Spotlight on 2010 Exceptional Graduates

May 11, 2010

Like so many scholars who have graduated from Rollins College over the past 125 years, this year's exceptional graduates exemplify Rollins’ dedication to global citizenship and responsible leadership. Here is a summary of a few of 2010's most outstanding graduates:


 Maia Ryan - Palm City, Fla

A major in Critical Media & Cultural Studies and captain of the women’s soccer team at Rollins, Maia Ryan’s contributions to the Rollins College campus have been widespread. She’s part of a band called, “Maia Ryan and the Shoeless Jesters,” which performed at the Our Hearts for Haiti Benefit Festival and she’s has also worked on some RTV spots and designed its new logo. Ryan recently participated in a one-week spring break immersion trip to San Miguel, Mexico where she was a part of a group of students and faculty that helped indigenous women create business co-ops.

Ryan is currently pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector while working this summer with Rollins Associate Professor of Critical Media and Cultural Studies Lisa Tillman writing music for a documentary about women’s body images.

“Even as a student athlete, Rollins made community involvement so easy and accessible,” said Ryan. “That’s one of the things I liked best about the school; it’s a small school atmosphere with lots of opportunities available.”


Shannon Brown - New Port Richie, Fla

Shannon Brown truly epitomizes Rollins’ dedication to internationalization and global citizenship. A major in International Relations with a Spanish minor, Brown has spent her four years at Rollins pursuing countless opportunities to enhance her experience in the global economy including two study abroad trips to Spain as well as Morocco.

Named one of 20 recipients from among hundreds of applicants, Brown was awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which funds award recipients for three years of foreign study in exchange for four-and-a half years of work in the Foreign Service. Brown has participated in the Rollins Student-Faculty Collaborative Research program researching sustainable energy policies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As a 2009-10 R-Journalist, she regularly contributed her insights to a Rollins student blog.

In addition to being a member of the Honors Degree Program, the Philosophy Club, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, as well as an editor of the Rollins Undergraduate Research Journal, she led a student effort to start an Arabic program at Rollins at the end of her sophomore year.

This summer, Brown will be working as an intern for the U.S. State Department where she will be working on compiling human rights reports for the Office of Asia & the Middle East in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In the fall, she heads to Tufts University to begin graduate school.

“There’s so much opportunity available at Rollins,” said Brown. “From undergraduate research to study abroad programs; Rollins is small enough where you can easily seize the opportunities.”


Tocarra Mallard – St. Petersburg, Fla

While Tocarra Mallard has held leadership roles in the Black Student Union and participated in various community engagement efforts such as helping to clean up Pine Hills for Relay for Life, her  most noteworthy contribution at Rollins has been her involvement  with her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho. Mallard was involved with the prom dress donation to Jones High School and served as social networking chair of the sorority. Her sorority’s motto is, “Greater Service, Greater Progress,” and she feels like that's an appropriate motto for her experience at Rollins too.

“At Rollins, I feel like I developed who I am as a person and what I needed to do with my life,” said Mallard. “I feel like I became Tocarra at Rollins.”

Besides working with her sorority, Mallard also interned at the Orlando Museum of Art and travelled to Scotland to make stained glass windows.

“I’m leaving Rollins, but I’m leaving with a sense that it’s mine," she said. "Through service learning and community engagement, I’ve felt a real connection to the school and it has made me an engaged person with a strong connection to the global community.”


Jack Keeley – Sarasota, Fla

Jack Keeley, magna cum laude graduate, credits his first-year RCC class titled, “Learning and Growing Up” with helping him choose the right college path from the moment he stepped foot on campus. The course, which was was taught by Karen Hater (now dean of student affairs), taught him a lot about stress and time management and how to do well in college.

A History major and Music minor who also enjoys playing piano and learning tai kwon do, Keeley plans to get his M.A. in Applied Linguistics from USF. Inspired by his experience working at the College’s tutoring and writing lab with ESOL students and non-native English speakers, he has decided to pursue his master’s degree in this area.

“Rollins made me a complete person,” said Keeley. “It is a small school that gives you a strong academic foundation and a strong individual foundation. One of my favorite things about Rollins is the close, personal relationships with professors. I consider a lot of the faculty members my extended family.”

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