May 2022

A readership survey we issued way back in January 2018 showed that alumnae wish to read more about the lives and achievements of fellow alumnae in Europe. Below is our seventh feature interview, focusing on Nadia Heath Class of ’80. 

Nadia Heath, a proud Mount Holyoke alumna, class of 1980, is the Super Winner of the Uncommon Cameras photography competition. Read more about what inspired her to enter the competition & the influence of Mount Holyoke on her life in this latest interview in our ‘In the Spotlight’ series.”

Please get in touch if you feel your story would be of interest, or would like to recommend a fellow alum!

Spotlight on… Nadia Heath Class of ’80

Nadia health '80

Name: Nadia Heath
Class Year: 1980

1) Can you tell us a few words about yourself?

I graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1980 with a degree in Romance Languages and Literatures (French and Portuguese). My British husband, Edwin, and I live in a rural cottage on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Since I retired from my career in child protection administration at the start of the first Covid lockdown I have had more time to enjoy gardening, volunteering, music, walks with my husband and cat, and snapping photos with my iPad.

2) What inspired you to participate in the competition?

I saw the photo competition announcement on the Mount Holyoke European Council website. The Chair of the Council, Silvia Maulini who is my classmate, encouraged me to enter. I was inspired to showcase the stunning scenery of our island home and to share the joy of our free-spirited cat, Banjo. With so many phenomenal photos in the competition, I was truly surprised and thrilled to have been a finalist and ultimately the “super winner”.

Fly Like a Bird Competition Winner
The winning entry! Fly Like a Bird – with Banjo the cat, taken by Nadia Heath

3) What’s one challenge you faced over the years and how did you manage to overcome it?

During a family reunion in Ohio, where I grew up, our family friend told of her disappointment that, at the last minute, she couldn’t attend her 75th Mount Holyoke reunion because her niece could no longer accompany her. My sister, who had been a Mount Holyoke head resident my senior year and I took on the challenge to get her to the reunion! I used Mount Holyoke online resources to research reunion classes and alumnae who were planning to attend from the Cleveland area.

The very first alumna we contacted readily agreed to help by reaching out to our friend, arranging flight seats together, and accompanying her all the way to the reunion. The Alumnae Association was also delighted to facilitate the attendance of one of the few class of 1931 members attending reunion. They sent a limo to the airport and arranged for a student to support her during the weekend. Our friend had the time of her life, her reunion photo was published in the Quarterly, and she continued to cherish memories of her Mount Holyoke experiences until her death, at age 104.

It just goes to show that nothing is too great a challenge and that, by pulling together, Mount Holyokers can make dreams come true.

4) Did you have a vision of your life when you were at Mount Holyoke? How did that vision change over the years?

While I was a student at Mount Holyoke I thought a career with a UN agency or international nongovernmental organization would allow me to use my language skills and pursue my interest in foreign affairs, social justice, and human rights. I was raised in a multicultural family (Dad was a Palestinian refugee and Mom was an American academic and activist), I spent a year as an AFS high school student in Brazil and did my junior year abroad in Paris so I had a world vision that was nurtured by the culturally diverse Mount Holyoke community.

Since I moved to Orkney nearly 40 years ago my vision changed to focus on more local employment opportunities and activities, however, I haven’t lost my interest in the world.

5) What is your most fond memory of your time back at MHC?

There are so many fond memories of Mount Holyoke – the stunning campus, stimulating classes, singing with the choir, elfing, Mountain Day…..I had a summer internship with the Amnesty International French Section in Paris and when I returned to campus for senior year my classmate Marjory Heath Wentworth and I founded the Mount Holyoke Amnesty Chapter, still going!

My fondest memory, however, is of all the remarkable and lifelong friendships I made, supportive conversations late at night during study breaks, M&Cs …. In the past two years as I have been our class Vice President and as I have become involved with the Mount Holyoke British and European alumnae groups, I have regained those precious feelings of connection and pleasure.

6) How did your MHC experience contribute to your life aspirations?

Mount Holyoke inspired me to be brave, enquiring, and engaged with the world. My college experiences prepared me for my aspirations to further study, work and live abroad. Over many years I coordinated AFS programs in Orkney and my husband and I hosted three AFS daughters from South America. I am still active with Amnesty and travel opportunities have allowed me to use my language skills. Mount Holyoke has had a massive influence on my life for which I am always grateful.

Interview conducted Spring 2022 by Dimitra China ’16 and Delia Youssef ’15