Featured Graduate Student, February 2013
Holly is a second-year Ph.D. student within Virginia Tech's Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. She is currently serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Religion and Culture. Holly's main area of research is the changes in Jewish and Muslim religious practices within Israel and Palestine in response to the founding of the state of Israel.
What is your primary motivation for persevering through graduate school?
Assuming this entire adventure works out, I will be the first person on my father's side of the family to have a Ph.D. I can't wait for the day when I can finally call myself Dr. Jordan.
Do you think there is any value in social networking with other graduate students in non-related fields?
Absolutely. As a student in ASPECT, I am of course biased towards interdisiplinarity to begin with. Between my involvement in Diversity Scholars and the New Media Faculty-Staff Seminar, I have found that the best ideas come from collaboration.
What is your favorite stress-reduction technique?
Reading fiction! I love anything that lets me immerse myself in another universe for even a short time. I especially love fantasy and science fiction. Though, I think the book I've read more than any other is Jane Eyre.
Please describe your most meaningful academic relationship.
Without a doubt, my most meaningful academic relationship is with my former undergraduate advisor, Dr. Joe Dunn. No other professor has invested the amount of personal time into helping me grow as an academic and instructor than he, and daily, I am grateful for his support.
What are your aspirations upon graduation?
I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't playing the part of the teacher. I think on some level it comes from being the oldest of your siblings. So it's not at all surprising that I ended up wanting to become a professor. Luckily, I have had ample time to teach both during my MA and now during my Ph.D. work, and I can safely say I have chosen the right career path.
How has getting involved in campus or community activities shaped your graduate experience?
Other than making me beyond busy most of the time, it has been especially rewarding. I have been involved both in the ASPECT Student Association and in various events around campus. Though Tech is a relatively large school, being involved in campus activities does make you realize how close-knit this community is.
How do you find balance between work, play, and your other non-academic responsibilities?
Mostly through relying upon a close group of friends, both here in Blacksburg and across the world. I think graduate students often have the tendency to think they're the only ones going through these experiences, and all too often we can retreat too far into our own space. Without my friends and family, there would be no balance in my life.
If travel to Mars happens in your lifetime, would you want to be one of the scientists on board? If yes, what would you contribute to the mission?
Most definitely as the plucky comic relief. Not becoming a stand-up comedienne is one of my greatest regrets!
What is your favorite comfort food and why? How often do you consume it?
MACARONI AND CHEESE! And yeah, far too often...
If you hadn't been admitted to graduate school, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Cooking! My great-grandfather had a restaurant in Baltimore, and I grew up in a family of amazing cooks. I love cooking large meals and having all our friends over. I'd like to think that I'd have an awesome breakfast-only restaurant should this whole school thing not work out.
View previous Featured Graduate
Student interviews >>
Would you like to nominate a student to be featured?
Currently enrolled VT graduate students can be nominated for a variety of reasons -- academic or personal accomplishments, service to the department or the university community, or any other reason that makes them a unique and valuable member of academe. Students, faculty, or staff can submit nominations by completing a short nomination form.