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Alumnae Quarterly

The Next Big Idea is Tiny. Small-Scale Nanoscience is a Big Thing on Campus

14

From Underdog to Top Dog

17

Agnostic in an Abbey

20

Class Matters

Cover photo illustration by Jim Coon Studio Summer 2007 • Volume 91 • Number 2 Managing Director of Print and Online Magazines Emily Harrison Weir

Executive Director W. Rochelle Calhoun ’83 ex officio without vote

Staff Writer Mieke H. Bomann

*Executive Committee

Class Notes Editor Erica C. Winter ’92 Editorial Assistant Stephanie S. Miedema ’07 Designer James Baker Design Quarterly Committee: Linda Giannasi O’Connell ’69 (chair), Kara C. Baskin ’00, Maya Kukes ’95, Meg Massey ’08 (student rep.), Charlotte Overby ’87, Amy Springer ’87 (faculty rep.), Hannah Wallace ’95, Mary Graham Davis ’65, ex officio with vote; W. Rochelle Calhoun ’83, ex officio without vote Alumnae Association Board of Directors *President Mary Graham Davis ’65 *Vice President Linda Maria Yu Bien ’75 *Clerk Sandra A. Mallalieu ’91 *Treasurer Linda Ing Phelps ’86 Alumnae Quarterly Linda Giannasi Matys O’Connell ’69 Alumnae Trustee Ellen Cosgrove ’84 Alumnae Relations Cynthia L. Reed ’80 Classes and Reunions Susan Swart Rice ’70 Clubs Lily Klebanoff Blake ’64 Director-at-Large Maureen McHale Hood ’87 Nominating Chair Jill M. Brethauer ’70 Young Alumnae Representative Lisa M. Utzinger ’02

The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc., 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486; 413-538-2300; www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu. Ideas expressed in the Quarterly are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of either the Alumnae Association or the College. Published in the spring, summer, fall, and winter and copyrighted 2007 by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA 01075 and additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA by Lane Press, Burlington, Vermont. The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College serves a worldwide network of diverse individuals, cultivates and celebrates vibrant connections among all alumnae, fosters lifelong learning in the liberal arts tradition, and facilitates opportunities for alumnae to advance the goals and values of the College. Comments concerning the Quarterly should be sent to Alumnae Quarterly, Alumnae Association, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 010751486; tel. 413-538-2301; fax 413-538-2254; e-mail: eweir@ mtholyoke.edu. (413-538-3094, ecwinter@mtholyoke.edu for class notes.) Send address changes to Alumnae Information Services (same address; 413-538-2303; ais@mtholyoke.edu). Call 413-538-2300 with general questions regarding the Alumnae Association, or visit www. alumnae.mtholyoke.edu. POSTMASTER: (ISSN 00272493) (USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1486.

www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu

Small Wonders

Agnostic in an Abbey

By C h r i st i n e Pa l m

By Em i ly Harrison Weir

Nanoscience is here, on campus and in your life.

Faith met science when Katie Alton ’05 spent six weeks living as a nun.

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Hot Ticket

Coming Out About Class

by L e a n n a Ja m e s B l ackw e l l

By Co r r i n a Ya z b e k ’ 0 1

Suzan-Lori Parks ’85 traces her journey from theatrical underdog to topdog.

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Upward class mobility doesn’t come with a roadmap— or a guarantee.

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2

Viewpoints

4

Campus Currents

22 Off the Shelf 26 Alumnae Matters

36 Class Notes and

Reunion Photos

76 Bulletin Board and Travel

78 Last Look By M a rya n n Teale Snell ’86

Breaking out of “debtor’s prison”

Check it Out Online.

E-Cards Don’t have time to write a letter? Can’t reach your MHC friend on her cell? Try a Mount Holyoke e-card. They’re free, fun, and an easy way to stay connected with other alumnae. These custom-designed cards feature campus scenes, notable alumnae, and yearbook photos for classes with reunions this year. And you can add text in nine different languages.

P aul S chnaittacher

Check it out at alumnae. mtholyoke.edu/virtualcafe/ index.php.

viewpoints

Going Coed, Passively?

We are writing in response to “When She Graduates as He,” published in The Boston Globe Magazine, and featuring Kevin Murphy, a Mount Holyoke student who has undergone gender reassignment surgery to become a male. Mr. Murphy insists that people respect his lifestyle choices, and he is entitled to that respect. Similarly, all of the women, past and present, who have chosen to attend women’s colleges deserve the same respect for which Mr. Murphy clamors. It is hypocritical to demand respect for a lifestyle choice one has made while refusing to show respect for others’ choices. Simply put, Mr. Murphy and other men do not belong at Mount Holyoke College. Part of Mount Holyoke’s mission is a “commitment to educating a diverse residential community of women at the highest level of academic excellence ...” This mission does not seek to promote the aims of men, nor should it. Mount Holyoke’s dedication to educating women is now being derailed by the efforts of those men



seeking to take advantage of Mount Holyoke’s liberal and accepting atmosphere. Students at women’s colleges seek to be educated in an environment that caters exclusively to the educational needs of women. Those students who undergo gender reassignment or selfidentify as men must realize that once they decided to become men, they agree to forgo opportunities that they had as women. Becoming a man and remaining at a women’s college is analogous to renouncing your citizenship, yet expecting to maintain the benefits of citizenship. There is a limit to tolerance and acceptance; there is a point at which Mount Holyoke must demand that its mission be respected. We are saddened by Mount Holyoke’s lack of conviction; but as long as Mount Holyoke continues to passively go coed, we will refrain from providing financial support to our alma mater. Suzanne Corriell ’00

Iowa City, Iowa

Regis Ahern ’01

Orlando, Florida

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Can MHC Do Curriculum Reform?

Here’s hoping that the process of comprehensive curriculum reform—so ambitiously spelled out in Section I of The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2010—is proceeding! This gargantuan undertaking was covered in the winter 2004 Quarterly article “What Does an Educated Woman Need to Know?” Why is rethinking the curriculum important, when the College is doing well as reflected in record applications, large grants from prestigious foundations, and successful capital campaigns? It would maximize use of college assets—its fine faculty, unique global culture, strong physical plant (the campus), and productive administration—and create another one: a rigorous curriculum focused on preparing women to excel. It would define what knowledge and capabilities MHC grads would have. Targeted outcomes would be made measurable. The college would be more accountable to all constituents: students, parents, faculty members,

administrators, trustees, alumnae, and donors. Participants better able to identify what they support would be more willing to commit resources. It is also an opportunity for Mount Holyoke to lead in reform and distinguish itself from competitors. More ominously, an era of increased measurement and accountability for public and private colleges is dawning. The bipartisan Commission on the Future of Higher Education, organized by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, is working on requiring regional accreditation agencies to require colleges to adopt measures of academic proficiency, and compare data from similar colleges. Competition to attract top students may evolve into competition among colleges to demonstrate results. Developing hardheaded proposals for what capacities graduates should have is exciting but terribly difficult. Harvard, with its enormous intellectual resources, has been struggling with undergraduate curriculum reform since 2002. And what happens

when agreed-upon goals require different academic configurations from what exist now? Implementing major curriculum reform would take years and would be painful. However, ten to twenty years from now, saying “trust us, you’ll get a fine education at Mount Holyoke,” may no longer suffice. Laura Nixdorf Bernstein ’65

Lincoln, Massachusetts

Gone Crackers

I envied Anne Sibley O’Brien’s chance (spring Quarterly) to relive student life at MHC— especially in the fall! But the historian in me is compelled to note that M&Cs referred to Milk and Crackers in the 1970s, not Milk and Cookies. Grace Palladino ’75

Bethesda, Maryland

Understanding Latin America

I hesitate before jumping to conclusions over a secondary source. But it seems that Lowell Gudmundson’s grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities has led to a too-easy

extrapolation (spring Quarterly). I’m referring to the application of his experiences, principally in Guatemala and Nicaragua, to a far broader territory. One can no more generalize about Latin America than one can about Europe or Asia. Each country has a specific template, hammered over time by a unique set of forces. These, in Latin America, include geography; climate; indigenous cultures and their region-specific history; the types and origins of Iberians that conquered; the miscegenation that followed; the countryspecific needs and works of an earlier Roman Catholic church; the slave trade from West Africa, brought in to help out or replace the subjugated natives; more miscegenation; centuries of political fireworks; and waves of immigrants, especially from the midnineteenth century on, mostly from Western Europe. I defy Lowell Gudmundson to find Latin Americans who are unaware of the full spectrum of racial components in their

country. It is a subject that is covered with no taboos in grade-school curriculums that are nonpoliticized, for the most part. In the meantime, I question enlightening “the natives” by applying the racial baggage of a very separate reality, meaning that of North America (Mexico excluded). I question using North America as a tether to justify racial psychology further south. And I question transferring “otherized” theories to regions where racial profiling has been neither as divisive nor as caustic as it has been in the history of the United States. Cross-pollinating certain ideas can provoke interesting exchanges, when they aren’t intended to polarize. But are the effects an accurate depiction of reality, when grant dollars and publishing possibilities are primary motivators?  Sydney Hedderich ’74

Toronto, Ontario, Canada Lowell Gudmundson replies: The views expressed above are shared by many students who take Afro-Latin America Since 1800. They continue

viewpoints

We welcome letters reflecting the varying viewpoints of the Mount Holyoke community. Letters should be no more than 300 words, and we reserve the right to edit them for accuracy, clarity, and to meet space needs. Letters must be signed. Letters addressing topics discussed in the previous Quarterly are given priority. On any given topic, we will print letters that address it, and then in the next issue, letters that respond to the first letters. After that, we will move on to new topics. Send your thoughts, with your full name and class, to Mieke H. Bomann, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486. Send e-mails to mbomann@mtholyoke.edu.

to be held by many upon completing the course, with passionate and eloquent debates such as those suggested by Ms. Hederrich, enriching our semester together. However, the idea that these issues amount to a misguided pursuit of North American or US racial concerns in Latin America is an unfortunate misperception. Several generations of Latin American scholars and Afro-Latin American communities have built the foundations for the course, its issues, and an abundant literature. They are best reflected, perhaps, by the Colombian journal América Negra, now in its second decade of publication. For the English-language reader, the broadest introduction might be found in George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800–2000 (Oxford University Press, 2004); while our own goals for Central America are set out in greater detail on the project Web site, at http://www.mtholyoke. edu/acad/latam/africania. html.

Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

Summer 2007



campuscurrents

The Power of Inexperience

Commencement weekend speakers offer passionate options for change For Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach for America and this year’s commencement speaker, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is a fellow pragmatist. In accepting the Nobel this year for his work in spreading the idea of micro-credit across the developing world, Yunus emphasized not that he was making a dent in an intractable problem, but that poverty is an artificial creation and that the world can be povertyfree—if we want it to be. “Wow,” responded Kopp to that sentiment in her address to this year’s class of 521 graduating seniors, including thirty-nine Frances Perkins Scholars. “The reason his message struck me so powerfully is that it’s so consistent with what I’ve seen firsthand about educational inequity. We can solve it.”

ben barnhart

Kopp, whose organization is the nation’s largest provider of teachers



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campuscurrents

Class photo, top and laurel chain: paul Schnaittacher • Kopp: Ben Barnhart

for low-income communities, was initially driven to improve the public school system by idealism and the notion that things should be better than they are. But seventeen years later, what sustains her and her colleagues is the understanding that educational inequity “is within our control to solve.”

The power of inexperience and the importance of time—in other words, the courage of idealists to ask naïve questions, and the rewards of hard-won insights that come from sticking with sizeable challenges—are essential to making change in the world, Kopp noted. In addition to Kopp, honorary degrees were awarded to Air Force Senior Scientist Emeritus Eleanor Reed Adair ’48, Hollywood producer and lawyer Debra Martin Chase ’77 (See photos, p. 34.), and Lieutenant Commander Charles D. Swift, an attorney who successfully challenged the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.

The evening before commencement, President Joanne Creighton pointed to the “energy … good spirits and … hard work” of the class of 2007 and hoped these young women had connected their education to their passions. In addition to baccalaureate degrees, one master’s degree, one postbaccalaureate certificate, and twentysix certificates to international students were awarded at commencement.— M.H.B. Commencement speaker Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach for America

What They’ll Miss Most Midnight talks in the hallways … Sitting in swimsuits on Skinner Green … Buffalo tofu … Chef Jeff cookies … All-you-can-eat salad bars … Having all their best friends within a one-mile radius … Sunday brunch and sharing stories about Saturday night’s debauchery … M&Cs, specifically the chocolate and raspberry brownies … The free bin … Never having to deal with annoying/sketchy men

Honoring the realities of each day’s efforts as “the very life of life” was the message of an ancient Sanskrit poem, “Look to This Day,” read at baccalaureate by Vidya Sampath ’07. Teachers and idealists of all stripes are encouraged by the poet to look to the future, but not without first honoring the “bliss of growth and the glory of action” that lie within the brief course of a day. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

Summer 2007



In session

Video-Chats Hone Students’ French Conversation Skills It’s hard to have meaningful engagement with another culture if you can’t speak the language at least moderately well. Global communication took another step forward this academic year, as intermediate Frenchlanguage students at MHC conversed over video links with intermediate Englishlanguage students at the Université de Haute Alsace in France. Donning headsets at computer terminals displaying live images of both students, the participants spoke ten minutes in one person’s native tongue, and then switched languages. Every twenty minutes, new teams of French and English students took their seats



in each of the four “chat rooms,” language learning center workstations topped by spherical video cameras. The conversation topics during the getting-toknow-you phase may not have been profound (“The campus is awesome.” … “I love U2, you know, with Bono?” … “Help me with my grammar here …”), but the experimental practice has become a valuable addition to campus language-teaching techniques. “The students are ‘swimming’ in French now,” said Catherine Bloom, visiting instructor in French, with each student speaking for far longer at a stretch than is common in group discussions. MHC language students usually gather in small

groups once a week and take turns conversing with a language assistant who’s a native speaker. These video discussions, says professor of French Nicole Vaget, are “a better alternative because it’s a one-on-one conversation of several minutes, so the pressure is on.” Sarah Reusché ’10 didn’t seem to feel pressured, though. In fact, she said speaking with another student “reduced the embarrassment factor that’s there when you’re speaking with someone who’s fluent in French when you’re not.” Each duo spoke online three times during spring semester, supplemented by e-mails between video sessions. By April, Sarah and video-conversation partner Ludovic Jost had moved from simple

Program Bridges Classroom to World

Common Read

Interdisciplinary inquiry at MHC received a significant shot in the arm this spring thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supporting the creation of a new certificate program. Designed to draw students further into the confluence of learning and engagement with the world, the new Nexus Program certificates will be affiliated with each of MHC’s four interdisciplinary centers: the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, the Center for the Environment, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, and the Science Center. All students will have the opportunity to elect a Nexus concentration in their sophomore year. Students who do so will complete a traditional major and pursue a Nexus certificate minor that will include either an internship or a sustained research experience as well as a capstone senior project or thesis.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s calm review of the facts of global warming—Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change—has been selected as this year’s “common read,” assigned to all incoming first-year students.

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questions to discussing subjects as complex as the political platforms of the French presidential candidates. “Conversing in French with a native really helps make concrete what verb tenses to use where,” Sarah said. “Ludovic assured me that even the French get the complicated verb tenses confused!” Nana-Yaa Appenteng ’08 said she liked the video conversations because “we learn things that you won’t find in textbooks.” She spoke with her video partner about differences between the French and U.S. educational systems, and where each had traveled. This twenty-firstcentury version of writing to a foreign pen pal, she says, also “helps build my confidence.”—E.H.W.

Tuition Hike The Board of Trustees set tuition, room, and board for the academic year 2007–08 at $46,280, a 4.9 percent increase over last year’s fee. It reiterated its commitment to the college’s substantial financial aid program.

Found Art: Museum a Hidden Treasure Manicures, facials, and a lecture on the history of costume and extreme fashion—coupled with an assortment of eclectic period clothing to try on—were the highlights of the third annual Spa Night at the MHC Museum of Art, organized by the esoterically named Society of Art Goddesses and enjoyed by more than 160 students. It may seem an unlikely event at an art museum rich with an exceptional collection, including Albert Bierstadt’s Hetch Hetchy Canyon and the significant Classical Greek sculpture Statuette of a Youth. But embracing visitors in unusual ways is part of the museum’s long-term plan to interest students studying in a variety of academic fields, not just art history. The museum also aims to entice patrons from Boston and New York—

Marianne Doezema and even neighboring Granby—who are unaware of the extraordinary art offerings in the shadow of the Connecticut River. The effort is beginning to pay off. Since Marianne Doezema became director of the museum twelve years ago, student participation has quadrupled and museum membership blossomed. Students interested in museum work may now apply for internships, and a paid fellowship is awarded annually to a young alumna ready for curatorial and management training. “It’s all about getting our name out,” says

Perhaps her most ambitious collaborative effort to date has been Museums10, a partnership of ten museums in the region that is about to embark on its second mutual programming effort to promote cultural tourism in the Pioneer Valley. The group’s first effort—GoDutch!— increased museum attendance collectively by fifteen percent last year. Its latest offering, BookMarks: A Celebration of the Art of the Book, is slated to run from September 2007 though January 2008 and has received a $75,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support national advertising. “We are a well-kept secret,” Doezema explains, noting

that the kickoff event for BookMarks will feature the words and pictures of English professor Brad Leithauser and his brother Mark. “Lots of New Yorkers go to [the Berkshires] for Jacob’s Pillow, and that’s the nut we’re trying to crack.” Nora Lambert ’07, chair of the Art Goddesses, sums it up this way: “Art is for everyone, not just curators and artists. It’s funny, because it’s not as if there is this … perception that you have to be a musician in order to go to a concert, or buy a CD, or that you have to be an actor to go to a play.” Indeed, the art museum’s doors are wide open and everybody is welcome.

campuscurrents

Doezema, who has also helped organize several nationally celebrated touring exhibitions, including a retrospective of the photographer Diane Arbus.

B r ai n s t o r m s

For more information about the MHC Art Museum, including a database of the collections of area colleges and Historic Deerfield, go to www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/ artmuseum/; for more about the Museums10 program, go to www.museums10.org. —M.H.B.

Twombly by Donna Cote

Winning Poet Sarah Twombly FP’08 and Emma Gorenberg of Amherst College shared first-place honors in this year’s Kathryn Irene Glascock ’22 Intercollegiate Poetry Competition. First held in 1923 as a memorial to Glascock, a promising young poet who died shortly after her graduation, the competition brings top student poets from around the country to compete before a threejudge panel of distinguished poets. Sylvia Plath and James Merrill are past winners. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

Summer 2007



Passion and Technique Stir Hearts of Honored Professors Calculus isn’t for everyone, the mathematics department readily admits, but as the primary language of science and the social sciences it is required for a good number of majors. Harriet Pollatsek, Julia and Sarah Ann Adams Professor of Mathematics, has tried various strategies to advance her students’ grasp of data, functions, and their graphs, and finds that short writing exercises are particularly helpful. “Mathematics uses its own special language, and



translating it into ordinary English deepens a student’s understanding,” says Pollatsek, a member of the faculty since 1970 and one of two winners of the 2007 Mount Holyoke College Faculty Prize for Teaching. She was happy to report that by spring term those enrolled in her yearlong Enriched Calculus class were boldly moving on to “embrace the unfamiliar.” Professor of Politics Christopher Pyle, the other recipient of the prize for teaching, was honored not just for his provocative teaching in classes on constitutional law and American political thought

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archaeologists have been able to reconstruct what the ancient gardens looked like, which plants and trees grew where, and how vines were tended and perfumes made.

For Stephen Jones, professor of Russian studies and chair of European studies, the Republic of Georgia provides a focus and all manner of research possibilities. Widely published and fluent in Georgian, he is at work on a book about contemporary Georgia that he says is much like “the biography of a political adventurer confronting adversity, trauma, and finally, liberation.”

This is the eighth year that professors have been honored with teaching and scholarship awards. Nominated by their peers and alumnae and selected by committee, the winners receive cash awards of $3,000.—M.H.B.

A winner of the 2007 Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Prize for Scholarship, Jones, who trained as a political scientist, often is consulted by the U.S. government for his expert understanding of the post-communist societies of the Caucasus. Bettina Bergmann, whose research has focused on ancient Roman art and archaeology, is fascinated by many elements of excavated sites around the Bay of Naples, which were buried in 79 AD by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Currently at work on an essay about the area’s ancient gardens, she shares the spectacular fact that because of cavities left by tree roots in the lava,

Bergmann is Helene Phillips Herzig ’49 Professor of Art History and the second winner of this year’s Faculty Prize for Scholarship.

Sports shorts

Groth ’07 Named AA Scholar-Athlete Volleyball player Emily Groth ’07 was honored with this year’s Alumnae Association ScholarAthlete Award. A studio art major and sport studies minor, Groth was a four-time Academic All-Conference honoree and COSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District second team member in 2006. As a two-time captain, Groth earned the all-conference honors twice. She leaves MHC with the most career kills (1,139), and the second-highest hitting percentage (.201) in college history. Correction: In the last issue, Grace Zeigler ’08 was inadvertently listed as Grace Bauer in indoor track and field. We regret the error.

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

Left to right: Harriet Pollatsek, Christopher Pyle, Stephen Jones, Bettina Bergmann

but also for teaching that “transcends the confines of the college and whose very purposeful engagement with the world serves as a model for our students and all of us,” according to the award citation. Pyle has taught classes in Northern Ireland, at Plimoth Plantation, and on the high seas aboard the HMS Bounty.

America’s Plenty Inspires African Entrepeneurs

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

What first strikes you about Getrude Chimhungwe ’08 and Mufaro Kanyangarara ’07 is their gracious manner and utter lack of self-aggrandizement. Celebrated by the college, the Alumnae Association, and their peers for winning a $10,000 grant in spring to improve the health care of Zimbabwean girls orphaned by HIV/AIDS, Getrude and Mufaro are nevertheless visibly unmoved by all the attention, except for a little squirming in their chairs. “I don’t like being in the limelight,” admits Mufaro, a statistics major, brushing a hand across her face. Being accepted into Harvard’s School of Public Health this fall hasn’t exactly helped to deflect the attention. Getrude is enrolled in the dual-degree engineering program with the University of Massachusetts. While these two friends are quick to point out that MHC has given them previously unimaginable opportunities and opened their eyes to their own potential, the style they share is quiet, steady, and absolutely focused on accumulating knowledge and skills to help alleviate Zimbabwe’s stunning social and economic problems.

With apologies to Harper’s Magazine

3 Number of students who ordered Ed’s Study Aid— two shots of espresso in a medium cup of coffee— on April 11 Getrude Chimhungwe ’08 (left) and Mufaro Kanyangarara ’07

On hearing of the Davis Foundation’s generous offer to fund motivated young people with ideas for peace, Getrude and Mufaro got together and brainstormed ideas. Rather than offering food or school materials to some of their country’s many orphans—the adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 25 percent and sadly took both of Mufaro’s parents—they settled instead on an incomegenerating business plan to provide long-term, sustainable help. They first thought about a mushroom farm and a water-hole-boring business before landing on a chicken and egg farm. “We realized that [it] was a manageable thing to do,” says Getrude, whose uncle is currently in the business. Given their relative affordability in a nation facing a 1,500 percent inflation rate, eggs are in high demand. By aligning the business with a nonprofit organization—Tsungirirai, which cares for orphans’ basic needs and runs a health clinic—they figure

64,000

both the children and the customers will realize some measure of physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Number of strokes taken by MHC oarswomen in the 2000-meter races during spring season

In June, Getrude and Mufaro began overseeing construction of the chicken runs, the purchasing of the first 250 baby chicks, and the hiring of project managers and security guards. They anticipate the project’s estimated annual income of $18,000 will give 700 orphans the care they need to begin to thrive.

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Despite the chaotic economy and political instability of their country—many young Zimbabwe professionals would love to emigrate, they admit—Getrude and Mufaro say their exposure to America’s plenty has made them even more committed to bringing even a percentage of that lifestyle to the orphans. “For me it’s a desire to make the world a better place,” says Getrude. “Some people helped me to be where I am … so I want to make someone else’s life better.”—M.H.B.

campuscurrents

Mount Holyoke Semester Index

St u d e n t Ed g e

Number of MHC language professors rated “hot” by students on ratemyprofessor.com

75,000 Number of loads of laundry done by MHC students this year

4 Number of students entering Williston Library one Sunday afternoon while text messaging

124 Number of Chef Jeff cookies purchased on one day at Common Grounds café in Blanchard Sources: crew coach Jeanne Friedman, Stephanie Miedema ’07, ratemyprofessor.com, Doug Vanderpoel, Common Grounds

Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

Summer 2007



Small wonders

The Tiny World of Nanoscience Is a Big Thing on Campus

I

By Christine Pa l m

f ever a branch of science embodied “small but mighty,” it would have to be nanoscience. • In this world, the properties of objects change so dramatically that the tinier something is, the more powerful it often becomes. And the myriad possibilities stemming from those changes makes nanoscience riveting to faculty and students at Mount Holyoke. With passion and acumen, researchers here are probing this new, invisible frontier that is already an integral part of all our lives—whether or not we know it. Within nanoscience’s tiny, mysterious world lies the key to solving everyday problems from medicine to manufacturing.

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To the uninitiated, nanoscience seems ineffable; experiments and procedures are conducted at so infinitesimal a scale that it’s hard to conceive of their size, much less their importance. However, chemical, physical, and biological changes taking place at the nanoscale affect virtually every aspect of our lives, allowing us to experience everything from the smell of freshly baked cookies to the sound of the 1,000th song on our iPods. Size Matters The prefix “nano” comes from the Greek word for dwarf, and nano objects are seriously small. To put this in some sort

of perspective, a simple germ is about 1,000 nanometers. The tiny switches inside computers are only 100 nanometers wide; about 1,000 such switches would fit across the width of a human hair. Associate Professor of Chemistry Wei Chen starts with something tangible to help explain why the nanoscale intrigues scientists. “Imagine breaking a concrete block into chunks,” she says rapidly and energetically. “Instantly, the amount of surface area increases, and the smaller something is, the greater the surface area-to-volume ratio.” But does this matter?

Hudgings: Michael Malyszko

l

“It changes everything!” Chen exclaims. “For instance, on the nanoscale, gold is a brilliant crimson—so red it was used in [medieval] stainedglass window-making. Today, nanoscopic gold is used to brighten the area where a tumor is growing—to ‘tag’ it, if you will, so that a sensing device can mark exactly where the cancer is.” Before too long, Chen says, this will allow doctors to treat only the cancerous area of the body and leave healthy cells alone. “Nanoscopic things are wonderful catalysts; the greater the surface-areato-volume ratio, the greater its potential to affect other objects and materials,” says Chen. “As a chemist, I just love the way the surface properties change so completely at that scale.” Carbon is one example of just how completely: although normally soft (as in a pencil lead), carbon, when formed as nanotubes, becomes stronger than steel and one-sixth its weight. “The terms ‘nanotechnology’ and ‘nanoscale’ usually make people think of tiny little computerized items that will be used only in machines or technical applications, when really nanoscience is relevant to everyday life,” says Angela M. DiCiccio ’08, who is working with Chen on nanoparticle research.

“When someone wears a patch that allows drugs to diffuse into the body, or someone uses biosensors to image an implant or repaired tissues, nanoscale technology is in place. Research on the nanolevel is all about understanding the smallest basics of our beings and finding out how to fix tiny problems that lead to much larger issues.” Through grants from the National Science Foundation and Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education, Chen is collaborating with MHC students on a project to incorporate metal nanoparticles into biocompatible hydrogels made of polyvinyl alcohol (similar to contact-lens

surfaces of such everyday objects as aluminum foil. Magnified millions of times, the shiny and dull sides of the foil take on remarkably different properties, one appearing oily and the other as deeply cratered as the moon. “My passion is understanding the physical principles that make something possible,” says Gomez. Her students are studying crystal and ceramic nanostructures to ascertain their protonconducting ability, which allows them to generate electricity in a fuel cell. In a ceramics course, Gomez challenges students to consider piezoelectric devices that can convert mechanical energy into

Associate Professor of Physics Janice Hudgings

material) to see how they react, with an ultimate eye toward biomedical diagnostic applications. Next door to Chen’s office in Carr Hall, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Maria Gomez asks her General Chemistry students to study, at the nanoscopic level, the

electrical energy. This has enormous potential. For example, if someone could, by simply bending his arm, cause muscle contractions that convert mechanical energy to electrical voltage, doctors could implant in that patient a wireless device for biomedical monitoring that would require neither

batteries nor an external power source. Small Is Cool Over in Kendade Hall, too, the invisible world of nanoscience is having a visible effect. Dozens of courses across scientific disciplines introduce nanoscience to Mount Holyoke’s students, and professors and students are collaborating on nanoscience research in dramatic, diverse ways. “To understand nanoscience, we must move from classical mechanics—Newton and his apple—to quantum mechanics, where the very nature of how particles behave shifts,” says Associate Professor of Physics Janice Hudgings. “For instance, at the nanoscale, electrons no longer have definite positions, they have only a probability of being in a given location. And while this sounds esoteric, one of the things I enjoy most about quantum mechanics is that while it’s closely intermingled with philosophy, there are experimental proofs and demonstrations you can perform. The theories are accessible on an undergraduate level, and because of the remarkable facilities here, the undergrads can be introduced to work done elsewhere only at a graduate level.” “Small is cool, as Kathy Aidala, our research adviser, often points out,” says Tolu Ogunbekun ’09. “It opens a new branch

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Associate Professor of Chemistry Wei Chen

of exciting research, and I’m very happy Mount Holyoke hasn’t used age or level of education as a bar to the exciting research opportunities in the world. We might not be as learned as graduate students, but we sure do learn new things every day. In fact, sometimes not knowing exactly what to do gives us a chance to … experiment and find new and sometimes more efficient ways of doing something.” “We’re studying diblock polymers,” says Danti Chen ’09, who works with Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics Kathy Aidala and Ward Lopes, visiting assistant professor in physics. “More specifically, we are looking at how defects move around when the polymer is heated to 210 degrees Celsius. This is very exciting because everything is in nanoscale and not many people have studied it. Studying defects allows us to see how the molecules organize themselves, or self-assemble. We can use their ability to self-

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“Nanodevices can work just like the semiconductors in computers, but they can hold much more information per unit area, which will boost the storage capacity. We’ll be able to write more information in a smaller area, and hopefully in a cheaper manner. This sure sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?” The end result might be cheaper, smaller storage mechanisms that hold far more information than is possible today. “This would be especially useful for military personnel, who need to be able to transport lots of information on small, highly portable computers,” says Chen’s professor, Kathy Aidala.

Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics Kathy Aidala

The Right Tools Regardless of the specifics of the professors’ research, all are aided by several remarkable tools. Most notable is an astonishingly accurate microscope— used for atomic force microscopy and scanning

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Nanopossibilities Nanoscientists are still working to turn these ideas into reality. • Nanorobots that will scour the cholesterol from inside our arteries like tiny scrub brushes • Nanoscale machine gears that are more precise and won’t wear out due to abrasion • Fabrics that feel like cotton but are much stronger • Neurons reengineered to communicate directly with artificial limbs • “Living machines” that, for example, use proteins from spinach to create electronic circuits for use in solar cells • Materials manufactured without waste by building exactly what is needed one atom at a time probe microscopy—that is usually found in only the most cutting-edge of hightech companies. Professor Megan Núñez, for example, uses atomic force microscopy to study how a small predatory bacterium, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, behaves as it hunts and eats its prey. “We poke at it, literally, and measure its physical properties,” explains Núñez, Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry. “We also extract molecules from the Bdellovibrios and their prey, such as E. coli, and use them to make artificial membranes.” In a world in which humans are suffering from bacterial infections increasingly resistant to antibiotics, a small, predatory bacterium could be an important medical breakthrough. None of this research would be possible without state-of-the-

art laboratories. “Our facilities are phenomenal,” Janice Hudgings says. “We’re extremely fortunate as a small college to have a state-ofthe-art scanning probe microscope and a critical mass of really engaged colleagues who keep the energy high. No one’s off in a corner doing her own thing. This is a research-intense faculty, we are backed up by tons of support, and we enjoy a student body that is smart, engaged, helpful, and enthusiastic. They’re always willing to show their joy at the wonder of things.” In fact, the energy shown for science on the nanoscale is palpable in classrooms, labs, and even hallways. “The advantage of being at a place like Mount Holyoke is that all of the available tools are available to us,” says Angela DiCiccio. “As undergraduates we can prepare our own samples

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

assemble to produce nanowires.” And these, Danti Chen explains, have a practical application.

Danti Chen ’09

and run them on the TEM [transmission electron microscopy] to see things at the atomic and molecular level, or we can sign up for NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy] time and analyze a spectra that describes the bonding of molecules. At a graduate institution I can only imagine that the availability of resources might be more limited, even if there happen to be more of them around.”

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

In Janice Hudgings’s research on how light and electricity interact, the college’s microscopy facilities are invaluable. “If I shine a light on a device or on some material, can I get electricity out of it?” she wonders. “And conversely, if I have something that generates electricity, can I get light from it?” Her research with such optoelectronic devices as lasers and optical amplifiers has everyday applications. Without

such nanotechnology, there would be no solar cells for use in alternative energy, no information stored on CDs, no integrated circuitry inside a computer, and none of the latest developments in telecommunications, since words spoken into a cell phone are actually carried to their destination by waves of light, not sound. Sometimes, experiments in nanotechnology can take a researcher unexpected places. For example, as part of their research in thermal imaging of photonic integrated circuits, Hudgings and Rajeev Ram, a research

Tolu Ogunbekun ’09

collaborator from MIT with whom she was granted NSF funding, developed an apparatus and technique for thermoreflectance imaging, which the collaborators hope to market to other researchers. Mount Holyoke owns the patent, and they are exploring routes to

commercialization of their work, with help from some MHC trustees. Linking Past and Future Whether in chemistry, biology, or physics, nanoscience is revolutionizing our world. And here on campus, more of that subatomic world is being revealed each day. On their way to class on the second floor of Kendade Hall, Mount Holyoke science students pass by a poster of Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 370–415), the brilliant scientist murdered by a mob for her bold lectures in mechanics, astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. More than a millennium and a half after that crowd hauled her from her classroom and killed her, Hypatia’s intellectual heirs—young women like Danti Chen, Angela DiCiccio, Tolu Ogunbekun, and dozens of others—continue her legacy through strides in nanoscience. It is surely one of the most intriguing disciplines built on the foundation she laid. Hypatia, whose death is said to have halted scientific progress for a thousand years, seems to look on in satisfied vindication.

Nanoproducts, Right Here, Right Now Among the hundreds of existing consumer products using nanotechnology are items like the canola oil shown here, found in many homes, possibly including yours. • Sunscreen • Air freshener • Computer processors • Antibacterial kitchenware • Toothpaste • Tennis rackets • Hiking pants See the whole list at http:// www.nanotechproject.org/ index.php?id=44

“Reserve your right to think …”—Hypatia of Alexandria

Learn More For links to a beginner’s guide to nanotechnology, images of nanoscale objects, and much more, visit www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/go/nano. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

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Hot

TICKET Suzan-Lori Parks ’85 Traces Her Journey From Theatrical Underdog to Topdog

S

uzan-Lori Parks ’85 knew she had arrived well before she got to Broadway. Go back about 20 years to the late 1980s—before the Pulitzer Prize for Topdog/Underdog, before the MacArthur “genius grant,” before the Obie for best new play. Leave the Times Square theatres, the lights and the crowds, behind. Look instead for a grimy little neighborhood bar that was formerly a gas station, a place you’d never hear about unless you happen to live around the block. Walk into the bar and that’s where you’ll find Parks, sitting on a stool behind a makeshift curtain. It’s opening night of her first play and there are five people in the audience.

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Two are her parents. The bartender makes a third. Parks is running the lights. She plugs an extension cord into another cord (lights up!). During scene changes, she pulls the cords apart (lights out!). After the show the playwright, actors, and audience repair to the bar—a few feet away— for beers. A typical tale of humble beginnings, you might think. Think again. Parks tells the story as a dream fulfilled. She told it while visiting Mount Holyoke in March for the theatre department’s production of Week 16 of her most recent work, 365 Days/365 Plays. Parks talked about how she became a playwright, and how that night in the bar encapsulated her personal vision of success. “I had a show in New

York,” she said, speaking to a packed auditorium in Rooke Theatre the Sunday evening following the student performances. “I had arrived.” Long before anyone knew her name—much less associated that name with prestigious prizes and rave reviews— Parks had already added herself to the short list of successful American playwrights. Where does a young woman so early in her career get that kind of confidence? A good upbringing, a strong will, a quirk of fate—or something else? Parks says Mount Holyoke helped her find her gift, and, once found, urged her to believe in it. “I thought I was going to be a scientist,” she said, laughing, as murmurs of surprise ran up and down the rows of Rooke. “I

S u z a n- L o r i Pa r k s b y Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

By Leanna James Blackwell

was doing the whole white-coat thing in the lab. I was good at it, but I was dying. I didn’t know writing was something I could do until I took a class with Mrs. Glasser.” (That’s MHC lecturer in English Leah B. Glasser, who was sitting in the front row next to president Joanne Creighton during Parks’s talk.) “We read Virginia Woolf ’s To the Lighthouse. I didn’t get it [intellectually], but oh, it reached me here, in my heart.” Goodbye, glass beakers; hello, words. Provocative words. Passionate, daring, strange, and beautiful words. At the urging of Glasser and other MHC professors, Parks began writing in earnest—and kept writing. She received now-legendary encouragement from a creative writing workshop she took with

James Baldwin. Noticing her gift for dialogue (as well as her tendency to act out all her stories), Baldwin suggested playwriting, and Parks was on her way.

“I thought I was going to be a scientist. I was doing the whole white-coat thing in the lab. I was good at it, but I was dying.”

Twenty years later, Parks is still in love with language, and uses it to explore gender, race, class, beauty, sex, and politics in groundbreaking dramatic works. Don’t ask her to define her plays, however. The morning after her talk in Rooke, Parks met with a smaller group of MHC students, many from assistant professor of theatre Erika Rundle’s seminar, to discuss at greater length the mysterious process of making art. “My plays are all of these things—race and gender and history—and none of these things,” she said, sitting on the edge of the stage wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and motorcycle

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boots, a glass of water at her side. “I never write with an agenda. I don’t do themes. The politics in my work—you don’t see it coming. It’s more like the ‘sugar-coated pill of poetry.’ It goes down before you realize what’s happening!” Where, then, do her ideas come from? Maybe from the same place inside that led her to write not one but two plays riffing on the American classic The Scarlet Letter, and to title one of them F***ing A. Ideas “just bubble up,” she said, making a scooping gesture with her hands (which were in constant motion, along with much of the rest of her, throughout her talk.)

“It comes from deep within.” “Deep within” is key. Suzan-Lori Parks, famous playwright and all-around hot ticket, doesn’t write to score points, political or artistic. She doesn’t write for the world’s approval or its prizes. Easy to say, maybe, once you have it all, but Parks’s down-to-earth frankness and her warm attention to each student who raises her hand create the impression of a truly generous person without a hint of the diva. “I write because I love it,” she says simply. “My work is all about the cultivation of joy.” A practitioner of yoga and a watchful observer of the world around and within her, Parks’s entire being seems attuned to authenticity the way a guitarist is attuned to the pitch of her strings. The writing begins first in listening—deeply and carefully. But what’s authentic and what’s good are not necessarily the same thing. How does Parks know the difference? Considering the question for a

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moment, the playwright spread her arms wide and answered: “First, I practice radical inclusion.” Parks welcomes everything that comes to her as she begins to write, including “dumb jokes, fourth-grade stuff that makes me laugh, crazy ideas, things that make no sense but that I like anyway. Next, let go of the desire to be good so you can give yourself the chance to be great,” she urged her audience. She writes daily (for 365 Days…, she wrote a play a day for an entire year) and regards her discipline as a “devotional act.” Creating at her desk with a quiet and steady faith, she believes that “the play that needs to come up in me will

come.” Her characters—searching, wanting, exploding with hungry life— arise from what she calls her universal Self. It is a self bigger than the individual ego, a self that is “part of everything and everyone.” Only later does she go back, “wielding a sword and getting to be God,” cutting characters, lines, and scenes no longer needed in her final vision of the play. Out of this process has emerged a body of work that has distinguished Parks as one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave.” Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom. In the Blood. Venus. Topdog/Underdog. Her most recent work, 365 Days/365 Plays, was produced at more than 700 theatres worldwide. Throughout it all, Parks retains her serenity—and her goofy, infectious sense of humor. When asked during her talk about her glamorous activities as a famous playwright, she laughed and said, “I sit around the house and watch my cat. I avoid parties. I try to be like Flaubert, who believed you

should be as boring in your life as you can, so you can be incredible in your art.” For the students scribbling down rapid notes, hanging on every word, Parks’s energy seemed to have a galvanizing effect. They streamed into the theatre lobby afterward, talking excitedly, exchanging ideas for performance pieces, solo shows, poetry theatre, dramatic experiments. A little more than a month later, certain girls …, a student ensemblecreated theatre piece (developed in collaboration with Rundle), opened to enthusiastic crowds in Rooke.

Drawn from a wide range of texts exploring identity and community, the experimental play reflected many of Parks’s ideas about the possibilities of modern theatre. The performers may have been inspired by their meeting with this extraordinary alumna, whose last remarks seem to reverberate in the theatre long after her visit. “You’re going to be the real deal,” Parks said, looking at each student in turn. You’re going to be the one they go to at the end of the day for the truth, for what’s really happening. The thing you do at Mount Holyoke has such great value. It’s like a play zooming at you every day! I can tell you, this experience will affect you for the rest of your life.” Learn More The college Web site has articles about, and photos and audio clips from, Suzan-Lori Parks’s campus visit. Go to: alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/go/SLParks.

Agnostic in an Abbey

Faith Meets Science for Katie Alton ’05 B y E m i l y H a r r i s o n We i r

Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

Summer 2007

Kat ie A lton

Prelude The road that led Katie Alton ’05 to spend forty days and forty nights in a Midwestern abbey started at a bioethics conference in Washington, D.C. A month after hearing about a case discussed there, the aspiring physician was still troubled. Doctors couldn’t cure a seriously ill infant, but easing the baby’s pain was possible. However, the baby’s parents declined medical intervention, believing that by watching their child suffer, they were showing faith in God. “I saw this kind of case as a potential problem for me and my future patients,” Alton says. A request like that “would make me angry, because that kind of deep faith didn’t resonate with me at all.”

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tried to provoke disagreements. “We all know what American TV wants— scandal—but this wasn’t Survivor. There were only internal battles being fought at the abbey.” In fact, Alton and the four other outsiders formed their own mutual support system. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as close with a group,” Alton recalls. “Mount Holyoke prepared me to relate to people very different from me on so many levels. Still, I never thought that, less than one year after leaving MHC, I would find myself once again in a singlesex environment, surrounded by ‘sisters.’” New Habits, New Thoughts If Alton was unprepared for life in a religious setting, the nuns were equally unused to having strangers living with them. Many had voted against allowing the visitors, and sometimes their attitude showed. And disagreements occurred despite everyone’s efforts to adjust. Take, for example, the clothing clash. The nuns wore traditional habits; the visitors didn’t. What Alton described as “normal clothes” were considered too tight by at least one sister, who repeatedly lectured Alton. And her assigned mentor, Rebecca, challenged her by saying that Alton needed to “find her true self.” “The whole experience was trying to make me understand that I’m not my accomplishments or what I look like. I was very proud of all that I had achieved at MHC and Stanford, but monastic values do not place any weight on past achievements or future aspirations, so it was a challenge to define myself at the abbey,” Alton admits. “It was a very humbling experience.”

Katie Alton ’05 (front, in purple) spent forty days in an abbey to study monastic life from the perspective of a scientist.

Alton was the youngest of five participants who spent January and February 2006 with the abbey’s thirty sisters. Practically nothing about the experience was as Alton anticipated, and it changed her life profoundly.

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Traditional Life, With Cameras Although she’d pictured the abbey as a European-style stone cloister, she arrived at a farm amid rolling hills on the banks of the Mississippi River. The abbey’s sisters follow the Rule of St. Benedict, which has guided religious lives since the sixth century. Alton described the day-to-day experience as “really intense, even though it didn’t appear so.” A buzzer woke the community daily at 3 a.m. and everyone prepared herself in darkness and silence for the first of the day’s six to eight religious services. “The point is to sit with yourself and let the morning take your thinking where it needs to go,” she explains. After the 6 a.m. service, they read scripture in the library. “I was used to fast academic reading. But they wanted us to read just two paragraphs in an hour and a half, and to meditate on every word,” Alton says. “That was

totally frustrating, because to me the subject matter was foreign and not all that meaningful.” Everyone gathered at mealtimes, but ate their vegetarian fare in silence. The rest of the day, everyone worked on the farm or helped with the chocolatemaking operation whose profits support the abbey. People worked silently, “to encourage awareness of the impact of our actions on ourselves and the world.” Abbey life wasn’t entirely quiet however, and a camera crew from The Learning Channel was filming conversations practically around the clock. “The all-female crew was great, but it was horrible having cameras around,” Alton says. “People didn’t act the same. And since the sisters weren’t used to any outsiders, it was even harder to interact with them with the cameras nearby.” Alton says the TV crew, apparently looking for drama,

photos by k at ie alton

The neuroscience major’s job at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics exposed her to many cases involving conflict between patients with a strong religious faith and healthcare providers with a strong faith in science. So when the opportunity arose to audition for a Learning Channel reality show—The Monastery—that brought five women to Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Iowa, Alton applied. “I wanted to study monastic life from the perspective of a scientist confused about how people could hold onto what I saw as antiquated religious beliefs in the light of amazing scientific discoveries,” she explains.

Alton had intended to interview each nun about how her views on medical care interfaced with her religious beliefs. “They didn’t want to talk about it. One nun told me, ‘Whatever God wants, that’s what doctors implement.’ But that didn’t answer my questions.” After a few such maddening conversations, Alton dropped her quest. Instead, “I started thinking more about religion and trying [Catholicism] on for size.”

A television camera crew found little external drama in monastic life.

All those hours of silent contemplation and active worship had an effect on the agnostic Alton. “I did ask myself if I wanted to spend the rest of my life searching for the ‘right’ religion for me and then striving to live by those guidelines. At the end of six weeks, I had a profound respect for people able to stick to religious beliefs.” After leaving the abbey, she attended church for about two months. She’s still searching spiritually, but that’s a big change from her pre-abbey views. “I always thought people looked to religion because they didn’t have anything better,” she admits. Postlude More than a year later, what resonates with Alton? She’s more self-aware, whether savoring the taste and texture of food or feeling more certain that her tentative life goals are right for her. “And I’m more settled, more confident, and much calmer,” she notes.

first-century life. “I want to develop my true self, building on the foundation I started at the monastery,” she explains. “One of the big things I learned at the abbey is that I crave community, something that was stripped from me when I left MHC, moved to a new area, and dove into a job where I was focused sixteen hours a day.” Post-abbey, Alton quit that “toxic” job and found work in a supportive community of bright, wellrounded young colleagues. “Being able to leave my life [for the abbey] and then come back and see it through a new lens was amazing. I know that what I really want to do—become a doctor—I can do, and that I can be patient until the opportunity arises. (She’s applying for fall 2008 medical school admission.) “I had goals before, but now I have a sense of purpose too.” Note: At our press time, The Learning Channel had not set a broadcast date for the series in which Katie appears.

She’s also trying to carry the abbey’s contemplative mindset into her twentyMou n t Holyok e Al um na e Qua r t e r ly

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tried to provoke disagreements. “We all know what American TV wants— scandal—but this wasn’t Survivor. There were only internal battles being fought at the abbey.” In fact, Alton and the four other outsiders formed their own mutual support system. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as close with a group,” Alton recalls. “Mount Holyoke prepared me to relate to people very different from me on so many levels. Still, I never thought that, less than one year after leaving MHC, I would find myself once again in a singlesex environment, surrounded by ‘sisters.’” New Habits, New Thoughts If Alton was unprepared for life in a religious setting, the nuns were equally unused to having strangers living with them. Many had voted against allowing the visitors, and sometimes their attitude showed. And disagreements occurred despite everyone’s efforts to adjust. Take, for example, the clothing clash. The nuns wore traditional habits; the visitors didn’t. What Alton described as “normal clothes” were considered too tight by at least one sister, who repeatedly lectured Alton. And her assigned mentor, Rebecca, challenged her by saying that Alton needed to “find her true self.” “The whole experience was trying to make me understand that I’m not my accomplishments or what I look like. I was very proud of all that I had achieved at MHC and Stanford, but monastic values do not place any weight on past achievements or future aspirations, so it was a challenge to define myself at the abbey,” Alton admits. “It was a very humbling experience.”

Katie Alton ’05 (front, in purple) spent forty days in an abbey to study monastic life from the perspective of a scientist.

Alton was the youngest of five participants who spent January and February 2006 with the abbey’s thirty sisters. Practically nothing about the experience was as Alton anticipated, and it changed her life profoundly.

18

w w w. a l u m n a e . m t h o lyo k e . e d u

Traditional Life, With Cameras Although she’d pictured the abbey as a European-style stone cloister, she arrived at a farm amid rolling hills on the banks of the Mississippi River. The abbey’s sisters follow the Rule of St. Benedict, which has guided religious lives since the sixth century. Alton described the day-to-day experience as “really intense, even though it didn’t appear so.” A buzzer woke the community daily at 3 a.m. and everyone prepared herself in darkness and silence for the first of the day’s six to eight religious services. “The point is to sit with yourself and let the morning take your thinking where it needs to go,” she explains. After the 6 a.m. service, they read scripture in the library. “I was used to fast academic reading. But they wanted us to read just two paragraphs in an hour and a half, and to meditate on every word,” Alton says. “That was

totally frustrating, because to me the subject matter was foreign and not all that meaningful.” Everyone gathered at mealtimes, but ate their vegetarian fare in silence. The rest of the day, everyone worked on the farm or helped with the chocolatemaking operation whose profits support the abbey. People worked silently, “to encourage awareness of the impact of our actions on ourselves and the world.” Abbey life wasn’t entirely quiet however, and a camera crew from The Learning Channel was filming conversations practically around the clock. “The all-female crew was great, but it was horrible having cameras around,” Alton says. “People didn’t act the same. And since the sisters weren’t used to any outsiders, it was even harder to interact with them with the cameras nearby.” Alton says the TV crew, apparently looking for drama,

photos by k at ie alton

The neuroscience major’s job at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics exposed her to many cases involving conflict between patients with a strong religious faith and healthcare providers with a strong faith in science. So when the opportunity arose to audition for a Learning Channel reality show—The Monastery—that brought five women to Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Iowa, Alton applied. “I wanted to study monastic life from the perspective of a scientist confused about how people could hold onto what I saw as antiquated religious beliefs in the light of amazing scientific discoveries,” she explains.

Alton had intended to interview each nun about how her views on medical care interfaced with her religious beliefs. “They didn’t want to talk about it. One nun told me, ‘Whatever God wants, that’s what doctors implement.’ But that didn’t answer my questions.” After a few such maddening conversations, Alton dropped her quest. Instead, “I started thinking more about religion and trying [Catholicism] on for size.”

A television camera crew found little external drama in monastic life.

All those hours of silent contemplation and active worship had an effect on the agnostic Alton. “I did ask myself if I wanted to spend the rest of my life searching for the ‘right’ religion for me and then striving to live by those guidelines. At the end of six weeks, I had a profound respect for people able to stick to religious beliefs.” After leaving the abbey, she attended church for about two months. She’s still searching spiritually, but that’s a big change from her pre-abbey views. “I always thought people looked to religion because they didn’t have anything better,” she admits. Postlude More than a year later, what resonates with Alton? She’s more self-aware, whether savoring the taste and texture of food or feeling more certain that her tentative life goals are right for her. “And I’m more settled, more confident, and much calmer,” she notes.

first-century life. “I want to develop my true self, building on the foundation I started at the monastery,” she explains. “One of the big things I learned at the abbey is that I crave community, something that was stripped from me when I left MHC, moved to a new area, and dove into a job where I was focused sixteen hours a day.” Post-abbey, Alton quit that “toxic” job and found work in a supportive community of bright, wellrounded young colleagues. “Being able to leave my life [for the abbey] and then come back and see it through a new lens was amazing. I know that what I really want to do—become a doctor—I can do, and that I can be patient until the opportunity arises. (She’s applying for fall 2008 medical school admission.) “I had goals before, but now I have a sense of purpose too.” Note: At our press time, The Learning Channel had not set a broadcast date for the series in which Katie appears.

She’s also trying to carry the abbey’s contemplative mindset into her twentyMou n t Holyok e Al um na e Qua r t e r ly

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reality of most volunteers and members of the organization.

Coming Out

Swimming Upstream Toward Economic Stability

About

B y C o r i n n a Ya z b e k ’ 0 1

Midway through her show at Mount Holyoke, Erica Lopez the Welfare Queen asked, “Who here has ever stood in line at a welfare office?” I raised my hand and looked around the packed New York Room; I was the only one with my hand up. I thought, am I really the only one, or is everyone else hiding? Lopez was framing a conversation about the experiences of poverty,

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one also going on inside my own head and heart. Growing up poor, then graduating from an elite institution, means that I am straddling two worlds with no map for navigating this treacherous path of upward class mobility. The year I started at Mount Holyoke, it was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having the nation’s most beautiful campus. That same year, my mom went to housing court once again

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and lost our home, the trailer in which I’d grown up in southwest Florida. I desperately clung to the idea that a good education was my ticket out of poverty. However, I didn’t realize the cost of leaving my class culture behind and trying to immerse myself in this new one— elite academia.

by dialogues about everything from racism to homophobia. However, there were no campus-wide dialogues about class and classism. This left a huge part of my identity hidden. My class background was something I barely shared with a few trusted friends. I was moving forward and not looking back.

I loved my time at Mount Holyoke—the friendships, intellectual pursuits, and personal growth spurred

My plan for upward mobility was flawed in that it didn’t go beyond graduation. I stayed on

Ben Barnhart

Class

at the organization for poor people’s rights in Springfield where I had done an internship. I was paid $200 a week with no benefits. I was living paycheck to paycheck and my college loan repayment date was fast approaching. Over the next three years, I became the group’s development coordinator, and my hours and pay increased. This helped me pay my bills, but moved me further from the

All of a sudden, I was the privileged one—the white girl living in Northampton (the other side of the “tofu curtain”) with a degree from that expensive private women’s college. My previous history—trailer park, food stamps, my family’s bouts with addiction and homelessness, my father’s incarceration—was erased as I moved up the class ladder. I fought to change the organization’s culture of internalized classism, but ultimately I left the job because there wasn’t room for all of who I was. Four months later, my savings were depleted, and I found myself asking, “Do you want paper or plastic?” My Mount Holyoke degree was tucked inside my underwear drawer, and I was bagging groceries and cashiering at Whole Foods. Every time I worked, this tape would play in my head: “I didn’t go to Mount Holyoke to do this.” But I also asked myself, why is it okay for my coworkers to do manual labor but it’s not okay for me? I wanted to value all work and all people, but I really struggled, feeling my work was meaningless. I was afraid of sliding back into the class from which I had come, but hated myself for this fear and the judgment it implied for anyone not securely in the professional middle class. Around the same time, I started working at

Class Action, a national organization that addresses issues of class and classism. I didn’t mind being a glorified administrative assistant because I worked with brilliant social-change pioneers. They were all middle or upper class, so I became the voice of the impoverished experience. I realized that I felt much more comfortable being the poorest one in a group than the one with the most privilege. And the job was thrilling: I was interviewed on radio programs around the country on the heels of the New York Times series “Class in the U.S.” People wanted to know what I thought about class and actually listened as I described how, much like racism, classism hurts us all. This past spring, I spoke on a “Making Class Visible” panel at Mount Holyoke. I told the audience that a Mount Holyoke degree is no guarantee that we will never be homeless or hungry or scared or have to do whatever it takes to earn enough money to survive. We might end up on food stamps, need fuel assistance, apply for Medicaid, or work indefinitely at an unfulfilling job. And this is all okay; it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Some students have been on welfare and other survival programs before and during MHC, and some of us are likely to be there after graduation. I once loaned money to a sister alumna and sent her a package of baked goods because she couldn’t afford to buy food. When I was

a student, no one told me this might happen. Americans are indoctrinated with the myth of a meritocracy. We believe that if we do everything just right—e.g., we go to a good college—then a stable future is in store for us. People should be talking about the realities of class, because those who aren’t middle class are invisible, hiding, or caricatured.

“I didn’t realize the cost of leaving my class culture behind.” I am again looking for meaningful work that pays a living wage. This is a lot to ask for, apparently, although everyone deserves it. I still wrestle internally with being unfulfilled by bagging groceries or waiting tables, but now I’m practiced at thinking and talking with others about class issues. There is such a feeling of liberation in coming out about class—stating that it exists and discovering how it affects us. Good luck to all the other alumnae who are brave enough to talk about class and classism— before, during, and after our time at Mount Holyoke. Learn more: More resources about class— including the Making Class Visible initiative’s Web site and Yazbek’s essay “From the Trailer Park to the Ivy League,” from which this Quarterly piece grew—are at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ go/classissues.

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reality of most volunteers and members of the organization.

Coming Out

Swimming Upstream Toward Economic Stability

About

B y C o r i n n a Ya z b e k ’ 0 1

Midway through her show at Mount Holyoke, Erica Lopez the Welfare Queen asked, “Who here has ever stood in line at a welfare office?” I raised my hand and looked around the packed New York Room; I was the only one with my hand up. I thought, am I really the only one, or is everyone else hiding? Lopez was framing a conversation about the experiences of poverty,

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one also going on inside my own head and heart. Growing up poor, then graduating from an elite institution, means that I am straddling two worlds with no map for navigating this treacherous path of upward class mobility. The year I started at Mount Holyoke, it was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having the nation’s most beautiful campus. That same year, my mom went to housing court once again

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and lost our home, the trailer in which I’d grown up in southwest Florida. I desperately clung to the idea that a good education was my ticket out of poverty. However, I didn’t realize the cost of leaving my class culture behind and trying to immerse myself in this new one— elite academia.

by dialogues about everything from racism to homophobia. However, there were no campus-wide dialogues about class and classism. This left a huge part of my identity hidden. My class background was something I barely shared with a few trusted friends. I was moving forward and not looking back.

I loved my time at Mount Holyoke—the friendships, intellectual pursuits, and personal growth spurred

My plan for upward mobility was flawed in that it didn’t go beyond graduation. I stayed on

Ben Barnhart

Class

at the organization for poor people’s rights in Springfield where I had done an internship. I was paid $200 a week with no benefits. I was living paycheck to paycheck and my college loan repayment date was fast approaching. Over the next three years, I became the group’s development coordinator, and my hours and pay increased. This helped me pay my bills, but moved me further from the

All of a sudden, I was the privileged one—the white girl living in Northampton (the other side of the “tofu curtain”) with a degree from that expensive private women’s college. My previous history—trailer park, food stamps, my family’s bouts with addiction and homelessness, my father’s incarceration—was erased as I moved up the class ladder. I fought to change the organization’s culture of internalized classism, but ultimately I left the job because there wasn’t room for all of who I was. Four months later, my savings were depleted, and I found myself asking, “Do you want paper or plastic?” My Mount Holyoke degree was tucked inside my underwear drawer, and I was bagging groceries and cashiering at Whole Foods. Every time I worked, this tape would play in my head: “I didn’t go to Mount Holyoke to do this.” But I also asked myself, why is it okay for my coworkers to do manual labor but it’s not okay for me? I wanted to value all work and all people, but I really struggled, feeling my work was meaningless. I was afraid of sliding back into the class from which I had come, but hated myself for this fear and the judgment it implied for anyone not securely in the professional middle class. Around the same time, I started working at

Class Action, a national organization that addresses issues of class and classism. I didn’t mind being a glorified administrative assistant because I worked with brilliant social-change pioneers. They were all middle or upper class, so I became the voice of the impoverished experience. I realized that I felt much more comfortable being the poorest one in a group than the one with the most privilege. And the job was thrilling: I was interviewed on radio programs around the country on the heels of the New York Times series “Class in the U.S.” People wanted to know what I thought about class and actually listened as I described how, much like racism, classism hurts us all. This past spring, I spoke on a “Making Class Visible” panel at Mount Holyoke. I told the audience that a Mount Holyoke degree is no guarantee that we will never be homeless or hungry or scared or have to do whatever it takes to earn enough money to survive. We might end up on food stamps, need fuel assistance, apply for Medicaid, or work indefinitely at an unfulfilling job. And this is all okay; it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Some students have been on welfare and other survival programs before and during MHC, and some of us are likely to be there after graduation. I once loaned money to a sister alumna and sent her a package of baked goods because she couldn’t afford to buy food. When I was

a student, no one told me this might happen. Americans are indoctrinated with the myth of a meritocracy. We believe that if we do everything just right—e.g., we go to a good college—then a stable future is in store for us. People should be talking about the realities of class, because those who aren’t middle class are invisible, hiding, or caricatured.

“I didn’t realize the cost of leaving my class culture behind.” I am again looking for meaningful work that pays a living wage. This is a lot to ask for, apparently, although everyone deserves it. I still wrestle internally with being unfulfilled by bagging groceries or waiting tables, but now I’m practiced at thinking and talking with others about class issues. There is such a feeling of liberation in coming out about class—stating that it exists and discovering how it affects us. Good luck to all the other alumnae who are brave enough to talk about class and classism— before, during, and after our time at Mount Holyoke. Learn more: More resources about class— including the Making Class Visible initiative’s Web site and Yazbek’s essay “From the Trailer Park to the Ivy League,” from which this Quarterly piece grew—are at alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ go/classissues.

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offtheshelf Nonfiction Letters of E. B. White, Revised Edition

Superphonic Bingo: Fun with Phonics for Spelling and Literacy

Edited by Martha White ’77 (HarperCollins)

By MaryAnna Phillips Koehring ’95 (Pro Lingua)

Originally collected and published in 1976, Letters of E. B. White has been updated by his granddaughter, Martha, to include letters written between 1976 and 1985, the last decade of his life. Perhaps most celebrated as the author of children’s classics Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, White was a masterful essayist, poet, and storyteller. These letters outline his daily habits and routines, which provide a window onto the life path of an exceptional writer. Martha White ’77 is a writer and editor whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and other magazines and small presses. She is also a longtime contributor to the Old Farmer’s Almanac and Yankee Publishing. Making Room: Finding Space in Unexpected Places By Wendy Adler Jordan ’68 (Taunton Press) All homeowners need more space. Making Room helps solve those spatial problems without the extreme added cost and hassle of extensive rebuilding. Drawers incorporated into a staircase, a bathroom closet converted into a shower, and a computer niche tucked into a hallway are just a few of the 100 suggestions offered by this useful architectural handyman-inprint. Wendy A. Jordan is the senior contributing editor of Professional Remodeler magazine and former editor-inchief of Remodeling magazine. She also wrote The Kidspace Idea Book and coauthored Great Kitchens and House Transformed.

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Superphonic Bingo is designed to help students with literacy and spelling and to give practice in recognizing the common spellings of the sounds of English. Each unit is designed to reinforce reading skills while creating a fun atmosphere of game playing. MaryAnna Phillips Koehring holds a master’s degree in teaching French and English as second languages. She has taught for eight years, including three years in Gifu, Japan, and currently lives in Bolivia. The Everyday Writing Center By Anne Ellen Geller ’88, et al. (Utah State University Press) Writing-center specialists recognize the limits and complications of their field; while their disciplinary identity is with the English department, their mission is cross-disciplinary. In The Everyday Writing Center, Geller and her coauthors reevaluate and challenge traditional practices and look for the creative potential in everyday occurrences as they acknowledge the shape-shifting nature of the writing center. Anne Ellen Geller directs the Writing Center and Writing Program at Clark University. In 2006, she received the International Writing Centers Association’s Outstanding Scholarship Award. The Effective Principal By Barbara Scott Nelson ’64 and Annette Sassi (Teachers College Press) The stereotypical school principal figure exists everywhere from elementary school memories to popular fictional characters. But the individual is often forgotten in the formulaic mold. The Effective Principal

Barbara Nelson received an Ed.D. in educational policy studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She coauthored Lenses on Learning, a series of instructional materials for school administrators, and coedited Mathematics Teachers in Transition and Beyond Classical Pedagogy. What I Love About You By Kate Lacy Marshall ’81 and David Marshall (Broadway Books) In a romantic gesture one Valentine’s Day, Kate Marshall decided to pen a fill-in-the-blanks, guided scrapbook to celebrate her marriage with her husband of twenty-two years. The result was What I Love About You, a do-ityourself book for couples to share memories, moments, and the magic of their relationship. With prompts such as “If I hadn’t already met you, the personal ad I’d write to find you would say…” and “With you I feel safe enough to…” this book aims to be a playful yet intimate way for couples to rekindle or strengthen their love. Kate and David Marshall have also collaborated as a husbandand-wife team on similar books, including The Book of Myself: A Do-It-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions and The Book of Us: A Journal of Your Love Story in 10 Questions.

Fiction The Last Day of Paradise By Kiki Denis FP’94 (Gival Press) The Last Day of Paradise is the story of Sunday, a fifteen-year-old Greek girl whose life changes dramatically when her father suddenly states that she is not his biological child and walks out of her life. Angry and betrayed, Sunday sets out to tell the story of her parents, with the hope of finding

out who her biological father is. Her discoveries are initially upsetting, but as she follows her parents’ story, she starts to look beyond the facts and develops a better understanding and less critical approach.

offtheshelf

analyses effective leadership, defining the principal figure and other school administrators through their ideas about learning, teaching, and subject matter. The book illustrates the dichotomy between the principal’s roles as instructional leader and administrator.

Kiki Denis, originally from Greece, has lived in America since 1990. The Last Day of Paradise is her first novel; she is working on a second novel and a collection of poetry. Itty and Bitty: Friends on the Farm By Nancy Carpenter Czerw ’74, Illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin (McWitty Press) Itty and Bitty are back! These mischievous pals from Itty and Bitty: Two Miniature Horses are once again stirring things up at Steele Away Farm. This time, they share adventures with their friends Sasha and Molly, the Bouvier dogs; Thoroughbred Troy; and Scrabble and Splash, offspring of Domino, the famous Pinto. Whether they’re plotting a getaway or lifting weights to get in shape, the gang is always on the go. Nancy Carpenter Czerw’s playful rhymes and Rose Mary Berlin’s fanciful watercolors make Friends on the Farm fun for all. Nancy Carpenter Czerw, a seasoned poet respected in the equine field, is also the author of The Story of Pilot Star: The First Few Weeks. She lives in Texas. A Babe in Ghostland By Lisa Cach ’89 (Pocket Star Books) Megan Barrows, an antiques dealer, has a special talent: she can communicate with dead people. Case Lambert, a real estate prospector, has a special problem: his old, worndown mansion is haunted. A Babe in Ghostland, a light, well-crafted romance, tells the story of Megan and Case’s battles with dead spirits and their feelings for one another. Lisa Cach lives in Seattle and writes romance full-time. Her other novels include Have Glass Slippers, Will Travel; Dating Without Novocaine; and The Erotic Secrets of a French Maid. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly

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Facu lt y Wo r k s

Interpretations of Renaissance Humanism By Angelo Mazzocco (Brill) Renaissance humanism, the European intellectual movement of the fourteenth century, focused on human dignity, valued

human potential, and examined the place of mankind in nature. This collection of scholarly essays examines the diverse and fascinating range of this Renaissance movement— from the papal court to medieval traditions— through religious, literary, and dramatic contexts. Angelo Mazzocco, MHC professor emeritus of Spanish and Italian, specializes in medieval and Renaissance culture. He has published extensively on antiquarianism and historical linguistics, including Linguistic Theories in Dante and the Humanists.

Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Roberto Marquez, set about translating over sixty-four works, some dating back to the fifteenth century, to compile a comprehensive, wellorganized anthology of poetry.

Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times By Roberto Marquez (University of Massachusetts Press) Dissatisfied with the existing English translations of Puerto Rican poets,

Roberto Marquez is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at MHC. A respected translator of a wide variety of Latin American poets and writers, he is also the editor of the bilingual anthology Latin American Revolutionary Poetry.

The Art of Parenting: Nurturing the Child You Have child’s greatest strengths and then provide the support needed to bring those skills to fruition. “While we teach children to like themselves, we also need to remind them that their talents do not make them superior, only special,” note the authors, with raised eyebrows.

Authors and radio hosts Linda Perlis, left, and Sandra Cass Burt ’68

A recent cartoon in the New Yorker shows a mother bent over her child at the park and saying, “You have to be sensitive to the fact that other children are inferior to you.” This gave both Sandra Cass Burt ’68

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and her creative partner Linda Perlis a good laugh. The coauthors of Raising a Successful Child: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Talents advocate instead that parents focus on a

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While they hope their books reach a sizable audience—they also have written Parents as Mentors and Washington, D.C. With Kids, 3rd Edition—it is their syndicated radio program that reaches the most diverse audience. “Parents’ Perspective” is popular with everyone from suburban moms to

police officers—more than 50 percent of listeners are men—and features interviews with experts on a different child-rearing issue every week. Parents of seven adult sons and three grandchildren combined, Burt and Perlis remain upbeat about the potential of every child. Parenting is a lot like gardening, they offer. “You can’t turn a dandelion into a daffodil, but you can get the healthiest dandelion that ever was by bringing out the best in a [child].” —M.H.B. Check out the authors’ Web site at www. parentsperspective.org

Defining Our Future  November 2-4 THIS FALL, come back to Mount Holyoke for a dynamic weekend of revisiting our histories, defining our futures, and celebrating our communities. Come for • stimulating panels on race, gender, and class • distinguished guest speakers • workshops on cultural identity, careers, and support networks • breakout sessions for individual communities • fantastic food and entertainment Reconnect with your alumnae (and soon-to-be-alumnae) sisters of color for an uplifting weekend of learning and empowerment. Together, we’ll create ways to promote sustainable change for future generations of color at MHC—and beyond. For more information and conference updates, please visit www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/go/mhc

SPLURGE YR LIFE BY DOING SOMETHING YOU LOVE… Suzan-Lori Parks ’85, commencement address, 2001

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alumnaematters

Reunion:

The Practical Side of a Magical Weekend

I

t happens like clockwork. Every year, alumnae come back to campus at the end of spring and are welcomed with open arms by reunion staff, volunteers, and students. But they shouldn’t be misled by the organizers’ energetic manner and apparently effortless organization. This event, the largest that the Association puts together, takes two years to plan, and by the time it rolls around, these people are oh, so tired—but still smiling! Here’s a brief peek behind the scenes.

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Plan, Plan, Then Plan Some More Planning for reunions begins two years in advance. For Reunion 2009, class presidents were sent a letter this past April asking for the names of reunion chairs, who are then invited to a planning workshop in September. Most classes do a “save the date” mailing a year in advance; the association sends another letter eight months in advance. Registration materials are mailed two months before Reunion; memos are sent to planners monthly from August through May. It helps to write everything down.

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A Celebrant for the Record Books Lots of women of every age come back for their reunions. In 2006 we welcomed 1,156 alums, or 18 percent of all alums, along with 319 of their guests and 171 children. But get this: one year, an alumna returned for her eightieth reunion. Now that’s enthusiasm! The fiftieth class usually has the best attendance, in the last five years averaging between 45 and 52 percent of the class. The fortieth class comes in second, with a five-year average of 27 percent of class members returning.

Random Gentlemen Callers Every reunion weekend turns up the unanticipated guest. There’s usually one Amherst College alum in the area who arrives at MHC hoping to locate an old friend. (Reunion planners are not allowed to give out the names of returning MHC alums to unexpected guests but will deliver a message if the alum is on campus.) Some celebrants bring their own “gentlemen callers.” One fiftieth-reunion member arrived with twenty-two unanticipated guests. “I practically had to reserve an [entire] dorm just

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

for them,” laughs Luisa Tavares, events and travel coordinator. Basic Grooming Encouraged Between six and ten dorms with a total of about 600 beds are reserved for reunion weekends. Classes often plead to stay in a particular dorm; those requests are honored if the numbers of returnees match the dining hall capacity and room availability. Loyalty classes (alumnae celebrating a 65th or later reunion) are housed in scenic WillitsHallowell. Students and staff housekeepers

do a serious amount of schlepping and sweeping, and make the beds, mop the floors, and brush the window screens in all the dorms. No chocolates are left on guest pillows, but a small bar of soap and towels are offered for basic grooming. Grass, Trash, and a Fleet of Canoes Mike Buckley, Facilities Management’s superintendent of general services, has his hands full leading up to reunion. His crews repair winter damage along the road edges by tilling and reseeding. Two hundred white stakes are

Students Love Working Reunion Guaranteed hours, good wages, and a desire to make some fast cash before vacation this year resulted in 270 applicants for 145 jobs at Reunions I and II. Students make $7.75 an hour—student supervisors get $8.50—and they do a lot of the heavy lifting. Job titles include luggage helper, loyalty class assistant, van driver, housekeeper, custodian, grounds crew, waitress, dishwasher, usher, child caregiver, lifeguard, ticket salesperson, and registration assistant. Speech, Speech President Joanne Creighton is on duty both weekends and will deliver at least six speeches. She speaks on Friday night of Reunion I to the fiftieth reunion class. She delivers a speech at Baccalaureate. She speaks at the “Luncheon with the President” on both weekends. Finally, she speaks at Commencement.

Reunion’s ‘Holy Book’ This will be the fourth year that Joni Haas Zubi, associate director of classes and reunions, has coordinated Reunion at MHC. She has worked for the association since 1986. During both weekends, she carries around with her what she loosely refers to as “the bible.” But instead of the Lord’s instructions to Moses, it contains more mundane directions, like when chairs should be delivered to Chapin Auditorium if it rains, and the timetable for getting electrical service to Mary Lyon’s grave.

alumnaematters

then put into the ground and strung with twine to protect the newly seeded areas. Those come down a day or two before Reunion I. New sod is laid in the amphitheater for the annual meeting. Lawns are mowed continuously so the campus grass is at attention when alumnae arrive. A fleet of canoes is hauled from Upper to Lower Lake and fitted with festive lanterns for the canoe sing.

And Finally, a Funny Story Okay, there are lots of juicy stories that Joni won’t let us tell you. For example, it’s safe to say that some serious imbibing of spirits goes on each Reunion evening, and we’re talking bottled spirits. A papier-mâché class sphinx became the object of actual genuflection by one spirited reunion class. But interesting sober moments abound, too, such as the alum who recycled items she found in the trash by using them to decorate her Reunion weekend dorm room. Finally, lots of folks seem to lock themselves out of their rooms when they take showers. One alum simply made the best of it and walked around nude. I mean, we’ve seen it all, yes? —M.H.B.

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Twelve hundred alumnae returned for their reunions this spring, bringing with them 200 children and teenagers, and more than 350 guests. Looking at the photos on the following three pages, you can imagine the fun of rowers out on the water, old and young friends recalling the antics of dorm parties and all-night study sessions, and uncommon women generally taking in the fine weather and extraordinary beauty of two perfect MHC weekends.

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All hands are on deck for reunion weekends. Here’s a snapshot of what it takes to make this gargantuan event a fun and disaster-free experience. Staffing 22 Alumnae Association staff members

alumnaematters

Reunion By the Numbers

100 chefs and cooks 23 full-time housekeepers 15 carpenters, plumbers, and electricians 145 students 1 puppeteer 6 children’s program teachers Food 11,700 meals 110 catered events 1,355 gallons of nonalcoholic drinks 560 bottles of wine 750 glasses of beer Rented Equipment 250 tables 1,800 chairs 650 tablecloths Skinner Green tent: it’s 40 feet short of a football field! Beverage tent: 20 by 40 feet 9 golf carts A ll P hotos : B en Barn h art, except wo m an in circle (above): Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r • C r e w (o p p o s i t e pag e ) : R o b e rt C h i n n

7 wheelchairs 1 “bounce house” for the kids 1 snow cone and popcorn machine

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A l l p h o t o s t h i s pag e : Pau l s c h n a i t tac h e r

Soap bubbles, historical record, and a well-worn sphinx carried by student maidens were a few of our favorite things at Reunion 2007.

C

osta Rica’s lush tropical life, balmy weather, and miles of gorgeous coastline attract springbreaker students and tourists from around the world. But their visits typically do little to boost the quality of life for the nearly 35 percent of Costa Ricans who live in extreme poverty and substandard shanty towns. However, three alumnae, seven MHC students, and two staffers chose to spend spring break week challenging their minds and bodies on the first Janet Tuttle Alumnae and Student Service Trip. Anita Magovern, director of the campus communityservice organization CAUSE, worked with Maya D’Costa, associate director of campus programs at the Alumnae Association, making arrangements with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program. There were a few pre-trip meetings, but the real bonding began in the middle of a snow storm at 3 a.m. on departure morning. Once in Costa Rica, the group grew closer after suffering from a mysterious illness. Soon, all were able to help

work on a house-building project in the small town of 27 de Abril in northwest Costa Rica. D’Costa recalls “moving many heavy concrete slabs and hundreds of wheelbarrowloads of gravel” as the small group “chopped, dug, and pick-axed through many large and stubborn roots,” clearing the area for the houses’ foundation holes. “Mount Holyoke is known for its hardworking students,” noted Kaete Billipp ’05. “As an alum, I was delighted to see the group’s work ethic transcend the walls of the classroom to include the physical and emotional challenges we faced while in Costa Rica.” The trip was not all backbreaking toil, though. Chiemi A. Favinger ’07 enjoyed eating lots of mango, got a horse-riding lesson from a neighbor whose house was near the building site, and said that the Costa Ricans’ “hospitality was incredible.” For Sara A. Martin ’10, “eating homemade food, dancing with the children who will one day live in the houses we helped to build, and chatting with the locals” helped form an unforgettable experience. Jamie Borkosky ’06 said, “The ticos [Costa Ricans]

reminded me that the true key to happiness lies in one’s attitude. They may not have very much in terms of material goods but what they do have they’re incredibly thankful for and very eager to share.” Alumnae and students also shared information about MHC past and present, something Favinger called “an integral part of the

trip.” Katie G. Wright ’07 called the joint venture “a wonderful opportunity to engage alums in conversation about their Mount Holyoke experience. … Since they were recent alums, they could accurately answer my questions about what the world is like after Mount Holyoke.” And Dani Ryan ’06 and Borkosky discovered that they will soon be office neighbors at the Berkshires’ Clark Art Institute. Favinger noted that “having the shared experience of Mount Holyoke and a

mutual passion for helping others made bonding that much easier and conversation that much more interesting.” After five days of intensive work, the “Mount Holyoke College Brigade” left with all the walls for one house completed and the main pillars up for a second home. The group clearly made deep connections

alumnaematters

Alum-Student Service Trip Aids Costa Ricans

and came away with a multifaceted perspective of Costa Rica that many tourists never have a chance to see. As D’Costa noted, although working with few tools under a blazing-hot Costa Rican sun was hard, “it was fun, exhilarating, and ultimately very rewarding. Pura vida (“pure life”) aptly describes both the place and the pleasure we took in our work.”—Stefanie SykesAllen ’08

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Empowering women of the rural Marma tribe in Bangladesh through peercentered human rights awareness, mentoring, and networking programs is the thrust of a summer project undertaken by Bidita Jawher Tithi ’07, H i st o r y

H a s

It

An Extraordinary Union to Washington, D.C., to coedit The Alpha, a feminist publication. In 1882, she was hired as a clerk for Frederick Douglass in the office of the Recorder of Deeds, and following the death of his first wife, Anna, married Douglass in 1884.

l-r Frederick Douglass, Eva Pitts, Helen Pitts Douglass

A new occasional series, highlighting fascinating people and facts related to MHC. Rarely do passion and service play themselves out in so gripping a manner as in the life of Helen Pitts Douglass, class of 1859. An educated woman whose sense of justice led her to take action in both the women’s and civil rights movements, Douglass is

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perhaps best remembered as the second wife of Frederick Douglass, the eloquent black orator, author, and spokesman for the abolition of slavery. Following graduation from Mount Holyoke, Helen— who was white—taught freed slaves for two years and then, after many years of poor health, moved

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Helen’s parents were abolitionists and old friends with Douglass but they nevertheless disowned her for entering into an interracial marriage. Another heartbreaking twist was the subsequent suicide of Ottilie Assing, a German journalist whose twenty-eight year professional—and most likely intimate—collaboration with Douglass was abruptly severed following his marriage to Helen. But the Douglasses’ elevenyear union was by all accounts a happy one, and Helen wrote of her husband, “The more I know of Mr. Douglass, the more I wonder at the beauty and greatness of his character.” When Douglass died in 1895, Helen went on to distinguish herself as public speaker on civil and women’s rights. She died in 1903.—M.H.B.

common diseases and how to prevent them, and deter violence. Tithi, who double majored in economics and physics, is a native Bangladeshi who plans on pursuing a doctorate in economics.

left: Mary Woolley Fellowship winner Bidita Jawher Tithi ’07

The Art of the Book Exhibition

Mark Leithauser’s Half an Orphan, oil on panel, 2001.

The fall exhibition at the MHC Art Museum—Two by Two: Lines, Rhymes, and Riddles—will feature the poetry and artwork of brothers Brad and Mark Leithauser. Brad is a prize-winning poet and MHC professor of English. Mark is a painter, draftsman, and chief of design at the National Gallery of Art. The show, which runs September 4 to December 16, is part of a series of book-themed events connected to the Museums10 “BookMarks” initiative that features Pioneer Valley museum exhibitions and events celebrating the words and images of books. Visit www.mtholyoke.edu/ go/artmuseum or www. museums10.org for more information.

F r e d e r i c k D o u g l a s : U n d at e d , N at i o n a l Pa r k S e r v i c e • Ti t h i b y S a s h a G o s s • i l l u s t r at i o n : C o u rt e s y o f H o l l i s Ta g g a rt G a l l e r i e s

who was awarded the 2007 Mary E. Woolley Fellowship. She will receive $7,500 to initiate the project. Tithi will team up with a local organization to help the women, wracked by poverty, illiteracy, and gender discrimination, form a network of their peers to improve their economic standing, deepen their understanding of

Woolley Fellowship Supports BottomUp Development in Bangladesh

Eight alumnae were awarded medals of honor during Reunions I and II this year. Each woman exemplifies the tradition of service and ongoing commitment to the college that Mary Lyon worked to instill in all graduates. Suzanne Ellis Stoyer ’57 has been active for the past fifty years with five different clubs. Volunteer admission was her focal point, but she also served as a club president, class treasurer, and the contact for a geographically scattered club in Utah. Her extensive experience led to her current assignment on the association’s Clubs Committee.

M e d a l o f Ho n o r w i n n e r s : Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r • Mo r e m e d a l w i n n e r s : B e n B a r n h a rt

Carolyn Jobes Kiradjieff ’57 for many years has been the “go-to person” for her class. She has served as president

co-chair in 1987 and 2002, twice a member of the Nominating Committee, and now reunion gift chair for her fortieth reunion. She also has been active in clubs, serving the Pittsburgh Club Medal of Honor Winners Five alumnae of extraordinary service to the Alumnae Association and the college were awarded Medals of Honor during Reunion I. They as treasurer were, from left, Rebecca Clarke Foster ’82, Cynthia W. Rodman ’82, and president Carolyn Jobes Kiradjieff ’57, Suzanne E. Stoyer ’57, and Cornelia Griffin Farmer ’67. before moving development volunteer. Becky also to Minneapolis. Connie currently has served the Alumnae Relations and serves on the association’s Classes and Program committees of the Alumnae Reunions Committee. Association. Cynthia W. Rodman ’82 has taken

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Commitment and Service Honored at Reunion

on every job, regardless of glamour or stature, with self-assuredness and grace. Cyndie has served as both the chair and as a member of the Nominating Committee, Marketing/PR Committee, and Council Committee. For her class, she has been the Reunion dinner chair, a member of the More Medal of Honor Winners At Reunion II, three more alumnae were Reunion Lead lauded for their outstanding service to the association and the college. Gifts Committee, They were, from left, Maureen McHale Hood ’87, Dayle Fort Jones ’52, and Avice A. Meehan ’77. and Reunion Hospitality and reunion chair as well as class agent Chair for her twenty-fifth reunion. for her 25th reunion, gift caller, and Cyndie also has served as admission Nominating Committee member. She volunteer for the Cincinnati and the now spearheads a project to establish Utah Clubs and as the secretary of the bonds with the class of 2007. This Western Michigan Club. year’s fiftieth reunion class presented Becky Clarke Foster ’82 is an the class of 2007 with a time capsule enthusiastic promoter of MHC and to open at their fiftieth reunion. women’s education in general. She Carolyn has served on the Classes served on the board of directors of the and Reunions Committee and as vice Detroit Club and has been president president of the Alumnae Association. or copresident of the Western Since graduation, Cornelia Griffin Michigan Club for twelve years. She Farmer ’67 has served as class was reunion chair for the twentieth president, head class agent, reunion reunion and has been an active

Dayle Fort Jones ’52 has served her class and MHC well for the past fifty-five years. Among her many contributions, she has served as class president, reunion gift chair, and Cornerstone chair as well as representing the voice of her class to the Alumnae Association.

Avice A. Meehan ’77 has served her class, her clubs, and the Alumnae Association in leadership positions for nearly thirty years. She was president of the Hartford Club and lent her expertise to the association as Quarterly Committee chair and member for a decade. She has also served as chair of the association’s Ad Hoc Communications Committee and as class scribe for ten years, and secretary. Maureen McHale Hood ’87 is currently director-at-large on the association board and a member of two ad hoc committees. Active in service to her class, Maureen has a long history with the Cincinnati Club, beginning as an admission representative in 1993 and culminating in six years as president. Even though she has moved to England, she is still active in the Cincinnati club and is sorely missed.

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University in 1973. She has held faculty appointments at several prominent universities, including Columbia University, and since 2000 has served as dean of the Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. In addition to serving as an adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Planning, she has offered her expertise to the United Way, the American Red Cross, the Rotary Club, and the Women’s City Club of New York. achievements, three alumnae were honored with Achievement Awards at Reunion I. They were, from left, Mary Ann Sweeney ’67, Astrid E. Merget ’67, and Barbara A. Cassani ’82, who was not in attendance.

Alumnae Honored for Achievement and Service Alumnae Achievement Awards were presented to three alumnae at Reunion for “achievements and service to society that exemplify the values and virtues set forth by the college.” Barbara A. Cassani ’82, after earning a master’s degree in international relations at Princeton, joined British Airways in London in 1987,

where she spent a decade in upper management. In 1997, she became CEO of the low-cost airline Go Fly, which she turned into a profitable enterprise well ahead of schedule. In 2003, she was appointed chair of the London 2012 Olympic bid, which was ultimately successful. She was active in the Salvation Army’s Queens Advisory Board in New York and has served as a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. Astrid E. Merget ’67 received a Ph.D. in public affairs from Syracuse

Mary Ann Sweeney ’67 earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from Columbia University in 1974. She was one of the pioneering women on the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory and her groundbreaking research into pulsed power and plasma science led to her promotion as senior technical staff member in 1989. In addition to numerous professional awards for her research, Sweeney has been an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and has actively supported programs designed to encourage women and students of color to consider careers in math and science.

Correction: The spring Quarterly’s list of nominees for Alumnae Association committee and board positions was not final. The final list of those elected at the annual meeting is at www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ about/governance/slate.php.

Honorary degrees were awarded to Air Force Senior Scientist Emeritus Eleanor Reed Adair ’48 (l), and Debra Martin Chase ’77 (r). They flank Alumnae Association President Mary Graham Davis ’65.

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Ac h i e v e m e n t Awa r d Wi n n e r s : Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

Achievement Award Winners. For their exceptional professional and voluntary

For a spring night of Wendy Wasserstein, the Mount Holyoke Club of Champaign-Urbana headed to the Playhouse Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois for a reading of Third, performed by the University’s theatre department faculty. For an elegant evening of Mozart, Elgar, Boccherini, and Beethoven, members of the Mount Holyoke Club of Central and Northern Arizona joined the Harvard Club of Phoenix for a concert by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, featuring guest conductor Pinchas Zukerman. Should we worry about global warming? This was the topic of MHC geology professor Alan Werner’s lecture, hosted by the Mount Holyoke Club of the Capital Region, as he discussed the social and political consequences of this environmental phenomenon. In May, The Mount Holyoke Lyon’s Pride Club celebrated fifty years of queer college activism at the Lesbians,

Tortilleras, and BDOCs conference, led by keynoter Jean Grossholtz, professor emeritus of politics. A guest panel discussed topics like coming out in the workplace, parenting, and being a queer person of color. The Mount Holyoke Club of Central and Northern Arizona met with famous mystery novel authors Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark ’78 for a book signing and a club dinner at the Old Town Tortilla Factory. Ever been frustrated trying to organize your home? Members of the Mount Holyoke Club of Ohio participated in a home remodeling workshop to learn how to change their home decor to make life easier. The Alumnae Association supports more than ninety clubs and informal and affiliate groups around the world. Contact Assistant Director of Clubs Krysia Villón ’96 at kvillon@mtholyoke.edu or 413538-2738 with club-related questions, ideas, comments, and brief overviews of activities for possible inclusion in this section.

Seeking Awardees So that the Alumnae Association may honor deserving alumnae, please share names to be considered for the recognitions listed below. Please include documentation on the strength of your candidate(s), and names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of references. Send nominations to the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486; 413-538-2300; fax 413-538-2254; or alumnaeassociation@mtholyoke.edu. You can also use our online form at www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/volunteers/ awards/awards_rec.php to submit nominations. Alumnae Honorary Degrees: Awarded to alumnae of genuine achievement and distinction who have contributed to learning in the arts and sciences or who have contributed to society in some service, career or otherwise, distinguished for both intellect and character.

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Alumnae Medal of Honor: Awarded for eminent service in promoting the effectiveness of the Alumnae Association, for signal service in completing definite projects undertaken by the college, or for other noteworthy services that strengthen the position of Mount Holyoke College. Deadline is August 15, prior to Reunion year. Alumnae Trustee: Selected for willingness and ability to involve herself actively in the workings of the college, participate in the policy-making discussions of the Board of Trustees, and use her expertise in special areas to enrich those discussions. Deadline is January 15, annually. Mary Lyon Award: For young alumnae who have been out of the college fifteen years or fewer, who demonstrate promise or sustained achievement in their lives, professions, or communities consistent with the humane values that Mary Lyon exemplified in her life and inspired in others. Loyalty Award: The Loyalty Award will honor an alumna who has demonstrated consistent effort and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time. Volunteer effort can be on behalf of a class, club, affinity group, the Association, or the college. Nominees should be from classes that will hold reunions in the following spring. Deadline for submission: December 15. Young Alumna Loyalty Award: The Young Alumna Loyalty Award will honor an alumna who has demonstrated consistent effort and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time. Volunteer effort can be on behalf of a class, club, affinity group, the Association, or the college. Nominees may be from any class that has graduated ten years or fewer from the date of the upcoming reunion. Deadline for submission: December 15.

Boston Vespers • Save this date: Friday, December 7,

Achievement Award: For alumnae whose achievements and service to society exemplify the ideals of excellence of a liberal arts education; who use their talents with professional distinction, sustained commitment, and creativity; and who reflect the vision and pioneering spirit of Mary Lyon.

2007, 8 p.m., for the Christmas Vespers concert at Old South Church, Boston. For information, contact Cerise Jalelian Keim ’81 at clarkkent128@comcast.net.

Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award: Given periodically to an outstanding alumna educator, honoring the service former President Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 has given to the college and to higher education in general.

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bulletinboard Announcements

Comments Sought on College Quality Mount Holyoke College will undergo a comprehensive evaluation visit October 14–17, by a team representing the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The commission is one of eight accrediting commissions in the United States that provide institutional

accreditation on a regional basis. Accreditation is voluntary and applies to the institution as a whole. The commission, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, accredits approximately 200 institutions in New England. Mount Holyoke has been accredited by the commission since 1929 and was last reviewed in 1997. For the past two years, Mount Holyoke has been engaged in a selfstudy, addressing the commission’s “standards for accreditation.” An

evaluation team will visit the college to gather evidence that the self-study is thorough and accurate. The team will recommend to the commission a continuing status for the institution; following a review process, the commission itself will take the final action. The public is invited to submit comments regarding the institution to Public Comment on Mount Holyoke College, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England

Association of Schools and Colleges, 209 Burlington Road, Bedford, MA 01730-1433; e-mail: cihe@ neasc.org. Written, signed comments must be received by October 17. Comments should include the name, address, and telephone number of the person providing the comments and address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution. Comments will not be treated as confidential.

travelopportunities Insider ’s Travelogue

Cruising the Caribbean Aboard the Sea Cloud II “‘Like broken pieces of a rainbow’ is the way our resident horticulturalist Anna Pavord described hummingbirds at Papillote, a wilderness retreat high in the lush hills of Dominica. Bright and fleeting, this image describes many experiences shared by MHC alumnae sailing this winter aboard Sea Cloud II.” That’s how travel writer Chris Tree ’65 began her insightful article about our “Gardens of the Caribbean” cruise. To read more about what it’s really like to join an

Alumnae Association trip, go to www.alumnae. mtholyoke.edu/go/ christree.

Amazon River Journey

January 25–February 3, 2008

Village Life Along the Seine

October 5–13, 2007 Accompanied by Joe Smith, associate professor of art Enjoy a memorable sevennight cruise along the Seine River combining the scenic countryside of Normandy with its great historic and artistic heritage. We embark on the MV Cezanne in Paris and visit Rouen, the D-Day landing beaches, Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, and the Maison van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Accompanied by Martha Hoopes, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Join us for a ten-day journey aboard one of the finest river expedition vessels traveling to the headwaters of the Peruvian Amazon. There you will experience virgin

rainforests with stunning birds and butterflies, visit indigenous villages for insight into the life of traditional residents, and enjoy several nights in cosmopolitan Lima, known for its colonial architecture. The Janet Tuttle Alumnae and Student Service Travel Program 2008

March 16–23, 2008 Join the effort to rebuild New Orleans on this service trip affiliated with Habitat for Humanity. Accommodations will be in the charming St. Charles Guest House, owned by the parents of Layne Hilton ’06 and in

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T h e A A B e d - a n d - B r e a k f a s t G u i d e : H ow t o M a ke N ew Fr i e n d s a n d S u p p o r t Yo u n g S c h o l a r s

June 22–July 3, 2008 Accompanied by Stephen Jones, professor of Russian studies Dubrovnik (Village Life Along the Dalmatian Coast)

fine shape thanks to its location in the Garden District, the highest part of the city. Check our Web site, www.alumnae. mtholyoke.edu, for details about this trip.

English Garden Treasures, Featuring the Chelsea Garden Show

Italia: Art and Arias

The walled gardens, splendid estates, and extraordinary plantings of Bath, Exeter, and Cornwall highlight this fabulous journey through a history of garden design. Savor the magnificent Kensington Gardens in London, and finish your horticultural extravaganza with a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show, the world’s supreme floral event.

March 13–22, 2008 Accompanied by John Varriano, Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art and Art History The artistic masterpieces of da Vinci and Michelangelo and an opera performance at Teatro alla Scala in Milan are just a few treats of this nine-day trip to Italy. Trattorias at the base of the Alps in Bergamo, a violin recital in Cremona, and the incredible cheeses of Parma will whet your appetite for the ultimate showpiece: magical, splendid Venice.

May 10–21, 2008 Accompanied by Eugenia Herbert, professor emeritus of history

Danube River and Habsburg Empire

May 31–June 10, 2008 Accompanied by Penny Gill, Mary Lyon Professor of Humanities and Professor of Politics Experience a unique river and rail journey through

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Parts of this ancient trading route between Rome and China are yours to explore during this fascinating, intercultural journey, including Beijing and Xi’an, with its terra cotta warriors and Muslim quarter; Kashgar, with its colorful livestock market; serene Bishkek, Samarkand, full of antique intensity; and the living museum of Bukhara. Tees and Tours: Castles and Fairways of Scotland

July 20–29, 2008 Accompanied by Laurie Priest, director of athletics Opportunities to golf on some of Scotland’s finest courses, including St. Andrews, sets the stage for this trip beginning with four nights in Edinburgh. You’ll stay at the lovely Balmoral Hotel, visit a royal residence and the National Gallery, then journey through the lochs and glens of the Scottish Highlands, seeing some of the most glorious scenery in the British Isles.

August 3–13, 2008 Accompanied by Bettina Bergmann, Helene Phillips Herzig ’49 Professor of Art History Dotted with cities and sites spanning the course of recorded history, this region will first engage us with Istanbul, then take us to the seldom-visited northern coast of Turkey, with its Ottoman mosques. The comprehensive voyage also includes Sevastopol, crucible of the Crimean War; Odessa; and Bulgaria’s historic town of Varna. Yale and Smith alumni will travel with us. Village Life Along the Dalmatian Coast

October 7–15, 2008 Accompanied by Mark E. Landon, visiting assistant professor of classics Join us on a voyage of cultural and natural treasures as we sail from legendary Venice across the Adriatic and along Dalmatia’s ruggedly beautiful shoreline. Explore the Roman legacy of Split, walk in the footsteps of Marco Polo in his medieval birthplace of Korcula, and step back into the Renaissance era in Dubrovnik. INTERESTED? For more information on association-sponsored travel, please contact the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 or alumnaeassociation@ mtholyoke.edu..

The Alumnae Association’s bed-and-breakfast program provides travelers with a comfy, affordable—usually $30 to $80 a night—shortterm accommodation and breakfast in an alumna’s home. Mount Holyoke students, alumnae and their immediate families, and faculty and staff members are all eligible, with all proceeds earmarked for student financial aid through the Alumnae Scholar Program.

Big 10 games. One can swim, fish, and boat in the lake. More info: PTRIANDI@ uiuc.edu.

CALIFORNIA • Peninsula Club The Mount Holyoke Club of the Peninsula can arrange one to three nights’ lodging in one of several alumnae homes located from twenty to about forty miles south of San Francisco. Arrangements should be made through Marilyn Ursu Bauriedel ’64 by e-mail at mbauriedel@ursu.com or by phone. Please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 for her phone number. $35/single; $60/ couple. Details may be found at www.mhcpeninsula.org.

MAINE • Brunswick Josephine Hornor Belknap ’52. E-mail: jbelknap@gwi. net. $60 double, $45 single. Less than five minutes from Bowdoin College, easy access to I-295.

CONNECTICUT • West Suffield (Hartford) Anne Wilder Borg ’69. $35 per person. Two rooms available. Near the airport and several historical homes. Please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 for her phone number. C o u rt e s y : Th o m a s P. G o h ag a n & C o m pa n y

Journey Along the Silk Road/China

The Black Sea

FLORIDA • Flagler Beach Kathryn Hansman-Spice ’66. Two guest rooms with queen Murphy beds. Overlooking A1A and the Atlantic Ocean. Located thirty miles south of St. Augustine and twentyfive miles north of Daytona Beach. Ninety minutes from Orlando. Pool and tennis court. $60 double; $40 single. More info: khst@bellsouth.net. ILLINOIS • Champaign Pola Fotitch Triandis ’52. $35 single; $50 double. Two beds, lakeside home. Convenient for

LOUISIANA • New Orleans Sandy Fulton Rosenthal ’79. Email: HoppinHill@gmail. com. September-May, $65 single and $90 double; JuneAugust, $40 single and $60 double. Private bath. Close to convention district and French Quarter.

MASSACHUSETTS • South Shore Club Coordinator Marcia Wickes Jacob ’49; e-mail mjacob@ earthlink.net. Quincy, Mass. $35. MICHIGAN • Ann Arbor Club Coordinator Tina Schultz Smith ’51. $30 per person, $50 for double, $15 for students. Please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 for her phone number. MISSISSIPPI • Jackson Marlane Chill Dove ’69. Single $50, double $60. Queen-size bed, private bath, no smoking. Located in northeast Jackson, ten minutes from downtown. More info: marlanechill@aol.com. NEW HAMPSHIRE • Peterborough (Southern NH) Nancy Marks Perkins ’50. $30 per person, $40 per couple. Not available from June through September. More info: NPER1950@aol. com. Seacoast-Portsmouth Nancy Reynolds Beck ’48. $35 single; $60 double. Please call the Alumnae Association at

413-538-2300 for her phone number. PENNSYLVANIA • Doylestown (Philadelphia) Virginia Anderson Kiesel ’51. E-mail: HVKiesel@ aol.com. $25 single, $40 double. Twin beds, private bath, no smoking. County seat of historic Bucks County; one hour north of Philadelphia; on train line. James A. Michener Art Museum. Home of Pearl Buck National Historic Site. Near Washington’s crossing on the Delaware River. Malvern (Philadelphia) Anne Marie Dattelbaum Bedford ’60. Two rooms with king size beds, one bath. $30 for one room (sleeps one or two), $60 for two rooms (sleeps up to four). Forty-five minutes west of Philadelphia, ten minutes from the King of Prussia malls, near Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges on the Western Main line, five minutes from the train. Private second floor of singlefamily residence. Available September 5-June 15. More info: Annemar@verizon.net. TENNESSEE • Germantown (Memphis) Ann McFarlan Phillips ’57. E-mail: bike2coast@bellsouth.net. $25 single; $35 double. Located right next to Memphis. Please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 for her phone number. Sewanee John and Jane Flynn (parents of Suzanne M. Flynn ’88). $35 single; $45 double; $10 student. On University of the South campus, home of the Tennessee Williams theatre and writers’ conference, Sewanee summer music camp, and Sewanee Review, oldest literary quarterly. For more info: 931-598-5789 or jsewanee@ charter.net.

TEXAS • El Paso Ann and Bruce Hallmark (parents of Elizabeth F. Hallmark ’83). $35. Double bed and bath. For more info: 915-584-2683 or ahallmark@elp.rr.com. VIRGINIA • Delaplane E. Carole Dunnells Miller ’55. $80 for two. More info: amr@ crosslink.net. BRITAIN ��� London An arrangement between the MHC Club of Britain and the University Women’s Club allows alumnae who live outside the UK (plus spouses and children over 12 accompanied by an adult) use of overnight facilities at UWC. On Audley Square in Mayfair, with easy access to shopping, parks, and transportation. Stays may not exceed two weeks in any fourweek period. Contact UWC (011-44-020-7499-2268; fax 011-44-020-7499-7046; www.universitywomensclub. com about availability. Once availability is established, contact the Alumnae Association (413-538-2738) and request that a letter of introduction be sent to UWC verifying you as an alumna.

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the heart of Central Europe. You will explore the “crown jewels” of this fascinating region, including lively Budapest, imperial Vienna, majestic Prague, and medieval Krakow. Your deluxe travel arrangements mirror the glory years of the Habsburg Empire.

Hosts Wanted! Many enticing destinations are currently available, but we’d love to find B&B hosts in New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston. Accommodations need not be elaborate. Clean, comfortable rooms and a friendly atmosphere are much more important than luxury! If you have any questions or would like to volunteer as a host, please contact Krysia L. Villón ’96, assistant director of clubs, at 413-538-2738 or kvillon@mtholyoke.edu. For the most up-to-date listings, as well as the guidelines for reservations and becoming a host, please visit our Web site, www.alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ programs.

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makingmoneywork

“When offers come in the mail for credit cards, rip them up!” —Susan Bushey ’96

Does your student-loan balance exceed your annual salary? Have you whipped out the platinum-plus card to make ends meet? Are you a pro at “switcharoo”—transferring high-APR credit-card balances to cards with lower ones? Do you hover by the mailbox each spring, awaiting a tax refund that you will nobly forward to a creditor? In short: Do you owe, big-time? If you’re up to your chin in debt, you can at least take solace in knowing you’re in good company. According to Consumer Credit Counseling Services, the average American owes $8,600 in credit-card debt; and the Department of Education reports that the average college student owes

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nearly $20,000 upon graduation. But those are just averages. For many of us, the picture is considerably bleaker. And there’s a certain stigma attached to having personal debt, which can make it uncomfortable to talk—or even think—about. But even if you’re in deep—however you got there—you can still get out, as some Mount Holyoke alums are proving. In the Red—From Debt and Embarrassment Mary Smith ’04 (not her real name) is $55,000 in debt, with $12,000 on credit cards, $18,000 on a car loan, and $25,000 still to pay on student loans. “I definitely feel in over my head,” she says. After graduation, Smith went to England, where she earned a master’s degree— funded mainly through student loans and credit cards. Now back in the United States, she admits she sprung for a new vehicle rather than buying a cheaper used one and is “addicted to traveling,” which ratchets up her credit-card balances. Karen T. Lee ’85 panicked two years ago when she realized she owed $80,000— including a $40,000 mortgage and $5,000 in student loans she deferred while finishing her PhD. The rest she attributes to living off credit cards when she was between jobs, a general “lack of restraint with money, and a couple of bad decisions”—like renting a costly apartment. “Credit cards,” she adds, “are evil.” Kate M. Axt ’01 left MHC owing $15,000 in student loans. She has paid that down to $10,000, but in the meantime accumulated another $25,000 in credit-card debt. Moving to New York City and furnishing her living space accounts for about $10,000 of that, she says; “I tried to do it economically, but it added up.” Still, she admits making “some purchases that didn’t need to be made, including clothes, eating out, and an iPod.” Her parents covered her student loans while she was at MHC, but once she graduated Clare M. Robbins ’04 took over the $65,000 balance. She says she

didn’t have a “practical understanding of what it would be like to manage my money, to manage debt”—which in her case now includes credit-card balances. If she’d had better “financial literacy skills,” Robbins says, her situation might not have felt so overwhelming.

“A house, a car, and school are all worth going into debt for. But you have to be able to pay them off. That’s the key.”

How to Be a Cheapskate and Still Keep Smiling If you’re cash-poor and tempted to use your credit card, consider these tips from Lori Macellaro Kelman ’82, who considers herself something of a cheapskate who still knows how to have fun: • Cook at home, eat at home. Make your own coffee, bring your own lunch. This can save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year.

Susan Bushey ’96 That’s not an uncommon sentiment. As Consumer Credit Counseling Services points out, “Generally speaking, we are not taught in school how to handle budgeting and credit issues. For the most part, we have had to learn about [these] on our own. Unfortunately, many of us have learned the hard way.” What’s Worth Going Into the Red? Robbins has given herself a reprieve by putting some student loans in forbearance and arranging for graduated payments on others. In retrospect, she and other alumnae have asked themselves: If I had it to do over again, would I make the same financial choices? What’s worth being in the red for, and what isn’t? “Graduate school was worth every penny,” Smith says. “Even some of the debt from my travels I would not trade for the world; the memories are too precious. But do I wish I had not gone on shopping sprees in Europe and put everything on credit cards? Definitely.” Nowadays Lee could justify getting loans for a car, an education, and a home—but that’s it. Even that mindset is “incredibly different from two years ago, when I would have gone into debt for just about anything,” she says. “A house, a car—if you need one where

• Find cheap ways to keep culture in your life. Go to museums on “free” nights, and visit local art galleries. Seek cheap tickets to plays (go to previews, volunteer to serve as an usher). And if you must see first-run movies (you can save a lot renting them later), go to the cheaper first showing.

• Cancel cable TV and watch shows at a friend’s or on DVDs from your local library. “Bottom line,” says Kelman: “Decide which things that cost money really matter to you and which ones you can do without or skimp on. There are plenty of choices (clothes, makeup, transportation) where you can spend more or less money.”

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To reduce her credit deficit, Peg Atkins Danek ’85 first had to get her spending under control. She started at the supermarket.

There’s definitely “good debt versus bad debt,” says financial adviser Dam T. Nguyen ’02. Mortgages are good—in part because “you get tax deductions on the interest paid. Cars are not good investments,” she adds, because their value just keeps going down. (She recommends buying one that’s “decent and reliable, but not luxurious.”) Getting one’s monetary house in order requires some financial knowhow and a heavy dose of discipline. To reduce her credit deficit, Peg Atkins Danek ’85 first had to get her spending under control. She read Finances for Dummies, tracked her purchases using Quicken personal finance software—and changed her habits. She quit using

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credit cards, started buying groceries in bulk, and cut out nonessential services like cable TV and callforwarding. Then she tackled the loans, paying off the high-interest ones first. Becoming “habitually frugal” and staying in the black is a “fantastic feeling,” she says. Getting Your Financial Land Legs But even when you stick to your financial guns, clearing your debt can seem unbearably slow. Robbins says for a while she felt immobilized by financial fears. “Lately I’ve tried to transform my thinking, to believe that [having this much debt] is not going to be the ultimate setback of my life. [But] I still need to have a strategic plan and not be willy-nilly about it.” The trick, she thinks, is to “pay what you can each month—and be consistent. I’m picking away at my debt mountain with a

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toothpick but keeping myself in good standing. That’s what keeps me sane.” To get a mortgage two years ago, Bushey had to pay off a student loan and some credit-card debt. Reluctantly, she turned to her parents for assistance. They helped her pay down her balances and negotiate with credit-card companies. She has just one card now and pays the total due every month. A year ago, Kate Axt cut up all her cards except one, which has a limit of $500. She’s also found that online banking has helped her “keep everything in order and pay things on time.” If you still carry significant balances on your credit cards, Nguyen offers this advice: “Be methodical about paying a bit extra every month.” And if you’re inclined to shop around for lower-interest cards, the zero-percent variety “can help buy some time,” she says, but it’s still

important to make regular payments. Since her financial reality check a couple of years ago, Karen Lee has paid off $20,000 of her debt. She’s a follower of radio talkshow host and best-selling author Dave Ramsey, who penned The Total Money Makeover. “His get-outof-debt plan … has worked for me,” she says, adding that she “stopped using credit cards cold turkey. I only buy things I can pay for now. I feel pretty good,” she adds. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel”—and that should be some reassurance for anyone who owes. Maryann Teale Snell ’86 is a writer and editor in Saratoga Springs, New York. Learn More For more on how Peg Danek got out of debt, and tips from Consumer Credit Counseling Services, visit alumnae.mtholyoke.edu/ go/debt.

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you live—and school are all worth going into debt for,” agrees Susan R. Bushey ’96. “But you have to be able to pay them off. That’s the key.”

Thank you, MHC Alumnae Because of you, the Annual Fund exceeded its $8 million goal for 2006–2007. This extraordinary success reflects the generosity of 12,000 alumnae, including many who stepped up to make a leadership gift of $1,837 through the revitalized Cornerstone Program. Mount Holyoke College thanks all Annual Fund donors for ensuring that this pioneering institution can continue to provide access and excellence to talented women from around the globe.

www.mtholyoke.edu/giving

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will always bring back memories of springtime at Mount Holyoke. The campus was littered with students on blankets, sunscreen and smoothies within reach. The Green became the rendezvous place for procrastination, where papers were distant memories and the semester was suspended until the sun went down. —Stephanie Miedema ’07

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The scent of cut grass


Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Summer 2007