Senior Mary Buffaloe smiles wide during a Model UN trip to Germany in November 2019. The writer said she hopes to create positive change for women all over the world.
Photos courtesy of Mary Buffaloe
Senior Mary Buffaloe prepares to graduate with a Creative Writing BA and a minor in Women’s Studies. Buffaloe said she is keeping her post-graduate options open —especially in light of COVID-19; she’s considering the Peace Corps, graduate school in feminist studies and a writing fellowship. Her goal is to promote equality for women all over the world, focusing in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
What made you choose Creative Writing as a major?
Mary Buffaloe: When I was 12, I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I still know a lot about marine biology for no reason just because I remember I was fascinated by it. And then I got really into this is very odd book — “Les Miserables” — and I became very attached to it: the way it was written and also just the way he used it to talk about social issues in that time period. And I started to think, ‘Well, I’ve always liked to tell stories. Why don’t I do this? Isn’t that maybe a better way to use my time?’ And then I had a middle school teacher who told me she looked at my writing and was like, ‘You should consider doing this all the time, you’d be good at it.’ And then I started in high school, writing first poetry. So poetry is always dear to my heart; it’s my favorite thing to do. And then I started with plays and short stories. Then, by the time I was ready to apply for school, Creative Writing was just the only thing I wanted to do. Writing is the only thing that makes me that happy. So I was like, well, I mean, there’s no other major that’ll bring me this much joy.
What clubs are you involved in at Pepperdine?
MB: I am the President of Crossroads Gender and Sexuality Alliance GSA — it’s our new name. And I’ve been the writing coordinator of Model United Nations for two years now. For Model UN, I originally just saw that they put out a flyer for an all-expenses-paid trip abroad. It was like, ‘You get a free trip to New York if you get on the team.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, heck yeah!’ So I applied and then I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would and I’ve stayed for four years.
What is something that you learned from your experience overseas?
MB: I went to Lausanne because I really wanted to learn French. Really what I got out of it was that now I’m fluent in French — that is honestly the greatest thing I got and, by extension, it was the culture. I still have a lot of Swiss friends and French friends that I talked to that I miss, and I really just enjoyed the Swiss and French culture because I personally felt at home. They’re very cold people who are very driven on what they want to do, and I’m not a very warm person, so I understood them completely. They don’t like when you say hello to them in the street. They don’t like when you ask how their day is. And I was like, ‘Oh, perfect.’
What are your plans after graduation?
MB: Oh, there’s so many. I’m a planning person — I’ve made plans of plans, A through F just in case things go wrong. But I’m thinking either to go to grad school in feminist studies or apply for writing fellowships around the world — see if I can get any of them — or join the Peace Corps. Those are the top three. Ultimately, I really just want to be in a position where I can use my writing to help bring awareness to certain issues. I think long term, I really want to work specifically in promoting the rights of women around the world. So specifically, working with feminists not in the U.S. — feminists in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia — because I just believe more in the work that they’re doing. Frankly, I would love to be able to help them gain more global recognition and work with them because I know I can write to help bring awareness to them and, by extension, help more women globally.
If you were to give any advice to first-year students at Pepperdine, what would you say?
MB: You’re more valuable than you think you are. I think especially I’d say that to the minority students on this campus. And especially those near and dear to my heart — my students of Crossroads are sweet kids. Sometimes this campus, especially for minority students, makes us feel like we don’t belong here, that our voices are not as important as those of the majority. But we are just so much more valuable, and our voices are so instrumental to how this campus runs. We are needed to make classes run properly and for everyone to have a good time. And just you are so much more valuable than you think you are.
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