Launching a career path from my first year at Mount Holyoke
“Mount Holyoke has given me more purpose. Now I am driven to improve community and to open opportunities for others.”
Senior Liz Sevigny has always been driven.
A successful high school athlete and scholar with a commitment to volunteerism and making the world a better place, Sevigny found in their four years at Mount Holyoke new insights into their drive, their motivations and their understandings of themself as a change agent and leader.
“Mount Holyoke has given me more purpose,” Sevigny, an East Asian studies and computer science double major from Portland, Maine, said. “I’ve always been very driven, but my motivation has shifted. In high school I was driven more out of insecurity. I needed to keep up, and I needed to remain relevant. Now I am driven to improve community and to open opportunities for others. I am coming from a much more secure place.”
For Sevigny, part of that insecurity came from being adopted as an infant from China. Mount Holyoke, in a number of ways, has given them the opportunity to explore, better understand and celebrate that identity.
“The fact that one of my first classes at Mount Holyoke was so intellectually stimulating really impressed me.”
Sevigny’s work studying Mandarin and Korean has helped them connect with their heritage and culture as did study abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
“Study abroad was huge,” they said, “a real exposure to language, culture, history. It was my first time being back in Asia since being adopted. I learned more about myself when I was there and formed close relationships with the alums there and with Mount Holyoke students who were also studying in South Korea. ”
They also point to a fascinating first-year seminar, Chinese Diasporic Communities around the World: History, Identity and Race, with Five College Professor Richard Chu. Not only did the class provide deep insights into questions central to Sevigny’s self-understanding, but it introduced them to the challenges and the high expectations of a Mount Holyoke education.
“It gave me an opportunity to learn about myself in a historical context. It also challenged me academically, perhaps more than I had been challenged in high school,” Sevigny recalled. “The fact that one of my first classes at Mount Holyoke was so intellectually stimulating really impressed me.”
Volunteerism and service have also been central to Sevigny’s time at Mount Holyoke. In fact, before they even arrived, they had applied for a charter for the Mount Holyoke chapter of Circle K International — the world’s largest college student service organization, sponsored by Kiwanis International. With the chapter off the ground and supporting local charitable efforts, Sevigny became involved in leading not only the Mount Holyoke chapter but the entire worldwide organization, for which they are now the international vice president.
Mount Holyoke has also helped launch Sevigny into their first career. In Sevigny’s first year, Valerie Barr, then-chair of computer science, suggested that Sevigny participate in the Researchers, Educators, Business Leaders and Students (REBLS) Leadership Academy for women and underrepresented minorities in tech and engineering. That experience helped set Sevigny on a path of using their leadership and STEM skills to evolve, through internships with Liberty Mutual Insurance over the next two summers, as a budding manager of programmers and software designers. That experience has paved the way for Sevigny’s first job with the insurance company, to start this summer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
With a personal mission of “striving to learn and bring historically marginalized groups to the table, uplifting all communities and building spaces for us to problem-solve together and unlock human potential,” Sevigny has also been involved in numerous other efforts in their four years here, from working as a senior admission ambassador and computer science teaching assistant to starting a campus group, MHC TAG, for students interested in the issue of transracial adoption.
“The story of my four years at Mount Holyoke,” Sevigny said, “has been finding community for myself and creating spaces for others to succeed.”