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.”

123

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.”