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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Of Business and Boardrooms: Ari Hymoff’17 Student Representative to the Academic Affairs Committee

Photo provided by Ari Hymoff17.
Photo provided by Ari Hymoff’17.
Photo provided by Ari Hymoff'17.
Photo provided by Ari Hymoff’17.

So Ari, you’re a biology major?

Ari Hymoff: Actually, I’m a biology and international studies double major and chemistry minor.

I have to ask: why? That sounds extremely intense.

AH: I want to do something with international development/public health. I really like models that tackle the root of poverty, including [initiatives] like microfinance and agricultural development [surrounding traditional] clinics. [All that stems from a] multidisciplinary education.

So we traditionally think of those initiatives overseas. Do you have thoughts yet on working overseas or domestically?

AH: Probably overseas [honestly]. I grew up in a diverse family and it would seem fitting that I spent some time overseas. I’m working on this project…[building] a box where…drug users can crank a lever and get a [clean] needle out in exchange, an effort to reduce the high rates [of] HIV among injecting drug user populations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. [The box functions] without a battery [making it an easy] way to spread to rural areas…Hopefully I can milk some of the connections I gained while taking a gap year in Russia—and maybe using the Russian I learned to maneuver around some Central Asian countries.

You took a gap year?

AH: Yeah, I was lucky enough to win the NSLI-Y [National Security Language Initiative for Youth] scholarship, which allowed me to stay with a host family and learn Russian.

How did this drive for work and travel overseas develop?

AH: So I grew up in Portland, Maine—[which has a] very different feel than Macalester. I really love the nature that Maine has [now]—Acadia is really gorgeous. [But as a kid] I had never really gotten much out of Maine. Then there was an exchange program to Shinagawa, Japan [Portland’s sister city]. I begged my parents [to let me go] and collected bottles all year to pay for it. I went to Japan for that summer in sixth grade—and that’s where [this drive] started. [I spent] my sophomore year [of high school] in France—I did anything I could to go overseas, [which] started my love for international politics.

All right. And then you stepped on-campus and a year later, you work with both MCSG and are an RA. Why do you do it?

AH: I want to know that I can change things I feel are issues—that affect my life and the way others live. It’s a good feeling to know that you can actually do something. [For example] today we made a revision to the textbook program. [Here] you’re responsible for a fund that’s [worth] $10,000. [And you have to] make sure you get books that people will use this coming fall/spring. [But the reward is knowing that] some people would really benefit from this.

Part of your role as Academic Affairs Chair in MCSG means you serve as a Student Representative on the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee. What are your thoughts on this?

AH: Well, most of the things that go on at Macalester are really up to upperclassmen and then they [graduate]—[it’s great that] someone is going to grow into these decisions while here at Mac…I think EPAG [Educational Policy and Governance committee] is [also] really influential and having a voice on that [is huge]. [As for Academic Affairs,] it’s easy to neglect what the students think because ultimately [faculty, staff, administrators, and Trustees] will outlive our time here—but I [am willing to] question the committee. Who is [Macalester] for? It’s for the students. The business here is teaching students.

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