Finding a home at Mount Holyoke

Mya Wright '21 found her home in Mount Holyoke.

Interview by Keely Savoie

Finding a place to call home is a momentous time for anyone, but when your life has been touched by tragedy, including homelessness, it’s life-changing. Mya Wright ’21 and her three brothers grew up in Miami, Florida, in the care of a single mother who struggled to keep her family afloat. Frequent moves to new homes and towns meant new teachers, new schools, new friends.

For many kids, the constant upheaval and uncertain circumstances could have overshadowed school and friends, but Wright thrived both academically and socially. A natural athlete, she competed on the swim team and the water polo team.

Then a series of family tragedies, including her mother’s sudden illness, a period of homelessness and her older brother’s suicide, threatened to derail her. But Wright was driven to succeed. When she was selected for the Posse Foundation's highly competitive leadership development program to attend Mount Holyoke on a full scholarship provided by the College, and a family at her school offered to help pay her other expenses, Wright seized the opportunity, despite her reluctance to leave her close-knit family.

Wright, who started as a first-year student at Mount Holyoke in September, spoke about her experiences thus far.

Mount Holyoke has had a partnership with the Posse Foundation for seven years, and each year a cohort of students from Miami come to join the community. It’s a huge shift in culture and climate. How are you handling it?

I've fallen in love with the Mount Holyoke experience. In high school you’re told to go to college, but they don't teach you what really college is like. In high school there is this unspoken barrier between the students and teacher, but in college it’s more of a mutual learning and teaching process. My ideas are accepted by my teachers — even more than that, my ideas are incorporated into their own ideas, instead of being dismissed.

At Mount Holyoke, both students and faculty are very accepting of different perspectives and different goals. I very much like that, because there’s no reason for you to justify yourself. Everyone’s already like, “We hear you. We see you. Be you.”

As for the climate, honestly, I was expecting to already be in heavier clothing by now. I came up here because I wanted changing seasons. That was one of my requirements, actually. I love the people in Florida, my family, but I guess home is more of the people within Miami than the actual physical place itself.

You chose to come to Mount Holyoke instead of going to a program on an athletic scholarship. Why?

I used to be a water polo player. I love doing the sport but it’s very time-consuming, and I didn't want to be tied to a rigid training schedule in college. One institution was recruiting me, but when the coach sent me the schedule I started crying. It left no time for me to have interactions outside of my teammates, outside of sports.

I’ve always had dreams of traveling the world, of being able to say, for instance, “Yes, I went to Japan for a year, and had an amazing experience. I’m back on campus now. Let me share what I learned.” Here, I get to have an authentic college experience. I get to choose if I want to do sports. I get to choose if I want to sleep. I get to choose these things and it makes me happy rather than confined or contained.

I also have the flexibility to try new things and go outside my comfort zone. I’m taking Japanese this year and I absolutely adore it. I’m so in love with the Japanese language, the culture. It’s very different from America.

You are focusing on psychology, and considering a pre-med track. Where do you see yourself going after college?

I know I want to do something in which I can help others. Helping people has always been a passion of mine — talking to people, making sure I understand their problems. We all have these intricate lives, and there’s no reason for me to judge anyone else. I’ve always wanted to be that person who is able to help others better themselves.

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