Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Fall 2011

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Public Schools: Good News • Still Battling HIV • Toxic Water’s Effects

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midwifery: Rebirth of an Old Idea hint :

How’d he get here? mom Jainee McCarroll ’93 didn’t labor alone.

Making the Grade These alumnae educators embody what’s right with US public schools.

18 Thirty Years of Red Ribbons Alumnae are still on the front lines, fighting HIV/AIDS.

Taking Birth Back Alums give a big push for midwifery.


Bernard Maisner

Dana Jackson


Mount Holyoke alumnae Quarterly Fall 2011 Volume 95 Number 3 Editor Emily Harrison Weir

Associate Editor Mieke H. Bomann

Class Notes Editor Kris halpin

Designers ALDRICH DESIGN Rob Kimmel (class notes)

On the cover:

When Jainee McCarroll ’93 gave birth to son Ellis last year, her midwife was Catherine Clark, daughter of Lynne Butcher Clark ’56.

Ben Barnhart

Campus Currents & Viewpoints 2 MHC’s growing international student body; preserving electronic history; the importance of Jon Stewart

R o s s Ta y l o r , R a i n e r E h r h a r d t / A u g u s ta C h r o n i c l e / Z U M A

Alumnae Matters 28 Changes coming to reunion; clubs get busy; new alumna trustee Off the Shelf 34 Dickens with a twist; spitting toads in Florida; pirates in the classroom Class Notes 38

Mercury Rising Find out what happened when Lauren Smith ’11 stirred up the mud in one Georgia river.


News of your classmates, and miniprofiles Bulletin Board 79 Announcements and educational travel opportunities

Quarterly Committee: Avice Meehan ’77 (chair), Cindy L. Carpenter ’83, Kim Smith Dedam ’82 , Estelle Drent ’12 (student rep.), Catherine Manegold (faculty rep.), Sabine Scherer ’12 (student rep.), Shoshana Walter ’07, Hannah Clay Wareham ’09 Alumnae Association Board of Directors President* Cynthia L. Reed ’80 Vice President (Engagement)* Jennifer A. Durst ’95 Treasurer* Lynda Dean Alexander ’80 Clerk* Hilary M. Salmon ’03 Classes and Reunion Director Erin Ennis ’92 Alumnae Trustee Director Ellen Hyde Pace ’81 Nominating Director Antoria D. Howard-Marrow ’81 Director-at-Large, Human Resources* Joanna MacWilliams Jones ’67 Director-at-Large (Global Initiatives) Sharyanne J. McSwain ’84 Communications Director Sandy Mallalieu ’91 Young Alumnae Representative Tamara J. Dews ’06 Quarterly Director Avice Meehan ’77 Clubs Director Jenna L. Tonner ’62 Executive Director* Jane E. Zachary, ex officio without vote *Executive Committee The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc., 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1486; 413-538-2300; fax: 413-538-2254

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. 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. General comments concerning the Quarterly should be sent to Emily Weir (eweir@mtholyoke. edu or Alumnae Quarterly, Alumnae Association, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 010751486). For class notes matters, contact Kris Halpin (413-538-2300, classnotes@mtholyoke. edu). Contact Alumnae Information Services with contact information updates (same address; 413-538-2303; Phone 413-538-2300 with general questions regarding the Alumnae Association, or visit www. The Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly (USPS 365-280) is published in the spring, summer, fall, and winter by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College Inc., 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486. Fall 2011, volume 95, number 3, was printed in the USA by Lane Press, Burlington, VT. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: (ISSN 0027-2493, USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Alumnae Information Services, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1486.

campuscurrents Easing the Transition From writing help to shopping trips, MHC reaches out to growing international student body In the last fifteen years, the number of international students at Mount Holyoke has grown at a fast clip. Representing about 13 percent of the student body in 1996, international students last year represented 22 percent of the student population.

international students are unfamiliar with counseling and how it can offer relief from stress and anxiety, the percent of international students seeking help is similar to the percentage of domestic students seeking her office’s assistance.

To help these new arrivals adjust to an unfamiliar educational and cultural setting, an array of services is now available, from help in writing academic papers in English to workshops on completing tax returns for their campus jobs to shopping trips for winter coats.

“We have been meeting with core groups of international students to talk about the services we provide and how to access them, and that generates referrals,” DeBlase says. Every MHC student is afforded eight free counseling sessions at the center.

Attention to the needs of students from overseas begins when they arrive in late August, with a committee of about twenty current international students on hand to answer all their questions, from the availability of cell-phone plans to where to do their laundry. Dhanashree Patil ’13, who arrived from India last year, was especially pleased that the college provided free calling cards when she first landed on campus. “I truly appreciated it. That was the only way I could call my parents and tell them that I had arrived safely,” says Patil.


International students check their orientation schedules before an early September shopping trip.

While incoming international students have all studied English, their fluency varies, and classes in English for speakers of other languages are available through the English Department. This year, a full-time ESOL program coordinator, Mark Shea, is available to faculty members who have questions about fairly grading and analyzing those students’ work.

twenty-six members of the class of 2015 are from China, ten are from India, and eight are from Vietnam—often face strong parental pressure to focus on a certain field of study while at the same time wanting to take advantage of many other interesting courses. To juggle these demands, the college counseling center offers another kind of support.

Members of the growing cohort of Asian students—

MHC social worker Erica DeBlase says that while many

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Emergency loans for medical expenses, workshops about student aid, the role of campus police, issues surrounding alcohol, and making summer plans if international students will be on campus are all offered through Van Handle’s office. There is also a hosting program where MHC faculty/staff families engage international students in local life. “Coming to the United States and adjusting to everything—food, weather, culture, transport, education system—was not an easy task for me, but like everyone else, I have managed to do it,” says Patil.—M.H.B. To read more about Patil’s experiences with new friends, the issue of plagiarism, and speaking up in class, go to alumnae.

Mieke H. Bomann

“There’s been lots of good outreach in recent years,” says Donna Van Handle, dean of international students since 2003, “and more are taking advantage of it.”

Looking for

New-Program Development Projects Pick Up Steam A four-week camp to prepare Chinese students for admission to selective American colleges and the return to campus of Summer Math for Teachers are two of the new MHC programs in the works to develop new revenue and complement the college’s central mission. Steve Herman, senior adviser to President Lynn Pasquerella for complementary program development, or CPD, says that next summer he hopes to bring up to 100 Chinese high school students to MHC to acclimate them both to the collaborative nature of higher education at selective colleges (which is quite different from the way Chinese students are schooled) and to the American way of life. The summer program will include preparing students for the college admissions process, including mock interviews, and getting them primed to talk in class, which is expected in US schools but unusual in China, Herman noted. Summer Math for Teachers, a long-running MHC offering, last year was moved to Tennessee to take advantage of federal funding there for public schools. Next summer, it will operate in Tennessee as well as on the MHC campus. Pasquerella was greeted with a standing ovation.stages of Also in varying

development are three master’s degree programs: one in biomedicine; another in

teaching, and one related to social systems and innovation. The master’s in teaching is scheduled to launch in fall 2012. “There is lots going on,” Herman says, and becoming a profit center will take some time. To do the work, several new people have joined the program office with Herman and Jesse Lytle, director of complementary program development. Leanna James Blackwell was named program development manager, Stephen Desaulniers is a program assistant responsible for financial operations, Roberto Mugnani is the international programs manager, Maeve Ryan is the marketing specialist, and Gail Parker is the senior administrative assistant.—M.H.B.

Electronic Archives Project on Track The college’s electronic records project is on schedule, according to archivist Leslie Fields. Initiated by Archives and Special Collections in the MHC library and funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the project’s goal is to develop a system of collecting, caring for, and making accessible electronic records. Fields, who was hired last January by Director of Archives and Special Collections Jennifer King, was asked to focus on four groups of college records: course catalogs, board of trustees


Your letters were moved online this issue for space reasons. Please visit alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/f11_letters to read alumnae opinions on topics from the summer Quarterly, then add your own comments.

meeting minutes, faculty meeting minutes, and news stories from the communications office. The system she puts in place with the help of MHC library colleagues will be used to acquire and preserve a broad range of materials that were “born digital” and are historically valuable. While the principles and goals are much like those of traditional archival work, the process of preserving electronic records is decidedly different. With a course catalog, for example, Fields first runs a virus scan of the material and makes several electronic copies that, together with the original, will be stored on different computer servers campuswide. She then describes the content, using an archival data management program, and collects technical information—when the file was sent and from where, what computer program was used to create it, and what it looked like when it arrived in the archives’ electronic drop box. The original file and its metadata will be held in perpetuity, its condition monitored by the Digital Assets and

Preservation Services staff. Material that is OK’d for public use will be made available through an electronic access system, also managed by the digital assets staff, and integrated into the archives’ electronic “finding aids.” Fields is also working on standardizing the process by which people send “born digital” files to the archives: rather than a thumb drive here and a floppy disk there, there will soon be a transfer form and procedures in place for moving the files. Just as the college’s paper history has been preserved since its founding, its electronic records are essential to the institution’s future life. King, who presented the project to her colleagues at a national conference in summer, says, “Continuing and building on this foundational work is archives and special collections’ next challenge.” The project will also serve as a model for archivists within the Five College consortium and for other small colleges grappling with the same issues.—M.H.B.

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


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Comedy Gets Serious.

Fans of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are some of our best-informed citizens, a new faculty book reveals. Surprised? These are wild and crazy times in the land of opinion and punditry, and Eleanor Townsley maps them out in a new book published by Oxford University Press, The Space of Opinion: Media Intellectuals and the Public Sphere. Professor of sociology and gender studies at MHC, Townsley and coauthor Ronald N. Jacobs sifted through tons of opinion samples, telling biographical details about the opinion purveyors, and the increasingly varied formats of opinion. As she offers below, objective journalism is alive and well. You just have to look harder to find it. —M.H.B. Quarterly: Your new book

analyzes the growing diversity of opinion-makers and commentators in the media. Give us a sense of the range of people and their approaches to the news that you examined.

Sociologist Eleanor Townsley’s new book guides readers through the diversity of media opinion-makers and commentators.

in the connection between the older, more staid, analytical forms such as the op-ed columns in the New York Times and the newer, shorter, sharper, and more partisan formats that are broadcast on cable television such as The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes.


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

Townsley: We are interested

In the book, we focus on six formats in depth: The New

ing who speaks in different formats, we examine how the norms and conditions of speech shape opinion, and we trace the development of public narratives in two major case studies, the war on terror and the Enron scandal.

Quarterly: Each side of the

political spectrum accuses the other of hijacking the airwaves, Internet, and newspapers. What did you uncover in this regard?

The highly polarized, partisan quality of contemporary political discourse was shaped by the demise under Ronald Reagan of the Fairness Doctrine and finds immediate precursors in the partisan radio and television formats that rose to prominence in the last decades of the twentieth century. Conservative pundits on cable television, such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, are the standouts in this genre. They are concerned with political purity and they offer highly partisan opinion. There is much to be concerned about here since these opinion genres are typically polarizing, uncivil, and reductive.


What we document in our book, however, is that these partisan opinion formats have spawned their own critics. Media watchdogs and public journalism projects have proliferated since the 1990s, and they have success-

Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report took

up the burden of critiquing television opinion, and especially the conservative cable programs. And in a third round of format innovation, we now see opinion formats on MSNBC branded as a “liberal” counterweight to the conservative shows, especially those on Fox News.

Quarterly: Is the public able

to sift through the garbage and get the facts from objective news reports?

Townsley: Walter Lippmann

argued famously that opinion columnists were needed precisely because citizens do not have the time, or for the most part, the expertise, to do the digging. In the era of the Internet, however, that is less than clear. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports, for example, that 46 percent of Americans get their news from four to six online sources a day, and when you look more closely at the research on current-affairs knowledge among audiences, the findings for the opinion shows are counterintuitive. While it is true that cable news viewers are less well informed than those who watch network shows, that is not true for viewers of opinion shows on cable television. In fact, a 2007 study by the Pew Center found that while viewers of Fox News and CNN had some of the lowest levels of current-affairs

knowledge in the survey, the highest levels of currentaffairs knowledge were found among the viewers of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report and Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor. Along with the major newspaper Web sites and PBS’ The NewsHour, Bill O’Reilly’s audience had the best current-affairs knowledge. So it’s a mistake to simply dismiss the cable formats as unintelligent, ideological, or dumb. Highly knowledgeable audiences can be found in new opinion formats as well as traditional ones, and we need to understand how they work as a part of our media and political landscape. Quarterly: Lots of young

people get all their news from Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s television shows. What’s your take on that?

Stewart and Colbert present themselves as comedians and refuse the idea that they are traditional “newsmen.” This gives them a great deal of leeway to be critical, and to link political criticism to cultural criticism. Despite the refusal to be called a journalist, however, Stewart actually offers critique from the point of view of traditional journalistic values such as fairness, fact-checking, and neutrality. This is how he and Colbert manage to deflate the faux earnestness, the narrow partisanship, and the ubiquitous incivility of the opinion formats on cable television.


In fact, while the majority of the audience for the Comedy Central shows might be characterized as liberal, there is also evidence that both Stewart and Colbert draw a bipartisan audience, and one that is well informed about current affairs. In many ways, these shows operate as a general opinion space for different kinds of viewers—a very traditional role for the news media. Both shows also welcome major figures from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as a wide variety of other guests from civil-society organizations. Every major candidate for the US presidency in 2008 appeared on Colbert. From our point of view, then, these comedy shows are very influential opinion formats. Ronald n. Jacobs



York Times, USA Today, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Face the Nation, Crossfire, and Hannity & Colmes. Compar-

fully migrated to the Web in the twenty-first century. In a second round of format innovation on television, The

ElEanoR TownslEy



oPInIon Media Intellectuals and the Public Sphere

To read the rest of our interview with Townsley, go to alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/pundits.

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N ews and N otes f rom A round the Campus

Mellow Yellow Class of 2015 Arrives At convocation, firsties showed their class color consciousness in everything from Batman T-shirts to banana suits. The class includes 605 traditional-aged students from fifty-four countries and thirty-eight states, thirty-four transfer students, and thirty-seven Frances Perkins scholars.

Must-Do Dorms Guess which dorms figure most prominently in the new video Mount Holyoke Must-Dos? (Hint: you can go traying, walking, or rolling behind them). Find the answer to this, and what other fun things current students recommend, at

President Takes the Pledge

Educating Women

New Financial Chief Named Ben Hammond (right) is MHC’s new vice president for finance and administration. He came to campus from Princeton University, where he had served as executive director of finance and administrative services for a 1,000-person facilities operation since 2007. A native of New Hampshire, Hammond has also worked as a management consultant for McKinsey and Co., and volunteered for a technical school in The Gambia, West Africa. He succeeds Mary Jo Maydew, who is retiring.

This past spring, MHC cohosted the first Women’s Education Worldwide conference for faculty members from around the world. Founded by MHC and Smith College in 2004, the WEW shares best practices and advocates for women’s education internationally. The first meeting brought together women’s college presidents; the second welcomed student leaders from those colleges at MHC. In 2012, presidents and deans will convene in Nanjing, China.

Creighton P ortr ait Unveiled Professor of Art Marion “Bonnie” Miller’s portrait of former President Joanne V. Creighton was unveiled in August in the Williston Library. It hangs on the fourthfloor landing, where the portrait of former President Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 used to be. (Kennan’s portrait was moved to a gallery of former presidents in the hallway outside current President Pasquerella’s office on the second floor of Mary Lyon Hall.) Conflict of Interest Eyed Investigative reporter and MHC visiting senior lecturer in English Alison Bass (below) noted, on WGBH TV’s “Greater Boston” program, the conflict of interest inherent in the recent $100 million research partnership between pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Boston-area medical schools and universities. Watch it at

We Teach for America Mount Holyoke is among the top twenty small colleges and universities contributing the greatest number of graduating seniors to Teach for America this year. Nearly 14 percent of Mount Holyoke’s 2011 graduating class applied to the program, and fourteen joined the incoming corps. More than 110 Mount Holyoke alumnae have taught in the program since it was founded twenty years ago.

Journalist Alison Bass


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Bass: Andrea Burns, Creighton portrait: Mieke H. Bomann

Ed Gray

MHC President Lynn Pasquerella will commit 5 percent of her annual income to help fight global poverty as a cosigner of the “Presidents’ Pledge.” Participating college and university presidents hope the initiative, organized by the group Bolder Giving, will help spur social change. Pasquerella’s contribution is targeted toward the work she does in Africa for clean water and sustainable agriculture.

Student Edge

Academic Rigor + Steamed Dumplings = Jr. Year Excellence

Recipient of both an eightweek Critical Language Scholarship from the US Department of State and the government’s yearlong Boren Scholarship, which focuses on study and languages in countries critical to national security, Johnson spent the summer studying Chinese in Shanghai and the school year studying Chinese and geography at Jilin University in Chang Chun. Already conversant in Chinese (she spent a gap year between high school and MHC studying Mandarin in Beijing, has run through all of MHC’s advanced Chinese classes, and will take gradu-

ate-level courses in Chinese at the University of Massachusetts her senior year), Johnson signed a pledge not to speak or write any English all summer except to blog, and when she talked to her parents. “It’s very intensive,” she said of the two-month program. “Five hours a day of class and tons of homework. Every student gets a tutor. Hopefully, it will be really good for my Chinese.” An adopted cousin from China first awakened Johnson’s interest in China and its unfamiliar, intricate traditions, rich history, and challenging language. In high school, Johnson befriended two Taiwanese students who were part of a Rotary International exchange program in Brazil, where she also studied, and “it just went from there,” she said. During her gap year, she first learned of the severe pollu-

tion dogging many Chinese cities. Determined since then to be part of the solution to worldwide environmental degradation, Johnson has centered her college studies on geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, technologies that allow researchers to monitor air movement patterns and pollution density. Ultimately, Johnson sees herself working toward a sustainable world as a geographer in a US government agency. Her advanced knowledge of geographic technology, in combination with her Chinese-language skills, may well support international environmental regulation, communication, and collaboration. “Linnea is just a spectacular student,” says Thomas Millette, the MHC associate professor of geography with whom Johnson worked on an airborne sensor system

related to carbon storage in forests. “She’s got a number of skills in the GIS world that most graduate students would be envious of.” The Boren Scholarship requires a year of service after its completion and Johnson, after her senior year at MHC and a summer internship at the Environmental Protection Agency, says she plans to work for the State Department in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, focusing on East Asian policy. “The thought of a career working to resolve environment issues makes me come alive,” Johnson told Boren Scholarship judges. That and a plate of steamed dumplings.—M.H.B. Linnea Johnson ’13 in China during her gap year between high school and MHC. She’s studying Chinese and geography at China’s Jilin University this year.


Spring was in the air and Linnea Johnson ’13 was excited. In a few days she was headed to China, and the Northfield, Minnesota, native was looking forward to two rigorous academic programs that awaited her— as well as the promise of… dumplings. “I love Chinese food!” exclaimed the geography and Asian studies major.

Ta k i n g

back By Stefanie Ellis

Jainee McCarroll ’93 with day-old Ellis, who was born with a midwife in attendance. “The support I had was all about getting Ellis here safely and in as simple a way as possible,” she says.


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A lu m s G i v e a B i g P u s h f o r M i dw i f e ry by S t e fa n i e E l l i s

has very little memory of what it was like to give “ my mother birth,” says Jainee McCarroll ’93. “She was knocked out and was traumatized by the experience. I wanted to shift the paradigm of my family’s birth history by giving my child the gift of my presence.” So when McCarroll went into labor with son Ellis in 2010, she did it awake and with a midwife’s help. “It was the most intense day of my life,” she recalls, “but the support I had was all about getting Ellis here safely and in as simple a way as possible. It felt like my greatest accomplishment, and I got to do it almost entirely on my own terms.”

For midwives, supporting a woman throughout her pregnancy and birth is equally powerful. Becca Van De Water ’00, a certified nurse-midwife practicing in Juneau, Alaska, says, “A midwife is there to be a best friend, sister, and healthcare provider all at once. My client is beloved to me by the time I’m catching her baby. I have a deep connection to her and all the people in her life. She’s not just a chart. She’s an experience.” Midwife-attended births are an experience women throughout the world have had for centuries, and are still common in many countries today. In the United States, though, only about one in ten babies is delivered with a midwife’s help. The numbers aren’t higher here due in part to lingering prejudice against midwifery and a relative lack of qualified midwives. A growing number of alumnae is active in combating the former and providing the latter. Midwifery is still an often-misunderstood calling, they argue. And the fact that there are many different kinds of midwives, and that training and state licensing rules vary widely, doesn’t help. (Read about the different types of midwives at The profession encompasses a broad range of services. Besides “catching” babies (a term midwives use in lieu of “delivering”), nurse-midwives, who account for the majority of midwives in the United States, provide services a gynecologist or nurse practitioner might provide, such as family planning, preconception care, pelvic and breast exams, menopausal management, and treatment for infections. “The main difference between midwives and doctors, says Cynthia Lynch ’90, a certified nurse-midwife practicing in New York, “is that we don’t take care of

anyone with a medical problem or whose pregnancy is not progressing within the normal range. We do everything an ob/gyn does, but don’t take care of people with diabetes, those who have heart problems, or those who need a cesarean (“C-section”). We deal with good, old-fashioned, normal pregnancy and birth.” And midwives take their mission very seriously. Van De Water describes her entry into the profession as a spiritual calling. “It’s the deepest honor and blessing I’ve experienced in my life,” she explains. “The first time I felt a fetus in the womb was a completely magical and transformative experience,” says Krystel Viehmann ’06, who is studying to become a directentry midwife. “When I placed my hands on that mama’s belly, I felt very strongly changed for the better.”

A Better Birth Experience?

Throughout history, midwives have served as a woman’s primary support during childbirth, but many women today are led to believe that modern medicine trumps the longheld knowledge of midwives. “We tend to go along with what everyone else is doing, assuming it must be for the best,” writes Ina May Gaskin, founder of The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee, in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. “Living in a technological society, we tend to think the best of everything is the most expensive kind available. This is generally true, whether we are talking about cell phones, cameras, cars, or computers. When it comes to birth, it ain’t necessarily so.” Elise Resch ’99, a certified nurse-midwife in a small, privately owned midwifery practice in Connecticut, notes that, “US maternal mortality and morbidity rates Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly


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Hannah Hoshide


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Left: Midwife Becca Van De Water ’00 hands newborn Ruby to her mother, Ashleigh Ewing. Facing page: Ruby faces the world for the first time.

are perplexing. We spend more money and use more technology, but have worse outcomes.” For example, the World Bank’s most recent data show that the United States has a maternal mortality rate worse than virtually every European country, and many in Asia and the Middle East. “American women are starting to ask important questions about why that is. They realize that one in three of them will have major abdominal surgery [i.e. a C-section] to have their babies—more than double the rate the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. They are beginning to research their childbirth choices, including care providers, very carefully,” says Resch. According to the American Pregnancy Association, C-sections can increase the risk of infection, hysterectomy, or injury to the bladder or bowel for mothers. Babies born by C-section are more likely to have breathing problems and difficulty breastfeeding. Additionally, more mothers die after C-sections than after vaginal births. “Most births around the world lead to preventable traumas for mother and baby,” says Jan Tritten, editor of Midwifery Today. “Preventable because many of them are caused by unnecessary and scientifically unjustifiable interventions performed by hospital staff who do not understand how to properly facilitate the normal physiology of birth.” One way of preventing these traumas, says the WHO, is by using midwives. Research suggests that, for healthy women likely to have low-risk births, midwifery births are safer, less costly, and more satisfying than typical medicalmodel childbirth. (Read more in the “Evidence-Based Maternity Care Report” at And given that more than 96 percent of births facilitated by certified nurse-midwives occur in hospitals, emergency care—should it become necessary—is nearly

always close at hand. Resch, who delivers only at Yale New Haven Hospital, says women come to her because they think the skills and support of a midwife will optimize their chances of a vaginal birth and, hopefully, a meaningful experience. “I felt it important not to medicalize [the birth process] so much,” recalls Jainee McCarroll. “When I needed medical attention, I was with a midwife who didn’t mess around. She took things seriously, but was also a calm, quiet force for simplicity. We’ve been conditioned to believe birth is a terrifying event, but your body knows what to do. Every cell of your body is summoned, and every cell answers the call.”

Protecting “Normal”

Why don’t more women choose this birth experience? For some, medical conditions make it inappropriate. But even midwifery’s supporters admit there is often a stigma attached to the profession. They trace it back to the early 1800s, when birth attendants in the United States began to shift from midwives to doctors. By the 1920s, home births, previously the norm, were relegated only to women without access to a hospital. This led to a pervasive idea that doctors were better suited to delivering babies, and midwives became marginalized and pushed out of public consciousness. Slowly, however, a group of passionate women got the word out about the empowerment women could experience through actively choosing their birthing options. Around the 1970s, with the help of advocates such as Ina May Gaskin, midwifery was, you might say, reborn. Still, America trails far behind other countries in using midwives. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, midwives attended only 7.5 percent of all US births. And a WHO report notes that the Americas Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly


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Midwife Becca Van De Water ’00 gives a prenatal examination to classmate and client Lauren Krueger Sill ’00. Update: Sill’s daughter Maggie was born June 18.

“We’ve been conditioned to believe birth is a terrifying event, but your body knows what to do. Every cell of your body is summoned, and every cell answers the call.” supporters.” Women such as Jainee McCarroll. “When I tell women about the level of care I received, they’re astonished,” she says. “Two days before I gave birth, my midwife came for a house call. You’d be hard pressed to find an ob/gyn who would do that.” “We listen, we take the time to get to know our patients, and we trust a woman’s body,” says Wertman. “I wish everyone knew the benefits and how, with a change in focus from disease management to health promotion— using the midwifery model of care—we could have healthier moms and babies in the United States.” To midwives, a “healthy” birth means a vaginal birth with as little medical and surgical intervention as possible. In some circumstances, medical intervention is crucial, but the midwifery community believes that, in doctoradministered deliveries, medicine and C-sections are often used when not medically necessary, and can largely be avoided.


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Stigma Remains

In addition to the long, unpredictable hours and the sometimes life-and-death nature of the work, midwives often must fight the medical establishment for recognition, respect, and pay. “Midwives face a powerful medical lobby when it comes to trying to improve things on a state or national scale,” says Krystel Viehmann. “Out-of-hospital birth centers can now be reimbursed by Medicaid—the first necessary step toward getting midwifery services reimbursed by insurance and included in universal healthcare. We are professionally trained, legitimate healthcare providers. Being seen or treated as anything less has widespread ramifications for women’s choices as well as for the quality of their healthcare.” “One of the big struggles is getting acknowledgement that we are incredibly trained healthcare providers who happen to practice in some ways that run along a different

Hannah Hoshide

average only one midwife for every 20,000 people, the lowest ratio of the six WHO regions worldwide. One reason may be a perception that midwives lack training that would put them on a level comparable to doctors. Many people may not realize, says Suzanne Wertman ’90, a certified nurse-midwife in North Carolina, that most US midwives have at least a master’s degree from a major university. “I think women who aren’t our clients might think we’re uneducated, ‘crunchy granola’ types, and unsafe,” she explains, adding, “but the women who see midwives for their care are our best and most enthusiastic

“The medical model for childbirth is more about labor management than it is about honoring the body’s natural response process,” says Cynthia Lynch. “Doctors have a time frame and want people to be on the curve. If you fall off that curve, they give you drugs and medicalize your birth. They look at pregnancy as a disease process; midwives look at it as a normal function of the body.” Wertman agrees, “Medicine should only be used when needed, but we’ve gotten used to it as being normal. Let the baby come when it’s ready.” “I have wonderful support from a team of high-risk obgyns who collaborate with us if our patients become highrisk or require a cesarean,” says Resch. “They are excellent specialists and surgeons when our patients need them, but the majority of the time, they don’t.” Even in unusual circumstances, medical interventions aren’t always wise. For example, one frigid Alaskan winter, a client of Van De Water’s didn’t make it from her hotel to the birthing center in time. When Van De Water arrived at mom and baby’s side, “the baby was nursing, but the paramedics wanted to take them both through the cold air to the hospital for what was probably no good reason,” she recalls. “I stayed three hours to watch them, and they were fine. I think that gets at the heart of midwifery—being creative, solving problems, and protecting ‘normal’ from outside intervention.” When all goes normally, the results are rewarding. Jen McGonagle Dziedzic ’01 gave birth to daughter Emelia at home, with her husband and a midwife by her side. “We had been trying to conceive for a while; then we had nine months of waiting,” she recalls. “To have my daughter at home made everything feel complete. There was so much joy—not throw-a-party kind of joy, but snuggle in bed, hang out with family, stare-at-her-and-be-amazed kind of joy.”

Dana Jackson

Suzanne Wertman ’90 (left) was midwife to Kerri when she gave birth to Scarlett (right). Wertman currently works for Planned Parenthood, but hopes to return to “catching babies” soon. philosophy than that of the medical world,” echoes Van De Water. “We struggle with medical insurance reimbursement rates that get smaller and smaller every year,” adds Wertman. “We worry about providing the kind of care women want in a system that rewards interventions and efficiency over relationships and outcomes.” Malpractice fears, high insurance, low pay, and a perceived inequality within the medical field are realities midwives face, but that hasn’t deterred women (including at least twelve MHC alumnae) from entering the profession. “Sometimes I get really exhausted from my job, but I keep going back because I know I am called to do this,”

says Van De Water. “I’m there for the woman step-by-step through this life process. Midwifery is built on what has been done forever, but we have one foot firmly planted in the medical world. I’m grateful for science, but also for the other foot, which is placed firmly in tradition. I just trust that birth works.” Resch couldn’t agree more. “The battles continue—to practice, to get covered, to get reimbursed, to break down misconceptions—but as we know, the will of women is strong, and they seem to be taking birth back.” midwives taking birth back For a primer on midwifery, a glossary of midwifery terms, and more, visit

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What Happened When Lauren Smith Stirred Up the Mud By Emily Harrison Weir


Rising 14

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Th i s s p r e a d : R o s s Tay l o r , R a i n e r E h r h a r d t / Au g u s ta C h r o n i c l e / Z U M A

Lauren Wooten Smith on the Savannah River, in which she detected high levels of toxic mercury.

Like most waterways, the bottom of the Savannah River is full of dark, mucky sediment. In 2005, when Lauren Wooten Smith ’11 got down and dirty to analyze what was in that mud, she discovered a toxic metal—methyl mercury—at more than 100 times the level considered lethal. Muckraking wasn’t on her mind when she set out to measure the heavy-metal levels in the river near her Augusta, Georgia, home. As a sixteen-year-old looking to earn extra credit in a difficult high-school course, she designed a science-fair project to compare mercury levels in sludge samples taken from various spots along the river. Her discovery led to acclaim and a multimillion-dollar environmental cleanup—and some hard lessons about how complex a “simple” research project can become. Smith learned that an Olin Inc. chemical plant had for years used mercury in its manufacturing processes and released 500 to 700 pounds of it annually into the Savannah River basin. Curious about the metal’s long-

term effects, Smith wrangled a boat and sampled the river mud using duct-taped PVC pipes. To analyze the samples, she needed to use an environmental chemistry lab at a nearby nuclear plant. That required sitting in a classroom (with 100 male truckers!) to obtain special certification in nuclear safety. What Was in the Mud


he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says allowable levels of mercury in stream sediment can be from five to fifty-one parts per billion. Smith found samples with up to 62,000 parts per billion. “I was shocked,” she recalls. The daughter of scientists—her mother is a nurse and microbiologist, and her father is a physician—Lauren took science seriously and believed her results were reliable. But others doubted that one so young could have done the tests correctly.

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“One of the first things said to me was, ‘You’ve got to be crazy if you think I’m going to give you my hair. Don’t you know about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment?”

Lauren Wooten Smith collects a hair sample from a control-group volunteer as part of her senior thesis research.

Did eating fish from mercury-laced water show up in human hair samples? That’s the question Lauren Wooten Smith researched for her senior thesis.

Smith says, “Even after an environmental sciences PhD reran all my tests, and even though I was working in a government-certified lab, many people said, ‘Oh, she’s just a high-school student; these aren’t real results.’ It was a sad realization that the science didn’t speak for itself and that who I am had so much to do with how seriously the results were taken,” she says. But when Smith’s findings were shared at regional, national, and international science-fair competitions, her work attracted attention. “It took media coverage to get the EPA to look into the problem,” she says. When they did, Smith’s findings were confirmed, and cleanup negotiations began among the plant, local government, and the EPA. Eventually, the Olin plant spent $3 million to encase the mercury-laden sediment already in the river channel near the chemical factory. However, the plant continues to discharge mercury, legally, into the river. Olin is eliminating the use of mercury “over the next two years” at that and another plant, according to a December See a video about Smith’s work at


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2010 article. Olin plants are among the last in the nation to make chlorine using this mercury process. According to the Savannah Riverkeeper Web site, 90 percent of the chlorine produced in the United States is now made using a better, safer process, primarily membrane technology. Natural Science and Social Science Clash


hile all this was brewing, Smith graduated from high school and started her MHC studies, designing her own major in medical anthropology. For her senior thesis, “Embodied Consequences,” she took on a new aspect of the Savannah River project: the human impact of eating mercury-laden fish. “While I was gathering sediment, I saw lots of fishermen on the river,” Smith recalls. “I’d heard people say, ‘There’s no human impact of the mercury,’ but long-term, large-scale epidemiological studies make it clear that thousands of children are born every year with adverse neurological effects due to mercury.” Since the number-one way people are exposed to mercury is by eating fish, Smith set out to study the health of those who live along the river. And this is where the lure of natural science got tangled in sociocultural “fishing line.”

R ainer Ehrhardt/Augusta Chronicle/ZUM A

L e f t : L au r i a n P o p e ’ 1 1 ; r i g h t : R o s s Tay l o r ,

Her research plan seemed straightforward— measure the mercury levels by analyzing hair samples— but cultural misunderstandings profoundly affected Smith’s work. Here she was—a young, white, middle-class college student—trying to reach a group that was largely retired, male, poor, African American subsistence fishermen. Perhaps miscommunication was inevitable, but Smith didn’t expect the reception she got. “I walked along the river where people commonly fish, and asked people for hair samples,” she says. “One of the first things said to me was, ‘You’ve got to be crazy if you think I’m going to give you my hair. Don’t you know about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment?” This kind of reaction was no surprise to Smith’s senior thesis adviser, MHC Professor of Anthropology Lynn Morgan. “Natural science is done by humans in a specific context, so it is invariably influenced by social, political, economic, educational, and media contexts as well as by the identities of research subjects and the researchers,” she explains. Some feared Smith would use the hair samples to do drug testing; some community members practiced voodoo and believed that giving someone your hair gives them power over you.

Smith admits she didn’t have a truly representative test group. The people who agreed to donate hair samples tended to be white as well as wealthier and more highly educated than the average resident in that area—and more likely to eat sushi than river fish. For her control group, Smith used hair samples from a local barbershop. So the demographics of the two sample groups weren’t comparable. And, although she found higher mercury levels in the test group than in the control group, her small sample size prevented drawing broad conclusions. She was on safer ground with the second part of her study—evaluating the effectiveness of “fish advisories,” government messages intended to inform residents how much of each local fish they can safely eat. Smith discovered that these advisories weren’t reaching the intended audience, for several reasons. The fish most often eaten weren’t always the ones tested. Advisories were often not posted at all, and when they were, not everyone could read them. And the “safe to eat” levels assumed people consume fish far less often than many families along the Savannah River actually do—typically twice or even three times a day. At every turn, Smith discovered another issue. “Doing a senior thesis was a great learning experience,” she says. “Now I know how to develop a study for this population.” Adviser Lynn Morgan notes that, “By picking such a complex topic, Lauren didn’t take the easy way through her senior year. It’s a real testament to her courage and intellectual vision that she insisted on combining academic disciplines to achieve a more holistic and complex understanding of the effects of mercury contamination on ecological and social systems.” From Fish to Breastfeeding


ow a graduate, Smith’s new direction builds on her previous work on nutrition in at-risk communities. Funded by a Fulbright grant, she left for Bangladesh this past summer to boost the number of new mothers who start breastfeeding their babies shortly after birth. (The sooner breastfeeding begins, the better a baby’s chances of survival.) After the Fulbright year, she will begin an MD/PhD program, then do maternal and child health work internationally. That’s the plan. No doubt there will be unexpected eddies in the river of her career, but trust Smith to follow the current wherever it may lead.

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Making the


mid the drumbeat of bad news about America’s educational system, Mount Holyoke alumnae are using their skills to make improvements—one student, one classroom, and one school at a time. When Meredith Louria ’77, an English teacher at Santa Monica High School in California, opened the newspaper early one June morning and saw the advertisement for the movie Bad Teacher, she couldn’t help but cringe. The summer popcorn flick features Cameron Diaz as a raunchy, self-absorbed middle-school teacher who announces that she chose the profession for “short hours, summers off, and no accountability.” The film is a comedy, but Louria knows that too many people assume that Diaz represents many teachers. “I’m sure there are people like that,” Louria says. “But [the stereotype] makes the movie—it’s not the quiet, effective work that most of us do every day for thirty or forty years.” Public educators—and the public education system—have been taking a beating in recent years. In many cases, it’s for good reason: statistics suggest that American students’ science and math proficiency is among the worst in developed countries; dropout rates for minority students hover near 50 percent; and the movie Waiting for Superman, a devastating portrait of education in America, sparked a national discussion about how the educational system must be fixed. There’s no question that there are very real problems within public education. But even as the TV pundits and newspaper editorial writers skewer teachers and schools, the amazing work of many educators bubbles just beneath the surface. Mount Holyoke alumnae are working at every level to make a difference in the lives of individual students, in classes, and in schools. Their work may not make front-page news, but it is effective and inspiring. And their stories provide some of the optimism needed to support real and lasting change.

Thinking Big

Laura Rogers ’72 is codirector of the school psychology program in the department of education at Tufts University. Two decades ago, she was working on the school committee in her town of Harvard, Massachusetts, when a friend and advocate for educational reform, Ted Sizer, urged her to spend a day shadowing a student in a well-respected local high school. She


What’s Right with U.S. Public Education By Erin P eterson photos by Be n Barnhart

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Time is tight, so teacher Sherri Svedine-Gaskalka ’92 pushes her advanced placement biology class. “The AP classes have their work cut out for them,” she says. “We don’t baby them here.”


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Day in the Life of a Teacher Science teacher Sherri Svedine-Gaskalka ’92 let a Quarterly photographer shadow her for a day in early September. Her work teaching AP biology and chemistry in inner-city Springfield, Massachusetts’s Central High School demonstrates what high standards, personal attention, and hard work can help students achieve. She arrives at 7 am, teaches six classes and labs a day, eats lunch at her desk, and participates in meetings with colleagues and/or parents after the official school day ends. Then the grading—and preparation for future classes—begins.

admits she was disappointed. “I never heard a question asked by a teacher or student that couldn’t be answered in one sentence,” she says. “If your aspiration is that students should learn to think critically and weigh evidence, then you should see them practicing that in the classroom.” It was that experience, in part, that inspired Rogers to become a founding trustee at the F. W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, Massachusetts, which opened in 1995. The school followed “The Ten Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools,” which included small student loads for teachers and a focus on helping students use their minds well. The principles are more than talking points. Advisory periods, in which groups of a dozen students and one teacher meet, bookend each day. Students develop customized learning plans each year and take part in community-service activities. “We wanted a school that would be more responsive to the range of students and their needs as young people,” Rogers says. Results suggest that the approach is working: students are achieving state-required levels of proficiency and don’t get lost in the shuffle. According to 2010 statistics, about 80 percent of all Parker attendees have gone on to graduate from a four-year college. Building Better Teachers

As charter schools like Parker seek to redefine the educational experience of students, Karen Bang-Jensen Zumwalt ’65 and her colleagues at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City are finding ways to reimagine teacher education. For decades, there was essentially one path to teaching: students went to college (and sometimes graduate school) to get certified to teach. It remains the dominant model,


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but new approaches are starting to take hold. Teach for America and Teaching Fellows programs, for example, work with recent college graduates and careerchangers who haven’t followed traditional teacher-education routes. The programs fast-track members’ preparation, and within a matter of months or even weeks, they can become the teacher of record in classrooms of lowincome communities. While such programs can attract a diverse group of potential teachers and fill important positions that might otherwise go empty, this approach has its drawbacks, says Zumwalt. “Because these people are learning to teach while they’re the teacher of record in the classroom, they haven’t necessarily had enough preparation,” she says. “They’re experimenting on very vulnerable students who have great needs—students who present challenges even for very experienced teachers.” To get the best of both worlds, Columbia recently created the Teaching Residents at Teachers College program, which works much like a medical residency. Students come into the program and get a stipend, a significant scholarship for Columbia’s master’s degree program, and work in a classroom with an experienced teacher for a full year. Zumwalt thinks the hybrid approach might make a real difference, particularly since similar programs in other cities, including Denver, Chicago, and Boston, have been promising. It’s also helping schools fill positions where there have traditionally been significant shortages, such as secondary special education and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). While the program is small—Zumwalt expects twentyfive to thirty people to go through the program annually—it is a step in the right direction. “There are lots of good little projects like this going on,” she says. “I hope they will blossom, and become a new model we can use.”

Partnerships that Work

Just a few miles south of Zumwalt’s office at Columbia are the offices of the Fund for Public Schools. Tara Paone ’81, their chief financial officer, has overseen some $300 million in donations received from philanthropists since 2003. Paone says the public-private partnership is uniquely positioned to offer support to schools that public funding can’t. “What we do is more like research and development,” she says. “The public sector still takes on the lion’s share of what needs to be funded, but private dollars can support innovation, research, and development around ideas that still haven’t been completely fleshed out.” One wildly successful program that developed with the fund’s support is the School of One, a digital math program that combines teacher-led instruction, one-on-one learning, independent work, and virtual tutoring. Time magazine, which named it one of the fifty best inventions

“Besides knowing the material, the biggest part of this job is reaching the kids.” of 2009, called it “learning for the Xbox generation.” The fund’s current programs are diverse, but “innovation is the common theme,” says Paone. “We’re always looking for ways to support students, teachers, principals, and schools.” Other major cities with notable philanthropic communities are taking note; recently, the Los Angeles public school system has been looking at developing a similar program.

Svedine-Gaskalka drinks four bottles of water a day and rarely sits down. She makes an exception to eat lunch at her desk.

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“A lot of my kids are surprised to learn that I grew up in the projects, too. It helps me relate to what some of them have to deal with.” extra credit reading There’s no shortage of ideas for how to improve American public education. Here’s a sampling of suggestions from alumnae quoted in this article. More are online at alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/alumteachers. • The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol • Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough • How to Talk so Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish • Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov • Fires in the Middle School Bathroom by Laura Rogers ’72 and Kathleen Cushman; Cushman also wrote Fires in the Bathroom for high-school teachers. • Over the Ivy Walls by Patricia Gandara • Documentary film: Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim • Web site: Facing History and Ourselves (

Best Practices

Grand plans for education are important, but so are the countless daily interactions between teachers and students. These moments—where the chalk meets the blackboard— are what affect students perhaps most directly and deeply. More than 1,400 Mount Holyoke alumnae are currently teaching. Their stories illustrate the power of a single teacher to change lives. Perhaps one of the most stunning successes is powerhouse Nancy Ahlberg Mellor ’59, who over the past quar-


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ter century has been honing a remarkable program now known as CHA House. The program, which she started as a teacher at Coalinga Middle School in California, pulled intelligent—but not necessarily high-achieving—Spanishspeaking students into her math classes. There, she pushed them, cajoled them, and dared them to dream bigger. Along the way, she built a partnership with the University of California at Berkeley. She helped build a successful summer program at the university that allowed these high-potential students to develop their skills and see the possibilities that might exist outside of their tiny farm towns. “I realized that kids can dream about what they want to do, but they can’t do it unless they have the words to dream in,” Mellor says. As a result, students who might have gone back to work on farms have instead pushed themselves to attend to community colleges, state colleges, and world-class universities. Of the 400 or so students who have gone through her intense program, Mellor estimates that 160 have graduated from college and another seventyfive are currently in college. Meredith Louria, the Santa Monica English teacher, has taken full advantage of opportunities for fellowships and grants. For example, after a US State Department fellowship in 2004, Louria created a partnership with Nadezhda Strueva, a teacher in Russia. In 2007 she received a grant from Facing History and Ourselves to create a curriculum with Strueva. The two have retooled their teaching to take advantage of that connection. During one unit, her ninth-grade students read a dystopian novel and do a project based on the reading. One option is We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin. “The project for students who read that novel is to ‘talk’ to the students in Russia about the book,” Louria says. Because of the eleven-hour time difference, students write messages to each other online. Technology enables

this communication, but it’s great teaching that makes these connections valuable. “Students get excited not that they’re doing projects on the Web; they’re totally excited that they get to talk to their counterparts from another country.” Beyond the ambitious programs and whiz-bang technology, there is an almost endless number of teachers making a difference in students’ lives through their day-to-day actions. Alexa Encarnacion ’02, a history teacher at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in New York, says it’s easy, from her vantage point, to see the herculean efforts that most teachers put into their job. Despite constantly changing policies for testing and achievement, despite draconian rules that mean she can’t hug a student for fear of a lawsuit, and despite the constantly increasing class sizes, she says the vast majority of teachers are doing good—if not remarkable—work. “My [teacher] friend was thirty-eight weeks pregnant, but she kept going to school so she could be there when her kids graduated,” Encarnacion says. “Teachers stay after school working on essays with kids, even if they don’t get paid. I’ve had friends write fifty or sixty college recommendations a year, without any expectation of getting paid.” She says she sees teachers fighting to get the troubled but

“When you have high expectations of students, they will rise to meet them.” promising students into AP classes, in which a single spark can ignite a passion that fuels a career. Encarnacion created a race, class, and gender course because students were clamoring to talk and think about issues that weren’t discussed in the available coursework. Emilie Ronallo ’05, a second-grade teacher at SPARK Academy in Newark, New Jersey, says teachers in elementary schools are making similar efforts. She puts in even longer hours than her students, who are at school for nine hours each weekday, plus Saturday sessions for field trips and supplementary classes for families. Ronallo often visits her students’ homes, and says that her students benefit from all the time and attention teachers spend on them. Indeed, she adds, students often achieve more than they ever thought possible, such as reading and writing in second languages as early as kindergarten. It doesn’t surprise her. “When you have high expectations of students, they will rise to meet them,” Ronallo says. Looking Forward

It’s easy to find flaws in the public-education system, but those who work within it also know that there is a great deal of positive change happening. Instead of spending so much time focusing on the failures, many would like to focus on what’s going well—and to scale up these ideas and programs. For Karen Zumwalt, governments and businesses can do many things, but it’s the people who take jobs in the field who will make the difference. “I meet fantastic people every day who are passionate about teaching,” she says. “And that’s what gives me hope.”

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Aleefia Somji ’09, a research analyst at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, volunteers with the DC group Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive. From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., Somji rides in an outreach van, talking with people about safe sex and HIV prevention, distributing condoms, and doing HIV testing.

Alumnae on the Front Lines Fighting HIV/AIDS





Fac i n g pag e : L i s e M et z g e r ; t h i s pag e : B e r na r d M a i s n e r i l lu st r at i o n

Ribbons HIV,

the virus that causes AIDS, continues to make headlines as activists and researchers mark the thirtieth year since the first HIV cases were identified—and the thirtieth year without a cure or vaccine. And the epidemic continues to spread, as Lily Rodriguez ’09 knows only too well. “The statistics are scary,” says Rodriguez, the HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City. “Here in Utah, HIV rates are still going up.” For as long as HIV has been known, feared, and misunderstood; and as long as research on the virus has been underfunded and challenged; Mount Holyoke College alumnae have been part of the world’s battle against the epidemic. And their hard work is far from over.

Beyond the Comfort Zone

Mount Holyoke alums are represented on varying planes of defense against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. From counseling gay men on safe-sex practices, to advocating for women-controlled methods of safe sex and contraception, to distributing condoms and information to sex workers, they run the gamut on method and practice— but all are fully dedicated. Lily Rodriguez’s first professional job was as an HIV/ AIDS education and prevention coordinator. “I really

didn’t have a clue about how write grants, how to coordinate groups for gay/bi men, and how to run a successful test site,” she recalls. But she learned on the job. Now—two years later—the HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator at the Utah Pride Center says she’s “really into it” and is proud of the work her team is doing. Aleefia Somji ’09 volunteers with the Washington, DC, group Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS). From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., Somji rides in the HIPS outreach van, seeking drug users and sex workers. “We start conversations about safe sex and prevention and give people condoms, and sometimes we do HIV testing as well,” she says. “It’s intense. It’s definitely not in my comfort zone, but I’ve been learning so much from it.” Prior to joining the Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention, Laura McKinstry ’99 spent time in Zambia as an intern at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research, training healthcare providers to counsel tuberculosis patients about HIV. “When HIV attacks your immune system and weakens it, you’re no longer able to suppress the TB,” she says, explaining that the two ailments often occur simultaneously for this reason. While “it’s extremely useful to do research,” McKinstry says that her work in Zambia “had a way more direct impact on people. Every little thing that we could do [left] them in a better place—more self-sufficient and able to continue the work. It felt good.”

By Hann ah Clay Wareha m ’09

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The Personal Is Political

“I lost my childhood friend to HIV” in 1985, Tracie Gardner ’87 remembers. “I [had] sort of heard about it, but losing my friend brought it home. HIV was just background noise until then.” After graduating from MHC, Gardner made a beeline for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), a nonprofit—then in its infancy—designed to respond to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Gardner learned of the group while reading Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On, an influential chronicle of the virus’s early days and its effect on the United States. As she was finishing the book, Gardner remembers saying, “I need to end up at this organization, GMHC.” And she did. Gardner now is director of New York State policy at The Legal Action Center in New York City, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocating for public policy that supports • Since the epidemic began, more their work. than 60 million people have been Other alums experienced a infected with HIV, and around 30 similar drive to work against the million people have died of AIDSepidemic. “Someone who was related causes. HIV-positive came to our junior • The rate of new HIV infections high and talked about HIV has dropped by nearly 25 perprevention,” says Laura McKincent in the past ten years, but the stry, now a project manager for number of people living with HIV the Statistical Center for HIV/ continues to rise. AIDS Research and Prevention. • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region “At the time, there was still a lot most affected, and is home to of stigma associated with HIV. two-thirds of all people living What is HIV? Why does this with HIV. man have it? [The speaker] left • There are two new HIV infections a big impression on me. It was for every one person starting HIV dramatic and huge, in my small treatment. world.” • 6.6 million people are currently From that day on, McKinon antiretroviral therapy. stry felt pulled into scientific • Nine million people in need do

Source: UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS)

HIV Snapshot: Pain, and Progress

not have access to treatment.

research on HIV. “It’s one of the biggest public health issues of our time,” she says, and by working in this area, she believed she “could have a huge impact on the health of many, many people.” Her current work involves testing the safety and efficacy of medical interventions designed to prevent the transmission of HIV. Mona Bernstein ’74 was living in San Francisco in 1981 when the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed, and had many gay friends. “I was doing public health work, and [HIV] was major news.” Bernstein was working with a women’s health collective at the time. “At Mount Holyoke, I read Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, and it really opened my eyes to that whole perspective on healthcare,” she says. After college, Bernstein continued her experience and education in women’s and reproductive health at the San Francisco Women’s Health Collective, where, she explains, “the phrase we used was ‘the personal is political.’ I still feel that way.” Bernstein now directs the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center, a regional program serving California, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, Guam, and Samoa. “Our mission is to ensure that the clinicians are providing accessible high-quality HIV care,” Bernstein said. The center gives healthcare and social service professionals up-to-date clinical training and technical assistance so they can provide a better standard of care for people living with HIV or AIDS. Aleefia Somji ’09 initially encountered HIV in a biology classroom, examining first the clinical side of the epidemic. HIV “is able to hide from your body’s immune system, which I thought was very intelligent,” she recalls. “I got interested from the biological point of view, but I really became interested in the social aspect—more specifically the stigma and discrimination—during my study abroad.” She worked in India for the HIV Positive campaign, which aimed “to make people there positive about education, awareness, and support,” Somji says. “After that, I wanted to bring the campaign to Mount Holyoke, so I became cochair of the Student Global AIDS Campaign.”

Through that student organization, Somji fostered awareness of HIV/AIDS with free testing days, film screenings, and workshops. After graduation, she got a master’s degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where, she recalls, her undergraduate minor in theatre proved handy. After learning about “HIV disruptive theatre” in India, she put it to the test in the London Underground transit system. “The point was to disrupt an audience—not tell them that you’re performing, but at the same time pass out information about HIV,” Somji explains. “Performers acted out conspicuous conversations about the transmission and treatment of HIV in the crowded Tube, making sure to mention where more information could be found.” Now a research analyst at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, Somji presented the abstract of her master’s thesis—examining correlations between alcohol use and HIV sexual-risk behavior in South Africa—at a summer conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research.

The HIV epidemic has had “a profound impact on the way healthcare is delivered in terms of patient rights, patient access to information, and patients being an integral part of their decision-making,” Bernstein says. “That came from the women’s health movement.” Many activists and researchers hope that women’s education and empowerment can magnify the influence and reach of existing support and awareness programs around the world. In the United States, Bernstein notes President Obama’s one-year-old National Strategy on HIV/AIDS. She says it “is looking at the many ways we can control the epidemic, [which include] reducing the number of people living with the disease, making care accessible and high quality, maintaining that high level of care, and addressing healthequity issues.”

Jude Mooney (left)

Finding a Way Forward

Successfully combating and ultimately conquering the virus in the future requires “a multilevel approach to controlling the epidemic individually and on a community level,” says Mona Bernstein. Since “HIV is an opportunist” and is not selective when it comes to race, gender, or sexual orientation, adds Tracie Gardner, “public policy cannot be one-size-fits-all.” Gardner sees the epidemic two ways: “On the one hand, we’re looking at a chronic and manageable condition, like diabetes. On the other hand are the economics of a lifetime of being HIV infected—you need to take meds [forever] from the time you get your HIV-positive test to reduce your likelihood of transmitting it to others. We need to do more around prevention.” “Testing people is a prevention method,” Bernstein notes. “It depends where you are, [but] 20 to 25 percent of people living with the infection do not know they’re infected. These people are infecting others. Research shows that once people find out what their status is, they decrease their risktaking behavior.” Another key to ending—or at least stemming—the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world may very well be the education and empowerment of women. “When women aren’t educated, it weakens the community,” Gardner explains. “When women are strengthened and supported… when they are healthy, when they control their reproductive destinies, it tends to uplift the whole community.” Calling this a basic tenet of domestic and international development efforts, she says, “When the community is sick, it’s generally [true] that the women are not doing well.” Gardner is a hearty advocate of women-controlled means of HIV prevention. “For thirty years, the best we’ve been able to provide is condoms,” she says. “We need quickly to develop ways that women can protect themselves without the consent, cooperation, or knowledge of their sexual partners. That’s when infections worldwide will be dramatically decreased.”

Mona Bernstein ’74 (left) has been doing public-health work, including battling the HIV epidemic, since the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed in 1981. Tracie Gardner ’87 (right) says HIV was brought home to her in 1985, when she lost a childhood friend to AIDS. “We don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have a cure, [but] we know a whole lot more now than we’ve ever known before,” she says. “I think we have cause for optimism, actually, but we do need the political will to go forward.” Meanwhile, “there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Rodriguez reminds. Global statistics about the virus are sobering (see facing page), and funding is often tenuous at best. Despite the rising number of new infections, for example, funding for Rodriguez’s program was recently cut by $10,000. But fundraising efforts continue, as does the struggle against the epidemic’s tide and all that it brings, from discrimination and stigma to illness and isolation. Mount Holyoke alums and dedicated others, however, hope that with commitment, advocacy, hard work, and a little luck, it won’t take another thirty years to bring hope and good health to the millions of people infected with, and affected by, HIV and AIDS. For more about alumnae working on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, visit

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alumnaematters Reunion Changes Aim to Boost Attendance “Right now the young classes come back the first weekend, and second reunion is for everyone else,” notes Erin Ennis ’92, chair of the Reunion Task Force established last year to review the event. Under the new setup, each class will return on commencement/

Reunion I weekend generally every other reunion. So, starting in 2013, Reunion I will welcome classes celebrating their 2nd, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and 70th reunions. Reunion II will welcome alumnae celebrating their 5th, 15th,

35th, 45th, 55th, 65th, and 75th reunions. FP reunions will continue every four years, alternating between Reunion I and II weekends. (The next FP reunion, in 2014, will be part of Reunion I.) “There is simply not enough space on campus during

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

In order to accommodate affinity groups wanting to reconnect at Reunion II, simplify the reunion process for alumnae in general, and boost the numbers of alumnae returning for both gatherings, the class distribution at reunion will be changed beginning in 2013.


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20 percent of the responses, tied with the number who identified it as “very unimportant” and less than the 24 percent who viewed it as “somewhat unimportant.”

The Alumnae Association in 2008 launched a threeyear pilot. It reflected the stated interest of some younger alumnae to be part of the laurel parade and many older alumnae wishing to simply reconnect with classmates. The second- and fifth-year reunion classes had not been grouped together before 2008, Ennis notes.

According to Ennis, attendance rates at reunion during the pilot period indicate that the regrouping did little to encourage young alums to attend. Less than 20 percent of the second- and fifth-year reunion classes attended reunion each year from 2008 to 2010, which was less than attendance rates in earlier years.

In fact, based on a close examination of a 2005 survey of alumnae views, the majority of young alumnae respondents, or 36 percent, listed laurel parade as only “somewhat important.” Those identifying it as “very important” made up only

The new changes aim to boost reunion attendance overall by adding affinitygroup activities as an additional way to encourage alumnae to attend, even in their non-reunion years. “That is everyone’s goal,” says Ennis.

What will Change?


• Moving from first to second reunion weekend: 5th, 15th, 75th reunion classes • Moving from second to first reunion weekend: 30th, 40th, 60th reunion classes

Alumnae “Crewtons” Return in Droves to

Row, Row, Row Their Boats Claire Barclay

Reunion I, when current seniors are still around, to house and feed all alumnae classes, thus the need for two reunion weekends,” says Ennis.

In celebration of the thirty-fifth anniversary of crew at the college, about ninety former rowers returned to campus for a weekend event in September. It was the first chance for many alumnae to see the college’s new $2.1 million community boathouse, completed in 2010 and located on Ferry Street in South Hadley. They held a celebratory dinner at the boathouse on Friday night. To accommodate the terrific turnout, eight boats were launched onto the Connecticut in two shifts on Saturday morning. Following the friendly rows and a brunch, former rowers along with Head Crew Coach Jeanne Friedman, Director of Athletics Laurie Priest, and President Lynn Pasquerella helped christen a new boat, aptly named The Friends of Rowing, to honor the sport’s staying power and popularity. For more photos, go to alumnae.

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Pump Up the Volume! How to Revitalize Your Local Mount Holyoke Club Let’s face it: it’s sometimes hard to get excited about an evening event after a hard day at the office. MH club members interested in creating community, spreading the word about Mount Holyoke, and sharing the unique experience that is a women’s college face this same challenge. Thank heavens for the energetic MH club organizers who recently shared their success stories with us. See if they work for you. When Andrea Naddaff ’84 learned that the MH Club of the Western Suburbs of Boston was going to dissolve a few years ago unless new leaders stepped up, she and Sheila Lirio Marcelo ’93 joined forces to revitalize it. A partner in a branding company and founder of an online family caregiver service, respectively, the two decided to offer evening workshops on issues relevant to women of all ages: careers; managing money; mind, body, and spirit; and public service. They focus on locally known “high-wattage” speakers, charge no fee for the events, and regularly attract twenty to thirty attendees of all ages. They also opened events to their Seven Sister-institution peers, professionals in their work networks, and members of other regional MH clubs.


(above) Alumnae from the 1940s through 2010 attended the Portland MH Club’s kickoff. (right) Organizers of the revitalized Western Suburbs of Boston Club (left to right): Janot Mendler de Suarez ‘77, copresident; Andrea Naddaff ’84, copresident; Kerrie Berninger Grover ‘92, treasurer

“That’s part of the limitlessness of this,” says Naddaff. To be successful, you need to “go outside the geographical boundaries” of traditional club structures. Eleanor Manning ’06 moved from Boston to Portland, Oregon, two years

ago. She contacted the local club via its Web site, but got no response. Coming from an established, active club in the Northeast, she was surprised. But Manning soon learned that lots of people were coming and going in this growing northwest city, and the MH

Looking for ways to

revitalize your club? Here are some tips from active club energizers: • Push the boundaries of those you invite to events: include other area clubs, Seven-Sister siblings, and colleagues interested in the topic at hand. • Survey your audience: send out a questionnaire and see what kind of events area alums would attend. • Events such as cookie swaps are good, but so are events with high-profile speakers on topics relevant to women of all ages. • Include a raffle. (Everyone loves to be a winner.) • Your class Web page doesn’t have to be awardwinning, just up-to-date. If your club has been revitalized or has a long history of successfully gathering the masses, let others know on our Facebook page,

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club’s leadership was no different. “There was a lot of interest in doing things, but they had lost the organization to get things up and running,” Manning learned. So she got busy. A call to the Alumnae Association’s Maya D’Costa, director of international and domestic clubs, got her in touch with two other Portland alums interested in reviving the club. D’Costa sent her the e-mail addresses of about two-thirds of the area’s alums, and Manning’s team sent out surveys to 300 alums, asking what they were interested in doing. An impressive sixtyfour responded, and their interests included group projects, a book club, and a new-student event. Another call got Manning the Web expertise of Ed Gray, the Association’s technology support specialist, who helped her, Lucretia Lyons ’92, and Erin Dopfel ’06 put together a basic blog.

Within a month, an invite was sent out for their first event: a happy hour at the historic Heathman Hotel downtown.

But can they keep up the excitement? Manning does worry that, despite their success so far, “we won’t succeed in creating the infrastructure to get other people involved in leadership roles.” And attendance at the next two happy hours was down: twenty at the second event and eight at the third.

While others have yet to express interest in becoming officers, Manning remains optimistic that her teams’ responsiveness, lots of interest for group projects—a volunteer day

at a food bank is in the works, as is a book club and new-student recognition event—and increased traffic on the Web site will set the stage for the club’s longevity. —M.H.B.

class and club info is just keystrokes away Your class and club contacts are all available online. For classes, go to Get in touch with your club at:

MHC Archives

Join in the Yearlong Celebration of Wendy Wasserstein’s Work

Wendy Wasserstein ’71 forever changed the way women’s lives were presented on stage, beginning with her first play, Uncommon Women and Others. To honor the significant contribution this Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright made to American theatre as well as the fact that this past spring would have been her fortieth reunion—she died of cancer in 2006—the college has dedicated the 2011–12 academic year to a retrospective celebration of her life and work.

Wasserstein’s personal papers, housed in Mount Holyoke’s Archives and Special Collections, are at the heart of an exhibit, The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein, on display in the Art Museum’s lobby through April 15, 2012. The space has been transformed to evoke the theatre district in New York, and includes Wasserstein’s work notes, family photos, theatre paraphernalia, correspondence, and news and video clips of Wasserstein and her plays.

To celebrate the official opening of the exhibition and publication of the first biography of Wasserstein, Julie Salamon’s Wendy and the Lost Boys, the author will visit Mount Holyoke for a November 10 book talk and reception. Next year, a lecture series, a February playwrights’ symposium (with Constance Congdon, Christopher Durang, Marsha Norman, and Suzan-Lori Parks ’85), and an April production of Uncommon Women and

left: Wasserstein in 1990, when she was awarded an honorary degree and gave the commencement address at MHC. right: Wasserstein’s senior yearbook photo, 1971

Others in Rooke Theatre are scheduled. Finally, a weekend residency with members of the original cast of that play is slated for April. For program updates and details, go to wendywasserstein/index.html.

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Twenty-five people showed up, Manning says with glee. “We had a huge range of ages, from the class of 1948 to the class of 2010.” A few more wrote to say they were in poor health but looking forward to attending another event in

the future. The organizers were thrilled.

Ann Blake ’85, Advocate of “Green Chemistry,” Nominated as Alumnae Trustee

“Ann has proven that she is committed to MHC and its mission,” says Antoria Howard-Marrow ’81, chair of the Alumnae Association’s Nominating Committee. “We believe that she will serve the interests of the association, the college, and the alumnae at large with the skill and experience she has obtained over the years.” A biology major at MHC with a PhD in the molecular genetics of neural development from the University of Oregon, Blake has spent her career crafting chemical reform policies and advising local governments, companies, and nonprofit organizations on alternatives to hazardous chemicals. Blake was born in Singapore and educated in Malaysia and Thailand. Her dad was an economist with the United Nations and universities in Malaysia and Indonesia; her mother, a retired lecturer in sociology and social work at the University of Singapore, studied female workers in electronics


factories in Southeast Asia. One of Blake’s first jobs, as a hazardous-materials inspector for the California Environmental Protection Agency, took her to the same kinds of facilities that her mother had studied overseas. After ten years at California’s EPA, Blake began to focus on pollution prevention, working with industry, government, environmental and health advocates to reduce toxic waste at its source. Her list of clients is long and ranges from the city of San Francisco’s Department of Environment to housecleaning cooperatives interested in safer cleaning products to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “I’ve always worked with [clients and groups] who have been willing to be on the cutting edge,” says Blake, who lives in Alameda, California. Because MHC nurtured in her the confidence to approach work from a very different perspective than most of her colleagues, Blake says she looks forward to sustaining that approach as the new alumnae trustee. The trend toward “green chemistry” has made terrific headway, Blake notes. An instructor in that discipline at the University of California at Berkeley Extension Program, she is also developing regulatory, decisionmaking methodologies for the state of California in conjunction with the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program at the UCLA School of Law.

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F r a n k Ta p i a P h o t o g r a p h y

Ann Blake ’85, an environmental and publichealth consultant, has been nominated to be an alumnae trustee. An expert in the health and environmental impacts of chemicals in the consumerelectronics, furniture, textiles, institutional- and household-cleaners, and cosmetics industries, Blake is expected to be elected to the post at the Alumnae Association’s annual meeting in May 2012.

Alumnae trustee nominee Ann Blake ’85

Blake says her broad professional network, leadership roles in social and environmental justice nonprofits, and demonstrated teamwork in the face of complex problems will be helpful as MHC works its way through a shifting economic and enrollment landscape. “I am deeply committed to having the college continue to generate and support much-needed engaged, knowledgeable, thoughtful, and versatile leaders,” Blake told the committee. —M.H.B.

Notice: The alumnae trustee election will take place at the Association’s annual meeting on May 21, 2012. Additional nominations for this election may be submitted to the Nomination of Alumnae Trustees/Awards Committee by written petition, signed by at least 100 voting members, no more than 30 percent of whom shall be from the same class or the same club area. The executive director of the Alumnae Association must receive such written petitions by February 21, 2012. Nominations by petition must include the written consent of the nominee to serve if elected.

Check out these web sites related to ann blake’s clients and projects,,,,, and

From Current Paradox to Future Paradigm in Italy European Alumnae Symposium attendees adopt call to action

The goal was to think about a new paradigm for production and consumption in a world of seven billion people. The group reflected on things we take for granted—such as cars built by robots and strawberries in December—that have a hidden price for our planet. The weekend gave participants a chance to examine where we are as a global society and to share ideas of what we can do to improve our future.

Lech Czerski

As professor Vincent Ferraro said in his opening address, we face a number of challenges in the next fifty years that we are not prepared for: population growth, climate change, resource scarcity, and jobs replaced by increasingly efficient robots and computers. Symposium cochairs Ellie Shulman Bartolozzi ’75 and Claudia Engelman Flisi ’69 organized the discussion into four themes: food, fuel, factories and foibles, and the future. Paolo Di Croce, secretary general of Slow Food International, and Ertharin Cousin, US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, led the opening discussion on food, noting that the world has similar

numbers of obese and starving On Sunday morning, the people. They debated solutions symposium attendees for malnourishment. divided into five groups and developed three concrete, For Di Croce, growing food actionable suggestions to needs to be valued, and indusimprove the future. Attendtrial food production should ees then voted the followbe minimized. Cousin believes ing statement as the best: land reform and property “Within the next thirty rights need to be improved in years, our world will be facdeveloping countries before ing inconceivable problems true progress can be made. and changes with which we Another food panelist, Tundi will be incapable of coping Agardy, a marine biologist if we do not begin to take with the independent policy steps in the right direction.” group Sound Seas, spoke about food products harvested from Solution 1: Adopt a green the sea and the increasing lifestyle and spread the pressures on both animals and word by example, including habitats. For Agardy, there is “less is more.” no question about the blame for our damaged oceans: “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.”

Solution 2: Participate in furthering the public good by spending time and/or money on charities and issues affecting the wider community and greater world. Solution 3: Become politically active at all levels to create change. European Council Chair Nancy Boggie Kuehler ’65 announced that the next symposium, in 2013, will take place in Warsaw, Poland.—Laura Campbell ’06


Over one hundred alumnae, Mount Holyoke staff, and guests gathered in Torino, Italy, September 23–25 for the biennial European Alumnae Symposium. This year’s theme was “The Paradox of Plenty: Redefining la dolce vita.”

Marzio Galeotti, professor of economics at the University of Milan, talked about energy resources and demands and the impact of climate change. Paolo Borzatta, senior partner of The European HouseAmbrosetti, addressed the theme of factories and foibles. Though capitalism has become the accepted economic system for most of the world, Borzatta urged everyone to question that objective of competing for growth. He asked, “Twenty years from now, when robots produce most things, who is going to do what? And those who won’t produce, what will they do?” Angela Carpi, professor at the University of Bologna, presented the Chinese consumption model, and MHC President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 talked about the ethical framework of our paradox. There’s more—text and photos—online at

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Words Worth a Second Look

Fiction Death at Pullman BY FRANCES DEAN McNAMARA

(Allium Press) Emily Cabot, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, is helping to run a relief center for Pullman rail-car workers during their infamous strike of 1894. When a young worker is found hanged and suspected of being a company spy, Cabot joins the murder investigation in this suspensefilled novel, which weaves in historical characters such as union leader Eugene Debs and journalist Nellie Bly. Frances McNamara ’72 is a librarian at the University of


Joan Connor

Chicago. She is at work on the fourth Emily Cabot mystery, Death at Woods Hole. In Search of the Rose Notes BY EMILY ARSENAULT

(HarperCollins) At age eleven, Nora and Charlotte are the best of friends, until their beloved babysitter disappears. When her bones are found more than fifteen years later, the pair sets about trying to solve an apparent murder. Broken friendship, grief, and emotional complexity highlight this compelling mystery. Emily Arsenault ’98 is the author of The Broken Tea Glass, a New York Times 2009 Notable Mystery. How to Stop Loving Someone BY JOAN CONNOR

“Exce llent and lively .” —Ma rge Pier cy


(Leapfrog Press) This collection of short stories wanders from Greece to Maine with characters both lucky and foiled in matters of the heart. From a mock selfhelp manual on how to fall out of love to a dark account of lust and violence on an island off the coast of Maine, the

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stories share a belief that love is possible and its quest self-validating. Joan Connor ’76 is a professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her previous collections of stories include We Who Live Apart and Here on Old Route 7. Grave Expectations BY CHARLES DICKENS AND SHERRI BROWNING ERWIN

(Gallery) Dickens’s classic Great Expectations has been

rewritten with a magical twist; Pip is a werewolf, Estella a demon slayer, and Miss Havisham a corpse-like vampire. Said one reviewer, “The original Dickens is eerie and unsettling, and Erwin rises to the challenge, creating another masterpiece by making the strange even stranger.” Sherri Browning Erwin ’90 has written five other books, including Jane Slayre, which also mixes the supernatural with classic literature.

Nonfiction Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis BY SUSAN NOYES PLATT


(Carnegie Mellon University) There’s something about Florida that brings out the strangest—and most memorable—characters in the prose of its resident writers. In her third collection of short stories, Miami-based author Barrett introduces us to estate-clearance vultures, a gossip columnist who spits toads, and a murderer. Funny and sophisticated, her prose, said one reviewer, also has a “remarkable depth of feeling.” Lynne Barrett ’72 won the Edgar Award for best mystery story from the Mystery Writers of America. She teaches fiction at Florida International University.

(Midmarch Arts Press) In this theoretical analysis of politically involved artists, Platt shows how they have used various media to engage with contemporary political concerns. From street puppets at the 1999 WTO demonstrations in Seattle to gallery exhibitions of outrage at the BP oil spill in 2010, these artists address contemporary issues with powerful images and intention. Susan Noyes Platt ’67 is an art historian and critic who writes about art that addresses social and political concerns. An Introduction to Christine de Pizan: New Perspectives on Medieval Literature: Authors and Traditions BY NADIA MARGOLIS

(University Press of Florida) Christine de Pizan was a pioneering intellectual and one of the first women to support herself through writing in the late fourteenth century. Widowed at twentyfive with three children to support, she survived by writing and publishing books, poems, and pamphlets on topics ranging from philosophy to literary criticism to the status of women. This

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biography offers a complete account of her work and analysis of her sources. Nadia Margolis is visiting professor of French and medieval studies at MHC and coeditor of Women in the Middle Ages. Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Home Ownership for America’s Working Families

products can be crafted to minimize risks to lenders and potential homeowners and help ensure equitable home homeownership at all income levels. Allison Freeman ’89 is a senior research associate at the Center for Community Capital at UNC. This is her first book.


The Eastman Theatre: Fulfilling George Eastman’s Dream



(Brookings Institution) Correctly structured loans to low-income households do well and can lead to home ownership without the crisis experienced in recent years. That’s the message of the authors/researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital who, after exhaustive research of mortgage loans, say these

(Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra) Kodak founder George Eastman tried to combine his two great passions, film and music, in a palatial concert hall and movie theatre. The plan for the space was to show movies six days a week to support the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on the seventh day. Brayer covers the history of the theatre from the 1920s through its recent expansion by the University of Rochester. Elizabeth Bashore Brayer ’54 has published eighteen books and booklets about Western New York history and art. Her work George Eastman: A Biography was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.



Roberto G. Quercia Allison Freeman Janneke Ratcliffe


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Wisdom for Separated Parents: Rearranging Around the Children to Keep Kinship Strong

Starting From Scratch: Building a Teen Library Program



(Praeger) Maintaining healthy kinships while maneuvering through stepfamilies and separation isn’t easy. This book helps to redefine what a family can look like, and offers first-hand stories and advice to those who are currently separating or have lived through it and want perspective, and to professionals who help people struggling with parenting and relationships. Judy Osborne ’62 is a marriage and family therapist in Boston and director of Stepfamily Associates, which works with stepfamilies.

Experienced librarians and those new to the field will appreciate this step-by-step manual for establishing a teen program in a library. Starting From Scratch begins with advice on how to get a job as a librarian and then moves on to advocating for a teen department, adding qualified staff, and offering ongoing professional development. Sarah Ludwig ’00 is the academic technology coordinator at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Connecticut.



Pirates Go To School



(Delacorte) After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg wonders who is responsible; she and her friends said thoughtless things to the girl. Her parents send Kana to live with her grandmother on the family orchard in Japan for the summer to reflect on her behavior. The story explores the guilt and anger of a bystander in the aftermath of a tragedy. Holly Thompson ’81 lives in Japan, where she teaches at Yokohama City University. She has written three other books for children and adults.

(Scholastic) Pirates hang up their swords and head to school in Corinne Demas’s latest tale for children. A funny, rhyming story about the silly things that pirates and their parrots do in the classroom, this book is geared toward youngsters ages three to eight. Corinne Demas, an MHC professor of English, is the author of numerous books for children and adults.

CDs, Magazines, Films, Etc.

Leyla and Linda Celebrate Ramadan

The Lyon Review


Children’s Books

Young Adult



Alums from various classes have joined to form The Lyon Review, an online literary magazine that features the fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction of MHC alumnae and faculty. The Review also provides a community forum to foster discussion about the writing process, and reading lists compiled by its editorial board. To submit to the magazine, go to Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85 has published more than thirty short stories and essays. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(Talisa) Friendship across a cultural divide highlights this book for young children. Spending a holiday together in Turkey after the fast of Ramadan, a Turkish girl and her German friend come to see the similarities in their family’s Islamic and Christian celebrations. This is the first book by Arzu Gürz Abay ’94. She lives in Cologne, Germany.

Correction: Edward Gorey

Plays Cape Cod and Croaked: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod

more books

For descriptions of these books, go to 11.

Mystery—both by Carol

The Magic Door

Verburg ’70—were published

by Boom-Books, not BoomBoom Books as noted in the summer Quarterly. Croaked is

BY Marina Jones (MA ’98) (AuthorHouse)

Fairy Tale Capitalism: Fact and Fiction Behind Too Big To Fail by Emily Eisenlohr ’73 (AuthorHouse)

now available as an e-book as well as in print.

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Moisturizing Mount Holyoke Goat Soap

Goat-milk soap handcrafted by Susan Parks ’64 at her farm in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, produces a creamy, smooth lather perfect for all skin types. Pure, unrefined shea butter is added as a moisturizer, and beeswax ensures a longerlasting bar. Six custom MHC fragrances: Uncommon Vanilla, Mountain Day Mint, Cornerstone Sweet Earth, Lavender Cum Laude, Milk and Cookies, and Fragrance Free Tuition.

Each bar is $6. Order any number in any combination of fragrances from For shipping of up to four soaps, add $6; for five to twelve soaps, add $8.50. For cost of shipping more than twelve, please inquire. Lots more MHC-related class and club products are also for sale. For details and photos of many items, visit shop/alumgifts.php.

Ta l i e s i n N ya l a

NEWCT) MHC ( t eport Bridg lub Produc C

It’s Coming—Vespers 2011 Begin your celebration of the holiday season in style and grace at the traditional Christmas Vespers on Friday, December 9, at 8 p.m. in the Old South Church on Copley Square in Boston. Seats are $15–$100 and benefit the MHC Alumnae Scholarship Program. For ticket information, contact Cerise Jalelian Keim ’81 at

travelopportunities New! Adventure and Service Trip in Central America January 14–22, 2012 Expedition to Nicaragua

In January 2012, Mount Holyoke will join with Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy on a small-group, adventurephilanthropy expedition to

Nicaragua, home to some of the most stunning and least explored regions of Central America. Roadmonkey expeditions combine off-the-path adventures with sustainable volunteer projects benefiting a local community in need.

building a food-generating organic garden/small farm for a school outside Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. The project is coordinated and supervised by Roadmonkey’s nonprofit partner in Nicaragua, the Fabretto Children’s Foundation.

We will spend four days exploring Nicaragua’s southern beaches and deserted coves; hiking remote jungle paths; and, if you’re up for it, taking a surfing lesson in tropical waters. A moonlight sea-turtle migration and a jungle-medicineplant trek are also on the schedule.

Join this expedition, explore incomparable Pacific coastline, and be part of positive change for impoverished Nicaraguan students. The low price of $2,999 per person includes all lodging, meals, equipment, and local ground transportation. For more information, contact Roadmonkey founder and CEO Paul von Central Zielbauer Japan trip trip America at or 323-924-8351.

The remaining three days of our trip will be spent

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


Fa l l 2 0 1 1


Australia and New Zealand trip

February 3–10, 2012 Caribbean Cruise in the Lesser Antilles: Puerto Rico, Virgin Gorda, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Barbados

Escape the depths of winter on this eight-day cruise of the tropical Lesser Antilles aboard the six-star, all-suite MV Silver Cloud, providing an unmatched small-ship experience in the Caribbean. This splendid opportunity offers free air from twenty-three gateway cities, and a host of complimentary features aboard ship. These include all onboard gratuities; personal butler service; beverages in your suite, with every lunch and dinner, and throughout the cruise; and fitness classes. Cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Bridgetown,

Barbados, and explore the natural and cultural treasures of these Caribbean isles—mountainous Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; elegant eighteenthcentury sugar plantation estates near Basseterre, St. Kitts; stylish Gustavia, St. Barts, where street signs appear in French and Swedish; English St. John’s, Antigua; picturesque Roseau; Dominica, with its Victorian townhouses and fascinating volcanic geology; and St. George’s, Grenada, the “spice isle.” There are also San Juan precruise and Barbados postcruise options. Prices start at $3,508 (early booking). For more information or to make reservations, please call Gohagan & Company at 800-9223088 or 312-609-1140.

Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation This information published as required by USPS • Publication title: Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly; publication number 0027-2493; USPS 365-280; published quarterly; subscriptions are free. • Office of Publication: Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St., S. Hadley, MA 01075-1486; contact person: Emily Weir, 413-538-2301; Publisher and owner: Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College; editor: Emily Weir • Circulation (based on summer ’11 issue): Net press run: 34,000; requested subscriptions 32,049 + nonrequested (campus) distribution: 1,000


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

Free-air and low-air add-ons have limited availability and are not guaranteed. Register early! February 5–18, 2012 Australia and New Zealand: Cruising the Great Barrier Reef

This spectacular fourteenday journey captures the essence of Australia and New Zealand and features an exclusive three-night Great Barrier Reef cruise aboard the intimate Coral Princess, a stylish expedition cruiser that moors alongside secluded reefs and islands and is known for the warm Aussie hospitality of its crew. Accompanied by a marine biologist, observe the wondrous underwater world from the comfort of a glassbottom boat or while snorkeling. On land, experience the stark contrasts, magnificent natural wonders, and dynamic cultures Down Under, from the soaring peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps to Sydney’s glittering skyline, with three nights in Queenstown, one night in Te Anau, three nights in Sydney, and one night in Cairns. Enjoy a

nature cruise on Milford Sound and see the stunning vistas of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkable Mountains. Visit the world-famous Sydney Opera House and learn about the rich heritage of the indigenous people. An exclusive two-night Auckland preprogram option and a one-night Ayers Rock postprogram option are offered. Prices start at $3,635 (early booking) plus air. For more information or to make reservations, please call Gohagan & Company at 800-922-3088 or 312-609-1140.

Interested? To request a brochure for any of these trips, please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 or visit www.alumnae.mtholyoke. edu. For additional information, please call the travel company sponsoring the trip.

Au s t r a l i a To u r i s m B o a r d

Caribbean trip


The World Needs Mount Holyoke Women

W E N E E D W O M E N ’ S E D U C AT I O N , not only because it strengthens the institutional presence of women leaders who will work against the generational forgetting of women’s accomplishments, but also because of the urgent need to continue deepening and accelerating the pace of achievement for today’s women. For this reason, there is no more critical time to support Mount Holyoke.” — LY N N PA S Q U E R E L L A ’ 8 0 , P R E S I D E N T

The Alumnae Network Really Works! “I was having a real problem finding a qualified candidate for a marketing manager position. I got incredibly lucky when Carolyn Strobel ’09 literally walked through my door for an MHC book group meeting. We spoke for a few minutes and I realized she had all the qualifications I was looking for. Being involved in the Mount Holyoke Club has been incredibly helpful throughout my career.”

—Jerri Barrett ’83

“Through MHConnect, I recently reached out to three alums for job-search advice. All three responded within minutes, eager to help and meet in person for drinks/coffee. One went out of her way to get me an interview. Mount Holyoke women rule!”

—Melissa Braverman ’95

“I met Perrin at a career panel as a senior, full of fear and void of direction. Through subsequent phone calls and ultimately a job at the agency where we work together today, Perrin became my mentor, my dear friend, and the real-world extension of my Mount Holyoke education.”

—Andrea Dunbeck ’07

“While at Mount Holyoke I spent each day surrounded by talented and smart women. Connecting with Andrea means that I work with, and learn from, an uncommon woman every day.”

—Perrin McCormick Menashi ’90

Whenever you need it, the power of the Mount Holyoke network works for you!

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