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Stepping Up to Take the Lead: MHC Helps Young Women Transform Ideals Into Action
-- Mentors as Motivators: A Q&A with Becky Packard, Ph.D

The French Connection: Maria Svrckova '05's Internship with the European Union
-- Connected to the World: MHC's Advantages

Second Chances: Sarah Trembley '01 Journeys from Teenage Motherhood to Veterinary Pathology

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Mount Holyoke College News and Events College Street Journal Vista

WINTER 2004 / VOLUME 9, NUMBER 2

The French Connection

With a Little Help from an Alumna in France,
Maria Svrckova '05 Lands an Internship
with the European Union in Brussels

When 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?"

Svrckova herself 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."

     
 

CONNECTED 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 in January.

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.

 
     

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Copyright © 2005 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Don St. John and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on March 3, 2005.

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