Grace Ryan '11 Named Hamilton's 35th GOLD Scholar
Name: Grace Ryan '11
Hometown: Medford, Mass.
High School: Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart
Major: World Politics with a focus on Latin American Studies
Minor: Hispanic Studies
Campus activities: Pub Trivia, Spanish Club, Project SHINE Volunteer
Last Movie Seen in Theaters: Black Swan
Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
Favorite Song: Tangled Up In Blue by Bob Dylan
Favorite place you’ve lived on campus: Ferguson
Last Book Read: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, Yoga, Cooking, Traveling, Foreign films and documentaries
Favorite place on Campus: Minor Field when the weather starts getting warm in the spring
Favorite Campus Dining Location: Lunch at Opus
Fondest Hamilton Memory To-Date: Coming back to the Hill after being abroad for Junior Spring, I loved that I felt like I was returning home and back to my ‘family’ on the Hill
Quote: “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau
Where did you grow up and what was life like there?
I grew up in Medford, Massachusetts which is just about fifteen minutes outside of Boston. I loved that I didn’t live right in a city but I could easily get into Boston because the train ran right through our town and was only a five-minute walk from my house. Most of my friends lived in my neighborhood and we all went to a small parochial school. I played both soccer and basketball during middle school so most of my nights and weekends were completely taken up by those activities. Although Medford is a city of over 60,000 people, growing up there I felt like I was part of a small community and I now seek this feeling everywhere I go.
What is your family like?
I am the eldest of three girls and my youngest sister Abby still lives at home with my parents, and my sister Clare is now a freshman at Oberlin College. Our house is also home to our dog, Sally, and our cats, Charlotte and Lucy. My mom recently switched to being an independent consultant working on issues related to after school education and family involvement in education. I think that her work in the nonprofit world has definitely inspired some of my career goals, and while my interests don’t lie in education, she has taught me the importance of helping others in any way you can. My father is a computer software designer and he was the person, who constantly helped me with my math and science homework in high school One of my favorite things about my family is that we almost always make time to sit down together every night for dinner to talk about our day.
How did you discover Hamilton?
Initially, I wanted to go as far away from my house as possible, and for me that was the west coast. I applied to schools in California, Washington and Oregon, and just in case I changed my mind senior spring, I also picked schools in New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania. The summer before my senior year I visited Hamilton and it happened to be the day freshmen were arriving for Adirondack Adventure. As my dad and I drove up the hill we were greeted my people dressed crazily and cheering for the freshmen coming in with their families. As soon as we got out of the car and walked around campus I could sense how much the students already on the Hill loved it and experienced the small-community feel I have come to love about Hamilton. Although I applied to many schools as soon as I received my acceptance letter from Hamilton I knew it was where I had to go.
What were your first impressions of the College? Do you find they’re still true today?
Initially I was overwhelmed by the size of Hamilton. My high school class consisted of 47 girls, so it was a huge adjustment for me to come to a school that was not only much bigger than my high school, but was not single-sex. The other thing that I vividly remember was everyone’s friendliness, both the students in my year and upperclassmen. I don’t think I ever expected it to be such a friendly and welcoming environment just because it was so big. Today, while I no longer find Hamilton to be a big and overwhelming place, I still believe it is just as friendly. It seems to me that the type of people who are attracted to Hamilton are ones that want to be a part of a close-knit community and truly value that feeling.
Have you volunteered as a student? If yes, what did you find most rewarding about the experience?
Since sophomore fall I have been a volunteer tutor at Project SHINE where I help out at the Refugee Center in Utica in English as a Second Language classes with adult learners. I started volunteering because it was a requirement of a women’s studies class I was taking and became passionate about it and decided to continue. Project SHINE has taught me a lot about the world, this past semester I was in a class with advanced learners and I spent most of the time just talking with them so they could practice English. Their stories were inspiring and it was amazing to hear about their lives before coming to the United States. At the end of the semester they gave me a card that they had all signed and written messages wishing me luck finishing school and for after graduation. Their ability to learn so quickly and invest so much of their time in what they were learning inspired me and I have become interested in working with refugees after I graduate.
What are your plans after Hamilton? Where do you want to live?
While I don’t have a definite plan for after graduation, I plan to move to Boston and begin my career. I have always been passionate about dedicating my life to the services of others and I believe my time at Hamilton has taught me valuable skills to help me do this. I envision myself working in the nonprofit sector and would like to find something that incorporates my interests in politics and international development. My time abroad, I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina during junior year, truly highlighted to me the importance of international relations as I discovered how other people perceive the global political situation in a completely different way than we do in the United States. As I continue my job search I am trying to look for positions that will allow me to pursue the things I am passionate about and that will help me build upon the skills I learned at Hamilton.
GOLD Scholars is an initiative supported by the Annual Fund, which has always provided direct support for the College's most important current priorities, especially scholarship aid. Starting last year, gifts from the GOLD Group – Graduates of the Last Decade – specifically support students on campus. With each $15,000 increment collectively contributed, the College will select a student as a GOLD Scholar.