200 Days in the Life of the College

Saturday, January 22

For some, every day is a service day

By Caitlin Fitzsimons ’11

Today, the Hill’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, about 120 student volunteers take part in 15 different service trips. As a member of HAVOC’s Executive Board, Mary Phillips ’11 leads a group of 11 volunteers to nearby Preswick Glen, where the students spend the afternoon chatting and laughing with the senior living community’s residents. She hails the effort as “the most successful service I’ve ever seen.”

Back from a junior year of study in Madrid, Phillips has once again immersed herself in service on the Hill. A double major in comparative literature and Hispanic studies, Phillips is also a Senior COOP Fellow, a member of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Executive Board, an ASB trip leader — and, she’ll discover later this semester, winner of both a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study abroad and the College’s own James Soper Merrill Prize.

Months ago, Phillips spent the summer in New York City as a development intern for Madre, an international women’s human rights group. That work complemented her past experiences with the Girl Scouts and inspired her to apply for the Watson Fellowship, described as “a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel” for college graduates of “unusual promise” in international settings new to them.

In her application, Phillips proposed to study “safe spaces” for girls ages 10 to 18 — locations where young women can complete their education, learn about sexual health, study a trade and develop other life skills. From her extensive research for the fellowship, Phillips notes, “one of the most effective ways to invest money internationally is in women’s development.” Through the Watson — and planned travel to Guatemala, South Africa and Egypt — Phillips hopes to discover if international women’s development is not only her passion but also her career path, and to continue the spirit of service she has developed at Hamilton.