Mount Holyoke has given me the time and space to grow
“[Mount Holyoke has] given me the time and space to grow so that I’m much more secure in how I’m going into the world.”
If undergraduate ambition had a name, it could be Maya.
Now on the verge of graduating with a major in politics, a minor in French and a nexus in law, public policy and human rights, Sopory attributes their direction and ambition to a fearless knowledge about who they are and what they think is important.
“One of the really valuable things about Mount Holyoke is that it’s a safe haven. The students have similar values, and it creates a very safe space. For example, how someone wants to live their life is not up for discussion. There’s space to be who you want to be,” Sopory explained. “If you’re exploring a queer identity, gender identity, and you’re interested in connecting with other people, it’s a great place to do so. It’s given me the time and space to grow so that I’m much more secure in how I’m going into the world.”
Shortly after arriving on campus, Maya Sopory became involved in student leadership as a way of investing in their new community, but it soon became apparent that politics was a passion too. In fall 2020 they served as a remote intern for Representative Lindsay Sabadosa’s office. This was facilitated through the College’s Leadership and Public Service program. During their internship they supported Sabadosa’s office by taking meeting notes, designing social media posts and drafting committee letters. After they graduate with their bachelor’s degree in May, they will complete their master’s at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, through Mount Holyoke’s joint bachelor’s and master’s program.
The program gives students an opportunity to receive a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years, rather than the usual six. Students start their graduate coursework in the fall of their senior year, return to Mount Holyoke for spring semester and graduation and then spend a final year in Geneva to finish their master’s degree. Sopory will graduate in 2023 with a master’s in international development and a focus on power and conflict.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal program! You get to have this joint experience in the fall of your senior year where you get the abroad experience, and you get to set the tone for what you’ll experience after graduating,” Sopory said. “The College was so helpful in making sure that I got my application and submitted it correctly. I’m not sure I would have even considered the Graduate Institute as a post-graduation option, so I’m grateful to this joint program for making getting my master’s there possible.”
Sopory’s interest in politics was sparked by their involvement in Mount Holyoke’s Student Government Association — first as a class board senator, then becoming chair of the appointing board committee, then student representative on the college strategic planning committee and finally student body president in 2020-2021 during a completely remote school year due to the pandemic, something Sopory hadn’t imagined when running for the position.
“I’ve put a lot of time and effort into my career with SGA. I got involved in student government because I love Mount Holyoke and wanted to be part of improving the community,” Sopory said. “When I decided to run for president, I did because I wanted to be an advocate for students. I felt like I had the knowledge, skills and ability to do the job well. It was a bizarre and difficult experience to represent the student body across different time zones throughout the world [during the pandemic], but it was a really unique experience, and I’m proud of getting through it.”
Upon completing master’s coursework in Geneva, Sopory hopes to find a job that involves politics and conflict resolution and is open to policy consulting.