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Vista • Fall 2010 • Volume 15 • Number 2

Worldly Wise

“I never imagined that my interest in the Middle East would become an academic pursuit, one that would guide me toward preparing for a career in international policy....Mount Holyoke led me to a summer in Washington and a year in Egypt.” —Liana Simonds ’12

This summer in Washington, D.C., Liana Simonds ’12 of Minneapolis spent her mornings as a student in an intensive Arabic class at Georgetown University. Then, each weekday afternoon, she interned in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Designing a Major
Simonds has a self-designed major in Middle Eastern studies, a field she discovered after taking a class on American foreign policy in the Middle East. Her concentration is international policy and conflict resolution. “I’m interested in seeing things from the other side, in a country that’s been on the receiving end of our foreign policy,” she said. Simonds is also pursuing the Nexus minor in law and public policy. “When I heard about that track, I felt it related to my major more than any other possible minor. Plus, I really liked the idea of integrating real-world experiences with a liberal arts education,” she said. “My internship was in a policy and planning office so it fit perfectly with Nexus.”

Why MHC? “I wanted an East Coast school,” Simonds says. “And I knew Mount Holyoke would let me explore new interests. But I never imagined that my interest in the Middle East would become an academic pursuit, one that would guide me toward preparing for a career in international policy. I never imagined that Mount Holyoke would lead me to a summer in Washington and a year in Egypt.”

On the Job in D.C. As an intern, Simonds assisted the Interagency Coordination Committee, which works to improve coordination among federal agencies involved in emergency preparedness and response. “I had opportunities to really contribute,” she said. “Along with learning about preparedness initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services, I learned about projects under way at the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control, FEMA, and other agencies. It was fascinating.” Simonds, who describes herself as “a city girl at heart,” says she felt right at home in D.C. “Living and working in the city where all of the nation’s major policies are being made was extremely exciting.”

Next Stop...Egypt Simonds’ Arabic class was both a continuation of the language studies she has done at Mount Holyoke and preparation for a junior year abroad in Egypt. As the recipient of a Boren Fellowship, a competitive award funded by the National Security Education Program, she is spending this fall in the Alexandria Language Program and then will study at the Cairo Political Economy program in the spring.

Cue the Lights

Qian Liu ’11 Interns In China

Summer in China: Qian “Cynthia” Liu ’11 had a hand in the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2010 Asian Games that began on November 12. Liu, a math and theatre arts major from China, had spent the summer as an intern to Sha Xiao Lan, the lighting designer renowned for his work at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Math and Theatre: Liu recalls arriving on campus intending to major in math but then discovering Lighting Design I in the course catalogue. “That sounded like a fascinating way to fulfill a distribution requirement. I never expected the class to lead me to a double major and change my life,” says Liu.

After MHC: Attend an M.F.A. program in lighting design and consider electrical engineering in the future.

Nexus

When students at Mount Holyoke start talking about their minors, the conversation inevitably involves Nexus.

Nexus is an interdisciplinary academic minor with embedded out-of-class experiences that are tailored to a student’s particular career interest. In short, it helps students connect their liberal arts education with valuable professional experience.

Begin by choosing from one of seven tracks—Art and Society; Education and Society; Global Business; Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse; Law and Public Policy; Nonprofit Organizations; or Sustainable Development—then follow a course of study to earn 16 academic credits. The experiential component can be a summer internship, paid employment, or a research project.

Find out more at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/nexus.

Mount Holyoke College • Vista

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