Feeling empowered to organize a mock trial team at Mount Holyoke

“I don’t know if I would have had the chance or felt supported or empowered enough to do this had I not been here. I’m so incredibly grateful.”

A commitment to making change.

That’s what drew Klara Grygo to Mount Holyoke College. The College’s mission of creating leaders and inspiring them to change the world was what she wanted in her educational experience, and she found the perfect place to stoke that fire.

From the jump, Grygo immersed herself in organizations that allowed for growth in a leadership capacity and a place to sharpen her skills and knowledge in career-focused spaces. She was drawn to Model UN early in her time at Mount Holyoke, an organization with a leadership structure that she was able to navigate, eventually becoming president during her senior year. Upon being elevated into a leadership role, she found the community within Model UN to be supportive of new ideas and open to quickly abandoning the practice of top-down leadership in favor of collaboration.

The experiences she gained through the Model UN acted as a springboard, Grygo said, expanding, even more broadly, her leadership skills.

Mock Trial Team is another organization dear to Grygo’s heart — and something she has been involved in since high school. Grygo’s passion for public policy and the laws that shape it is evident. This led her to want to participate in a mock trial program while she was in college. The only problem was that Mount Holyoke didn’t have one.

But that didn’t stop Grygo from joining the team at Amherst College, an agreement between the two schools at the time. Grygo stayed with the group at Amherst for two years before she made good on putting a two-year plan into action: starting a team at Mount Holyoke.

The drive to Amherst prevented many Mount Holyoke students from participating in the organization. This, coupled with the fact Mount Holyoke students couldn’t serve as leaders at Amherst, motivated Grygo to begin exploring how it could work in South Hadley.

Using the burgeoning leadership experience she developed during her rise through Model UN, Grygo recruited a small group of students with varying experiences to be a part of the inaugural version of the mock trial organization. It grew into two teams by the middle of its second year of existence and claimed several awards in a regional collegiate competition.

The team was built on hard work and a passion for making a change, and Grygo credits Mount Holyoke for giving students the space to develop and act on their dreams.

“I don’t know if I would have had the chance or felt supported or empowered enough to do this had I not been here,” said Grygo. “I’m so incredibly grateful.”

Grygo is equally grateful for her MHC Semester in D.C. experience through the Weissman Center for Leadership. Professors Andy Reiter and Adam Hilton provided much-needed support in developing networking connections during the semester in the nation’s capital. A well-connected alum network in the city also helped Grygo feel settled in a city she will likely grow more accustomed to as her career takes off.

As Grygo looks toward a future that includes law school and other politically minded pursuits, she will always be thankful for how Mount Holyoke modeled and defined leadership for her.

“Being a leader is about collaboration and innovation — implementing your own ideas of change and striving to better the spaces you are in but also engaging and boosting the ideas of others and taking action to work with them and achieve a collective vision for something better.”

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Christian Feuerstein
  • Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations