Centering career in academic pursuits

MHC’s Academic Centers provided unique opportunities for Paola Granados to work toward a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in international development.

Growing up in Mexico and Colombia, Paola Granados ’22 observed the inequalities that resulted from pollution and the mining industry. As a double major in international relations and environmental studies, she now analyzes the socio-political and economic factors that affect the environment, public health, migrations and cross-border conflicts. Upon completing her joint bachelor’s and master’s degree, she plans to work at a nonprofit that promotes human security and sustainable development.

“My professors pushed me to do my best and have given me great advice regarding career paths,” said Paola. For example, Professor Christopher Mitchell, assistant professor of international relations and politics, encouraged her to consider graduate school to prepare for organizational leadership. Professor Andy Reiter, associate professor of politics and international relations, provided valuable feedback on papers, which inspired Paola to try new methods.

With help from the McCulloch Center and The Lynk Universal Application Funding (UAF) program, Paola secured in 2020 a remote internship with Huellas de Paz, a Nicaraguan social justice community center. Also through the McCulloch Center, Paola learned about the joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program with the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. The program will enable Paola to complete both degrees in five years.

In 2020 Paola was invited to attend the Careers in Public Service event through the Weissman Center for Leadership. Postponed a year because of COVID-19 and held virtually, it made a powerful impression. “It was good to hear from alums about their journeys and their work, and it gave me ideas on what path I could take postgraduation. Similarly my interactions with the Miller Worley Center have entailed attending panels with alums and seeing what their careers have looked like in fields relating to the environment.

Mount Holyoke’s Centers harness knowledge from alums, professors and other experts in their fields.

“Overall I think all [Mount Holyoke’s] Centers try to expand professional perspectives and opportunities to students in careers they might not know how to get into. As a first-generation/low-income student, I learned a lot by listening to alums, including that there’s no straight path or one single way to achieve objectives,” Paola said.

Paola decided to attend Mount Holyoke because she knew that a liberal arts college would expose her to academic fields and resources she would not have known existed. The College also provided access.

“The financial aid I have received up until this point has been of great help to nurture my studies and continue pursuing my career goals as a development practitioner.”

For their advice and generosity, Paola is grateful to MHC’s alums. “Thank you for all your support and collaboration and the work that you do for current students and future students of Mount Holyoke.”

In her upcoming alum years, Paola intends to do the same. “As an alum I want to be able to give Mount Holyoke students the same opportunities I have had — even more opportunities.”

She has already started to help MHC students through her campus leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion and as an advocate for other first-generation and low-income students.