PEG Student and Legacy is Leaving Her Mark on MBU

April 3, 2017

Because of her diverse background and upbringing, Marianna Moynihan considers herself a social chameleon. Hailing from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she came to Mary Baldwin University in 2015 as a legacy  in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.

Moynihan has skipped a total of six grades prior to transferring to MBU at age 14, including fourth, fifth, and sixth grades as well as her last three grades of high school.

“PEG is a very unique program. I was intrigued by the opportunities MBU offers, and how they could positively affect the course of my life and career,” Moynihan said.

Moynihan’s father, Patrick Moynihan, is the president of a non-profit organization that runs a secondary school in Haiti offering education to gifted students with low socioeconomic status.

Thanks to her parent’s encouragement and support, Moynihan speaks five languages including French, Spanish, Creole, Italian, and English.

Moynihan considers English her second language as she started life speaking fluent Spanish by the age of 5 at her primary school in Chicago.

After primary school in the states Moynihan completed her remaining secondary school years in her father’s school in Haiti, working with curriculum that she considers much more challenging than what is typically offered in the United States.

“A difference is that memorization is required. There is something called recitation which entails memorizing paragraphs or pages of textbooks or notes,” Moynihan said. “Then, students recite them in front of the class for a grade on exams; the exact words from the book are expected.”

Moynihan stays busy at MBU with a double major in theatre and psychology. In her limited spare time at Baldwin the PEG student is also involved in several extracurricular activities including performing for the MBU theatre.

“I’ve been head of makeup and hair on a few productions and I’ve acted in many productions,” Moynihan said. “I was the first student choreographer, and I used my choreography on this year’s musical as my senior project.”

Peer advising is another responsibility Moynihan enjoys in spare time, and she has participated in advising for the last two years.

“I was head peer advisor for the PEG program last semester before handing the advisees over to the three sophomores I had trained for this semester,” Moynihan said.

With an early college career comes more responsibility, Moynihan said, adding that her biggest challenge right now is pacing herself.

“At one point I had two majors and two minors. I want to try everything, and take every class,” Moynihan said. “It was challenging to focus on my main goal and let other interests go.”

In five years, Moynihan sees herself applying to conservatories in Berlin or Chicago and after a few years of “satiating her artistic exploration of acting,” she hopes pursue a master’s degree in in research psychology or drama therapy.

Moynihan believes MBU has opened doors for her that she would not have received anywhere else.

“I have the advantage of having a university degree by 18 years old,” Moynihan said. “I have extra time to explore other countries, and experience life before I go back to graduate school and get steady employment.”