Mount Holyoke helps facilitate growth in both academics and personal identity
“Something about Mount Holyoke seemed welcoming. I liked the beauty of the campus, the energy, the life. It seemed more collaborative than other places. I knew immediately it was the place for me.”
For a West Coast student who didn’t even know of Mount Holyoke’s existence before coming across a view book, Micah Reiter has found the opportunity here to explore and develop their passions for nursing and for providing high-quality health care to the queer and transgender community.
In short, what they found in that initial look at the College has proven to be an accurate assessment.
“Something about Mount Holyoke seemed welcoming,” said the double major in biology and religion from Portland, Oregon. “I liked the beauty of the campus, the energy, the life. It seemed more collaborative than other places. I knew immediately it was the place for me. Mount Holyoke has been a place of immense change and growth for me in my academic life and my personal identity.”
Reiter devoted themself to the health of their fellow students, working as a Peer Health Educator for the College’s Be Well program, where they facilitated workshops on sexual health, wellness, healthy relationships and drug safety. As a residential advisor, Reiter served as a mentor for the Living-Learning Community for transgender and nonbinary students and coordinated social events and monthly conversations to promote well-being for and among these students.
Looming large in Reiter’s memories of their four years here, and in those of their senior classmates, are the impacts of the pandemic, which struck spring semester of their first year.
“My health care experiences helped me put into practice what I’d learned at Mount Holyoke.”
But even that challenge led them to opportunities to explore their passion. Taking a leave from the school during the height of the worldwide crisis, Reiter worked in a number of health care positions, including working as a volunteer clinic support coordinator at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic in Highland Park, Michigan, and as a certified nursing assistant at Oregon Health and Science University. Each role gave them insights into both how the health care system in the United States works in general and how it works — or doesn’t work — for those in underserved communities.
“My health care experiences helped me put into practice what I’d learned at Mount Holyoke by implementing streamlined intake processes and connecting clients with specific resources to fit their needs,” Reiter said. “They also helped me imagine a future for myself of providing high-quality primary care within the queer community.”
The pandemic revealed another aspect of College life to Reiter — the close relationships that can form between faculty members and students. A course on Buddhism in their first year with Professor of Religion Susanne Mrozik, an expert on Buddhist studies with a focus on disability, gender and ethics, led to Mrozik becoming Reiter’s advisor and a central part of their experience.
Passionate about nursing and high-quality health care for all, Reiter was faced in their final semester with a choice between two doctoral nursing programs — one at Columbia University and the other at Oregon Health and Science University — both of which accepted them.
The next step in their education will further empower Reiter to address some of our society’s most vexing health care issues.
“I’ve talked to so many people who do not get adequate health care because of transphobia — who have not had primary care for years,” they said. “I see primary care and gender-affirming care as one and the same. I think separating gender-affirming care from primary care can have negative consequences, such as pathologizing trans identity.”