Students Network with Alums in Public Service

Students network with alumnae in Washington, D.C.

For 24 Mount Holyoke students, spring break brought more than a respite from classes and the chance to sleep late. Instead, as part of the MHC Lynk: On the Road program, they spent two busy days in Washington, D.C., networking with alumnae in the public and private sectors.

View a photo gallery about the trip.

At the kick-off reception for the program—which focused on careers in public service—students connected with Mount Holyoke alums from the U.S. State Department, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Department of Defense. They also heard from keynote speaker Naomi Barry-Perez ’96, director of civil rights for the U.S. Department of Labor, on “Women in Public Service: Engage, Connect, Step Up.”

“It was so inspiring to meet Naomi Barry-Perez and other alums who have such high-level jobs in D.C.,” said politics major Scarlett Montenegro ’14. Montenegro was thrilled to get advice from Barry-Perez on everything from law school to salary negotiations. “It was an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had to network with people in exactly the kind of careers I’m excited about,” Montenegro said. “I was impressed that Barry-Perez and other alumnae were so knowledgeable about current events on campus. One of them even offered to help with jumpstarting my career after graduation.”

Events during the whirlwind visit included a panel discussion with alums moderated by Stephanie Liotta Atkinson ’03, legislative and communications director for the Council of the District of Columbia, as well as a briefing at the World Bank, a guided tour of the Pentagon led by Jessie Babcock ’03 from the U.S. Department of Defense, and a second panel of alums in public service, moderated by Claire Boyd ’12, executive assistant in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

For Montenegro, the trip was also a chance to revisit the Capitol, where she lived last summer and fall while completing an internship in the office of Florida Congressman Joe Garcia and attending American University’s Washington Semester Program. At Mount Holyoke’s annual Senior Symposium on April 11, Montenegro will present the independent study that grew out of her D.C. internship, on how the 2014 Farm Bill’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) affects low-income families.

MHC Lynk: On the Road is part of The Lynk initiative, which connects students’ academic work with career exploration and funds one qualified summer internship or research experience for every sophomore or junior. Other Lynk trips this year have included a day at Harvard Law School hosted by Dean Ellen Cosgrove ’84, and a conference in Springfield, Massachusetts, on entrepreneurship.

—By Bonnie Sennott