“Eleni’s dedication to her friends and family, to the Hamilton community, to the refugees she worked with over the summer in Greece…. comes not from a place of ticking something off a list but from a place of passion and compassion. She is all in: heart and mind. How she does anything is how she does everything. I feel confident that Leni will take that way of being into the world and do big things.” — Amy James, director of community outreach
Amy James has had four years to get to know Eleni Neyland ’18 and used those words to describe Neyland in an award nomination letter. The field hockey- and lacrosse-playing COOP Senior Fellow government major has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia, and was also recently selected as the Class of 2018 Commencement speaker by a committee of students. Neyland’s resume of Hamilton-related activities is remarkable, and she’s made the most of her numerous commitments.
We asked Neyland to share a lesson she’s learned from just a few of her involvements.
Hometown: Boxborough, Mass.
High School: Acton-Boxborough Regional High School
- Class of 2018 Commencement speaker
I’m humbled to have been chosen as this year's student Commencement speaker. Our graduating class is an incredible collection of people, each uniquely talented and engaged. Delivering this speech shortly before we leave Hamilton to go make our mark on the world is a great opportunity and responsibility.
- Project Elea, Shift Leader
Working in Eleonas Camp (refugee camp in Athens) was the most difficult yet rewarding experience of my life. Every day I stood in awe of the residents: their resilience in the face of unimaginable struggle was nothing short of inspiring. I met people who escaped war zones, fled persecution, and crossed oceans just to keep their family safe. I cannot imagine a more powerful lesson in human resilience, or a more important demonstration of the need for empathy.
- The White House, Visitor’s Office Intern
The most important lesson I learned came not from where I worked, but rather from who I worked with. Everyone there, from President Obama to the staff to the interns, truly believed in the value of public service and in the ability of government to make the world a better place. It drove us to work our hardest, and it cemented my future as a public servant.
Congressional Intern for Niki Tsongas
These days Congress is often vilified as ineffectual, disconnected, or aloof. Working as a congressional intern proved the opposite. Gridlock and partisanship are real, but I was surrounded by role models who fought every day to improve the lives of perfect strangers.
- Hillary for America, Winter Fellow
Campaign work is a daily reminder of the importance of government policy in people's lives. Winning an election means putting your candidate in office, of course, but it also determines whether the residents of Nashua, New Hampshire, can afford health insurance or college tuition. Surrounded by a team as passionate as I was about these causes, the 16- hour days were not just survivable, they were exhilarating. Prior to leaving for my Fulbright in Malaysia, I’ll work as an organizer on a 2018 Congressional campaign.
Community Outreach and Opportunity Project, Senior Fellow
My work in the COOP this year is the culmination of my community service work at Hamilton. This semester I've organized or helped with three big impact service days (100-250 volunteers), and I've been continually impressed with how much of an impact Hamilton students can have on the community. A few hours on a Saturday can make all the difference to a small non-profit or community organization.
- Hamilton College Strong Girls, Co-Founder, Director
When I was asked to co-found Strong Girls, I knew that empowering and inspiring young girls was important. Since starting the organization — which now runs athletic after-school programming at several elementary schools every semester — I've discovered the importance of female role models. I've seen 2nd-5th grade girls grow confident and proud of their strength in only six weeks, because of our incredible female volunteers.
- Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach, and Charity, Senior Advisor
HAVOC is where I learned how to organize community service, run events, and recruit volunteers. I've held many positions in the club, and I credit my time with HAVOC as the base of my other endeavors on the Hill.
Hamilton Alternative Breaks Program, Trip Leader
Leading an AXB trip to Florida four months after Hurricane Irma demonstrated the importance of long-term relief work. We were pulling trees out of people's living rooms four months after the storm: the lesson was that there is always work to be done.