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Posse Power: STEM women take off p. 26

In the Beginning: How students came to rule p. 32

Winter 2017

Alumnae Bulletin


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Bryn Mawr Woman: Writing on Rikers p. 22

View From the Hill

View From the Hill

Magic The Bryn Mawr campus just after a winter snowfall PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE MCCANN


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Alumnae Bulletin Winter 2017 Chief Communications Officer Jesse Gale Editor Nancy Brokaw

4 Letters

In the Know: The history of water By Michelle Francl

6 President’s Message

Class in Session: An anthropology class considers the politics of sound By Matt Gray

10 Archways

Bryn Mawr Woman: Creative Writing on Rikers Island By Deborah Chadwick Clearman ’72

The future of language study

For Starters: An open letter, a garden grows at Perry, and more Lore: Bryn Mawr women march, circa 1913 and 2017 Student Profile: Mawrter for a cause (or two) By Nancy Brokaw

13 Discourse

Debate: Why are there so few women in Silicon Valley? Faculty Profile: Piper Coutinho-Sledge on gender and medicine Crowd Source: Mawrters make the right choice FEATURES

On the Cover Members of the STEM Posse sophomore class: Paola Salas, Immaculate Chepkemoi Langat, and Connie Chan. Photograph by Jeff Wojtaszek.



With its long history of educating scientists, it’s only natural that Bryn Mawr would host the country’s first STEM Posse. By Kathy Boccella

There were no rules. Then Bryn Mawr established student selfgovernment—the first in the country. By Kaaren Sorensen ’85

Posse Power

U-Curve: Alumnae reflect on process and progress. By Elizabeth Mosier ’84

Contributing Editor Nancy Schmucker ’98 Class Notes Liaison Diana Campeggio Contributing Writers Matt Gray Molly Petrilla Louisa Wilson Editorial Advisory Board Alison Kosakowski ’01, chair Julia Kagan Baumann ’70 Sarah Caldwell ’08 Elizabeth Mosier ’84 Magda Pecsenye ’94 Saskia Subramanian ’88, M.A. ’89, Alumnae Association President (Ex Officio)

Research: The professor and the spheromak Books: A roundup of titles by Bryn Mawr authors

The Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (USPS 068-360) is published quarterly in February, except April (May), except July (August), and November. Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association © Vol. 98, No. 3, Winter 2017. Periodicals postage paid at Bryn Mawr and other offices. Postmaster: send form 3579 to Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, 101 North Merion Avenue, Wyndham, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899. Please send address changes to the address above, or email to bmcalum@brynmawr.

39 Our Bryn Mawr

Anassa Kata: Mawrters at the opera, in the distillery, and on the court GSSWSR: The Social Justice Initiative launches GSAS: An art historian looks at Mexican modernism

84 Generations

Separated by decades, two first-generation Mawrters find common bonds

In the Beginning


Read more Contact us


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What Happened to the Magazine?

The Bulletin has a new design for the first time in more than a decade. Shaped by the Alumnae Editorial Advisory Board, a survey or more than 4,000 alumnae/i, and a lively focus group, the new design pays tribute to the magazine’s rich history. Here are some of the changes you’ll see—and why we made them. Why the new size and font? The size is a throwback to the original 1921 Bulletin’s design, which an alumnae focus group liked and found easy to carry. The font, Berlingske, reminded an alumna of the letters sent by Betty Vermey in Admissions. And the new look and feel? To liven things up, we’ve introduced a number of design touches: new full-page section openers that make for a more navigable magazine, blue borders that make it easy for you to flip right to Class Notes, and numbered Archways stories that are just a fun touch—and, no, you don’t need to read them in any particular order! Tell us about the new Discourse section A broad survey of alumnae found that Mawrters wanted more intellectual content and more alumnae/i voices. Discourse provides both. Are there other improvements on the way? Later this year, we’ll launch a redesigned magazine website. Also, look out for more news of the Alumnae Association in the Bulletin! We’re excited about the new Bulletin and eager to hear what you think. So send us your feedback!

“I Won’t be Afraid of Women” author Joanna Pinto-Coelho ’09

I Won’t Be Afraid

I loved the “I Won’t Be Afraid of Women” piece in the most recent Bulletin. Bryn Mawr was the very best place for me, too! I can’t imagine having gone to any other college. —TOMMASINA GABRIELE-SMITH ’84, PH.D.

I love this because I, too, was friends with boys in high school and learned to have and value friendships with women at Bryn Mawr! —GWEN MINER ’92

Well said, Joey. Anassa Kata, Class of 2009! —ALLIE EISELEN ’09



Comment online: Send letters to:

DEAR BMC COMMUNITY In reading the Fall 2016 Alumnae Bulletin, I was struck by how much the diversity is highlighted at BMC. This is clearly a good thing, but it contrasts sharply with the story in the Christmas day Philadelphia Inquirer about the Bryn Mawr First-Year who was hounded, verbally assaulted, and vilified for her support of Donald Trump. Let me be quite clear—I have no enthusiasm for Mr. Trump and am working as hard as I can to see that his agenda does not overwhelm the accomplishments of the past eight years. Regardless, castigating his supporters is not the answer. Hate speech is on the rise in America, and the world for that matter. But there should be no place for it on a college campus, and especially no place for it at Bryn Mawr. Civil discussion between disjointed or opposing views is the only way to get back to the spirit of compromise for the greater good that started the American Experiment some 230-plus years ago. I believe that it is the only thing that can put that Experiment back on its true path. I would very much like to see BMC play a leadership role in finding a way back to that civil discussion.  Regardless, bullying and bigotry regarding liberal or conservative views have no place at BMC. I would have thought better of you. Respectfully, —BARRY LURIE, PH.D. ’75

News from the Alumnae Association

The Committee on Leadership Development welcomes your suggestions for candidates for the following Alumnae Association Executive Board positions with three-year terms beginning on June 1, 2018. Suggestions can be submitted by calling 610-526-7385 or emailing to Vice-President Secretary Representative, GSSWSR Representative, GSAS Representative, Alumnae/i Communications and Chair, Bulletin Advisory Board Representative, Clubs and Affinity Groups


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We’d like to hear from you! The Bulletin welcomes letters expressing a range of opinions on issues addressed in the magazine and of interest to the extended community. Letters must be signed in order to be considered for publication and may be edited for length, clarity, accuracy, and civility. Comment online at bulletin. or send letters to or to Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin, 101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899.

FROM THE EDITOR: The College cannot comment on enrollment decisions made by individual students. We also respect the confidentiality of interactions between deans, mental health counselors, the staff of residential life, and the students that they support. While that stance can negatively affect the portrayal of the College in the media, we believe we must protect this expectation and, in some cases, legal obligation of confidentiality.


Like Mina Bissell ’63, you can make a gift that generates income for life, ensures an immediate charitable deduction, and supports the College’s tradition of academic excellence for a new generation of Bryn Mawr women. To learn more about charitable gift annuities, contact Dianne Johnson, Director of Gift Planning. To read about Mina Bissell ’63 and her Bryn Mawr story, visit



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President’s Message

In this Section


For Starters p. 8 Lore p. 11 Student Profile p. 12

Languages in Limbo? Dear Friends: In December, a report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences outlined the continuing and indeed growing neglect of language learning in the U.S. at every level. Only 58 percent of middle schools offer world languages, and only a small minority of high school students are taking intermediate- or advanced-level language courses. The number of undergraduate degrees awarded in languages other than English declined from 2010 to 2014— including in Spanish—and the number of degrees in European languages other than Spanish has declined by a third since the early 1990s. Throughout its history, Bryn Mawr has required students to study other languages. These requirements have, of course, evolved over time to reflect changed expectations for skills needed in the workplace. For example, in the 1970s, students could choose to pursue more extensive language study as an alternative to mathematics, while today both quantitative and language skills are required. In the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, demonstrated language proficiency in two foreign languages is still required for the Ph.D. in the Graduate Group in the Humanities

but not in the sciences and mathematics. The faculty modified the undergraduate language requirement most recently as part of a curricular review that took place between 2008 and 2010. At present, all undergraduates, no matter what their pre-college preparation, must take two semesters of study of a foreign language. In changing the requirement, faculty wanted to ensure that all students have the valuable experience of thinking and learning in another language. Thus no student can place out of the requirement but can, of course, place into higher-level courses to reflect previous study.* Over the past 10 years, the percentage of Bryn Mawr undergraduates completing language majors has dropped slightly but remains well above the national average. On average, 10.3 percent completed a language major from 2007 to 2011; this compares to 7.7 percent from 2012 to 2016 (real numbers have remained quite constant, as entering classes have grown slightly during this period). Recent percentages of language majors at most peer liberal arts colleges are slightly lower than at Bryn Mawr.


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The AAAS report makes particular note of the very small number of students studying languages for which there is a “critical need” in global economic and political life, including Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. Bryn Mawr is the only liberal arts college in the U.S. to host a national Language Flagship program (in our case, one of the four Russian Flagship programs); these programs allow students to achieve high-level proficiency through intensive undergraduate study as well as immersion abroad. Bryn Mawr offers instruction in Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic (each program benefits from Tri-College collaboration), and students may take introductory courses in Hebrew and Swahili (with access to upperlevel courses at Penn). Even at an institution with a strong commitment to global learning, the future of language study faces a variety of real challenges. As we negotiate these challenges, Bryn Mawr will remain committed to the value of language study. Our faculty see language as a critical part of a liberal arts education and important for substantive engagement with a wide variety of fields. We will build upon our distinctive international orientation and strengths—strong language/ culture/literature programs, our highly international curriculum, faculty scholars deeply committed to global study, an internationally and domestically diverse student body, and opportunities for study and work across the globe—to provide our students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to succeed in a globally networked world.

Prized Poetry

Natalie Kawam ’19 hated poetry— until an encounter with T.S. Eliot’s work won her over. Today, she studies with Bryn Mawr poets J.C. Todd and Dilruba Ahmed. Her poem “The Pulse” won the College’s American Academy of Poets prize— an honor that included publication on the Academy’s website. Says Kawam, “You see other poets who have received this prize, like Louise Glϋck, and you realize this is really an award for poets who are going to be something someday.”

Sincerely, Read more

Kim Cassidy President


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For Starters

For Starters


An Open Letter

1. Doing for Others

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” In January, Bryn Mawr responded to that question with a week of service activities—a knitting project for local hospitals and wildlife rescue efforts (pictured above), an outreach campaign to writing to Pennsylvania’s elected officials, information sessions about human trafficking and refugee support, and a Practicing Democracy teach-in. And on January 21, LILAC’s Civic Engagement Office, along with Student Activities and the Dean’s Office, sponsored a bus for Mawrters heading to the Washington, D.C. Women’s March.

Post-election, President Kim Cassidy joined with leaders of the other Seven Sisters in a letter to Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief White House strategist. In light of past remarks in which Bannon “disparaged lesbians, feminists, and alumnae of the historic Seven Sisters Colleges,” the group asks that he “take a more expansive, informed, and tolerant world view in your leadership role.” “Our alumnae are accomplished leaders in all spheres of public and professional life; they are committed to their work, their families, and their countries,” the letter continues. “Now more than ever, we look to those who would lead the United States of America for a message of inclusion, respect, and unity.” Cassidy was also a cosignatory to a letter calling on the president-elect to take a more forceful stand against “harassment, hate, and acts of violence” and to a statement in support of the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Post-inauguration, Cassidy asked on her Huffington Post blog, “When the marches are over, what will you do?” There, she discussed what young people can do to rebuild, protect, and extend gender equity in the months and years ahead.


Read more here


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A Garden Grows

A new garden is taking root on the Bryn Mawr campus. Located on the site of the former Perry House, Perry Garden is the brainchild of a student group seeking to honor the important story of Perry House and its significance to the BMC community. A new welcoming tradition will be introduced as well. As the McBrides use the Labyrinth to welcome new McBride students, so will students from Africa and the African diaspora use Perry Garden to welcome First-Years through the Sister Circle tradition.

4. Net Gains

The Owls marked a basketball milestone in November with their 1,001st game, the season opener against Cedar Crest. The record books show that Bryn Mawr played its first varsity game on January 13, 1950, against Beaver College (now Arcadia University). It was a 12-32 loss, but the team did go 3-7 in that first year. The decades-old record book is tough to read but did provide a partial roster, including Louise Kimball ’53, Betsy Parker ’51, Laurie Perkins ’52, Emily Townsend ’50, and Ellen Wadsworth ’52. Today’s roster includes last year’s leading scorer Erica Dwyer ’19, veteran Adriana Castilla-Hernandez ’17, and six newcomers.


Bryn Mawr’s first-ever STEM & the Arts Intensive brought students into Philly to visit WHYY public radio, where they met up with Molly Seavy-Nesper ’12, Fresh Air’s associate producer of online media,

and Tiny WPA, a nonprofit that engages youth in community-based design projects. On campus, they experimented with the audio-editing software Audacity, tried their hand at science cartooning, and test drove some HoloLenses, which allow students to interact with three-dimensional objects in real space (pictured). And they heard from alumnae working at the intersection of art and science: Becky Thompson ’01, head of public outreach at APS Physics and the creative force behind the Spectra comic book series; Lauren Friedman ’05, Business Insider senior editor; Kate Cuffari ’99, Philadelphia Museum


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of Art conservator; Daniella Forstater ’04, Philadelphia public school music teacher; Catherine Matsen ’97, Winterthur Museum scientist; and Kathryn Reber ’05, Temple University horticulturalist. Designed to give students a taste of what life after Bryn Mawr might mean, intensives are short noncredit seminars offered by Leadership, Innovation, and the Liberal Arts Center (LILAC) and funded through a Sherman Fairchild Foundation grant.


Read more here



The Child Is the Father to the Man

6. How Hogwarts!

Bryn Mawr’s castle-like architecture has landed it on BuzzFeed’s list of colleges that “straight-up look like Hogwarts.” Our affinity for lanterns and owls definitely adds to the magical ambiance of campus.

8. Seize the Day

Last October, HaitianAmerican writer and MacArthur Genius Edwidge Danticat gave students a peek into her writing process. As an undergrad at Barnard, she often wrote to put off studying for finals. “But you need to catch those moments, whether or not they come

at inconvenient times,” said Danticat. A prolific author with more than a dozen books to her name, Danticat was on campus as part of Bryn Mawr’s Reading Series.


Read more here

Since 1938, the Study of Adult Development has been following two cohorts of men from adolescence into old age. One of the longest-running longitudinal studies ever undertaken, it is a treasure trove of data about the lives of more than 700 men and what makes for a happy life. And for more than 15 years, Psychology Professor Marc Schulz has been mining the data to understand how emotion and stress affect, and are affected by, our relationships. His most recent finding? Children who grew up in a warm family environment are more likely to enjoy a secure marriage late in life. “With all the things that happen to human beings and influence them between adolescence and the ninth decade of life, it’s remarkable that the influence of childhood on late-life marriage can still be seen,” says Schulz.


Read more here

Credit: Records of the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

For Starters

On the March: Inauguration 1913 On March 4, 1913, Woodrow Wilson—the former president of Princeton University who began his teaching career at Bryn Mawr—was inaugurated as the 28th president of the United States in Washington, D.C. One day earlier, students from his former academic home took to the capital’s streets to demonstrate for women’s suffrage. Dressed in academic regalia, the students were part of the collegiate contingent of what was officially known as the Woman Suffrage Procession. Organized by Alice Paul and the Woman Suffrage Association, the procession was undertaken, according to the official program, “in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.”

Led by labor lawyer Inez Milholland, the march— featuring mounted brigades, marching bands, 26 floats, and an estimated 8,000 marchers— proceeded down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the Department of the Treasury. After a promising start, the marchers were jeered, tripped, and shoved by angry crowds blocking their way. Some 200 people were treated for injuries. Still, most finished the parade and gathered to view an allegorical tableau featuring Columbia, Justice, Charity, Liberty, Peace, and Hope. The hope would come in handy over the next few years: the 19th Amendment would not be passed until 1917.


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Women’s March 2017

Lawral Wornek ’04, at right, marched in Oakland, California, with Leia Casey. Although not a Mawrter, Casey cited Grace Lee Boggs, M.A. ’37, Ph.D. ’40 with a sign reading “Love isn’t about what we did yesterday. It’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after.” Wornek’s sign depicts the suffrage activist Alison Turnbull Hopkins picketing the White House in 1917. Marching with Wornek were Nathan Gold ’07 and Erika Merschrod ’95.

Student Profile

In this Section

Mawrter for a Cause (or Two) Farida Ilboudo ’18 (Anthropology) A Gates Millennium Scholar, Ilboudo came to campus by way of the Bronx, but her journey started thousands of miles away in Burkina Faso. Of her college experience, she says, “What Bryn Mawr has done is open me up to a new world—to a new and better Farida. It has allowed me to figure out that my voice and my dreams matter.”


Women in Silicon Valley p. 14 Creative Writing on Rikers Island p. 22 Nuclear Fusion’s New Solution? p. 24


An anthropology major, with an ambitious double minor in political science and education, Farida Ilboudo ’18 has attended quite a few schools along the way—public and private in West Africa, a charter school in New York, and now Bryn Mawr—and, she says, “I see the difference between the schools in Burkina Faso and here.” “Knowing that I have so much, I want to give back to other people. One of my interests is to study educational policy and reform in the hopes of improving the educational system and methods in West Africa,” she says, “so that students there can get the same kind of opportunity that I’m receiving here.” This summer, she explored that interest as a fellow in Lagim Tehi Tuma / Thinking Together, a Bi-Co partnership with the community of Dalun, Ghana. “In Dalun, we learned about the students and the schools, and we worked with the community to research educational methods.


“My name means unique in Arabic. So I would say that Farida is unique.” BEFORE BRYN MAWR

Ilboudo attended a New York charter school (based on the Korean educational system), where she learned Korean. THE CLOISTERS

“It’s my favorite place on campus. When I’m sad, when it’s a nice day, I go there.“

A Double Life


“My best friend is a math major who’s interested in studying autism, minoring in anthropology, and theater.” LAGIM TEHI TUMA

This Bi-Co/Dalun fellowship combines team-building, study, and education projects to foster dialogue about culture, power, history, and learning.


“Studying education opened up a whole new field for me—and a new interest,” she says. “When it was time for my field placement for Learning in Institutional Places, the professor said, ‘I think you should try the prison.’” At the time, Ilboudo was watching Orange Is the New Black, so the prospect of working in a prison had her a little scared. “But when I got there,” she says, “the

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women smiled and said, ‘Hi, what’s your name?,’ and I became comfortable in a locked room with prisoners. I saw the Thursday literacy group and the Friday book club, and I saw how open and powerful those programs were and how much the women appreciated them. I started researching, so something else I’m interested in is helping to change prisons in America.”


By day, a research manager at Duke University’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Lauren Faber ’07 is a stand-up comic by night. Asked in the first grade what she wanted to be when she grew up, Faber said, “A standup comic.” Today, Faber But, she explains, “I do it in a way cracks wise on some that’s conscious of history, power dynamics, and people who have tough topics—gender been historically victimized. A lot and sexuality, justice, of comics—who often happen to even poverty in Africa. be white men—complain about being forced to be PC. But I think they’re punching down.”

Read more here


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Q: Why are there so few women in Silicon Valley? And what can we do about it? Our panel of Bryn Mawr tech stars weighs in.

Jessica Schwartz ’09 Lead User Experience Program Manager Google Inc.

Susan Barnes ’76 Executive VP/CFO Pacific Biosciences

I’m in the biotech side now, and among the biologists, biochemists, and entomologists, women Ph.D.s and science postdocs are on par with men. But in the electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and software group, it’s a different story. And over my 35 years in the Valley, I’ve observed more and more women feeling uncomfortable in the software areas, and I’ve never seen anyone break strongly into electrical engineering. People from all over tell me, “We can’t find any women software engineers.” At a dinner this summer, someone said to me, “Oh, we’re so proud at Stanford that 35 percent of our CS majors are women now.” And I said, “Well, at Bryn Mawr it’s 100 percent.” So when recruiters talk about the frustration of not being able to find women, I say, “Go where the women are.” BRYN MAWR //

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Radhika Iyengar-Emens ’86 Founder/Managing Partner DoubleNova Group

At every point in every group that we work with in almost every ecosystem, we see either one among a sea of men or none. Women entrepreneurs face real challenges that I’d like to see change on both the entrepreneurship and the investment side. I’m in conversation with numerous investors in the Valley now: “We need to incentivize funds— individuals, organizations—to focus on women founders. Because when 30 percent of businesses are owned by women and yet 7 percent of venture capital is being given to women founders, that’s a dismal figure. That’s got to change.”

The best advice that I have for dealing with a large group of men, or even with smaller teams, is to just demonstrate the type of behavior that you would want them to model. Coaching, being patient, but addressing issues quickly—it’s important to deal with people diplomatically. A good example is trying to bridge the gap that can exist in a very diverse team made up of project managers and designers. On one project I worked on, the type of feedback we got at times was rooted in “I feel” and “I believe” statements. But I don’t care about that. I want data. So in a non-antagonistic way, I said, “This is how we’d love for you to deliver feedback to us. And this is how we should always be delivering feedback to each other.” And after we covered a few other topics, the lead of that group—someone I partner with—said, “The feedback message is the most important thing that all of you should walk out of here knowing.”

Julie S. Eng ’88 Senior VP, Datacom Engineering Finisar Corporation

Sarah Kate Wilson ’79 Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Santa Clara University

Electrical engineering is 12 percent women, but involvement in electrical engineering is going down across the country. When we ask students why, they say they prefer mechanical engineering because it’s hands-on: You can see it, but you can’t see electrons and electrical signals. But, yes, my area is still about 12 percent women. At conferences, I’m often the only woman in the room, and I’m still sometimes mistaken for administrative staff rather than an engineer.


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In my area, where we’re hiring primarily Ph.D.s in electrical engineering, our pool is probably 10 percent women—pretty much the same as it was when I got my Ph.D. 20 years ago. So I don’t see much improvement on that front. But I did make an interesting observation. In both Singapore and Shanghai, my teams are close to 50 percent women. I always thought there’d be a fascinating sociology Ph.D. in understanding that difference.


Read more here

Faculty Profile

The Right Stuff



My current research focuses on the “gender trouble” created by cancer-care patients whose bodies and identities—and choices—don’t match the expectations of medical professionals.

People participating in medical care have to rethink their identity, and they have to do so in a context shaped by certain ideas— stereotypes and normative ideas—about gender.


When did you know you’d made the right choice in coming to Bryn Mawr?

@wendyhuangsy: Watching the lanterns flying toward us on Lantern Night. I saw there were lots of people on the roof and around the cloister, but it was completely silent and dark. Then the lanterns just started flying to us, carried by the runners. I burst into tears noticing our sisters, professors, and the whole campus just working together to create that precious memory for us, welcoming us home. Being away from home on the other side of the earth was tough, but I felt bonded and home that night and inherited wisdom and courage when I picked up mine.


I’m looking at people navigating the medical system, specifically people who have “the wrong body” for particular kinds of medical care—people like transgender men seeking preventive gynecological care or cisgender women choosing a bilateral mastectomy that isn’t medically necessary.


Crowd Source

I worked for a nonprofit for a while and got sucked back into academia. I couldn’t stay away.


There’s more to gender than add women and stir.

Piper Coutinho-Sledge A new addition to the sociology department, Piper Coutinho-Sledge specializes in gender studies, the sociology of the body, and critical health studies. A confirmed academic, CoutinhoSledge holds an M.S. in natural resources from the University of Vermont and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Read more here

@skarp0: When getting up for early intro German every day wasn’t a drag. It instead meant a hilarityfilled hour with a bunch of smart ladies trying our darnedest to make learning a new language fun. Who knew you could find such camaraderie in textbook illustrations? I had found my people.

Sharon Rose ’91 When I walked past dozens of happy women playing outside on a sunny Move-In Day, and they were playing games of catch with baseballs and Frisbees thrown skillfully and with ease. This was an extraordinary moment for me. It filled me with joy after having grown up seeing most girls, well, “throw like a girl.” But I had finally found my people! Amazing, talented, gender-defying trailblazers all!

@veronica__walton: When my a cappella group accepted me, they came to my dorm common room and sang to me! I realized then that traditions such as this are what make Bryn Mawr so special.@theextremekeys


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@Steph@RedOwl05: Prospective students weekend—we had an hourlong philosophical discussion about jelly beans. I knew I had found my people.



A detail from Brigid Manning-Hamilton’s Peacock in Common Time, a pulpit fall at the North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Mawrters in Midlife Textile artist Brigid Manning-Hamilton ’78 and art historian Julia Muney Moore ’83 reflect on art and reinvention, renewal, and the long haul. BY ELIZABETH MOSIER ’84

As a writer, I don’t fear the empty screen. I’ve come a long way since freshman year in Brecon Hall, hunched over my two-tone blue electric Smith-Corona as the sun rose on the blank first page of my English paper. Back then, I looked into the void and panicked; now,

long practice makes me trust that, eventually, I will bring order to chaos, find meaning in events, make the inconceivable possible by putting thoughts into words. I’m not alone. At midlife, we Mawrters have more faith in our abilities and rely less on the


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market-driven world’s narrow standard, fame and fortune, to mark our successes. Alumnae artists over 50 confide to me that although they’re doing their best work today, this urgent, largely interior labor is more often treated as donation than commodity. How do we go

on making art and meaning? Here, inspiration from the Bryn Mawr diaspora: my colleagues from the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts (RSA) seminar in Indianapolis, who continually renew their talents to create and curate for the long haul. “The better you understand your materials, the better your work will be,” says Brigid Manning-Hamilton ’78, fellow participant in the Butler University/Christian Theological Seminary program, which convenes 15 artists from different disciplines and faith practices to discuss Genesis 1-2:2 and generate music, poetry, prose, and visual art for a public exhibition. “Analysis can help you to be a better maker—to step back and ask, what am I missing? But that’s not where I start. As I’m working, my materials change my ideas and push my art in a direction I hadn’t anticipated.” Her textile and mixed-media work includes commissioned liturgical pieces for all faith traditions, from exquisite Episcopalian baptismal vestments honoring a church’s first female priest to a SpiritWear series based on Ghost Dance shirts, shaman’s coats, and the kimono shape. An “inveterate scavenger,” Manning-Hamilton makes one-ofa-kind jewelry and found-object art for BriggidlyPunkDesigns. “My materials are the genesis,” she says, whether she’s working with fabric, shells, and bones, or Silicon Age electronic artifacts. Though her

background in history informs her liturgical pieces, art is storytelling, she says. “Making found art, especially, I look at what these objects were and then imagine a new story for them.” Perhaps particularly for women, such openness to reinvention raises satisfaction in the last third of life. If experience is “material,” then self-knowledge guides what we pack (or purge) for the chapter ahead. As RSA faculty member Julia Muney Moore ’83 puts it, “At this age, you have better perspective on all the ‘yous’ you’ve been—so you can begin to let some things go.” Moore, an arts administrator, made a mid-career move to specialize in public art. “It’s really easy to get trapped in a bubble, to curate your world so you only see things you like or people who think like you,” she says. With funding from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, she traveled and toured site-specific civic projects, retraining her skilled curator’s eye before landing a job as

“Things go in cycles; the past moves in chunks. It’s really cool to see how art from the 1970s and 1980s, when I was in high school and college and graduate school, is now the subject of retrospectives.” Moore’s long view—and her background in classics and art history—lets her see where artists’ ideas fit into a larger scheme and evaluate their work in terms of craftsmanship and depth of concept. “Some of the artists I work with think that ‘temporary’ means ‘quick’ or a short turnaround,” she says. “I encourage them to think of their art as both temporary and well-thought-out and crafted.” In championing women artists, she remedies an art historical canon that too often viewed women’s contributions “not as new and interesting but new and wrong.” Historically, women artists have always thrived while working in novel forms open to invention. In other words, original work doesn’t come from nothing or nowhere,

“At this age, you have better perspective on all the ‘yous’ you’ve been—so you can begin to let some things go.” the council’s director of public art. Middle-aged but relatively new to the field, Moore says her younger colleagues sometimes assume she’s not interested in new art theories and techniques. But “I was here when the new way of thinking was the old way of thinking,” she says.


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but from the as-yet-unknown, conjured when we name experience, ask a question, and connect seemingly disparate things. Making, unmaking, remaking: for Mawrters at midlife, process is progress, pointing to new directions and the promise of creative renewal.

In the Know

Class in Session

A Brief History of Water

Where does water come from? And just how old is the water in my tea? When I sit down for a cup, what am I drinking? Melted comets, recycled dinosaur pee, or something stuck together a millisecond ago?

practical components. “For part of the class, we’re thinking about, reading about, and writing about sound. And for the other part, we’re working with sound—recording it, editing it, and making a piece that says something through the medium of sound,” explains Weidman. The biggest surprise for Weidman was her students’ creativity in producing the sound projects she assigned. One student recorded Anthropology professor the sound of the treadmill she was working out on and showed how —whose research has focused mainly on music, the machine’s various pitches were media, and performance in South Asia—has in a sonic expression of such culturrecent years broadened her interest beyond ally salient issues as the obsession with fitness and body image. traditional notions of music. Some students used sound BY MATT GRAY recording as a medium for ethnographic documentation, and others “From the chants of protesters to “A lot of researchers in ethnofocused on how sound recordings the hum of engines, from the ring musicology and related fields are are constructed to give a sense of of church bells to the background starting to leave aside ‘music’ as reality. One recorded the sounds tracks of our favorite songs, sound a framework and think instead of services at two synagogues to matters. It is not just a background about the broader concept of sound,” explore how the differences in to what we see, but a crucial and says Weidman. “Using sound as a Orthodox and Reform Judaism powerful part of social life. Sound, category is very freeing. It allows were reflected in the contrasting whether produced deliberately or you to talk about music in ways sounds. Another used the final as a byproduct of other activities, that recognize its social and political project to construct a naturalhas effects which are often tangible, embeddedness.” sounding soundscape and then material, and political.” Weidman wanted students to deconstructed it piece by piece. That’s how Amanda Weidman realize that sound is just as worthy “When you teach a course for the ’92 introduces Waves of Power: The of academic study as written texts first time, it’s experimental, and it’s Anthropology and Cultural Politics and visual images, but she also interesting to see what students of Sound, offered for the first time made sure that, along with that come up with,” says Weidman. this past fall. intellectual content, the course had “They’ve given me ideas for how I


10−12 seconds. The Big Bang, 13.82 billion years ago. For the first trillionth of a second, matter is equally balanced by antimatter, hence no mass. At 10−11 seconds, a momentary imbalance creates the potential for mass.

700 million years. The oldest

10−6 seconds. Gravity arrives

9.2 billion years. The molecu-

known oxygen in the universe can be traced to the galaxy SXDF-NB1006-2, found in the deep-sky region around the constellation Cetus. Arguably none of this oxygen is in my tea.

on the scene, the universe (about the size of my teacup) inflates, and electrons—the glue that will ultimately hold molecules together—come into being.

380,000 years. Chemistry at last! We

have molecules, of the sort that only a physical chemist can love: HeH+, He22+, and, of course, H2. No oxygen to speak of yet, nor any carbon.


Michelle Francl’s ontological musings about water began over a cup of tea she was enjoying at the Vatican Observatory, where the Bryn Mawr chemistry professor is an adjunct scholar.

9.3 billion years. A mass of roughly 1,024 kg orbits the sun at a distance of 150 million kilometers: Earth. It has an ocean, formed as material from the core pushes up and releases what was trapped in the wet planetesimals that collided to form our planet. Ancient beyond measure, Earth’s water is literally from another world. But are the molecules in my teacup truly 4.5 billion years old? Alas, no.

The lifetime of any one molecule of water is a few milliseconds, as hydrogens pop on and off with alacrity. With apologies to Heraclitus, the tea I made 20 minutes ago is not the tea I am drinking now. Nor is it recycled dinosaur pee. This article is drawn from a piece that appeared in Nature Chemistry(8).


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Illustration by Kotryna Zukauskaite.

3 minutes. Over the next 17 minutes, protons and neutrons fuse to produce deuterium, helium, lithium, and a dash of boron. The periodic table might be filling out, but the nuclei are part of a seething mass of plasma, not at all suitable for brewing tea or making molecules.

Amanda Weidman ’92

lar cloud that will become the solar system coalesces. In the protoplanetary disk encircling the sun, infinitesimal chunks of frozen hydrogen and helium, as well as bits of silicates and other minerals, grow more complex molecules—including water. These planetesimals slowly accrete into planetary-sized bodies, the source of the water in my teacup.

1 second. Things cool down

to a trillion degrees, and the thin quark soup that covers the universe (now solar system-size), begins to condense down into neutrons and protons. The periodic table starts—which makes those little hydrogens waving at me from my tea, what, 13.82 billion years old?

Waves of Power


“Sound is there; it’s shaping us all the time,” says Weidman, “but we don’t often pay much attention to it or treat it in an intellectual way.”



Matt Sakakeeny’s Roll With It looks at New Orleans brass bands and the tension between the musicians’ sonic claims to urban space and their exploitation by the tourist industry.

“We had talked about noise as a constructed category and the fact that what’s thought of as noise and what’s thought of as a good sound is always a political, social, and cultural matter.”



When UC Santa Barbara Professor David Novak, who has written an ethnography of Japanese “noise music,” visited the class, students were asked to consider how noise can challenge assumptions about “good” and “bad” sounds.

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Because the field of audio production has been male-dominated for so long, Weidman wanted to demystify a space where women haven’t been at the controls by organizing a field trip to a local recording studio (pictured above).

Bryn Mawr Woman

Bryn Mawr Woman

“The first time I went to Rikers Island, I felt called. The long corridors with cracked linoleum, the endless mechanical gates, the bags of stinking garbage in the halls, the bleak cement courtyard—spoke to me of an island of discarded people.”

Creative Writing on Rikers Island CAN WE TALK?

The Bryn Mawr Woman column is a platform for Mawrters to tell their stories. Find out more at alumnae/bmw or submit a story via email to alumnaebulletin@

The women straggle into my creative writing workshop. They come in jittery, gloomy, timid, angry, boisterous, loud. They settle into a circle of chairs around a large table. The room is spare but clean and bright. Sun pours in through windows. The only difference between this and an ordinary classroom is that the windows are barred, and the women are wearing uniforms—khaki (detainees) or green (sentenced inmates). I hand out sheets of paper and short “golf” pencils. Regular pencils and pens are banned; they could be used as


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weapons. “We’ll begin with a freewrite,” I tell them, “a warm-up to stretch our writing minds.” I’m not being condescending; I write along with the group. “You can write a journal entry, a poem, a to-do list, a letter, a rant. You can write a true story or make things up. Just sit with your feelings and see what comes to mind.” Some dive right in. Others stare off into space. The hubbub, chatter, and jostling continue for a while, until it slowly dies, and all I hear is the scratching of pencils on paper.

Illustration by Kotryna Zukauskaite.


The workshop has begun. We are on Rikers Island—the New York City jail sometimes called the largest penal colony in the world— in the women’s facility known as the Rose M. Singer Center, Rosie’s for short. It’s a drop-in workshop. Anyone can come; they don’t have to sign up in advance. Some come once. Some become regulars. One woman has been in the workshop for almost two years. I’ve been leading the workshop, once a week, for nearly six years. I graduated from Bryn Mawr as a fine arts major in 1972 and went on to be a painter, showing my work in a co-op gallery in downtown Manhattan in the ’80s. Somewhere in the ’90s, I got frustrated with my career and transitioned into writing fiction, first for children, then adults. Along the way, I encountered the NY Writers Coalition, dedicated to offering free creative writing workshops to underserved people around New York City. I learned the workshop method, trained to become a leader, and went on to become program director of NYWC for eight years. I continued to lead workshops—for seniors, for the homeless, for adults in basic education programs, for folks in public housing. Wherever I went, I found people with strong and beautiful

I came home from school and there she was again, thinking I’m a fool nodding out while sitting at the kitchen table. You don’t know how bad I wish I was able—able to stop her from getting high but that’s impossible, like wishing I could fly. I was only seven years old and all the jewelry I had that was gold was sold, I was robbed of being a child. I grew up in a lifestyle that was wild. I remember picking her face up from a bowl of soup, her eyes always seeming to droop. Then I found her with a needle in her hand. I wished I was in another land. Mom, please change your ways. I don’t want to countdown your days. I love you to the moon and back. I don’t want you to think this is an attack; it’s just me reaching out cause I love you. —Astarra


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voices waiting to be heard. The first time I went to Rikers Island, I felt called. The long corridors with cracked linoleum, the endless mechanical gates, the bags of stinking garbage in the halls, the bleak cement courtyard—spoke to me of an island of discarded people. Out of that grim setting have come words of raw emotion and beauty, like the poem by Astarra at left. After the freewrite I will offer a writing prompt, but it is always a suggestion. The women can write whatever they want. After the writing time, they are given a chance to read their new writing out loud, but they never have to read. The group will tell them what they like in the writing; they will not criticize. At the end of the workshop, they will walk out a little more hopeful, a little more joyous than when they came in. More than 850 women have participated in my workshop over the six years. NY Writers Coalition published a book of their writing, These are Hard Times for Dreamers, and we are working on another. We celebrated the book with a reading in the jail by workshop members, to which inmates, correction officers, and outside guests were invited. Being heard, seeing your words on the page, is an empowering experience for any writer. No one has been more transformed by their voices than have I. DEBORAH CHADWICK CLEARMAN ’72 is the author of the novel Todos Santos and a collection, Concepción and the Baby Brokers and Other Stories Out of Guatemala, forthcoming in March 2017. She lives in New York City and Guatemala.


Read more here

About Deborah Clearman,



Positive Energy: Spheromak Bubble A LAB OF THEIR OWN

The recipe for nuclear fusion sounds simple: take two hydrogen isotopes, smash them together until they fuse, and cook up a massive supply of energy. The problem is that, to date, scientists haven’t succeeded in scaling up fusion reactions. “Researchers have done fusion,” says David Schaffner, an assistant professor of physics. “We’re at a stage where we can make fusion reactions, but we can’t do it consistently in a way where we get more energy out than we put in.” As part of a team working in Swarthmore Professor Mike Brown’s lab, Schaffner and several BMC students are working on a Department of Energy–funded project to find lower-cost solutions to the high-cost enterprise of nuclear fusion. Their research is focused on creating a self-contained plasma bubble, called a spheromak, that contains hydrogen isotopes that would be pushed through a chamber using a fast pulse of current through a copper ring—like a watermelon seed being squished between your fingers. For the student researchers, the project finds them working on the holy grail of energy research. Junior Hayley Johnson’s research on the effect of various metal chamber plates on the pulse coil will provide data to guide coil designs, and her

BMC’s new plasma facility, slated to open in about a year, will center on turbulence in plasma.

LOCKDOWN by Jane McLaughlin, M.A. ’64. Meticulously observed and linguistically adept, the poems in this collection brim with fresh imagery and moments of surprise. McLaughlin sees below the surface of the quotidian to make new connections. The pressure on language and attention to detail are apparent throughout, from sustained sequences to tight lyric pieces. (Cinnamon Press, 2016)


“Like lighting a candle with a flamethrower. You can do it but you’re not gaining anything,” says Schaffner. IN A FLASH

Since spheromaks move at 50 kilometers per second, Schaffner’s experiments are over in a flash. Working closely with Schaffner in setting up the lab are Emmeline Douglas-Mann ’18 and Ph.D. candidate Carlos Cartagena.

“If fission is shooting an oil tanker with a sniper bullet, fusion is two snipers facing each other a mile apart and having them fire and hoping the rounds hit each other.” BRYN MAWR //

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classmate Codie Fiedler-Kawaguchi ’18 has been working on measuring the plasma’s magnetic field. Nuclear fusion is so difficult because, to achieve it, very small particles must first collide. By using plasma, the researchers hope to confine the hydrogen particles and allow for multiple possible collisions. As Schaffner explains, “If fission is shooting an oil tanker with a sniper bullet, fusion is two snipers facing each other a mile apart and having them fire and hoping the rounds hit each other.”

Diversity vs. Democracy: Who Wins? Economics Professor Michael T. Rock has been wrestling with the question at the heart of his new book, Dictators, Democrats, and Development in Southeast Asia, for a long time. Since 1995, he’s been wondering—and writing about—how Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand managed to succeed at both development and democracy.

At first, he turned to political science and economics for the answers, “but they were saying quite different things about these countries,” he says. Until recently, political scientists viewed their political elites as uninterested in development or democracy and more interested in personal gain. Economists tended to emphasize the degree to which governments


followed the policy nostrums of the Washington consensus—to stabilize, privatize, and liberalize. Rock now says both sides missed the real story of how political elites used selective interventions and corruption to grow their economies while enriching themselves and those in their patronage networks. (Oxford University Press, 2016.)

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by Alison R. Solomon, M.S.S. ’91. How did Wynn Larimer end up in jail, accused of kidnapping two teenage foster kids? For her partner, Barker, the stakes couldn’t be higher: Wynn seems to be losing her mind, and the missing girls are Barker’s social work clients. (Sapphire Books, 2016)


Read more here

Browse more books online at

POSSE POWER With its long history of educating scientists, it’s only natural that Bryn Mawr hosts the country’s first STEM Posse. This cluster of the brightest tech minds is forging uncommon bonds—and successful college careers. BY KATHY BOCCELLA Members of the 2019 STEM Posse, from left, Camila Silva, Naideline Raymond, Connie Chan, Jwahir Sundai, and Paola Salas. Photograph by Jeff Wojtaszek.


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When Carol Bowe ’17 arrived on the Bryn Mawr campus as the first person in her family ever to leave home for college, she faced more than one challenge. There were the everyday pressures of her demanding studies in physics, but often she simply missed the familiar touchstones of her native Boston—her family, her friends who stayed behind, even her favorite restaurants. It was at moments like these that Bowe was glad she had people who knew exactly what she was going through. They were, literally, her posse— nine other classmates who comprised Bryn Mawr’s very first STEM Posse, chosen together as public high school seniors in Greater Boston to bond through college and help each other succeed as women from diverse backgrounds breaking through barriers in science and technology. Bowe has loved attending college with “people who know Boston— you all have the same city as home. When you say I miss that place downtown, some food place, they all know what you’re talking about.”

A Bryn Mawr First

In 2012, when Bryn Mawr announced it would be hosting the first Posse created specifically to support women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, the College already had a strong track record with the New York–based Posse Foundation. As one of the leading schools working with the innovative scholarshipand-support program, Bryn Mawr has educated roughly 170 Mawrters since the program arrived on campus in 2005. Created in 1989 in New York City, the Posse Foundation now

operates in 10 metro areas from coast to coast; founder Deborah Bial envisioned the program as a way for students from urban environments—who often were overcome with feelings of isolation when leaving home for a college campus—to have a support network similar to their friends and family back home. Bryn Mawr currently has four STEM Posses—one in each class, for a total of roughly 40 students—in addition to four other Posses whose students major in a variety of subjects. The STEM Posse initiative aims to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone: advancing the program’s original goal of helping youth from nontraditional backgrounds survive the pressures of an elite college, while also funneling more high-achieving women into science or high-tech careers. “Without the Posse Foundation, most likely these students would never have come to Bryn Mawr,” says Biology Professor Peter Brodfuehrer, who ran the STEM Posse program at Bryn Mawr for the first three years of the program and coordinated its summer program. “It’s a wonderful

opportunity for them.” STEM Posse participants meet one-on-one with the program director every two weeks and regularly as a group, but they say the program’s greatest value is the bond they form with each other, and the advice and support they get from hometown peers in the same boat as they navigate the sometimes-difficult currents of a science or math education.

A Support System

“The transition from high school to college, especially at Bryn Mawr, where academics are such a process has been difficult,” said Paola Salas ’19, a sophomore from Lynn, Massachusetts, and a member of the third STEM Posse. “Sometimes it’s easy to think you’re not meant to be there and not smart enough, but having a group of girls who come from similar places and similar backgrounds and interests and having a mentor who tells you that everything is amazing and you’re going to accomplish whatever you want—it’s a great support system.” The expansion of the Posse program into a dedicated STEM group four years ago aimed to address the additional layer of challenges for women who not only hailed from diverse backgrounds but also were entering the male-dominated science and tech fields. “We talked a lot about it before we came in, in the pre-training,” Bowe recalls, “We talked about imposter syndrome, where you feel like you don’t belong there.” Bowe says those conversations and the nurturing environment at Bryn Mawr have definitely helped, particularly in science classes that include men from STEM Posse students at work, clockwise from top left: Fransheska Clara ’17, Carol Bowe ’17, Ann Tran ’18, and Mikal Hayden-Gates ’19.


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Paola Salas ’19 crafted an independent major on health justice and interned with Boston Children’s Hospital.

How It Works

The process begins back home in Boston, where Posse Foundation officials interview top candidates in area public high schools. The group of 10 is announced at an awards ceremony midway through their senior year and almost immediately launches into an intensive eight-month precollegiate training program, where Posse members bond with one another, sharpen their academic skills through activities such as

writing workshops, and talk about some of the social hurdles they’ll soon be facing. The STEM Posse members continue to meet frequently in their first two years on the Bryn Mawr campus, coming together as a group every two weeks and also meeting regularly with a faculty member such as Marenco. “We have meetings where our mentor would have us talk about a class where we’re having issues or struggling to keep up with the work, then we would give each other advice as a posse,” Bowe explains. “They said, ‘Here’s something you can try—have you tried the writing center and having other people to support you through that?’” The Posse Foundation looks closely for leadership skills as it selects candidates, and Marenco has seen that make a difference at Bryn Mawr. “They know that they can contribute to campus,” he says, citing the example of two Posse students he’s mentoring who recently became dorm leaders to support incoming freshmen. “And one of our scholars is a biology major—she’s super busy— but took on the task of directing the theater production last year, which was a time-intensive commitment considering her very vigorous major, and that was very difficult for her,” Marenco says. Salas, whose older sister attended Bryn Mawr through the traditional Posse program and graduated in 2013, has worked to craft her own independent major, called Medicine, Health, and Society that looks at social implications of health and health justice. Back home, the Posse Foundation helped set her up with a summer internship at Boston Children’s


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Hospital to further explore her interests. As Bowe looks forward to graduation and becoming a high school physics teacher, she notes that a couple of Posse members have changed their majors to non-STEM subjects and that she and many of the others now find their best friends on campus are often students from outside the program. Yet it’s still important that she knows the other STEM Posse members are there when she needs them. “Even the people who aren’t my best friends in my STEM Posse, they still act as a support system for me; if I needed them I know they would be there,” Bowe said. “The idea is not that you’ll all be best friends; the idea is that you’ll help people graduate.”

Posse Pride As students and alumnae, Posse students do Bryn Mawr proud. On campus, they excel as Mellon Mays fellows, as winners of McPherson and Davis Projects for Peace awards, and as campus leaders. And post-BMC, they pursue Ph.D.s., launch successful careers, and give back. Yinnette Sano ’05, Augusta Irele ’10, and Jomaira Salas Pujols ’13 have worked for the Posse Foundation, while Pujols and Jennifer Rusk ’05 volunteer for BMC—on the Board and the Defy Expectation Steering Committee, respectively.

Photograph by Jeff Wojtaszek.

Mercedes Aponte ’18, a 20-year-old junior from Brockton, Massachusetts, in the second STEM Posse, says the group and the generally supportive community at Bryn Mawr have helped her as her initial interest in physics and biomedical engineering took an unexpected turn toward coastal geology and the impacts of climate change. “It’s definitely a supportive environment,” says Aponte, who adds that the Posse Foundation’s strong outside relationships with internship programs also help with her career goals. Bowe says Posse participants were told the program was created after teachers in New York City sent their students off to elite colleges, only to see them back home months later. One supposedly said to her teacher, “I never would have dropped out if I had my posse with me.” “The legend behind the whole thing has to do with the fact that you have talented people who go to these schools where they feel very much out of place,” says Associate Professor of Geology Pedro J. Marenco, who has mentored students in the STEM Posse for four years and is now becoming director of Bryn Mawr’s program.


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In the beginn ing, the re were no ru les.

But Susan Walker Fitzgerald, Class of 1893, changed all that. As the lead voice in creating the nation’s first Self-Government Association, she shaped college life for generations of Mawrters. BY KAAREN SORENSEN ’85


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In the beginning, there were no rules. For the first few years, according to Annie Crosby Emery Allinson (Class of 1892), when the College was tiny and the students “nearer the gods,” problems of noise and quiet settled themselves. But as the student body grew, more wills came

SGA Timeline: We Rule


Crime and Punishment

FIRST Bryn Mawr College establishes

the nation’s first student SelfGovernment Association.


into conflict, and the Golden Age came to a close. So no one was surprised when Dean M. Carey Thomas announced, just before Commencement in 1891, that “the social life of the College could no longer be conducted without ‘rules.’” The assumption of everyone, including Thomas, was that those rules would come from the dean herself. “But after the meeting,” Allinson wrote, “Miss Susan Walker (Fitzgerald) of 1893, and a few others, asking themselves whether law and liberty could not be combined, arrived at the idea of the students framing their own social code. Miss Walker, as spokesman for this self-appointed committee, went to the Dean and gained her willing consent to the new experiment.” That experiment led to the establishment in 1892 of the nation’s first student SelfGovernment Association in higher education. Today that association, of which all undergraduates are members, informs virtually every aspect of academic and social life at Bryn Mawr. Through collaboration with the administration and faculty, Bryn Mawr students have a voice in everything from mundane rules about noise, pets, and posters to policies governing academic integrity, faculty appointments, and curriculum. The SGA’s authority rests formally on two living documents: the Constitution and the Honor Code, which together outline a system of rules

and principles that seek to create and guide a community built on personal integrity and mutual respect. What is remarkable about Allinson’s account of the SGA’s genesis, chronicled for the Alumnae Quarterly in 1909, is both how quickly the students moved to take the project of governance into their own hands and how readily Thomas signed on to it. That initial interaction—when the students’ expectation of self-determination met with the administration’s willingness to support it—set in motion a dynamic that continues to underlie self-governance at Bryn Mawr 125 years later. After Thomas’s buy-in, an executive board was empowered to create a set of resolutions, and by the fall of 1891, what Allinson called “the age of oratory” was underway. “The students of Merion Hall,” she wrote, “used to say that they had never been disturbed by noise until the Executive Board held midnight sessions in my room to discuss the necessity of ‘quiet hours.’” Community discussions were marked by

Bringing a Yalie, dressed in women’s clothes, into the Merion sitting room, the gym, and the running track. EXPULSION (1916)

Sleeping outside near the Kennedy’s stable and lying to the Board. EXPULSION (1922)

spirited debate and an occasional relish for shock that would feel familiar to anyone who has lived through Bryn Mawr’s particular brand of impassioned dorm and dining hall conversations. In one stormy meeting, a student argued that “law-making should be left to Thomas” and “shocked our less daring intelligences by announcing, ‘I prefer monarchy to democracy—nor need it be a constitutional monarchy.’ Against philosophy like this, our only weapons were an unbewildered piety and a

The moving force behind Bryn Mawr’s Self-Government Association, Susan Walker Fitzgerald worked for many progressive causes—child labor laws, compulsory education, and women’s suffrage. In 1923, she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives as the first female Democrat.

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1925 1927

Drinking too much wine from her escort’s flask (The defense: “You’re punishing me for getting caught.”)



TOBACCO Smoking is allowed on campus with one room per hall and the lower athletic field reserved for smokers.

INTEGRITY The SGA Constitution is

amended to include the Academic Honor System.

Amendment allows resident Haverford men to hold SGA office.

10 dollars) replace suspension for infractions such as signing out to the wrong address, and entering the halls through the windows after hours.

1954 1968

EQUAL RIGHTS The Equal Rights

ACCESS Campusing and fines (up to

MEN Meeting in Atlantic City with the board chair of the Student Affairs Committee, the SGA, led by Drew Gilpin Faust ’68, and administrators abolish parietal rules.

1976 2010

RESTROOMS The SGA passes a

resolution to support single-use restrooms in nonresidential spaces on campus gender-neutral.

Although the student body was perhaps fatigued by the process— Allinson noted the “Gorgon face” of skepticism at a meeting held to ratify the SGA charter in the winter of 1892—clever problem-solving saved the day when a supporter leapt to her feet with a motion that self-government be abandoned. When the chair “put the question with assumed indifference,” there was silence in the chapel. But to the request for opposing votes came a fervent “No” that resounded on the campus and officially established self-governance at Bryn Mawr. “I doubt if any Bryn Mawr undergraduates,” wrote Allinson, “have ever been more gallantly serious than we were when, with chivalric seriousness, we pledged ourselves to an ideal.”

Athens and Hegel

Allinson told the story, in language permeated with classical references, as Bryn Mawr’s own version of the birth of Athenian democracy. In the end, for Bryn Mawr as for the ancient Greeks, the fall from the gods led ultimately to progress through the establishment of a rule of law based on democratic principles. At a time when Greek and Latin were prerequisites of admission and classical studies

remained the foundation of the liberal arts curriculum, the allusions were “within a frame of reference she knew her audience would understand,” says Grace Ledbetter ’87, chair of Classics at Swarthmore College. What’s striking about the story, Ledbetter goes on to say, is that Allinson and her fellow students were using that frame of reference as a means to realize a radically democratic vision within their own community. “They are taking the framework of their classical education, the most classical model of government, and applying it in a way that’s radical within their own contemporary context.” If Ledbetter sees SGA’s origin story in terms of classical ideals, radically applied, Charlie Bruce ’16, last year’s SGA president, responds to it through a different interpretive lens—that of Hegelian dialectics. As a comparative literature major, Bruce was inspired by the work of Grace Lee Boggs, M.A. ’37, Ph.D. ’40, a human rights advocate who wrote about the Hegelian principle of dialectical change and used her own work in philosophy as a basis for lifelong activism. Bruce sees the principles of dialectical change at work in the origins of the SGA in that “it’s all about taking a given

 espite the historical particulars that D make archival snippets feel dated and sometimes quaint, the constant that remains is the insistence by students that practice meets theory, that the mundane realities of student life remain tangible anchored to higher principles. BRYN MAWR //

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circumstance, having some kind of constructive dialogue about it, and finding a way to make it into the best possible shape that it can be.” The story “totally embodies Boggs’s ideas of how institutions change, how people change, how cultures change.” “Historically Bryn Mawr students have been agents of social change,” Bruce goes on to say. “It doesn’t surprise me that that spirit has been around from the inception of the institution until the present day.”

Particulars and Principles

The history of the SGA is the history of the issues that have engaged the Bryn Mawr community and so is predictably bound up with the larger social currents of any given moment. In 1925, at a time when women were claiming greater social freedoms, the student leadership succeeded in lifting an increasingly unenforceable ban on smoking. In 1929, as the era of Prohibition dawned, the Association sought fiercely to preserve alcohol use as an area of individual privilege. And in 1976, at the height of the campus housing exchange with Haverford, the Equal Rights Amendment to the Bryn Mawr Constitution passed, allowing resident Haverford men to hold SGA office. But despite the historical particulars that make archival snippets feel dated and sometimes quaint, the constant that resonates is the insistence by the students that practice meet theory, that the mundane realities of student life remain tangibly anchored to higher principles. For students who tangled with Thomas in 1921 over how many weekends

The Past Is a Foreign Country 1922

No men’s clothing or bathing caps shall be worn by the students on campus or in public parts of the halls without being covered…. Stockings may not be worn rolled down…. Students must not lie on the upper campus. 1930

Riding habits must not be worn at dinner week-days, nor at dinner or supper on Sundays. 1960

Resident students may not wear pants or shorts in the surrounding communities, on well-traveled roads, or on public transportation, or in places of public entertainment.

they were allowed off campus, the question was not just about weekends away. Rather, the president of the Association wrote in the College News, “the very principles of self-government are at stake.” While acknowledging that Thomas saw “continuity of residence” as affecting academic work and therefore within the administration’s purview, “We, on the other hand,” wrote Katharine Gardner ’22, “feel that as a selfgoverning body, we should have a part in making as well as in carrying out all policies regulating College life.”

Current Conversations

On campus today, the SGA continues actively to seek consistency between the College’s principles and its practices and to navigate the balance between individual freedoms and restrictions meant to serve the good of the community—albeit through very different conversations. Among the predominant recent issues, according to Bruce, have been “hard conversations about community, about who feels included, and who doesn’t, and why.” As SGA president, Bruce took a leading role in facilitating these critical dialogues. “I tried to make clear while I was in office,” says Bruce, “that this was a space where anyone could start a conversation.” If the Victorian Mawrters hashing out the foundations of self-governance in Merion Hall in 1892 had a crystal ball allowing them a glimpse of the conversations Bruce describes, they might be flummoxed by the cultural complexities of the defining issues for Bryn Mawr’s far more diverse community of the early 21st century. But they surely would recognize in them the same core qualities that we see in them looking back—an impassioned insistence that the community live up to its own ideals, the belief that dialogue is the first step toward institutional and social change, and a commitment to the practical work of community building. Is the Association that was radical 125 years ago still remarkable today? “Yes, always,” says Bruce emphatically. “I have never been in a place where there are so many people who are devoted to not being complacent and to asking and thinking critically about how their world


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Class of 1892, first SGA president


Class of 1889, Ph.D., 1895, second SGA president


Class of 2016, SGA President

In this Section


Anassa Kata p. 40 Class Notes p. 44 In Memoriam p. 82

Bryn Mawr Good Times Join us May 26-28 for Reunion 2017, celebrating our classes ending in 2 and 7.

Feature 2

THIS IS WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. The education of every Bryn Mawr student is made possible by the generosity of those who came before them. We are asking for your engagement, your philanthropy, and your vocal pride to support a new generation of extraordinary students.


Read more

Visit for program details, registration information, and more.


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Anassa Kata


Taking Action for Social Justice The Social Justice Initiative will be a center of thought and action supporting a more socially just world.

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. Thanks to Jacqueline Badger Mars ’61, 10 lucky Mawrters attended the Washington National

Opera’s performance of Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment in November. Mars donated tickets to the opera comique and a backstage tour with Executive Director Michael Mael. Pictured from left: Vidya Ramachandran ’01, Mary Clark ’87, Nyma Syed ’12, Bhakthi Sahgal ’13, Caroline Willis ’66, Joanna Pinto-Coelho ’09, and Millicent Bond ’05. Not pictured are Jane Flinn P ’86, Shelby Jacoby ’62, and Teresita (Tezi) Schaffer ’66. 


Melissa Katrincic ’97 and her husband, Lee, only loaded their gins onto store shelves in August 2015, but their Durham Distillery has already racked up a slew of honors— including North Carolina Distillery of the Year from the 2015 New York International Spirits Competition, a USA Today Readers’ Choice Award for best craft gin distillery, and a gold medal from the 2016 San Francisco Spirits Competition. Lee works as a pharmaceutical chemist, and Melissa majored in physics at Bryn Mawr. She says her

science background—the experience with meticulous planning, careful data collection, and close analysis— has helped make her a successful (and award-winning) distiller. The results include an American dry and Conniption Navy Strength Gin, along with chocolate- and coffee-flavored liqueurs. “Distillation is science and art combined,” Katrincic says, “and I love every minute of it.”


Four-year member of the Owls basketball team and founder/ president of the education nonprofit


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Universal Promise, Martha Cummings ’80 works to promote academic resources in impoverished areas. When faced with the challenge of launching a netball development program in Nomathamsanqa, South Africa, she naturally turned to Bryn Mawr. And the Owls came through: within days of receiving the request, head basketball coach Becky Tyler and her team sent uniforms, warm-up gear, and equipment. Says Cummings: “When I watched a young girl slip on that jersey and saw the smile on her face, realizing that in that moment her dream of playing a sport she loves would be realized, I nearly lost it. When they were all dressed up in their BMC unis, I taught them how to say anassa kata, as we did before every game.”


Read more here news-and-publications

“Social justice is the heart of our profession,” says Darlyne Bailey, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) Dean and founding director of the Social Justice Initiative. “I’m thrilled that, this spring, we will convene ‘kindred others’ to launch SJI.” Establishing the SJI is another way Bryn Mawr’s GSSWSR is drawing on its core value that all people deserve equal access to opportunities and resources that help them reach their highest potential. Through participatory research, curricular development, and community-based service, the SJI strives to advance knowledge and professional skills of those working toward a more socially just world. BMC Trustee Ana Mariá López ’82, M.P.H., M.D., and GSSWSR alumna Intissar BenHalim, M.S.S. ’11, are members of the SJI’s advisory council. “Our society needs spaces, like those created by the SJI, where we can think deeply and talk in compassionate ways about difficult issues,” says Lopez. “What better place to do this than Bryn Mawr?” Adds BenHalim (pictured), “Social justice is a value system that one needs to live and breathe. There’s power in providing spaces for people to engage in upholding this value system.” On May 4, the SJI launches with a conference on forgiveness. “Forgiveness is a primary component of social justice,” explains Bailey. “The root of injustice is the judgment, fear, and blaming of people labeled as ‘others.’ Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting injustice but can be part of moving from ‘otherness’ to ‘oneness.’”

Lopez adds, “Forgiveness can release the burden of hurt and allow that energy to be channeled into making social change.” Speakers from around the country will attend the conference to explore forgiveness from various perspectives, from neuroscience to forgiveness between individuals within communities. The conference should also inspire action. Says BenHalim, “The conference will involve participants in authentic social justice work. I hope everyone leaves equipped with tools to use in an action-oriented pursuit of social justice. This will be an interactive event. Everyone should walk away with specific actions for upholding social justice.”


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“Following the conference,” says Bailey, “there are opportunities for the SJI to contribute to the social justice work of our curricula at Bryn Mawr and beyond. We can pursue research in such topics as the impact of forgiveness in families. And we’ll collaborate with community organizations that have a commitment to social justice.” “The potential is great,” says Lopez. “All Bryn Mawr students can graduate with a deeper understanding of social justice, have access to compassion training, and be better equipped to engage in dialogues that build bridges.” Continues Lopez, “Working toward social justice is critical in today’s world. In academic and research spaces, the SJI has the potential to be a national, or even international, leader.”




With Alice Lesnick, Term Professor of Education 2. GREECE: FROM HELEN TO ALEXANDER* SEPTEMBER 11‒25, 2017

With Mary Hollinshead ’69, Ph.D. ’79 3. EXPEDITION TO ANTARCTICA JANUARY 11‒25, 2018 4. BARCELONA: A CITY STAY* NOVEMBER 11‒16, 2017




BRYN MAWR GREAT CIVILIZATIONS ALONG THE SILK ROAD* With Robert Dostal, Rufus Jones Professor of Philosophy and Religion MAY 10‒22, 2017





Art and a Revolution Ph.D. candidate Mark Castro, M.A. ’10, tells the story of Mexican modernism in an age of civil war. Storytelling is often on the mind of Mark Castro, M.A. ’10. candidate in history of art and project assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Says Castro, “Professor Steven Levine once said in class, ‘Art history is people trying to tell a convincing story. It tells us as much about the art historian as it does about the works.’ That idea stuck with me as I was co-curating Paint the Revolution. I kept asking myself, How do I tell a convincing story? How much of me is in this exhibition? Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1910– 1950, a recent exhibition at the PMA, told the story of how artists took part in both provoking change and rebuilding national identity during the Mexican Revolution and after the conflict’s end in 1920. Covering 40 years of art and comprising 280 objects by 70 artists,

Paint the Revolution took four years to plan. “It was an incredible collaboration,” says Castro, “between myself; Matthew Affron, the PMA’s modern painting curator; and two curators working for the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.” The team traveled frequently together to select pieces from museum collections and from private collections as well. “One of

“In developing the exhibition, there were so many pieces to choose from,” continues Castro. “We spent a lot of time thinking about what had already been done with this topic and what stories we wanted to tell. We also had to be honest with ourselves about why we were selecting certain objects. Did they fit the story of the exhibition, or were they simply the works that were familiar to us from past exhibits?” Castro’s favorite piece is the Portrait of María Izquierdo by Rufino Tamayo. “I love that this painting captures the close partnership and friendship between two artists, Izquierdo and Tamayo, and represents the communities of artists and writers that formed after the revolution.” Paint the Revolution explored what happened culturally in Mexico in the early 20th century, but for Castro, bigger questions also emerge. What role can art play after a traumatic event? Does art have a purpose beyond its display in a home or museum? Should artists be provoking political and social change? The exhibition closed in January, so what’s next for Castro? “I plan to finish my dissertation and continue my work at the PMA,”

What role can art play after a traumatic event? Does art have a purpose beyond its display in a home or museum? Should artists be provoking political and social change?








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my favorite parts of the process,” says Castro, “was visiting amazing private collections in Mexico City, the kind of places where masterpieces hang on every wall.


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says Castro. “I’m hoping to work with our pre-Colombian collection and, perhaps, expand on a gallery installation I did of the museum’s El Greco paintings. There are many more stories to tell.”


First in Family

Separated by four decades, two first-generation Mawrters find common bonds.

Ashleigh Muratore ’18

Norma Garcia-Kennedy ’77

I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, and we moved to Orlando when I was nine. My parents both started college, but neither finished. My dad works at Disney World, and if you park for the Magic Kingdom and take the tram, he’s the one giving a spiel to keep your hands inside. I went to a public high school with about 3,000 other students. I started taking college classes when I turned 15 and got my associate’s degree a month before I graduated from high school. When my dad and I came to visit Bryn Mawr in March 2013, the cherry blossoms were all in bloom, and there was a light dusting of snow. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. My dad bought a Bryn Mawr bumper sticker on that visit. He said he’d only put it on the car if I got in. One day, I was at my job at Chick-fil-A and he came in with the whole family. When I asked what they were doing there, he showed me the bumper sticker, and I started crying. At Bryn Mawr, I work as the student manager of UnCommon Grounds. That takes up a lot of my time. I’m majoring in psychology with a philosophy minor. I see myself going further and doing a Ph.D. in psychology, then maybe teaching at a college. I’m really interested in how cultural factors affect social media and peer experience.

Even though they couldn’t go to college, my parents had vibrant intellectual lives, and they instilled in their children a strong work ethic and a desire for higher education. My brother was the first in my immediate family to go to college. So I never really felt like a first-generation college student. In high school, I was the only girl in the most advanced math class, so I thought it would be inspiring and welcoming to go to a college where I’d never be the only girl in math class again. At Bryn Mawr, I usually worked about 30 hours a week. You name it, I did it—working for the archaeology department, in the dining hall, babysitting, waitressing. And at the same time, I was very involved in campus life—as Junior Class Song Mistress and co-treasurer of the SGA as a senior. Bryn Mawr opens up so many opportunities for students. I was a math major who earned an M.B.A. in finance and accounting at the Simon School, University of Rochester. From there, I went on to a career in investment banking and culminated my work life in 1995 as senior vice president of McKesson Drug Company. I managed to wring out an additional benefit while attending Bryn Mawr. I met my husband in Merion when it was co-ed; he was a student at Haverford. Richard Kennedy and I got married winter break of our senior years; this year, we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We have a wonderful son, Ian, who attends Yale, where he is managing editor of The Politic.


BRYN MAWR FUND Together, we can ensure the brightest possible future for our students, the most illuminating work from our faculty, and the infrastructure to make it all possible. Make a gift to The Bryn Mawr Fund today.


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Bryn Mawr Proud!

Bryn Mawr Prou The Power of Participation.


REUNION M AY 2 6 - 2 8


M AY 2 6 - 2 8

The Power of Participation.


. TRANSFORMATION AT WORK. WWW.BRYNMAWR.EDU/THEBRYNMAWRFUND During the 2015-16 fiscal year, 6,573 alumnae/i, parents, faculty, staff and friends collectively gave over $5.37 million in support of the students who attend Bryn Mawr today.

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Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin Winter 2017  

This is the first edition of Bryn Mawr College's Alumnae Bulletin featuring its new design. Visit the Bulletin site at http://bulletin.brynm...

Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin Winter 2017  

This is the first edition of Bryn Mawr College's Alumnae Bulletin featuring its new design. Visit the Bulletin site at http://bulletin.brynm...