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The Class of 2007 Brings Talent, Energy, Diversity, and Leadership Skills to Mount Holyoke

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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

September 12 , 2003

The Class of 2007 Brings Talent, Energy, Diversity, and Leadership Skills to Mount Holyoke

Five hundred eighteen first-year students joined the Mount Holyoke community this month, bringing to an already vibrant campus new energy, new ideas, and diverse backgrounds. Chosen from one of the largest applicant pools in MHC history, the class of 2007 embodies the College’s commitment to diversity. Ninety-three of the new arrivals (18 percent) are African American, Latina American, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) students. Sixty-two members of the class are international students; 47 newcomers are Frances Perkins Scholars. Thirty-five new students transferred to MHC from other schools. In all, the incoming class represents 41 states and 37 countries.


This year’s first-years have shown their leadership skills inside and outside the classroom, combining high academic achievement and a desire for positive engagement in the world. They have taught ballet to underprivileged children, helped to protect the world’s oceans, funded and created a Japanese drumming troupe, and worked toward a breakthrough medical technology that could be a boon to people with certain types of diabetes.


“I have no doubt that the remarkable women in this year’s incoming class will continue the College’s tradition of excellence,” said Karen Kirkpatrick, associate dean of admission for MHC. “The passion, talent, and energy that is represented in the class of 2007 will accentuate our already vibrant and academically talented student body.

 

Meet Some Members of the Class of 2007


Anna Boatwright

Anna Boatwright
Charleston, South Carolina

If you’re a diligent reader of Seventeen magazine, you’ve already heard of Anna Boatwright. In “A Chance to Dance,” the magazine recognized Boatwright for her vision and hard work in creating a program that provides ballet lessons to underprivileged children at her hometown YWCA. Boatwright developed her program with the help of leadership skills she acquired during Take the Lead, the College’s annual program for young women in their junior year of high school. It was during Take the Lead that Boatwright came to know that Mount Holyoke was the place for her. “It was just a really great experience,” she said. Boatwright’s dedication to practice on the tennis court earned her the number one ranking on her high school team, and she hopes to join her older sister, Sarah Wade Boatwright ’04, on MHC’s tennis team. Are they another Venus and Serena Williams? Boatwright laughed. “The rivalry is not too bad between us,” she said, explaining that she and her sister have complementary styles. “Actually, we like to play doubles together,” she said. Undecided about her academic path, Boatwright is following her interests in mathematics, science, and classics, specifically Latin. And, while she has chosen not to pursue dance as a profession, she has learned through her volunteer experience at the YWCA that she enjoys teaching. In particular, she found that she enjoyed reaching children with her message of mutual respect. “I really enjoyed that experience,” she said.


Sarah Lau

Sarah Lau
San Francisco, California

Sarah Lau is dedicated to taiko, a traditional form of Japanese drumming. How dedicated? When she enrolled at Phillips Academy and discovered that there was no taiko group in the area, she asked school officials to provide a grant to help her start one. At a dinner and reception for grant applicants, Lau did not let the lack of a drum hold her back from demonstrating what taiko is all about, using her mouth to create the percussive sounds. (“It was rather embarrassing,” she said, but she did win a grant of $9,150, using the money to buy drums and to bring a performing troupe to campus.) “I really wanted to start a group, because it was such a big part of my life,” said Lau, who began drumming while in fifth grade and was a member of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo Dream Team troupe, performing in parades, at baseball and football games, at art museum openings, and in other venues. Taiko is a tradition, but not part of Lau’s culture; she is actually a fifth-generation Chinese-American, and was the only non-Japanese member of the Taiko Dojo troupe. Being involved in taiko, she says, “represents my confidence in my ethnic identity.” Originally planning to enroll in the class of 2006, Lau took a year to train for and run in the AIDS Marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii, and to perform volunteer work.


Kyle Lebell

Kyle Lebell
Woodacre, California

If you were to have visited California’s Duxbury Reef at low tide over the past four years, you might have run into Kyle Lebell, doing her part to protect the intertidal ecosystem. During her freshman year in high school, Lebell helped found the Sustainable Seas Student Intertidal Monitoring Project, one of a number of such groups up and down the Golden State’s coast. The group is responsible for counting the algae and invertebrate species along a section of Duxbury Reef—and if that means getting up at 3 am to catch low tide, then so be it. “I’m always running around and telling people to save the oceans,” said the self-described “fish freak.” “I’d like to do something that makes people more aware of the oceans.” Lebell is a young woman of many interests—sharing Friday-night meals with people with HIV or AIDS; becoming the first volunteer intern in the history of the Marin County Bicycling Coalition; joining with other high school students to produce a film, Not Another Jewish Movie, about growing up Jewish in the Bay Area. (The film, shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, was called “a surprisingly well-crafted gem” by San Francisco Arts Monthly.) Lebell is considering a double major in environmental studies and international relations at MHC, and added, “I hope to get involved in some kind of beach-monitoring program while I’m here.”


Phyllis Kodi

Phyllis Kodi
Accra, Ghana

Head of the class? An exceptional student? Phyllis Kodi was that and more at her school, the highly competitive Holy Child School in Cape Coast. She was the top-ranked student during her three years at Holy Child, capturing awards as the best student in six of her seven subjects. On national exams, she earned an A in every subject, a feat that put her among the top five of Ghana’s 60,000 high school seniors. Yet she was also her class’s unanimous choice as assistant senior prefect and dedicated her time to help raise money for the Ghana Heart Foundation and also to raise money and provisions to support a local orphanage. “We are all human beings, but we don’t all have the same opportunities and privileges; we are not at par and should share what we have with others, especially the underprivileged,” Kodi said. Her arrival at Mount Holyoke marks the first time she has left her native country, but she is certain to return: Her plan is to study computer science and economics while at MHC, and to use her education to address the production and distribution challenges facing Ghana’s food industry. “I believe that Mount Holyoke is going to help me make my dreams happen,” she said.

 

Reshma Patil

Reshma Patil
Memphis, Tennessee

There’s never been much doubt in Reshma Patil’s mind that she belonged in research. She became hooked as a second-grader, watching her two older brothers conduct experiments. “I just wanted to be in that lab with them,” said Patil, “to be able to go deep inside and see what causes things to happen.” She’s been doing her own research since the third grade, and the subjects have certainly become more complex and challenging. Her most recent work, in connection with researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, involved an injectable gel for the timed delivery of therapeutic drugs—a breakthrough that might be of particular use in treating diabetes—and the role played by a protein in the scarring of heart tissue after a heart attack. For the past two years, her work has been ranked first in competition in the Tennessee Junior Academy of Science (TJAS) program. Her level of research has also gained her introductions to leading scientists, including Nobel laureates, and her 2002 research paper, “The Effectiveness of Triple Helix Oligodeoxyribonucleotide to Control Fibrosis by Inhibiting Collagen Type 1 Gene Transcription in the Rat Heart,” was published by TJAS. Beyond science, Patil’s other interests include learning about various cultures, volunteering in the community, and studying French.


Susana Rojas

Susana Christina Rojas
Miami, Florida

Susana Rojas’s family history straddles the Cuban revolution. A job transfer was responsible for the arrival of her mother’s family in 1957, before Fidel Castro’s rise; her father’s family landed as refugees, making the crossing by boat to Key West in 1965. In a way, Rojas’s thinking about her family’s native land straddles that line, too. “It’s hard. I see both sides of the situation,” she said. While she understands the bitter feelings of those who fled Cuba and their determined opposition to the communist government there, she also sees the side of the people who still live there. “They’ve adapted to the communist system, and it’s become a way of life for them,” Rojas said. “We see Cuba as bad or hurtful or evil, but for most of the people living there, there’s no illiteracy. There are so many things that people don’t see. People need to be more aware and open-minded.” Cuban life is certainly evident in Miami, and Rojas revels in the food, music, and cultural events. She has also discovered through a school research project that South Americans make up the newest wave of immigration to south Florida. “Miami has so many different cultures,” said Rojas, who is considering a major in international relations or political science. “It’s hard to say ‘I’m a Miamian,’ because what does that really mean? Everyone is different.”


Alison Yee

Alison Yee
Armonk, New York

You might say that the oyster is her world. As an intern with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Yee has spent three years studying Perkinsus marinus, a tiny parasite that is responsible for the death of up to 90 percent of the oysters in a given bed each year. In particular, Yee was among the researchers trying to learn why the parasite is less of a problem on Long Island Sound than it is in the Chesapeake Bay. Their conclusion, Yee said, is that the organism killed off most of the oysters in the Chesapeake in the 1950s and began migrating north, forced to evolve as it went. By the time the parasite reached the Long Island Sound oyster beds a decade ago, it had become less of a threat to its hosts in its evolved state. Her work earned Yee selection as a finalist in the 2003 Intel Science Talent Search, a program that identifies and encourages high school seniors who show exceptional ability in science and engineering. Working in the Milford, Connecticut, laboratory for the past two years has meant a daily, 90-minute train ride each way, but Yee is grateful for the opportunity to work with Connecticut shellfish pathologist Inke Sunila. “She taught me a lot. She taught me how to think in a different way,” Yee said. She hopes to major in environmental studies at MHC and carry on with her interests in marine science and parasites. While she considered larger research universities, MHC “just felt right,” Yee said. “There’s more communication with the teachers, a lot more support and more community.”

 

See the Class of 2007 by the numbers.

The counter is 5,839

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