As she sought to discover her passion, Vivian Overholt ’17 found that Wittenberg University offered more than enough opportunities to explore and develop her evolving interests.
Originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Overholt grew up in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and now resides in Mexico City, where she is serving as a 2018-2019 Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellow. At Wittenberg, she took full advantage of the liberal arts experience, earning a bachelor’s degree in history, international studies, and Spanish, while also pursuing multiple academic interests outside of her three majors.
“I think one thing that is unique about Wittenberg is that you can craft your own educational path,” Overholt said. “As a non-sociology major, I co-presented with a sociology professor on his topic of expertise and received funding to attend the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords. As a non-music major, I received a scholarship to take lessons for four years and was part of a recital. As a non-political science major, I was a faculty assistant to a leader in the field and witnessed his research and publication process. As a non-English major, I presented at one national and one regional conference on writing center theory and practice.”
Overholt also took advantage of Wittenberg’s active and engaged co-curricular opportunities. She was a member of the American International Association (serving as president from 2016-2017), Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society, 4Paws for Ability, Wittenberg Symphonic Band, and the History and Archaeology Clubs.
“I think Wittenberg helped make me more independent and proactive,” she said. “Hardly any of the opportunities I took advantage of were specifically mentioned or offered to me, but once I discussed them with professors and staff, they were more than willing to write recommendation letters and assist me in the process.”
As a PiLA Fellow in Mexico City, Overholt works as a program assistant for the nongovernmental organization Educando by Worldfund Mexico, serving on the metrics and evaluation team for the LISTO program that coaches and provides resources for public school principals and middle managers in the public education system in Mexico.
“I am learning a lot about the design and implementation of instruments to measure certain indicators (e.g. how do you define and measure leadership?), as well as the analysis of results through reports and research projects,” Overholt said. “I really enjoy relating our data to the qualitative results we are seeing in the program in terms of better personal and career results for our participants and the educators and students they are responsible for.”
Overholt initially was interested in working with the State Department and completed the paid, two-summer U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, which took her to Washington, D.C., and Lisbon, Portugal. Her career interests have since evolved to focus on non-profit work.
Growing up with missionary parents, she said she was “exposed to the unequal distribution of resources and other global issues that require holistic and inclusive solutions.” She also believes that Wittenberg’s emphasis on service influenced her decision to pursue an opportunity with a program focused on helping others. According to its website, PiLA places recent college graduates in service fellowships with nonprofit, public service, humanitarian, and government organizations to advance socioeconomic development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Wherever life may take me, I hope to always work for the betterment of myself, of others, and of our environments,” Overholt said.
Overholt would like to thank Dr. Dar Brooks Hedstrom, JoAnn Bennett, Amy Parks, Pastor Rachel Tune, Dr. Mike Mattison, Dr. Chris McIntyre, Dr. Molly Wood, Dr. Scott Rosenberg, Dr. Amy Livingstone, Dr. Chris Raffensperger, Dr. Ruth Hoff, Dr. Nancy McHugh, Dr. Keith Doubt, Dr. Dave Barry, and Dr. Bin Yu for their guidance in her journey.
-By Sidney Reeder ’22, University Communications