Alumnae Stories: Study Abroad

Below are stories from Mount Holyoke College alumnae reflecting on their study abroad experiences, as well as their experiences with academic departments and other opportunities. 

Josie Cooper ’20
Josie Cooper ’20: I am pursuing a major that makes me excited to practice the things that I love, such as acting, and trying new things, like lighting.
Claudia Mazur ’16, sailing the Pacific aboard a tall ship.
Claudia Mazur ’16 spent a semester learning about the world's oceans and climate as part of earning a marine science studies certificate through MHC.
Mei Lum '12
Mei Lum ’12: In Thailand and China I learned that it’s okay to not know and to be uncomfortable in the unknown. That’s where really great things happen.
"Emma O'Leary '16 "
Emma O’Leary ’16: Biochemistry fulfills my need to be intrigued, confronted with complex questions, and participate in independent research.
Costa Rica
Sarah Hayden '15: it helped me realize how much I would like to continue my studies about Latin America and the environment.
Alessandra Massa at Catherine Palace
For JTerm 2017, 3 Mount Holyoke students received stipends to travel to Saint Petersburg
Poh Choo SIm
Poh Choo Sim '11: The American culture encouraged me to explore outside of my comfort zone, while the Chinese culture was a mystery inside of me.
Zilin Cui '11
Zilin Cui '11: I learned how to engage with Spanish speakers on a cultural, intellectual and professional level, and became a true world citizen.
Dana Rubin
Dana Rubin '12: Working for an affordable housing director, I heard stories, many from first generation immigrants about public transportation issues.
Rebecca Rothstein
Rebecca Rothstein '14: One cannot divorce Russian politics from Russian literature.
Kiana Lussier Holding a firefly in Costa Rica
Kiana Lussier '13: I wondered how many luciérnagas, fireflies, I could spot in the forest in one minute.
Photo of Olivia Lucas ’18 and her host famliy in Cameroon
For Olivia Lucas ’18, multilingualism was her gateway to a new culture and experience of identity.
 Emily McGranachan '12 at the Marcha de la Diversidad Sexual, Santiago, Chile, 2011.
Emily McGranachan '12: I frequently think about my experience traveling and living internationally when talking about LGBTQ rights and the global movement
Jody Phelps
Jody Phelps ’18: Spanish has been a huge part of my career here at Mount Holyoke and in my other ventures, like my internship and studying abroad.
Fanrui shao with friends in Germany
You can't really understand German humor until you learn German.
Jessie Babcock '03 with Secretary of Defense
Jessie Babcock ’03: When I decided to double-major in English & Spanish literature, I never could have guessed where my studies would lead.
Clare Schweitzer '12
Clare Schweitzer '12: as a double major in dance and mathematics, I found that many threads ran through my two fields of study.
Deana Jaber ’05: my teaching positions at MHC helped me discover my passion for teaching and got me thinking about how to become an effective educator.
Arielle Derival ’17 in Lima, Peru, working to promote and defend the rights of women domestic workers.
Arielle Derival ’17: working to promote and defend the rights of women domestic workers in Lima Peru
Nora Bond ’14
Nora Bond ’14: my study of psychology helped me discover that understanding that people are people, first, is the key to better work.
Yafu Zhu '16
Yafu Zhu '16: My honor thesis topic lead me to four months of fieldwork in a remote county in Yunnan Province, Western.
 Emily McGranachan  '12 at the Madres de Plaza de Mayo
Emily McGranachan '12: The Spanish department fostered my passion for social movements in Latin America in a way that only language acquisition can.
Kaitlin McCarthy '09
Kaitlin McCarthy '09: As a writer and dancer, I look for the values expressed within the dance, and evaluate how well the piece fulfilled those values.
Lawren Wilkens
Lawren Wilkins '16: Most of my joy in South Korea was not spent in the classroom at Ewha but in the city of Seoul.
Melissa A. Danz '17 backpacking in the desert.
Melissa A. Danz ’17: Studying philosophy helped me to explore how I can work toward justice for all when the needs of a country are very complex.
Ye Li '11, Graduate Student
Ye Li '11: one of my proudest achievements during my undergraduate journey is my thesis in Spanish.
Rapa Nui
Kelsey Briggs '15: as an important actor for effective cultural preservation, I became more critical of "non-invasive" anthropological methods.
Haley Robinson '17
Haley Robinson '17: my passion for Spanish language will continue to inspire me to learn and grow both in and outside of the classroom.
Eliza Skakel ‘13: I was exposed to an academic environment, process, and professionalism that I had not previously encountered.
Image of Bahia Marks ’15
“At Mount Holyoke I’ve seen women take charge and create beauty from nothing but an idea. The capacity to impact change is immense. Be bold, be brilliant.”
Olivia Griffen with Camel
Olivia Griffin '13: everyone assured me, “your undergrad major doesn’t matter" but I am absolutely sure I chose the right major in Middle Eastern Studies.
Meaghan Haenn '15: I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, where in the classroom I learned more about immigration, and outside of class saw the reality of it
Heather Southwick '90
Heather Southwick '90: While in graduate school, I began to combine my love of dance and medicine through an internship with Boston Ballet.
Adrienne Picciotto
Adrienne Picciotto '16: My internship with the Media Institute for Social Change was one of my most life-changing experiences.
Alexandra Ekstein-Kon '11
Alexandra Ekstein-Kon '11: studying Italian at Mount Holyoke was the catalyst that gave me the tools I needed to make the move to Europe.
Aviva Elzufon
Aviva Elzufon '10: through my Spanish major I developed the ability for critical, concise, well-written work throughout my post-graduate career.
logo for The Lynk
Osato Iyore Ayanru ’05: on my Fulbright in Ghana, I studied medicinal plants that traditional healers prescribed to to HIV + patients.
Billie Jean Stirewalt '14: I've visited 12 countries, met the love of my life, adopted a Georgian mountain dog, and published research papers for USAID.
Rachel Krueger ’13: as a visiting DAAD fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, I had the opportunity to investigate proton conduction.
Students interacting with art, painting on a wall.
How Amal Fahem combined her diverse interests, experiences studying and interning abroad, and on-campus employment to craft a unique college experience.
Christina Elder, Neuroscience Major
Christina Elder ’18 began with a study abroad experience in New Zealand and then returned to that country for an internship studying addiction science.
Phuong Nguyen '17 jumping with friend in front of the great wall of China.
Phuong Nguyen '17: my Theatre Arts and East Asian Studies majors were extremely helpful preparation for a future career in Costume Design in Asia.
Gabriella Gonzalez '16
Gabriella Gonzalez '16: Language is one very important part of communication, but there is more to it.
Akemi Go
Akemi Go '15: Studying the language, the culture, and the country inspired me to complete an independent study on Business in China and study in Beijing.
Megan Brooks with student holding a sign that says "Be The Change"
Megan Brooks '14: I still carry what I learned in my Middle Eastern Studies major, the people I met, and my experiences abroad into all that I do.
Mengjia Wan studying karate in Tokyo.
Mengjia Wan '14: during my study abroad in Tokyo, I listened to Japanese people's views on Japan's society, culture and foreign relations.
Rita C. Economos ’01 chiseling rock in the field.
Rita C. Economos ’01: At Mount Holyoke I learned grit and courage — I don’t think I could have learned them so well, and with such joy, anywhere else.
University of Potsdam Exchange Program
Hannah Weisman '2000: I learned research skills; discovered beautiful and heartbreaking stories of loss, survival, and strength and found my career focus.
Kameliya Atanasova
Kameliya Atanasova '08: My arabic skills, writing experience in Cairo, and digital media training in the Five Colleges prepared my graduate foundation.
Merli Guerra '09
Merli V. Guerra '09: taking Beginning Classical Indian Dance led to me touring the world with Devi’s company and the Deborah Abel Dance Company.
Michelle Bernardino '15
Michelle Bernardino '15: my study-abroad experience encouraged me to do more sexual and reproductive work within and for the Latina/o community.
Sophia Spector '15
Sophia Spector '15: my italian major helped me discover my true passion and prepared me for my career.
Kate Bailey
Kate Bailey '08: as a dance major, my interest in formulating my own Pilates-based movement series based on spirals later turned into my honors thesis.
Jenna at The American University of Antigua College of Medicine in NY.
Jenna Lenz '11: I found many great opportunities but none more influential than my time in Japan through the Associated Kyoto Program.
Samantha Neally ’19
Samantha Neally ’19: I learned not only about plants, but also about how indigenous communities are impacted by globalism, tourism and other issues.
Hilary Pollan
Hilary Pollan '12: My Nexus Global/Local Experiences helped me the most in collaborating with diverse groups to improve community health.
Lyndsey Ingram standing in front of a painting
Lyndsey Ingram ’2001: my internship was the most meaningful and significant thing that happened at the start of my career.
Photo of Javeria Kella ’19 in Liberia
Beyond the classroom: Javeria Kella ’19 discusses her internship with Gbowee Peace Foundation in Liberia.
Tracy Whelen
Tracy Whelen '14: Geography has also allowed me the independence to chart a course through the projects that interested me.
Cover detail from "Nigeria Revisited: My Life and Loves Abroad," by Catherine Onyemelukwe '62
A memoir by Catherine Onyemelukwe '62, a German major, chronicles her work in Nigeria and her decades-long personal and professional ties to that country.
Candice Whitney
Candice Whitney ’15: My Italian language skills helped me learn basic French and Moroccan Arabic and continue my work and research in Morocco and Italy.
Katharyn Fletcher ’09: my double major in chemistry and german studies inspired me to pursue post-graduate research fellowships in Hamberg.
Julia Godinez
Julia Godinez 17: he friendships and bonds I made this summer exposed me to an entirely new culture, which accepted me despite all our differences.
Caitlin Baltzley at the Chengdu Panda Reserve
Caitlin Baltzley '16: studying Chinese in Beijing was the ideal environment for me to improve my Mandarin and the adventure of a lifetime.
Quinn Wallace
Quinn Graham Wallace '17: Through geography, I studied geopolitics in Mongolia and found my professional interests in transportation and urban planning.
Marta Checko
Marta Checko '14: Through my year abroad, I developed the language capacity to research German/Polish relations since WWII and defend an honors thesis.
Image courtesy of Diying Wu ’11
Diying Wu ’11: My independent study project contributed to my M.A. thesis on China-Latin American Free Trade Agreements at the University of Chicago.
Victoria Schmidt-Scheuber
Victoria Schmidt-Scheuber ’12: Academic rigor, guest speakers and supportive atmosphere inspired me to continue onward to graduate school.
Olivia Lucas (far right) with her host family on International Women's Day
Olivia Lucas: Here in the U.S. we’re caught up in our technology and race from one thing to the next, but there, close social ties are far more important.
Mika Weissbuch, Podcasts for Peace
Mika Kie Weissbuch '11: while researching privatization in and around Managua’s municipal dump, we got the idea to start a children’s community center.
Astrid Baumgardner
Astrid Rehl Baumgardner ’73: Because of the academic rigor and encouragement I experienced at MHC, I have a life and career of passion and purpose.
Nondie Hemphill in front of rockets.
Nondie Hemphill '10: MHC instilled within me the courage to follow my interests and unapologetically enter into the burgeoning field of Space Law.
Emma Walters '15
Emma Walters '15: when I decided to pursue a Spanish minor - and then major - I had no idea it would change my professional and personal goals.
Cassandra Cushman
Cassandra Cushman ’08: I learned lessons that have carried me to New York City, on to film, to the stages of The Public and Roundabout theaters and beyond.
McKenzie Conner working as a docent in a gallery
McKenzie Conner ’13: Learning another language and culture led to insighta into the background of its artists I would never otherwise understand.
Rita Kerbaj '14
Rita Kerbaj ’14: My Spanish minor gave me access to opportunities in emerging markets and the confidence to pursue them as a leader at a top startup.
Kristin C. Johnson '15
Kristin Johnson '15: My thesis fills an important gap in Mexican-American history and more accurately represents their role in post WWII labor movements.
Marly Stasi
Marly L. Stasi '12: I studied history, literature, language, art, and culture, because an italian major is by no means limited to a language alone.
Alexandra Horne ’12
Alexandra Horne ’12: My experiences at Mount Holyoke helped me grow into the sort of woman confident in her ability to do whatever she wants.
Sara Redeghieri ’16 discusses her study abroad experience and how it shaped her life.
Ariel Hayat '15
Ariel Hayat ’15: my passion for music, storytelling, and authentic connection has continued to be a grounding point in my life following graduation.