Olivia Hinerfeld Graduates with a Passion for Policy (and Chaipuccinos)

Olivia Hinerfeld
SFS, Class of 2017, International Politics and Justice and Peace Studies
Portland, Oregon
Language: Spanish
Proseminar: A Second Look at the Holocaust with Fr. Dennis McManus
Study Abroad: Madrid, Spain, in Fall 2015
On-Campus Activities:
The Lecture Fund
The Corp (Chair of Social Impact)
GUSA (Deputy Chief of Staff with a focus on sexual assault policy)
Take Back the Night Sexual Education Peer Educators (SAPE)
Escape Leader
Freshmen Resident Assistant
Non-GU Activities:
Office of Vice President Joe Biden, Violence Against Women Team (Intern)
National Domestic Violence Hotline (Intern)
Office of Senator Ron Wyden (Intern)


May 1, 2017
by Aislinn McNiece

Olivia Hinerfeld (SFS’17) came to the SFS from Portland, Oregon, where she studied International Politics with a focus on international law and Justice and Peace Studies. During her time at Georgetown, she had a range of extraordinary experiences on and off campus, from working in the White House with Joe Biden to hosting John Mulaney(C’04) and Nick Kroll(C’01), two well-known comedians and Georgetown alums, with the Lecture Fund.

However, when she first came to Georgetown, she had a different plan. “When I arrived at Georgetown in Fall 2013, I thought I had it all figured out. I would major in International Economics and focus my time on scholarly pursuits, like writing for the school newspaper and participating in academic research. I would pursue my language proficiency in Arabic and study abroad at Georgetown’s campus in Qatar. And after graduation, I would start out my career as a Foreign Service Officer, traveling the world and putting my Arabic to good use. Within five years, I would go back to school to pursue a dual MBA and Masters in Public Policy.”

“In reality, my college career turned out a little differently than I planned. I switched to Spanish and German and eventually studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. I spent a semester traveling Europe, made brilliant new friends, and ate my weight in tapas 10 times over. I decided to major in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, landing myself in courses that sparked new passions and set me on a path for the future. After realizing that writing for the school newspaper and participating in academic research felt too much like additional homework, I filled my extra hours in countless other ways.”

Some of those activities included GUSA and the College Democrats, involvement on the Sexual Misconduct Task Force and in Sexual Assault Peer Educators (SAPE), and working with the Lecture Fund, a group of students who bring high-level speakers to promote dialogue on campus. With the Lecture Fund, Hinerfeld experienced one of her favorite Georgetown moments.

“After weeks of sending cold emails to random addresses, aggressively tweeting, and pestering Georgetown Alumni Services for help, I had all but given up on inviting John Mulaney to campus. With the Spring 2016 semester quickly approaching, I decided to give it one final attempt – I would send a Facebook message to John’s public profile. Within twenty-four hours, I had a response waiting in my inbox and just weeks later, I found myself onstage in Gaston Hall with John Mulaney and Nick Kroll.”

One of her other favorite Georgetown memories is of a class, the History of Rock n’ Roll with Professor Benjamin Harbert.

“Professor Harbert teaches at the intersections of history, politics, technology, sociology, and music. He uses rock-n-roll as a forum to impart necessary lessons about the United States’ complex relationships with misogyny, cultural appropriation, racism, violence, and so much more. He also shared valuable insights about the history of Washington D.C., drawing our attention to the city’s punk rock scene and introducing us to the cultural significance of this moment in musical history. In short, I have never been so excited to do my homework and attend lectures.”

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

Hinerfeld made other strides with the help of several people from her undergraduate years. In addition to “Jen Schweer, Carol Day, and Jennifer Wiggins in Health Education Services; Laura Kovach in The Women’s Center; Laura Cutway in Title IX; and so many others,” Hinerfeld’s mentors led her to off-campus opportunities, such as an internship on the Violence Against Women Team in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden in the White House.

“My freshman year, I had the great fortune of meeting a senior named Alyssa Peterson. Through my involvements in GUSA and College Democrats, she became my first and most important mentor at Georgetown and set me on a path to become a devoted anti-violence activist. I owe many of the opportunities I had beyond the front gates to her. At the end of my sophomore year, Alyssa introduced me to Lynn Rosenthal, who would go on to become my idol and mentor. Lynn, the former White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, supervised me at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and helped me become a more articulate and effective activist.”

Somehow, between classes and her many on and off-campus activities, Hinerfeld also found time for fun. If she could have been an Instagram blogger in Washington, D.C., she would have combined some of her passions and posted about “ice cream and Joe Biden.” In real life, though, she broke the Georgetown bubble in pursuit of a different passion.

“My first great love in Washington, DC proved to be Tryst – a coffee shop in Adams Morgan that specializes in Chaipuccinos and delicious pies. Three and a half years later, it is still one of my favorite study spots in the city.”

And, if she could go back those three and a half years, Hinerfeld would have some words of wisdom for her freshman self.

“Spend time with Hoyas who think differently than you do. Challenge yourself to befriend people who grew up in parts of the world you’ve never visited, who align with politics across the aisle, and who aren’t afraid of a good debate. If nothing else, you will become even better at defending your point of view.”

Hinerfeld will take that lesson among many others with her after graduation, as she begins as a Research Analyst at business consulting firm CEB in Arlington, Virginia and works on her law school applications. And, with the ultimate goal of doing policy work to end violence against women, Hinerfeld will hold onto a bit of Hoya nostalgia: “I will miss being surrounded by a community of brilliant students, scholars, and staff who enable me to thrive even when a plot twist throws me off course.”