Taking advantage of the global alum network and leadership opportunities at Mount Holyoke
“Coming to Mount Holyoke, I wanted to try it all and be it all, which I was able to do thanks to the opportunities and encouragement of those around me on campus.”
Rehat Thussu had a simple reason for attending Mount Holyoke.
“Coming to Mount Holyoke, I wanted to try all and be it all, which I was able to do thanks to the opportunities and encouragement of those around me on campus,” said the economics and international relations double major from New Delhi. Central to her success here were both excellent professors and the College’s expansive network of graduates working internationally in government and public service.
Thussu saw that network in action when she attended the 2022 Alumnae Symposium in The Hague while studying at Maastricht University in the Netherlands as part of her study abroad. “Seeing and interacting with alums who brought the values of the College and our community to different parts of the world and society left me in awe and inspired,” she said.
In fact, her time in Europe helped solidify what has become a key interest for Thussu: the complex workings of the European Union.
Among the influential alums Thussu points to is Erica Lutes ’02, executive director of the Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange between the U.S., Belgium and Luxembourg. In the summer of 2021, Thussu had an opportunity to work directly with Lutes as a program assistant.
And Thussu’s coursework with alum Natalie Sabanadze ’97, the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor in International Relations at Mount Holyoke, was also key to her growing interest in Europe. She recounts a class assignment in Sabanadze’s course, The European Union in the World, where she was asked to prepare a briefing packet for the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy on the complicated energy situation in Europe.
“That was an eye-opening assignment for me,” Thussu recounted. “I realized how much pressure those who brief world leaders are under. The information they provide might impact the direction of the world.”
“I gained an international outlook in a small town. My self-understanding has expanded so much right here in South Hadley.”
Thussu also took full advantage of her Mount Holyoke years to acquire impressive professional and leadership experience, including doing extensive work as a senior experience and exploration assistant at the College’s Career Development Center, working on the Diaspora and Multicultural Partnerships team at UNICEF in New York City during a summer 2022 internship and working as a volunteer at the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. On campus, among numerous roles, she serves on the publicity team and as treasurer for the International Students Organizing Committee, where she boosted student interest and participation through developing a newsletter and use of a more effective email platform.
Thussu’s time at Mount Holyoke was not all smooth sailing, however. Like so many other students in her class, the pandemic represented a formidable challenge to both self-confidence and worldview.
Here again, it was the Mount Holyoke community that was key to her resiliency.
“I felt hopeless for a large part of 2020,” Thussu recalled. “What brought hope back into my life was the community of Mount Holyoke, which, at that moment, was spread across the world. The spirit and support I experienced during the pandemic were beyond words for me. It was, in a way, a reaffirmation of my decision to come and be a part of this community.”
For Thussu, a student from a burgeoning metropolis, her time in South Hadley has had a deep effect.
“I gained an international outlook in a small town,” she said, smiling. “I grew up in a city with 30 million people, and this is the exact opposite in terms of location, but I’ve never felt distant from global perspectives. My self-understanding has expanded so much right here in South Hadley.”