Becoming a better global citizen as a Mount Holyoke student
“I really appreciate that [the MHC Semester in D.C] program provided a new way for me to view international relations and public policy.”
Coming from Beijing, China, Hening Sun was looking for a school that could provide an intimate atmosphere. After reading multiple articles about the campus and its location, Sun knew Mount Holyoke was the one. “I appreciate the diverse and liberal environment Mount Holyoke College cultivates,” she said.
Once enrolled, Sun declared psychology as her major but realized that she also had an interest in law. Through the Nexus in Law, Public Policy and Human Rights program, she was able to dive deeper into how complex relationships within the local and national political sectors create, shape and interpret public policies and legislation, enabling her to better prepare for her future goals.
“I want to help more people in my life. Not everybody has the resources to access mental health counseling,” she said. “So my career goal is to do something related to public policy, to make policies more equitable.”
“I feel like a liberal arts college provides you with a safe space for different people with different backgrounds to interact and open up.”
As an international student attending school in the United States, Sun initially found the language and cultural barriers challenging, but she was able to overcome these hurdles by creating a dance club named Holy Street. As the group explored different styles of dance choreography such as jazz, hip hop, K-pop and C-pop, Sun was able to find community.
“I definitely know a lot of students and a lot of my friends through dancing,” Sun said. “It also helps me connect with my heritage. On campus I speak only English, and Holy Street gives me a place to speak my own language. It makes me feel comfortable, and it relieves a lot of stress.”
Another way Sun made the most of her Mount Holyoke experience was to complete a semester in D.C. during the first semester of her senior year. MHC Semester in D.C. is a program offered by the Weissman Center for Leadership that allows students to live and intern in the nation’s capital. Along with living and working in D.C., the students also study at American University.
During the semester, students are mentored by alums and have the opportunity to make life-long connections. For Sun, the semester was a chance for her to get out of her comfort zone, talk more with people from different backgrounds and develop a foundation upon which she will continue to study law after graduation.
“I was particularly interested in Chinese policy. So I was working on China’s policy and data governance,” she said. “D.C. is the political center, and I definitely feel like I learned a lot. I really appreciate that the program provided a new way for me to view international relations and public policy.”
As Sun reflects on her time at Mount Holyoke, she realizes the College’s environment has enabled her to be a better global citizen.
“A lot of the courses really opened my eyes. I remember my first year in comparative politics. We learned a lot about different regimes and different policies. That affected my political view and opened a whole new way for me to see political issues,” she said. “I gained a lot from that class, and the small class sizes really helped me to refine my thoughts. I feel like a liberal arts college provides you with a safe space for different people with different backgrounds to interact and open up.”
Sun plans to apply to law clerk positions after graduation and is currently applying to law school.