News from The Sunflower Initiative

June 2020

The year has brought change….

adjustments and disappointments;
new paths and new realities for our scholars. 

Ilse Meiler’s name was called at 1:12:36.

A Virtual Graduation for Ilse

Ilse Meiler received the Rousseau Prize from the Smith in Geneva program for “academic distinction, a commitment to more fluent expression in French, and a demonstrated interest in fully exploring the intellectual and cultural opportunities offered by the Geneva program.”

Her final semester at Smith included:

  • Advanced Russian Language (4 credits)
  • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (4 credits)
  •  Mobilities and Globalization (4 credits)
  • The Art of Translation (2 credits)
  •  Translation Studies Capstone (4 credits)
  • French Translation in Practice (2 credits)
  •  Salsa 1 (2 credits)  
With characteristic aplomb, she wrote,  “ . . . a grand total of 22 credits.  I’m slightly insane, but my head is still firmly screwed on, so I’m feeling optimistic.”  An amazing finish to her time at Smith! 

In March, she also found the time to write an article for the website Global Impressions about a recent project of Smith’s Professor Carolyn Shread, “Translating Philosopher Catharine Malabou.”

From her latest news:  “Peace Corps suspended operations worldwide and the latest I’ve heard is that we definitely won’t be leaving before October 1st, if at all. [Her assignment is to teach in English in Kyrgyz Republic.]  It’s been a bit tough seeing absolutely everything I was looking forward to in the next few months get cancelled, but I’m trying to make the best out of it. Right now, I’m just looking for any entry-level chemistry jobs in the Salt Lake City area while I figure out what my next steps are.” 

We congratulate Ilse on a remarkable 4 years at Smith. She embraced every opportunity with enthusiasm and excelled at everything she did. We are so proud!

Junior Year Abroad

Maggie Micklo wrote with obvious excitement in February:  “I am in Montpellier, France with the Mount Holyoke program. It’s been great to take classes all in French, especially my two integrated courses because they certainly push me to keep up with University-level French! I’ve already travelled to Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Lille, and Amsterdam… hoping to travel more, but with the coronavirus spreading there are many advisories to avoid certain countries.”  Then came the disappointing news came that not only were abroad programs cancelled, but also Mt. Holyoke’s campus was closed, and Maggie returned home to “shelter in place.”  

In her renewal essay, Maggie was asked to write about her career goals and how she plans to pursue them. “I aspire to graduate Mount Holyoke and find a job in a government office. I can see myself working as a Congressional staffer in Washington, D.C., a constituent caseworker for a Representative around Chicago, or even a policy staffer on Beacon Hill in Boston for one of my favorite legislators. This plan to find a job in a government office immediately upon graduation will not be easy, but I think it is the perfect first step towards my long-term dream: running for office. It may be an unconventional dream, but serving a community is a dream that deserves attention, passion, and commitment. I would have never found this dream were it not for my connections and experiences at Mount Holyoke .”

A Future Doctor

Ariana Carranza wrote:  “My time at Barnard so far has only further reassured me of my career path, my passions and the long-term goals I have of becoming a doctor, helping my community, and working towards changing some of the social injustices in the healthcare system. 

I think my experience being a student in the sciences and attending a women’s college is even more beautiful because I am studying and pursuing a career that has for a long time been a male dominated field. I am grateful to get the opportunity to study amongst other women whose skills and capabilities have also been doubted due to their gender, but that continue to prove them wrong and absolutely rule the scientific fields. 

Online education was challenging and it’s definitely sad to not have been able to be around my peers for the remainder of the semester. However, I am grateful that with today’s technology I am able to still communicate with my closest friends and we continue to support each other through not only the difficulties with online education, but also the challenges we are all facing with the current pandemic.

I am happy to say that I have been accepted to my top medical program for this summer. It’s called SHPEP, Summer Health Professions Education Program, and it has now been moved online due to the pandemic….  [O]n campus, I will continue to be a PAL, and I have reapplied to be a TA for a biology lab course and to be a Spanish tutor (I worked these two positions during my Spring semester and I really enjoyed my experience).” 

Ariana also plans to volunteer at Mt. Sinai hospital when she returns to New York.  

“Sense of Sisterhood”

Thu-Yến Nguyen wrote: “In my university application, I wrote that I wanted to be at a place that values me as much as I value them. Many people believed that Bryn Mawr was a bubble that would pop once we graduate. The safe environment was not what I expected, but I soon realized that it was what I needed to grow.

  •  I explored choices because I felt safe.
  • I thrived because I was valued.
  • I [sought] for meaning because I was treated with care and thoughtfulness.
  • It was truly a place for growth, and learning never stopped.
  • I spent 7 months in a foreign country, but I never felt like I was far away from home.

I admired Bryn Mawr and other historically women’s colleges for their abilities to unite us through unique traditions. From class colors to personalized lanterns and note cards, Bryn Mawr established a sense of sisterhood among us.

My friends and I have been working to develop an app called “App Gao” (“Rice App”), an online rice donation platform that helps people do charity easier and faster. We recognize that food security must be prioritized to eliminate hunger and poverty, especially in the post-COVID-19 period. Users can buy rice from our suppliers to donate to any charity organization or temples in any area of Vietnam. The rice companies will deliver the donation to the organization, who will in turn distribute rice to underprivileged [people].”

The text reads: “Rice is connected by Rice App.”
Click to view App Gao’s Facebook page.