Last summer, Abigail Chernick ’11 spent two months in Geneva as an intern at UN Watch, the nongovernmental organization that monitors the United Nations. Chernick, an international relations (IR) major from Lexington, Massachusetts, served as a reporter while the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) was in session; her notes on the proceedings were used for blog posts and press releases. When the council wasn't in session, she conducted research for speeches, articles, and op-eds being written by her employer.
“My focus within the IR major is security and the Middle East,” said Chernick. “And I’d become critical of the UN’s mechanisms regarding human rights. When I learned of the internship at an organization trying to bring constructive reform to the HRC, I knew I wanted to apply. The experience has sparked my interest in pursuing a career in diplomacy.”
Chernick also credits that internship with helping her earn a fellowship that has her working with the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) in Melbourne this summer. She’s working on the AIJAC’s monthly magazine, as well as dealing with the media and politicians on issues concerning Australia-Israel relations. “By the end of my time here I'll have contributed a feature piece for the magazine, and have traveled to Canberra to meet with parliamentarians.”
Though Chernick had never expected to attend a woman’s college, she was drawn to Mount Holyoke by its range of strengths. While in high school, her interest in Israel had led to an interest in Middle-Eastern politics and history. “The more I learned about the region and how agreements that leaders reached or failed to reach had made huge differences in the lives of millions of people, the more I thought I pursue an IR major in college,” said Chernick. “And when I got to Mount Holyoke, the IR program was so rich and the professors from whom I had the privilege of learning were so good that no other subject could tempt me away.”
Chernick also was attracted to Mount Holyoke by the opportunities presented through the Five College Consortium. By the end of her junior year, she had taken classes at Amherst, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts—and spent a semester in Israel at the University of Haifa. Still, she says that there is no place she’d rather call home than Mount Holyoke. “I had an incredible experience abroad and I’ve enjoyed my Five Ccollege classes but I was always glad to catch the bus back to Mount Holyoke at the end of the day. I can’t imagine having a better experience at any other school.”