and break down some of the stigmas and misconceptions that people have toward the Middle East,” she says.

One of the highlights of Harrington’s fellowship thus far took place over Thanksgiving. She and her respective fellows spent a week engaged in a study visit to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, joined by five professors (including Lynch) and NCUSAR staff members.

“Those were five very jam-packed days,” Harrington recalls. “Pretty much from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, we were busy.”Hayley Harrington '19 - 2

The group met with constituencies that ranged from ambassadors, embassy workers, and U.S. military personnel to top consultants and financial leaders to learn more about the richest country in the world per capita. They also gained perspective on the land, air, and sea blockade instituted by other Arab nations in June 2017 because of Qatar’s alleged interactions with terrorist organizations.

“What people need to know about Qatar is their goal is to be a mediator,” Harrington explains. “They’re a very small, very wealthy state, and in that position they think it’s in their national interest to facilitate negotiations between differing political factions in order to achieve peace.” She notes that Qatar has worked with organizations and states such as Hamas and Israel. And, though Qatar in no way supports Iran, “it’s important that they maintain relations and get along with one another. Iran is a neighbor and represents Qatar’s only access to airspace to Western Europe,” she adds.

“The goal of the blockade was to collapse the economy of Qatar and they’ve ended up coming out stronger,” Harrington concludes. “They’ve diversified their economy because they have to provide more of their own resources. They’ve made connections with countries outside of the Gulf and they’ve strengthened relations with the United States. They’ve continued to export their biggest resource, natural gas, so that the United Arab Emirates isn’t without power.”

One example she observed that typifies Qatar’s resiliency in the face of the blockade is the country’s national dairy farm. “Qatar was cut from their entire dairy supply and so their thought process was, ‘Well, what if we just build a giant dairy farm and support ourselves instead?’”

Harrington says Qatar’s innovative spirit also underpins their preparations to host the World Cup in 2022. Using sustainable, effective design and employing recyclables as much as possible, the country is building six stadiums to accommodate the event and is planning to repurpose the materials so that the structures don’t simply deteriorate afterward. And, instead of building new hotels that will sit empty after the World Cup competition ends, “they’re bringing in cruise ships and leaving them docked” to accommodate attendees.

Qatar is “a wonderful country,” Harrington believes, but she is quick to note that it is by no means perfect. “There are definitely a lot of human rights issues that they are actively working to take steps to improve,” she says.

While it will take time for her to process everything she learned during her week in Qatar, Harrington “can definitely say that it’s been one of the most impactful experiences of my education and of my time at Hollins. I worked with nine other incredible, very accomplished, very intelligent undergraduate students and five very intelligent, very accomplished professors. It meant a lot to hear what other people have to say and get differing opinions, ideas, and thoughts.

“I think it also changed the way I look at other parts of the world. Trying to achieve an objective truth is very difficult, but looking at and comparing the ways we look at different countries versus how they see themselves is definitely something for which this trip has helped me grow skills and insight.”

Harrington is looking forward to serving on the National Secretariat for the National University Model Arab League conference at Georgetown University in April 2019. Then, following her graduation from Hollins next spring, she aspires to attend Virginia Tech and pursue a master’s degree in landscape architecture. The opportunity came about as a result of her work last summer with the Small Cities Institute, a research and teaching collaboration between Hollins, Roanoke College and Virginia Tech co-founded by Associate Professor of International Studies Jon Bohland where faculty and students tackle issues facing small urban areas around the globe.

“We worked on some of the barriers that prevent people from accessing equitable workplace participation and workforce development in the Roanoke Valley,” she says.

Harrington admits that landscape architecture “has very little to do with the international studies and art history departments,” but the graduate program represents “a really nice synthesis of everything I want to do” in a career.

“At the end of the day, I really care about people, and the core of what I care about is helping and working with others to make the world a better place for someone other than myself.”