WINTER 2004 / VOLUME
9, NUMBER 2
The French Connection
a Little Help from an Alumna in France,
Maria Svrckova '05 Lands an Internship
with the European Union in Brussels
Slovakian native Maria Svrckova '05 tells European friends that
she attends Mount Holyoke, an all-women's college in the U.S., and
majors in European studies and economics, they have two questions.
"Why a women's college?" and "Why go to America to learn about Europe?"
had lots of questions when she was deciding which American college
would be the best fit. After doing extensive research online,
she discovered that Mount Holyoke had everything she wanted. She
was impressed by the College's high number of international students,
study abroad options, and breadth of course offerings -- and curious
about, not deterred by, its all-women status.
"The diversity of
options at Mount Holyoke is what influenced me most," Svrckova
said. "I could double-major in economics and European studies,
learn French and spend my junior year in France, take
classes at any of the Five Colleges, play piano for the Mount
Holyoke Big Band, and work out in an amazing athletic facility.
Why wouldn't I come to Mount Holyoke?"
It wasn't until her
junior year, studying abroad in Montpellier, France, that Svrckova
realized the importance of MHC's "ageless women's network" (the
female version of the "old boys' network"). She wrote to MHC trustee
and alumna Claude de Renty du Granrut '48 -- the deputy mayor
of Senlis, France; a regional councilor of the Picardie region;
and a member of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union
(EU) -- to see if she knew of any summer internship opportunities
with the EU at its headquarters in Brussels. (The EU is the organization
that defines and manages economic and political cooperation among
its 25-member European countries.)
Soon Svrckova was
interning at the Brussels Office for European Affairs of the Regional
Council of the Picardie Region. Her main project was to work on
regional cooperation between Picardie and Trencin, a region in
Slovakia, which had just become a member of the EU in May 2004.
"I had the advantage
of speaking Slovak so I could call people in Slovakia and ask
them direct questions," Svrckova said. She was also fluent in
Czech, French, English, and German and had studied Russian and
Portuguese -- offering an unusual skill set, especially for an
undergraduate. Svrckova helped with conference planning, traveled
to Paris, met with European diplomats and Slovakian journalists,
and fell in love with Brussels. "Meeting people from everywhere
is a great advantage of Brussels," she said. "For a European studies
major, Brussels is the perfect place to be."
Back in South Hadley
this fall for her final year at MHC, Svrckova is beginning her
senior thesis, which focuses on the pros and cons of Western European
business expansion into Eastern Europe. She's also adding a new
language -- Italian -- to her repertoire and is thinking about
graduate schools and future employment. "Madame du Granrut opened
so many doors for me," Svrckova said. "It's great to see that
the Mount Holyoke network really works."
TO THE WORLD
Mount Holyoke women have an edge in making connections.
Here are a few examples.
Five College Advantage: MHC
is part of Five Colleges Inc., a consortium that includes
Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire, and Smith Colleges, and
the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Students may
take classes at any of the Five Colleges. A free bus links
the campuses, giving MHC students access to more than 5,000
courses and 30,000 college and university students.
Study Abroad: Each
year approximately 40 percent of the junior class studies
abroad. These international experiences make students more
desirable to employers both in the U.S. and abroad. The
College also offers short-term opportunities to study and
intern abroad in the summer and during the semester break
The Ageless Women's Network: Mount
Holyoke has an exceptionally strong worldwide alumnae network
that serves as an excellent support system for students
and graduates. Eighteen thousand alumnae participate in
AlumNet, a computerized directory arranged by geographic
area, profession, employer, and graduate or professional
school. No matter what part of the world they travel to,
MHC alumnae find that open doors await them at the homes
and offices of sister alumnae.