Community connections at home and abroad
“I definitely feel the warmth of the Mount Holyoke community while I am on campus, but I found it to be a [real] source of strength during my time abroad.”
For Tenzin Amdo, it took only one visit to Mount Holyoke’s campus to confirm her decision to attend.
“Coming from a graduating class of 700 or more students, it was important for me to find a school with a close-knit community,” she said.
Amdo knew from two peers who had gone to Mount Holyoke that the College had a stimulating classroom environment and campus life.
Having attended a science-focused high school, she initially thought she would major in biology once she arrived on campus.
But, inspired by her keen interest in learning about different cultures, she also decided to take an introductory anthropology course. In that class, she found that she loved the kind of classroom discussions and questions that came up while studying other cultures.
It was also something that she could see the value in, no matter what direction her career would take.
“Anthropology felt like a major that would be helpful for me in any field, especially if I’m working with members of various cultures,” she said.
After declaring her major, Amdo took a few medical anthropology–related courses, which raised her awareness of the health disparities that different ethnic groups face. That knowledge awakened a passion for addressing those issues, and she decided to pursue a Five College certificate in culture, health and science to prepare herself to enter the field of public health.
She also found new ways to explore her interest in film and media. She had always loved having in-depth conversations with friends about TV shows or movies she watched, but as she allowed herself to explore new academic directions, she was able to dig deeper into her observations and opinions. The creative and imaginative world so inspired her that she declared film media theater as her second major.
Community connections at home and abroad
One of the main reasons Amdo chose Mount Holyoke was its strong community. Once here, she built her own community through the classes she took, through the work sessions she participated in after class and through the Biology Club, where she has served as the secretary and social media chair.
She also found connections in a college-level community service organization called Circle K, whose members are dedicated to supporting childhood development, promoting environmental justice, serving those who are food insecure or who lack housing, and improving mental health.
The community she created didn’t end at the campus gates. When Amdo set out to fulfill a lifelong dream of studying abroad in South Korea last fall, she found that she was buoyed both by the support of her home community back on campus and by those who also decided to take a semester abroad.
“I definitely feel the warmth of the Mount Holyoke community while I am on campus, but I found it to be a [real] source of strength during my time abroad,” she said. “I was able to become very close with the other Mount Holyoke students who were also studying abroad with me.”
Her time in South Korea also helped her to discover the power of her voice.
“My main goal during my time there was to take initiative and play an active role in creating my experiences,” she said. “ I think this was impactful because I find myself having less trouble using my voice in everyday situations now.”
Into the future
Apart from studying abroad, Amdo completed a remote Lynk-funded internship during her junior year with Advice Support Knowledge Informations, where she researched how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts both the physical and mental health of the elderly in ethnic minority communities. She also researched how other nonprofits have run similar programs, how to fundraise with the elderly and how to help prepare the elderly for death.
Amdo completed a second internship as an emergency data relief intern, where she collected COVID-19 case numbers in every county in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by race and ethnicity and recorded them on a spreadsheet.
Amdo’s internships helped to solidify her passion for public health and gave her the experience needed to get into the field. She is currently working with the Career Development Center to tailor her résumé to the position she wants. She plans to take a year off from academia to work before applying to graduate schools, where she plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health.