Kimberly Quick

Kim-Quick-polysciPolitics never ran in Kimberly Quick’s family, but the lessons her parents and grade school teachers taught her growing up sparked an interest that has grown into a likely career path.

Quick grew up in Chesterfield, Va., just outside of the state’s capitol of Richmond, and as early as middle school she was asking questions about the political process and public policy.

“My parents aren’t politicians or lawyers, but they’ve always instilled in me a sense that I should know what’s going on in the world,” Quick said. “I remember I had a seventh grade social studies teacher … I asked a whole bunch of questions and complained about domestic policy in the nice little 12-year-old way.”

Quick’s natural curiosity with politics continued to develop when she arrived at Wake Forest and began taking various political science courses with professors like Katy Harriger, chair of the department of politics and international affairs.

“When she gets excited talking about constitutional law I think ‘oh, this is really fascinating!’ I’m just as excited,” Quick said, noting that she’s currently enrolled in her third class with Harriger. “She’s also really good at challenging you … she can recognize when it’s not your best work.”

Quick, who is graduating with a double minor in English and American ethnic studies, said she also enjoyed classes like American Ethnic Literature with Dean Franco, associate professor of English.

“[It] was very intellectually challenging for me. The material we read spanned a wide range of American ethnicities,” Quick said. “I like that we read Jewish literature, African American literature, Native American literature — the variety of material we read.”

Franco’s class even helped Quick develop her political science thesis, which focused on liberation theologies and specifically how they relate to the African American and LGBTQ community.

Her fascination with political expression continued to grow with her experiences abroad. During her time at Wake Forest, Quick studied in both Ghana and the U.K, both of which she recalled as some of her fondest memories as a Demon Deacon.

After graduation, Quick will have just over a month away from Winston-Salem before she returns to serve as a fellow in the Provost’s office beginning in July.

“Over the past two years, Kimberly seemed to be involved in every major student-led event on campus, often in an organizer’s role,” Kersh said. “Her wide-ranging sense of our community, wonderfully creative approach to problem-solving and innovative ideas about how best to engage students, faculty, and staff in helping Wake Forest live up to our aspirations — all these made her a natural choice as Fellow.”

Quick is considering other academic opportunities after her fellowship, such as law school as well as the possibility of earning her Ph.D.

She thinks that these degrees can provide career mobility to allow her to explore different working environments, such as teaching, consulting and researching as well as practicing law.

“Something that’s becoming more prominent with our generation is that people have a couple of career paths,” she said. “I like the ability to have a few different hats that are all interrelated and all important.”

Quick is also an Ambassador-in-Admissions, social action and political involvement chairs of Delta Sigma Theta, a President’s Aid, and special events coordinator for Amnesty International.

Major: Politics

Minors: International Affairs

Hometown: Chesterfield, Va.

Kimberly_Quick-140x140 (1)After graduation, Kimberly will serve as a Wake Forest Fellow in the Office of the Provost. “I am so excited about the opportunity to use the skills and passions that Wake Forest has instilled in me to give back to the university,” says Kimberly. After completing the fellowship, Kimberly plans to attend law school.

Q: What is the most dramatic change you’ve undergone during your undergraduate studies?

A: When I arrived on campus as a first-year, I was interested in gaining the knowledge necessary for a successful career. I wanted to be told every fact, read long standing theories, and learn storied facts and figures to back up the points I wanted to prove. Wake Forest has made me more passionate about creating knowledge than memorizing facts. I hope that during my time at Wake Forest I have become more intellectually creative and more willing to take academic risks. I am now comfortable with acknowledging that I do not know everything, but that the journey of discovering new truths and posing new questions is a lifetime process that is about more than finding a good job or getting into the best graduate program.

Q: Describe your study abroad experiences.  

A: I had the great opportunity to study abroad twice. I spent the summer after my first-year in Accra, Ghana, taking an African studies course and doing service at a local NGO. In Ghana, I became increasingly aware of my own privilege – specifically, my own misguided propensity to try to find satisfaction through “things.” Unable to use a cell phone or the internet whenever I wanted, I was forced to plug-in to an unfamiliar environment and learn from the people and settings around me. The children in the classroom where I volunteered were my most influential teachers. Their joy for learning, exuberance, and love of others transcended their circumstances of poverty. I became more thankful for my blessings, and thirstier for spiritual and social advancement rather than material consumption.

My second study abroad experience was at the Worrell House in London, England, in the spring of 2012. London is an incredibly diverse and exciting city full of a rich history, appreciation for the arts, interesting politics and people from all corners of the world. I remember exploring the city with wonder, relishing in my increased independence and willingness to venture out alone to various corners of the city. But most important to me was the equal joy I had every time I arrived back “home” at the Worrell House; full of stories and pictures to exchange with my makeshift family. Between late night discussions in the house study, random dance parties in the kitchen or family potluck dinners spread out across our classroom table, I gained some of my best memories and closest friends during that semester.

Q: What extracurricular activity did you enjoy most and why?

A: Originally attracted to the music and costumes, I signed up for ballroom dance at the activities fair my first-year. I had ballet experience, but zero experience with social dance. The first practice made it clear that ballet and the cha-cha have very little in common. My inner perfectionist quickly became frustrated, and I honestly thought that this club might not be for me. Thankfully, the upperclassmen in the club encouraged me to return, and soon I realized that the purpose of joining the club was not to become a professional ballroom dancer, but to meet people and have fun. Once I opened myself up to trying something new and being in the moment, I met great friends and upperclassmen mentors, came out of my shell and even won some ribbons at competitions!

Q: Who were your mentors? Your biggest cheerleaders?

A: I have been blessed with wonderful professors and mentors at Wake Forest, each of whom have taught me important skills and provided me with great insights. Since my first class with Katy Harriger, department chair of the politics and international affairs department, she has seen potential in me that I often do not see in myself. Her guidance, confidence and support has opened up numerous doors for me both at Wake Forest and beyond. As a professor, she has challenged me academically in each of her classes, refusing to settle for mediocrity and encouraging me to stretch myself intellectually. Her mentorship has made me more self-aware, more willing to seize opportunities and better equipped for life as a Wake Forest graduate.

Q: What shared values do you feel unite the Wake Forest community? 

A: I am so happy to be graduating from Wake Forest with a sense of community. We may not believe the same things or even frequents the same spaces, but Wake Forest is a place where integrity always triumphs over cut-throat competition and where concern for others supersedes selfishness. Together, Wake Forest students, faculty and staff seek to create an environment where everyone is respected, where everyone has a chance to thrive, and where the motto of Pro Humanitate indicates an institution striving toward a common goal of improving the world.

Q: What is the best advice you can give an incoming first-year student?

A: Take classes in subjects you have never heard of. Sit at a table with strangers. Talk to the person standing next to you in line. Ask questions of your classmates. Take the classmate you disagree with out to lunch. See the plays; go to the art shows; attend the cultural festivals. College is a time to expand yourself, and to become the person you want to be. If you are never challenged, nervous or uncomfortable, you aren’t doing it right. Curiosity, not certainty, is the tool of the well-educated. The results of reasonable risk-taking will enrich your experiences, make you a more interested and open minded person, and introduce you to your calling outside of Wake Forest.

Q: Where is the one place on campus you will miss most and why? 

A: To me, the upper quad is the heart of campus. On a sunny day, the quad becomes an example of what is best about Wake Forest. Students of different clubs, classes and interests converge on the grass to play Frisbee, rollerblade, picnic or play music. It becomes an impromptu meeting place for old friends, with whom I’ve frequently shared hour-long, unplanned conversations with that then migrate from the brick walkways to a bench or to Subway. The upper quad was the first place I visited as a prospective student touring the university, and will soon be the place where I transition from a Wake Forest undergraduate to an alumna.

Meenu Krishnan

Meenu-198x300

Calling senior Meenu Krishnan, a history and political science double major, accomplished would be an understatement.

She has done research on the behind-the-scenes workers of Bollywood films in India, helped to register voters before the 2012 election and interned with The New Republic. Over her time at the university, she served as Editor-in-chief of the Old Gold & Black, Creative Director for 3 to 4 Ounces and President of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society. She also volunteered with El Buen Pastor her sophomore year and worked as a Spanish translator for a legal aid company downtown.

“She is multi-talented to a profound degree,” Tom Phillips, director of the Wake Forest Scholars program, said. “She is a great research analyst, a lover of politics, a fine writer, a capable speaker and a talented photographer. She graduates in the top 2 percent of her class, with honors. She has a mature independence but she also seeks inclusion in all forms.”

Meenu fell in love with history at a young age, when her father would teach her about things like the Roman Empire and the ancient Greeks.

“When I got to college, I realized history teaches you so many skills that you can apply to anything — writing, figuring out how to develop an argument, research. It really is a discipline that is connected to everything else. I have a lot of interest in the arts, in politics, in journalism and history gives me a way to connect all of that.” Her passion for the past translated into a history major and then a history honors thesis, something which Meenu credits as one of her two most rewarding experiences of her college career.

Her thesis examined the politics of a wave of Cuban exiles to the United States, who arrived in Miami in 1980.

“Meenu is passionate about the past and the ways it helps shape the present,” Michele Gillespie, professor of history at the university, said. “She is innately curious and willing and able to dig deeply into the scholarship and documentary record to get answers. She has a deep sense of social justice and believes in and uses the power of the pen to make change.”

The other rewarding experience? For Meenu, it’s her time at the Old Gold & Black, where she served as Editor-in-chief of the paper, and as News editor and Opinion editor. “I’ve learned as much at the newspaper as I have in the classroom,” she said. “I’m really going to miss the Wednesday nights in theOGB office. Once you’re gone, you start to miss it. There are so many good memories connected to those late nights. It’s been simultaneously the most hellish and most rewarding experience I’ve had at Wake.”

After graduation, Meenu plans to attend either Oxford or Cambridge to pursue her MPhil in Politics and International Affairs.

“Meenu will be successful at whatever she sets out to do and I imagine she will try on a number of hats over the course of her professional life,” Gillespie said.

“I truly look forward to her future. I know her wonderful sense of humor, keen sense of the absurd, innate compassion and all her academic gifts will see her through the world with true aplomb.”

Alexandra Hollifield

For senior Alexandra Hollifield, her love for the university started when she first arrived on campus for accepted students day.

“When I first arrived at Wake Forest for campus day it was filled with so much community and warmth from everyone, “ Hollifield said. “I knew I had found the place for me.”

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Author: Aaron Colston/Old Gold & Black

As a resident advisor and Student Government legislator, she has contributed to that sense of community. To her, “Wake Forest is like summer camp, except everyday of your life, going to class together, living together and doing philanthropy together all with people who you consider your best friend,” Hollifield said.

As a political science and women’s and gender studies double major her interest in these fields started when she first arrived on campus.

“Mary Deshazer’s Mothers and Daughters (WGS 358) was the first course I took freshman year and it really pushed me,” Hollifield said. “Taking a 300 level WGS course my freshman year was very daring of me but it definitely paid off in the long run.”

“Alex Hollifield is widely regarded as one of the finest women’s and gender studies students at Wake Forest,” Deshazer said. “Having taught her in five classes and attended a national conference with, I can proudly say that I consider her a lively friend as well as a stellar student.”

Hollifield’s  commitment to excellence extends outside the classroom setting as well. During the summer of 2011, she studied capacity building and human rights in Arusha, Tanzania. She also conducted research on female circumcision. She presented this research at the Wake Forest Gender and Sexuality Symposium as well as the National Women’s and Gender Studies Association Conference in Oakland, Calif.

Hailing from Shelby, N.C., Hollifield will continue her educational journey to Vanderbilt University. She is enrolling in the Community Development and Action program in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Although she is continuing her education elsewhere, her times at the university will be missed. “I am going to miss the great people I have met on this campus,” Hollifield said. “My friends, classmates and professors here at the university have all made my Wake Forest experience great.”

Her professors will also remember Alex’s four years at Wake fondly. “Alex’s intelligence, compassion and leadership skills have impressed me over the past four years,” Deshazer said.

To the incoming class of 2017, Hollifield’s best piece of advice would be to push yourself. “Don’t be afraid to take advantage of absolutely every opportunity that Wake has to offer. Don’t be afraid to take chances,” Hollifield said. “Secondly, don’t be afraid of failing. We often think of failing as bad, but there is such a thing as good failures. You learn from them and you realize later that those failures happen for a reason — they are growing experiences to prepare you for the world after college.”

She thinks of Wake as a place of self-discovery. “We are constantly loosing and finding ourselves in the endless circle of understanding.” As she continues her journey she will take those life lessons of understanding with her, advancing the ideals of Pro Humanitate.

Renee Slawsky

Senior Renee Slawsky has combined her passions for Russian, journalism and political science into an exciting and intriguing college experience.

Hilary Burns/Old Gold & Black

Author: Hilary Burns/Old Gold & Black

Slawsky went to a rural high school in Eastern Tennessee that only offered the typical French and Spanish courses, until her sophomore year when an English teacher who spoke Russian decided to teach a Russian class. Slawsky jumped at this marketable and unique opportunity to learn a language so different than any other she had studied. Because of this, she decided to continue studying the language at Wake.

Russian professor Billy Hamilton spoke highly of Slawsky’s academic work in the department.

“My most pleasant personal memory [of Slawsky] actually comes from her first day on campus,” Hamilton said. “Our Russian program is small enough that we meet with any students who arrive with prior Russian and give them a test, which would be difficult even for us teachers. Her parents waited nervously out in the hall. I stayed in a small room with her for an hour. At the end of the hour I burst out of the room yelling SECOND YEAR RUSSIAN! Her parents’ reaction resembled that which we see on those TV shows where the singer-wannabe is in a closed room trying to impress the three judges, and emerges either with a yellow piece of paper or a sad look. Renee’s piece of paper was bright yellow.”

The summer after she graduated high school, Slawsky went to Russia and fell in love with the culture. She studied abroad in Russia again in the summer of 2011 where she stayed with a family and took classes in St. Petersburg.

“The thing I like the most about Russia is that it is different from anywhere else in the world,” Slawsky said. “There is no place like it really. People think Russians are really cold and unfriendly but I found that they are very warm and welcoming when you make an effort to learn their culture.”

This fall Slawsky will be returning to Russia, where she will teach the English language and American culture to middle and high school students through the competitive Fulbright Scholar Program.

Slawsky will also be working on a separate project for the Fulbright, writing profiles of Russian people and posting them to a blog.

“I hope this will help break stereotypes,” Slawsky said. “There have to be plenty of people who have interesting stories to tell.”

As she looks back at her time at Wake Forest, Slawsky found her fondest memories to be working on the Old Gold & Black staff. Her leadership roles on the student newspaper include Life Editor, News Editor and most recently, Print Managing Editor.

“Working on the OGB taught me so many things I couldn’t do in the classroom,” Slawsky said. “Leadership skills, teamwork, improving writing and providing an outlet to be creative. My four years on the OGB are one big fond memory.”

“I would tell incoming freshman it is good to dedicate yourself to one cause or club on campus,” Slawksy said. “It can be extremely rewarding if you can give your time towards something you are passionate about.”

Dan Stefany

Taylor Ibelli/Old Gold & BlackFor Tampa, Fla., resident and senior political science major Dan Stefany, politics was an area of study that interested him long before arriving at Wake Forest.

“I watched The West Wing as a kid and got hooked that way,” Stefany said. “Growing up I was interested in politics, probably as a result of that.”
Participating in research and spending extra time getting to know the professors in the department helped build on Stefany’s favorite part of being a Demon Deacon.
“The relationships that I have made with both students and faculty, especially within the political science department, have been amazing,” Stefany said.
“I have gotten close to several of my professors. They have been really invaluable mentors for me, especially as I have been working on what I will do next with my life. This place definitely would not be the same without the same people.”
Stefany’s professors all agree that he has been a fantastic student, citing his dedication to his work and his curiosity about the subject matter he studies.
“Dan has a natural curiosity for learning,” Will Walldorf, assistant professor of politics and international affairs, said.
“He loves history and politics. So I think that’s sort of the starting point that I see. I see that even the research work he does for me, he goes above and beyond anything I’ve ever asked him to do.”
However, Stefany’s college experience has not been limited to the classrooms of Tribble and the stacks of the ZSR. He has been involved in multiple extracurriculars throughout his time at the university that display his interests that lie outside the realm of academics.
Stefany has served as a freshman RA for three years, worked for Outdoor Pursuits for three years, served as a member of Christian Intervarsity fellowship, served as the co-president of both the rock climbing team and ballroom dancing team and played numerous intramural sports.
“I love the outdoors,” Stefany said. “I kayak most weekends. I just love being outside in nature.”
Following graduation, Stefany plans on matriculating at the University of Virginia’s School of Law next fall, where he has been awarded a full scholarship.
“I have been very blessed,” Stefany said. “I look forward to attending UVA and expanding on the education that I have gotten from Wake.”
Stefany hopes to eventually be able to apply both of his degrees to their fullest potential following his graduation from law school.
“Ideally I would like to practice law in an area that intersects with politics, but I’m really happy to go anywhere,” Stefany said.
His professors are confident that he has what it takes to succeed in his future endeavors.
“Dan has the moral integrity, the skills, and the compassion to make a difference,” Helga Welsh, professor of politics and international affairs, said. “His strong work ethic and discipline enabled him to shine in academic pursuits and to be a visible and engaged leadership force on campus.”