The excitement of learning in community

In my four years at MHC, I’ve found joy in every corner of campus as professors, students and staff share in the excitement of learning in community.

When Elena Frogameni visited Mount Holyoke as a sophomore in high school, she felt instantly at home. 

“My tour guide was filled with joy as she spoke of her time at Mount Holyoke,” she said. “I so vividly remember her grin as she detailed the best study spots on campus, her favorite student organizations and how she took salsa-dancing lessons in her free time.”

Two years later, she walked back onto campus as a first-year student, eager to take advantage of all the things the College had to offer. One of those things was the setting of the campus itself.

“I’m incredibly lucky to be able to attend a world-class institution like Mount Holyoke right in my own backyard,” she said. “I was born and raised in the Pioneer Valley, so I felt it stood out as a place where I could develop global perspectives while also learning from and contributing to my own community.” 

As a politics and French double major, Frogameni said that her classes expanded her worldview and challenged her to build the skills she would need in her future career in international politics. 

“Last summer, I was able to put my French skills to use as I interned at the U.S. State Department’s Africa Regional Services, located in the U.S. Embassy in Paris,” she said. “I’ve also been able to work with other students to address local issues by way of Community-Based Learning courses and public-service training through the Weissman Center for Leadership.”

During her sophomore year, she simultaneously took a community-based learning course on housing policy in western Massachusetts and a course on European public policy, which focused on housing policy during the 20th century in Europe. 

She was also a part of a research team of students led by the late Jon Western, Carol Hoffmann Collins '63 Professor of International Relations. “Our work was primarily focused around the institutional resilience of democracies in the aftermath of the attacks on the validity of the 2020 election, including subsequent court cases, and the January 6 insurrection,” Frogameni said. The work was recognized in the New York Times for its groundbreaking importance.

As a member of the College Democrats for the entirety of her college days, she was able to put some of her classroom knowledge into practice. 

But Frogameni’s life at the College was more than work. An active squash player, she found camaraderie and relief from the academic intensity. “I’ve found an athletic community that shares in the joy of movement and sport,” she said. 

The ability to pursue her passions in all aspects of life is another aspect of her experience that she cherishes. “In my four years at Mount Holyoke, I’ve found joy in every corner of campus as professors, students and staff share in the excitement of learning in community,” she said. “At Mount Holyoke, I’ve had the support and encouragement of faculty, staff and fellow students who pour their time, energy and hearts into making Mount Holyoke a community that lifts students up to achieve their dreams and goals.” 

Now bound for Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship to study Global Governance and Diplomacy — the second-ever Mount Holyoke student to receive this honor — she is looking forward to diving deeply into learning about global institutions and how they can make a difference in everyday lives.

“I’m thrilled to get to spend two years in an international community, learning with some of the most amazing people across the country and around the world,” she said. “The Rhodes Scholarship feels like a continuation of my time at Mount Holyoke. I have the support of the Mount Holyoke community, a community that knew me and valued me as a scholar and a person.”

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