Student of the Year: Caitlin Maloney ‘16

Caroline Fassett, News Editor

When asked if she has any role models or sources of inspiration, Student of the Year Caitlin Maloney ’16 hesitated a moment before responding.

“I can’t point to a specific role model. I have really, really incredible parents who have always pushed me forward and really like to see me succeed, and so I like to see myself succeed,” Maloney said. 

This drive to succeed explains how Maloney has achieved much throughout her four years at the University. Working toward a major in political science and double minors in public policy and legal studies, Maloney also acts as the Student Coordinator of the Undergraduate Executive Internship program. Additionally, Maloney is a representative in Bucknell Student Government, a committee member for Relay for Life, and has completed six separate unpaid internships in the past four years.

Acknowledging the expanse of her accomplishments, Maloney said that she is most proud of founding and serving as president of ATHENA, a student organization that specializes in women’s empowerment.

“It makes me proud to know how, to the individuals involved in ATHENA, special it is and how much it impacts them. And also how it’s changed me; I think that it’s made me who I am. It’s made me … want to be aware of how I can empower myself and other women for the rest of my life,” Maloney said.

This past year was ATHENA’s first year on campus, and it orchestrated many different events, including a discussion led by Fatima Arabzada ’16, who spoke about the Taliban’s recent invasion of her hometown of Kunduz, Afghanistan. ATHENA raised over $8,000 for families in Kunduz to help them rebuild their lives. For its efforts, ATHENA recently received a student organization award and a Diversity & Inclusion award through the University.

“[ATHENA] came from me wanting to belong to something that I felt empowered me as a woman. The structure of the club has enabled us to get involved in initiatives where we’re needed, and I think that’s what’s made us so successful,” Maloney said.

Maloney said that the course “Women and the Penal System” profoundly influenced her as a student and as a person. In the class, students travel to the State Correctional Institution at Muncy each week and speak “about issues of female criminality and paths to criminality” alongside incarcerated women.

“[It was] one of the most incredible experiences, but also a really difficult experience in learning to understand my privilege. I’ve been so privileged to have people in my life who support me, and love me, and want to see me succeed. And I think a lot of people who end up in the criminal justice system don’t have those people.” Maloney said. 

On June 6, Maloney will start as a legal assistant in the antitrust group of White & Case LLP International Law Firm in Washington, D.C. Maloney called this job a stepping stone to law school, as she eventually intends to work in criminal justice reform. 

Maloney said that that the University has been a “very nurturing place.”

“Bucknell has been instrumental in definitely shaping who I am, but maybe bringing out who I am is the better way to put it. I think I came here the person I am, but Bucknell, the combination of relationships with faculty … with the staff, the way the school operates, the way the administration operates; that really brought out everything that I haven’t tapped into before,” Maloney said.

In terms of advice for other students, Maloney said that being engaged is “the most important thing you can be.”

“If you allow yourself to take advantages of the various resources that Bucknell has, anyone can succeed. I think that’s a disconnect for some of the students. Sometimes they criticize Bucknell pretty heavily for not being as supportive as it can be. But I think that it is supportive; you just have to give some of yourself to find that support,” Maloney said. 

Smiling and glancing down at her cracked phone screen, Maloney paused again when asked which quality says the most about her and why she believes she is being honored.

“Compassion would be the most emblematic quality of me and my success,” Maloney said. “I try to wake up every day and say, ‘Be compassionate. Be understanding.’ It’s so easy to be judgmental; it’s so easy to be hard on people. I think it’s harder to be compassionate. But I really value that skill. I really believe that it creates change.”

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