English major Jessica Ramtahal ’20 – this year’s recipient of The Lillian E. Collins Endowed Scholarship – has taken her interest in writing and editing to Galway, where she is studying abroad this spring while working on several projects.
In Ireland, Ramtahal has been studying literature, completed a manuscript of a chapbook and has submitted her work to several publications, including one piece on abortion rights in Ireland. She says her academic experience and her extracurricular involvement at HWS have provided a solid foundation around writing.
“At HWS, my access to incredible writing courses helped me maintain my love for writing and further encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones,” says Ramtahal, noting that her favorite HWS classes have been “Writer’s Seminar I,” “Writer’s Seminar II,” “Exploring Journalism” and “Creative Writing.” Through the seminars, Ramtahal says she has developed a better understanding of creative writing and academic writing.
Ramtahal says receiving the Collins scholarship has been meaningful.
“As a first-generation student from a single mother household, being a recipient of The Lillian E. Collins Endowed Scholarship has shown me that despite the odds you may face, nothing is impossible,” says Ramtahal, who has served as secretary of Sankofa: Black Students Union. “At one point in high school, even attending college was a question, but now, as a rising junior, I see new opportunities and successes daily. This scholarship gives my struggle meaning.”
The Collins Endowed Scholarship was established by the family and friends of retired HWS staff member Lillian Elizabeth Williams Collins, who served generations of students and the community during her more than four decades at HWS. The Scholarship asks that academically and financially deserving recipients show a demonstrated commitment to HWS and the Geneva community through both their service and leadership, and come from underrepresented communities.
“After graduation, I plan to pursue editing and possibly journalism as well,” says Ramtahal, who has been involved in the HWS Writing Colleagues program. “Over the years and with much practice, I have learned the importance of drafts and revision and while it is a tedious process, I want to share the experience of creating a piece you can proudly put your name on.”