Finding community and discovering my voice

“Mount Holyoke has been exceptionally good at fostering my voice.”

Lucy Manlick had two criteria for college:

  1. It had to be a coastal school with a less-than-10-minute walk to the beach; and
  2. It was not going to be her mother’s alma mater, Mount Holyoke.

How did she manage to completely ignore those conditions? She toured the campus.

“I set up a tour just to appease my mom. The second I stepped foot on campus, I knew. It was the space, the atmosphere, the way the students communicated with one another,” she recalled. “Plus, it looks like Hogwarts! I said, ‘Oh my god. This is the place!’”

There was an ease she felt from the students, faculty and staff on campus that made Manlick feel like choosing her mother’s alma mater could work for her after all.

“I hadn’t considered what a campus might feel like if students truly felt supported by one another and other members of the community,” Manlick explained. “At other schools I visited, students were running around stressed. There was this tension and unhealthy competition. Mount Holyoke felt much more like a community, and it’s remained that way throughout my time here.”

It’s those pockets of community that have given Manlick the confidence to know that she made the right choice.

In addition to supportive people at the College, Manlick has been able to explore her academic interests in a way she didn’t think was possible at a school not situated on the coast. As a biology and geology major, she’s been able to explore parts of the country and participate in hands-on experiences that she thought only a coastal college could offer. She took an oceanography class where she traveled to Avery Point, Connecticut, to learn how to sample marine water and analyze its nutrients and chemistry. She enjoyed her coursework at the college so much that she wanted to do more. So she participated inSEA Semester, a 12-week program based on the SEA campus in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where students not only learn how to live and work on a boat but also how to engage in hands-on learning about marine environments.

Outside of her coursework, she has been a member of the College’s fencing team where, as an experienced saberist, she has introduced other members to the technique. She’s also found a place in the Glee Club and Chamber Singers, a 100-year-old tradition at the College.

“I’ve been enjoying having a little community in Glee Club. These people are the friends that are always there for you. If you’re having a bad day, they have your back, whether you need a hug or to vent,” she said.

Manlick hasn’t only found community at the College; she’s discovered her voice and gained confidence that she’s convinced she couldn’t have found at another institution. 

In the fall of her senior year, she became Mount Holyoke’s first student to join NASA as a Student Airborne Research Program intern.

“Mount Holyoke has been exceptionally good at fostering my voice. When you’re in a setting that is truly inclusive, where you are encouraged to speak up and participate, you feel safe speaking up in other parts of your life as well,” she explained. “This has led me to apply for opportunities I normally wouldn’t have and helped me to temper my imposter syndrome. I’ve developed my academic voice in a way I would not have been able to do at any other school.”

Manlick has also participated in the NASA L'Space Academies: the National Proposal Writing and Evaluation Experience in Fall 2021 and Mission Concept Academy in Spring 2022. Her NPWEE team was awarded seed funding to begin development of the technology they proposed. 

Upon graduating, Manlick will be attending graduate school for marine biology, with a research focus on plastics. She has committed to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

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