CSUB commencement-top grad

June 5, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

Jenny Holland is the top graduate in English at California State University, Bakersfield's 2007 commencement. No wait, she's the top graduate from political science.

Actually, she's both, which makes her the top graduate of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. And when she receives her diploma on Saturday morning (June 9), that will also be her ticket to graduate school. She's already been accepted into the doctoral program in political science at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.

"I was informed that I've been awarded a full teaching assistantship at Washington State," Holland said. "I'm really looking forward to attending WSU in the fall."

The doctoral program is a three- to four-year program. Holland isn't set on what she wants to do after she finishes, but is looking at becoming a university professor and/or a political consultant. "At first I thought, no way about teaching, that's not what I want to do," she said. "But I've found I really do enjoy being in a classroom environment. It's something I really look forward to doing.

"I'm also thinking about being a political consultant with political campaigns. I was given the opportunity to work on some campaigns here in Bakersfield as an undergraduate. It piqued my interest even more, really benefited me. My English background allowed me to participate in many different aspects of the campaign that I might not ordinarily have been able to do."

Holland didn't anticipate having a double major when she enrolled in CSUB's honors program as a freshman after graduating from Ridgeview High School. She said her high school English and history teachers had a big influence on her. But then she took a political science class, and her outlook changed. "I said to myself this is where I need to be, so I added political science as a major in my sophomore year. Writing is a passion of mine, so English was perfect. Politics has been an interest of mine since I was young, so by combining the two it was an interesting mix. They melded together well."

She credits professors Michael Flachmann and Kent Price with contributing to her success. "I was fortunate to have two great mentors while I was here," she said. "Professors Flachmann and Price have been wonderful, and I greatly appreciate their instruction and their guidance."

Likewise, Flachmann had a glowing assessment of Holland. "Jenny is an amazingly versatile young lady who's done a terrific job at CSUB," he said. "We're so proud of her. She's an example of absolutely the best students that CSUB has. She's had internships, done a brilliant job in a double major, and worked almost full time at Extended University, so this is a person who can do it all."

Holland appreciates the opportunities she had at CSUB, opportunities she's certain wouldn't be available elsewhere. "When I look back at my CSUB career, I was given opportunities that a lot of undergraduate students wouldn't be given at larger universities," she said. "Being able to go to conferences and present papers, being a teaching assistant, have all been a huge benefit at a smaller school like CSUB. It's really helped prepare me for graduate school."

Holland said she chose Washington State after visiting a number of schools and after serving a Panetta Institute congressional internship in Washington, D.C. "Professor Price encouraged me to look at schools on both the East Coast and the West Coast. While I was serving my internship I looked at George Washington University and Georgetown University. Then last summer I visited Western schools. I really liked Washington State, and when I looked at its political science department, the philosophy of the political science department really fit with my academic interests. So that was my No. 1 choice."

Graduation is bringing mixed emotions for Holland. "It's sort of bittersweet," she said. "It's the end of a phase of your life. But at the same time I'm glad to be moving on to grad school. That's really exciting."