Peyton Holahan, a native of Long Island, New York and a Political Science major, earned the honor of being one of Roanoke’s two salutatorians this year. She most certainly made the most of her time at Roanoke, picking up three internships and participating in several student organizations.
She first heard of Roanoke after an admissions counselor visited her high school, and upon visiting campus, she “immediately fell in love with the campus and small-school atmosphere.” Holahan was also a part of Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity and was the secretary of the Rotaract Club, the collegiate branch of Rotary International. With Rotaract Club, “we partnered up with the Salem Rotary Club in organizing and volunteering at local community events such as Olde Salem Days and Christmas for Kids.”
She completed three internships during her four years at Roanoke, the first of which was in the Roanoke office of US Senator Tim Kaine (VA). Holahan said, “I helped the regional director and staff assistant with constituent affairs and also developed a better understanding of the roles of regional and national politics.” She explained that this experience lent itself well to preparing her for an internship in Washington, D.C.
Following her internship in Senator Kaine’s office, she participated in the Lutheran College Washington Semester, which she said was a major factor in her choosing Roanoke. There, Holahan interned in the office of Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY-4), who represents her home district. “That internship experience was incredible because along with handling constituent correspondences and attending briefings and hearings on Capitol Hill, I got to give tours of the Capitol Building to constituents which I thoroughly enjoyed as a U.S. History nerd,” she quipped.
After completing that semester, she opted to stay in DC for the summer and complete another internship through LCWS, this time with a management consulting firm in Alexandria. “Interning and living in D.C. for the spring and summer was incredible because I learned so much from my work experiences but also got to enjoy all that the city had to offer on the weekends,” Holahan said.
With Commons coming in a close second, she said that her favorite part of Roanoke was the people. “Roanoke would not be what it is without the people who make up the campus and are committed to its mission and success,” Holahan said. “From taking Constitutional Law with Dr. Peppers to Political Theory with Dr. Garrison and International Politics with Dr. O’Keef, I loved learning about the different facets of Political Science and getting to know my professors outside of the classroom.” She also said that the experiences she gained here, such as meeting speakers Amanda Knox and Monica Lewinsky, were some highlights of her undergraduate years. “I don’t think I would have ever had such amazing opportunities at a larger school and am grateful to both the professors and staff in the department who push for us to seek new experiences and follow our passions outside of the classroom.”
Next up, she is heading to Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, where she said, “I don’t know exactly what type of law I would like to practice but I’m eager to learn more about the racial and economic disparities within the criminal justice system that prevent some defendants from receiving adequate counsel.” She urged students to explore classes that interest you, regardless of your major or minor. “I think that taking classes in different subject areas—besides just the INQ requirements—can be really beneficial and allow you to explore all of your interests and curiosities.”