Madeleine DesFossés

Madeleine DesFossés ’21

Name: Madeleine DesFossés
Year: junior
Major: Latin American studies
Hometown: Blue Hill, Maine


  • Curphey American Studies Fund
  • Mary Martha Ives Owens ’66 Scholarship
“The funding from Mount Holyoke has allowed me to be curious. It’s allowed me to have a real college experience like everyone else.”

“As a first-generation student, I couldn’t imagine being able to actually graduate from college. My first semester here I kept asking myself when I would drop out. I see now that I am more than capable of the work and the challenges. I’m definitely proud that I’ve developed the feeling that I belong here and that I can thrive academically.” 

DesFossés had wanted to study international relations when she arrived at Mount Holyoke. But she decided to major in Latin American studies after taking Social Movements of Latin America, a first-year seminar taught by Adriana Pitetta, assistant professor of Spanish.

16% of students self-identified as first-generation college students (2018–2019).

Thanks to a Laurel Fellowship, DesFossés spent a semester at the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica with other Mount Holyoke students. Her studies there included Spanish, anthropology and environmental sustainability. The experience changed her — she realized that language, climate change, sustainability and community are all interrelated. 

DesFossés plans to pursue an internship to help refugees and immigrants on the U.S.–Mexican border and she’s thinking seriously about pursuing law school or the Peace Corps after college.