By: Sheila Foran
This article is part of a series featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. Check for additional profiles of students in the Class of 2013 on UConn Today from now through Commencement.
History major Mairead Hynes ’13 (CLAS) will be teaching English in Japan next year, and contemplating where she’d like to go to graduate school. She will also be doing some reading on the side, probably in the areas of Asian and Latin American history. And after that? Well, the sky’s the limit for this budding historian, she just needs to decide where she will focus her energy.
Hynes’ road to a bachelor’s degree didn’t start out in typical fashion. She began college at age 14 in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. This residential program offers an opportunity for bright and accomplished young women between the ages of 13 and 15 to begin college while bypassing all or some of their high school courses.
A straight ‘A’ student while majoring in international relations, Hynes hit a mild bump in the road when she decided to add a biology major and took her first course in that discipline. “I enrolled in an upper level immunology class and for the first time I didn’t get an ‘A’. I was young and a less than perfect grade really shook my confidence,” she says, smiling at the recollection, “so I thought that I might not be cut out for college after all.”
When it came time for her to continue her quest for a bachelor’s degree, Hynes decided to transfer to UConn’s Stamford campus. That way, she could live at home in Cos Cob, Conn., and commute to school. “I’d already experienced being a residential student, and by living at home and working, I could pay my own tuition,” she says. “Once I got to Stamford, I fell in love with the history classes and the professors, and I knew that I had found my niche.”
Her academic advisor, associate professor of history Joel Blatt, says that she is an exceptional student. “Mairead’s professors have all commented on her great academic strengths,” he says, “and she has done excellent work in my class – on exams, written assignments, and in class discussions.”