Everything changed for Alma Evertz when she took Developmental Psychology with KC Haydon. A psychology major already, Evertz learned about the field of occupational therapy in that class.
Right away she started brainstorming ideas to use her Lynk internship funding to learn more about the field. Occupational therapists work with those with injuries, illness or disabilities to recover and improve — and develop and maintain — skills required for daily living.
“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in occupational therapy, but I also wanted to continue and combine my interest in French,” she says. “So I went into my room and Googled ’pediatric therapy clinics in Montreal.’”
Evertz’s Google search turned up a French- and English-speaking pediatric therapy clinic in Montreal. She emailed the clinic, mentioning that she had an opportunity to receive funding from the College. She didn’t expect a response.
Two days later, she heard back with an offer of a summer internship — the clinic was eager to work with her. “It was an incredible experience and I still can’t believe it happened,” she says.
Simply applying was also a huge experience, says Evertz, who started at Mount Holyoke feeling shy and out of place. “I felt such a sense of pride. I really learned that you should just go for something. The worst that could happen is you get a rejection. That’s something I’m really proud of doing.”
Evertz hadn’t intended to study French in college. “One class at Mount Holyoke sold me and I have been taking French ever since,” she says. That first class was with Anouk Alquier, Reverend Joseph Paradis Visiting Instructor in French. They stayed in touch after the class ended.
“Anouk was the one who encouraged me to study abroad and to continue my studies in French,” Evertz says. “I don’t think I would have without her giving me a slight push.”
This year, she has been able to continue to combine her two majors by doing an independent study with Alquier. She explored occupational therapy in public schools in the United States versus in France.
“It really speaks to how Mount Holyoke professors really want to work with you,” Evertz says. “She did not have to accept my proposal, but she wanted to continue to work with me, and she was excited for me to pursue an idea I had.”
Evertz has also taken French at the Five College Consortium, including two classes at Amherst College with Sanam Nader-Esfahani, a Mount Holyoke alum from the class of 2009. “I was able to experience a new learning environment and meet other students, while also having a little connection to Mount Holyoke,” says Evertz, who also took classes at University of Massachusetts Amherst. “I really enjoyed these different settings, because they all brought a different perspective — and made me appreciate Mount Holyoke even more.”
Outside of the classroom, Evertz is co-caption of Jhumka, Mount Holyoke’s longest-running fusion dance team. She’s also on the board of Active Minds, a student org focused on mental health and decreasing stigma on campus.
“I came into college thinking that it was going to be hard and you just had to put in the work to succeed,” Evertz says. “But all of my professors really want to see everyone in the class do their best work. When someone’s talking, for example, the entire class, professors and students, are listening and encouraging the person who’s speaking. So instead of it being a competitive environment, both professors and students really work together in a class for everyone to learn and to do their best.”
Evertz will be pursuing a master’s degree in occupational therapy at Columbia University in the fall.