Eliza van der Woude ’20: Scholar, Equestrian, Traveler

News Story categories: Communication Studies Economics, Business, and Accounting Internships Student Spotlight
A smiling young woman in a yellow ruffled top standing in front of a brick building.

Randolph-Macon College student Eliza van der Woude ’20 was a junior in high school when she visited the RMC campus for the first time. Her cousin, Marike Beale ’16, had raved about the college, and after a campus tour, “I just knew that I was meant to be here,” says van der Woude. “I feel blessed that I chose RMC. I came here very shy, but now I am confident in the decisions I make and the opinions I have. I owe that to Randolph-Macon.”

Asked why she chose to major in business management and minor in communication studies, van der Woude explains, “I knew I wanted to major in business, and, after taking a class called Organizational Behavior, I realized that communication studies really helps me see how and why people communicate. The skills I’ve learned in both disciplines will help me in my future career.”

From Internship to Career
van der Woude, a native of Warrenton, Virginia, learned the value of hands-on work experience when she did a summer internship in 2019 at Tenable, a cybersecurity software company. At the company’s Columbia, Maryland headquarters, she assessed the results of an engagement survey; created a job description library; and found training opportunities for employees. When the vice president of Human Resources called her into the office one day, van der Woude got a little nervous.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I thought maybe I’d done something wrong. Instead, I was offered a full-time job after graduation. I think I was probably in a little bit of shock because I am not sure I heard anything after ‘We want to make you an offer.’ It feels a little surreal to know I have a job in place after graduation.”

An Equestrian at Heart
Passionate about horses and riding, van der Woude got her first pony when she was just two years old.

“I rode with my parents until I was about five, and then they signed me up for lessons because I stopped listening to them!” she says. “I knew I wanted to keep riding in college, and RMC gave me that perfect opportunity. The college’s equestrian program is amazing, and it has such awesome people backing it, including its director, Dana Lesesne.” The team practices and competes at Coventry Farm, which the college acquired in 2018. van der Woude competes for the team in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Division and in the Open Division.

“Riding can be a very individualized sport—in most horse shows, you are just competing for yourself and for your horse,” she says. “But the RMC team is different: We compete for each other. I truly cannot imagine riding for any other team.”

A Month of Discovery
In 2020, van der Woude packed her bags and traveled to England in conjunction with a January Term course, The Industrial Revolution and Early Management in Great Britain, taught by Business Professor Ed Showalter. van der Woude and her fellow travelers explored Oxford University, visit the UK Parliament, and tour Stonehenge, Bath, and Warwick Castle.

“It was an incredible trip,” says van der Woude, a Presidential Scholarship and Trustees Award recipient and member of Delta Zeta sorority. “My favorite part was walking through the streets of London, and thinking how lucky I was to be there! The history and culture there are just amazing, and Wroxton is so beautiful.”