Page 1

A lu m n a e Q ua rt e r ly




Summer 2012

MHC’s 175th Anniversary Preview •


Hot Topic—Menopause

Hot Topic

Lillianna Pereira

contents Alum Doctors’ Guide to the Latest Menopause Research

James Gehrt


Where Did All My Friends Go? Young Alumnae Recreate MHC-Style Community After Commencement.


Viewpoints 2 We asked you to write, and you let us have it! Campus Currents 4 Commencement wisdom, President Pasquerella in the classroom, and more campus news Alumnae Matters 26 News and photos from both reunion weekends

Mount Holyoke alumnae Quarterly

Off the Shelf 30 Books on changing your life, Arabic literature, adoption, and other topics Class Notes 34 News of your classmates, and reunion photos Bulletin Board 79 Announcements, and trips to the Galápagos, Eastern Europe, Greece, and Turkey

Summer 2012 Volume 96 Number 2 Editorial and Design Team Emily Harrison Weir Mieke Bomann Kris halpin ALDRICH DESIGN christina barber-just

Quarterly Committee: Susan Bushey Manning ’96 (chair), Cindy L. Carpenter ’83, Shawn Hartley Hancock ’80, Olivia Lammel ’14 (student rep.), Eleanor Townsley (faculty rep.), Shoshana Walter ’07, Hannah Clay Wareham ’09

Still Relevant? A Playwright’s Perspective on Wendy Wasserstein

Fred LeBlanc


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 Elizabeth Onyemelukwe Garner ’89 Nominating Director Antoria D. Howard-Marrow ’81 Director-at-Large, Human Resources* Joanna MacWilliams Jones ’67 Director-at-Large (Global Initiatives) Emily E. Reynard ’02 Communications Director Sandy Mallalieu ’91 Young Alumnae Representative Tamara J. Dews ’06 Quarterly Director Susan Bushey Manning ’96 Clubs Director Elizabeth (Beth) Redmond VanWinkle ’82 Volunteer Stewardship Director Katie Glockner Seymour ’79 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 quarterly in the spring, summer, fall, and winter by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc., 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486. Summer 2012, volume 96, number 2, was printed in the USA by Lane Press, Burlington, VT. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA and additional mailing offices. Copyright Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College. Postmaster: (ISSN 0027-2493, USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Alumnae Information Services, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486.


Unjust Laws

Handling Arthritis

I was delighted to see attention given to our burgeoning prison population by recent graduates in “Jail Break” (winter). I have a couple of additional observations based on my own experience of spending three months in a federal prison as a result of an act of civil disobedience at the gates of the School of the Americas in Columbus, Georgia.

Thank you for the article on alternative medicine (winter). I have had rheumatoid arthritis for thirty-six years, and have sought out Chinese herbs and acupuncture, homeopathy, and ayurveda in an effort to effectively respond to the messages my body is sending me about its needs. I find each of these methods to have incredible merit and power to attain true health.

I met many women in prison who had been convicted on conspiracy charges, but who had actually committed no crime. The African-American women often had a boyfriend or other relative who committed a drug offense, but the actual felon received a shorter sentence by naming a woman as a coconspirator. For many of the white women, it was a boss or professional associate who committed fraud and who received a shorter sentence by naming secretaries, clerks, or fellow professionals as their coconspirators. It was really appalling to me the number of innocent women I met who were serving long prison sentences separated from their children, and I couldn’t help wondering how Congress and our legal profession can continue to keep such unjust laws on our books. Linda Ocker Mashburn ’63 Brevard, North Carolina


Even, and especially, if one does not have a disease, these wise healing systems offer us the opportunity to be deeply in tune with our individual health needs and to be proactive, responsible, and preventative so that more drastic health systems may not be needed. Vanessa Wyser-Pratte ’95 Sebastopol, California Destination: Me Thanks so much for “Unexpected Destinations” (winter). In discussions with my peers, we determined that we were raised to believe that we could and should have it all: an incredible career, perfect children, and personal and professional bliss. Some of us who stopped working to raise children found ourselves asking, “Why aren’t our careers where they should be?” We

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

noticed that our expectations for ourselves far exceeded our expectations for others. Thankfully, I realized that “perfection” is a completely relative term. Our choices are based on our own priorities and core beliefs. We are the only ones we have to answer to. I have, at midlife, been hastily obtaining a master’s degree to further my career. I have also discovered my [calling] on an island ten miles off the coast of Maine. No amount of money compares to the contentment I feel when I am there. I am an artist finally giving myself permission to be who I truly am in spite of the economics or judgment by others. Within two years I plan to reside there. My only regret is that I did not act much earlier in life. Joan Brady ’86 Annapolis, Maryland

Kitty’s Delight I was delighted to receive the (spring) Quarterly with its extremely interesting articles and even more delighted to see one of my photographs [“Maxxi Exhaustion”] featured as an “Indelible Image.” My website, which contains my artist statement as well as examples of my abstract images in addition to the realism shots [such as “Maxxi”], is kathrynrabinow

I would be delighted to receive comments from and to share notes with other alumna photographers. Kathryn “Kitty” Eppston Rabinow ’64 Houston, Texas African Inspiration Your spring issue was excellent! I especially liked the [article about] graduates’ involvement in Africa, and hope to make at least a small

donation to both Tariro and Coalition for Courage. To these smaller organizations, every contribution—no matter how small—makes a big difference.

are changing the world with creative projects that affect underserved communities and our environment.

Bibi Momsen ’58 Corvallis, Oregon

[Alums who are] envisioning and executing national initiatives or being a great “soccer mom”—these are equally valued and respected graduates. You help all alumnae engage in aspirations that genuinely make us happy and fulfilled. The publication of our sisters’ apparent human weaknesses or personal battles builds our common sense of courage and gives us, from time to time, a chance to feel another’s perspective on sensitive issues and to revisit our own. Thanks.

You Wanted Letters?

Clara E. Wong ’70 New York, New York

I also loved the picture of the Singer sewing machine! My maternal grandfather was Latin American manager for Singer from the 1890s until his death in 1939. Every time I see a Singer machine or even a picture of one, it makes me think of how many women have helped their family’s income with a (usually treadle-operated) Singer.

Dear Ms. Bomann (Delightful Editor): What a charming and alluringly persuasive “Remedial Studies 101” request for letters (spring). You embody my image of Mount Holyoke College women: bright, engaging, and delightfully funny. All right, then, you shall have my comments: Of late, the Quarterly articles have helped redress the conscious/unconscious assumption that being a successful alumna of Mount Holyoke is ascending to the CEO position (or one of comparable status) of a Fortune 500 company. In big and small ways, Mount Holyoke graduates

I apologize for being such a poor correspondent this past quarter or two. I was using my spare time to write to my state legislators trying to protect women’s health and trying to prevent the witch hunt of Planned Parenthood. If you can ever forgive me, I would be eternally grateful. Emily K. Graves ’99 Concord, New Hampshire

(spring, page 29): “one-year anniversary.” This redundancy, now almost standard, is probably due to the fact that almost no one learns languages any more, least of all classical ones. “Anniversary” means the turning of the year, but even people who know what “annual” means don’t see or hear that that same “annus” lurks behind “anniversary.” We used to say “first (or whatever number it was) anniversary,” and I wish people still did; then I might write a letter about something more substantive. Eva Steiner Moseley ’53 Cambridge, Massachusetts Don’t Remind Me Love the Quarterly but liked it more when my class was toward the back of the publication. Every time my Quarterly arrives it reminds me that 1948 is getting closer and closer to the front. Maybe some April Fools’ Day edition you could mix up the classes and let us go scrambling through the many pages to find our own notes. Barbara Cellana Bernard ’48 Holyoke, Massachusetts

Letters Policy We welcome comments on the Quarterly’s content and will select for publication letters that reflect the diverse viewpoints of the Mount Holyoke community. Letters should be no more than 300 words, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. Send kudos or complaints, rants or raves, but please, no personal attacks. Please write us right away when a comment strikes you. We must receive correspondence shortly after one issue arrives to get it into the next issue. Send comment to: (or use postal address on page 1).

Right after I saw your tongue-in-cheek instructions on how to write to the editor, I came upon one of my current pet peeves when it comes to English usage

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


Summer 2012


campuscurrents MHC’s 175th Commencement Rich with Lessons Learned Freedom was in the air at Mount Holyoke’s 175th commencement in May.

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

“I want to make the world smart again,” said astrophysicist and honorary-degree recipient Neil deGrasse Tyson as he tweeted his own remarks. Even “the globe on the Jon Stewart cable show is spinning the wrong way.”

In her commencement address, Azar Nafisi, the best-selling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, defined freedom as a dream to be chased, even if it means leaving one’s homeland. Nafisi did just that in 1997, when she and her family left Iran for the United States. Life in her home country became untenable after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, she said. Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the revolution, sharply curtailed women’s rights upon coming into power. For example, his regime forced women to observe a strict dress code, making it mandatory for them to wear the Islamic veil, or hijab. When Nafisi, who taught English literature at the University of Tehran, refused to do so, she was expelled.



Ben Barnhart

This year’s graduates included thirty-seven Frances Perkins Scholars, one student who received a master’s degree, and twenty-five more who received international-student certificates.


Afterward she began leading private workshops for female students on the relationship between human rights and culture. The sessions, which also included studying books censored or banned in Iran, became the basis for Reading Lolita in Tehran, a former MHC “common read” selection that spent 117 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. In her commencement speech, Nafisi said she and her students chose not to “see the world as it is but what it could or should be.”

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

Iranian women, she said, “became the canaries in the mine in the fight for freedom.”

to Mallika Dutt ’83, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bernard Lafayette Jr.

Since freedom will always be yoked to oppression for Nafisi, she urged the seniors gathered in Gettell Amphitheater never to take their rights for granted. As she reminded them, “There are no commencements like this one in Iran.” She also called on the graduates to pose themselves as question marks to oppression, and always to have the courage to do the right thing.

“I want you to understand the enormous power that you have,” said Dutt, the founder, president, and CEO of a global human-rights organization called Breakthrough. “Never underestimate the power of a Mount Holyoke woman.”

In addition to Nafisi, honorary degrees were awarded

Tyson, an astrophysicist and TV-show host, implored the graduating seniors to help him make the world smart again. “Only then can you invent the future,” he said. “You don’t discover a preexisting future. You create the

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

As nearly 600 seniors readied themselves to leave South Hadley and make their mark in the world, four honorarydegree recipients—including an Iranian émigré, a civil-rights leader, and an alumna humanrights activist—lined up to offer wisdom and advice.

future. I want you to make the future that you would be proud to bequeath and honored to inherit.” And Lafayette, a key player in the 1960s civil-rights movement, encouraged the graduates to “live a noble life. Live a life of service to others. Live a life that will fulfill your dreams.” Nafisi’s address, which followed the remarks of her fellow honorees, ended memorably. Drawing a paral-

lel between women’s struggle for equality in contemporary Iran and African Americans’ struggle for equality in 1960s America, she asked Lafayette to lead the audience in a rendition of “The Buses Are A-Coming,” a freedom song from the civil-rights movement. “The whole point here is that the buses are coming,” Nafisi said. “Get ready!” The class of 2012 already is.—Christina Barber-Just

For videotaped highlights of the 175th commencement ceremony, go to www.mtholyoke. edu/news/channels/22/stories/5683881.

Seniors Contemplate Their Next Steps


s the school year drew to a close and many seniors contemplated jobs, grad schools, internships—and, oh yes, the rest of their lives—we asked a random few to tell us what was first on their to-do list. Don’t be bashful, we said. Scrabble or travel or sipping a cold one, poolside, are completely legitimate. Their answers, as always, were inspiring, creative, and downright cool. See for yourselves; then tell us on Facebook what you did right after graduation.—M.H.B. • “My mantra for 2012: To new beginnings and new adventures! In keeping with this theme, and to celebrate graduating from MHC, I will be going skydiving in

Titusville, Florida! A surge of adrenaline and exhilaration running through my veins whilst getting a bird’s-eye view of the entire Space Coast—I couldn’t think of a

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


Summer 2012


• “I have an internship at the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art working on their silver collection. I will be giving tours, as well. Next fall, I will be attending graduate school at the Royal College of Art in conjunction with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to receive a master’s degree in the history of design.” —Laura L. Quintrell, art history • “After graduation I will be teaching an introductory course on documentary filmmaking to adolescent girls at Summer Academy, a program offered at Mount Holyoke.”—Rachel D. Dowd, film studies • “The day after graduation I’m darting off to design the set for a musical version of the children’s book Knuffle

Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

at the Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, Massachusetts.” —Anna C. Driftmier, classics • “I am compiling my favorite recipes from my favorite people since I will need to fend for myself and make my own meals. I also plan to do a multimedia DVD of my life at MHC and send it to my parents since they could not make it for graduation.” —Chiedza C. Mufunde, psychology


No MHC athlete holds more records in shot put and discus than Miriam Larson-Koester ’12.

Miriam Larson-Koester ’12, the all-time MHC record holder in shot put and discus, was presented with the Alumnae Association’s Scholar-Athlete Award this spring for her outstanding athletic, scholastic, and leadership abilities. An economics major and math minor, Larson-Koester maintained a 3.93 gradepoint average and distinguished herself early on as a 2009 Sarah Williston Scholar for her top grades. In the French department, she won the 2010 Paul Saintonge Prize for superior achievement. In addition to her top-drawer academic work, LarsonKoester was also a committed and talented athlete. She was a member of the track and field team—focused on shot put and discus— for three years at Mount Holyoke, going abroad in her junior year. Her awards were numerous. She received All-New England honors in discus in 2009 and 2010, and at the time of the award was rated number three in New England. This spring, Larson-Koester took home top honors in discus at the NEWMAC championships for the second time in her career. Her throw of 40.38 meters was a new record for the meet. She was the runner-up in discus at the 2010 ECAC championships. Over the course of her career, she was also a postseason qualifier in shot put.

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

In 2010, Larson-Koester established a new Mount Holyoke indoor record with her toss of 11.97 meters in shot put. She also holds the outdoor school record in discus with a distance of 41.79 meters. According to track and field coach Tina Lee, Larson-Koester was “one of the most dedicated athletes” she’d ever trained. Her work ethic in the weight room, on the track, and in the throwing circles was superior, Lee added.

Richard Orr Sports Photography

better way to begin the next chapter of my life.” —Sarah J. Dole, physics

AA ScholarAthlete a Shot Put, Discus Star

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

Women Wanted: Female Computer Scientists Seek More of Same It’s true, says Audrey Lee St. John, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Computer Science: Most computer scientists are indeed men. In fact, just 13 percent of undergraduate degrees in the field are going to women. But that’s changing. At MHC this year there were thirty-five declared computer-science majors (in all classes); four years ago, in the class of 2008, there were just two. While computerscience programs everywhere are still recovering from a precipitous decline in enrollment following the dot-com crash of 2000, the dearth of women in the field is more troubling, St. John says. But it also points to an opportunity for MHC to really make a difference. Sure, a practitioner has to know her way around programming code, St. John acknowledges. But code is simply the core tool that computer scientists use to solve intriguing, computational challenges in almost every field, from pharmaceutical research to film animation. And it’s not that hard to learn, she says. “If you take one computer-



Audrey Lee St. John sits on a projection of an interactive scene, developed by Cleo Schneider ’11, in which butterflies follow anyone who walks through.

science class, you see what’s behind technology. It’s almost so simple it’s disappointing. The computer is very powerful, but it’s not smart.” It’s when that code is coupled with the brainpower of MHC students and their almost universal vision of affecting positive change in the world that computer science becomes an extraordinary problem-solving tool. But getting students to take that first class can be tough, so St. John and her colleagues are pulling out the creative stops. The hallway outside their offices is filled with interactive scenes and games created by students and meant to show the discipline’s wide-ranging potential. Last winter St. John organized the College’s first GameJam, a twenty-fourhour event in which fifteen computer-science students and five participants from HitPoint Studios—a local video-game developer— wrote code for and produced nine original games. Suddenly, the text that had seemed so dry was instead a tool to create “compelling interaction with the user,” she says. Games hook a lot of students who never dreamed of

studying computer science. Other department projects have included building robots, including a robotic pet, and developing a printer that produces three-dimensional objects. Looking ahead, St. John hopes computer-science technology will have been

both demystified for students and used in tandem with their desire to change the world. “We really have a chance to make a difference,” she believes.—M.H.B. Read more about the GameJam at minerva. gamejam12/index.html.

MHC Scholars, Teachers, Researchers Honored for Their Work Mount Holyoke faculty members whose teaching and scholarship abilities are of special note were honored this year at a community celebration in February. Megan Núñez, associate professor of chemistry, and William Quillian, Professor of English on the Emma B. Kennedy Foundation, received the Mount Holyoke College Faculty Award for Teaching. Jessica Sidman, associate professor of mathematics, and Kenneth Tucker, professor of sociology, received the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.





See video of the awards ceremony at stories/5683743. Read more about the professors’ work and other interests at

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


Summer 2012







Top Profs

Fourteen MHC faculty members are listed in BEST COLLEGES the Princeton Review’s new guidebook to the 20 12 E I T I O N D best 300 undergraduate professors in the country— more than any other single college or university. Representing MHC are Susan R. Barry, Rachel Fink, Amy Frary, Stan Rachootin, and Craig Woodard, biological sciences; Eleanor Townsley and Kenneth H. Tucker, sociology; Vincent A. Ferraro and Constantine Pleshakov, international relations; Jane F. Crosthwaite, religion; Susan Daniels, theatre arts; James Hartley, economics; Sam Mitchell, philosophy; and Christopher Rivers, French. Learn more about them at O’Shea Moves On

Donal O’Shea, vice president for academic affairs and longtime dean of the faculty, accepted a job as president of New College of Florida and left MHC in July. The Elizabeth T. Kennan ProfesO’Shea sor of Mathematics and a faculty member since 1980, O’Shea has been a passionate advocate for the liberal arts, and for the centrality of the faculty in the life of the College.

Nuts About Rocks A considerable number of MHC students and their Five College friends are rock and fossil nuts, and Professor of Geology Steven Dunn and his colleagues regularly help them dig in the dirt—studiously, of course. Associate Professor Michelle Markley and Professor Mark McMenamin helped students examine the sedimentary features of Death Valley during spring break, and last summer Dunn spent two weeks on the Colorado Plateau, looking for good rocks at Mesa Verde,Pasquerella Grand Canyon, was Glen greeted with a Canyon Dam, Kodachrome standing ovation. Basin, and Canyonlands national parks and recreation areas. Learn more at


Interfaith Anniversary

Five Granted Emeritus Status

Nine faith groups celebrated the tenth anniversary of Abbey Interfaith Sanctuary in March with featured speaker Rev. Andrea Ayvazian, former dean of religious life at MHC. Open to members of all faith groups, the sanctuary adjoins the main Abbey Chapel and houses altars, photos, and statues important to the Baha’i, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan/Wiccan, Protestant, and Unitarian Universalist faiths.

At its May meeting, the College board of trustees conferred emeritus status on eight “exceptionally distinguished members of the faculty”—Frank Brownlow (English), Nancy Campbell (art), Edwina Cruise (Russian and Eurasian studies), Joseph Ellis (history), Mohammed Jiyad (Arabic), Roberto Márquez (Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American studies and Caribbean studies), Marion “Bonnie” Miller (art), and Harriet Pollatsek (mathematics). Opera Fans Bond

Best Book Nook Campus libraries are terrific, but first prize for most unusual book nook goes to “the bunker.” Located in a former US Strategic Command center deep inside Bare Mountain in the Holyoke Range, the Cold War–era storage facility now known as the Five College Library Depository is home to 500,000 printed volumes of journals and other resources. MHC relies on the climate-controlled facility for storage and back issues of journals it no longer has room for, says Charlotte Slocum Patriquin, executive director of the library. Opened in 2002, the bunker seeks paper versions of the rapidly digitizing collections of its members, which also include 200 affiliate libraries. Materials are made available for use electronically and at the depository.

Fans of the timeless musical art of opera have joined at MHC to discuss their mutual enthusiasm. The recently formed Opera Club, organized by Jim Morrow, a lecturer in math and statistics, and Ken Eisenstein, a visiting instructor of film studies, consists of a dozen devotees who meet to discuss current opera issues in the news; topics brought up in Eisenstein’s film-studies classes; what’s playing live and where; and observations on productions they listen to together. Club members say it’s nice to know they’re not the only ones on campus who love opera.

O ’ S h e a- Na n c y Pa l m i e r i ; C o e x i s t : n o rt h e r n s u n . c o m

N ews and N otes from A ro u nd the Camp u s

A Five College geology field trip

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

Steven Dunn


Of Bioethics and Pizza Professor Pasquerella Feeds Students Hungry for Complexity, Carbohydrates

Ten students filled the first two rows of the room, relaxing and engaging in some before-class chatter. One student commented on the dining-hall pizza Pasquerella had brought to class. When

Pasquerella asked the students if they had any suggestions for the Collegewide “common read” next year, they were immediately reminded that their professor had powers far beyond grading papers. This course, Regenerative Medicine: Biology and Bioethics, is the second Pasquerella has taught since her inauguration as president of the College in 2010. Last year she cotaught Sociology of Prisons with Professor of Sociology Richard Moran. “It’s nice to see a more personal side to her,” says Dee Lauzon ’12, a student in the class. “She’s really approachable.”

Throughout the classroom discussion, students presented the ethically complex cases they had been assigned, ranging from the reproductive rights of the terminally ill to surrogate motherhood. For each case, the students explained their “ruling,” including how the corresponding law should be applied, and the ethical questions the case presented. Without raising their hands, students casually jumped into the conversation. At times, the class was more reminiscent of a philosophical debate over dinner than a 300-level biology class. Still, professors Pasquerella and Fink challenged students,

posing their own questions, pushing them to weigh each case’s individual ethical implications and moral consequences for society as a whole. Isa Wismann-Horther ’12 plans to go to medical school and become a physician. She says she thinks the course will be helpful in her future career plans. “When you’re in a lab you’re just thinking about the technology, but this class plays with your pathos. You think, ‘Is there a slippery slope? Are there any negative sides to this technology?’ It forces you to compare the individual with the society as a whole.” —Olivia S. Lammel ’14


President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 stood in the front of a classroom, sipping from her thermos as she looked over her notes. She was reviewing the day’s discussion points for the spring-semester course she cotaught with Rachel Fink, professor of biological sciences. “I have taught bioethics throughout my career,” she said, “and was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach with Rachel.”

President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 (top row, second from left) and Professor of Biology Rachel Fink (bottom row, far right) and the students in their regenerative-medicine course toured the West Wing of the White House on a trip to Washington, DC. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly


Summer 2012


Rememb r ance o f T hings Past:

Mount Holyoke Celebrates 175th Anniversary As part of the yearlong celebration of Mount Holyoke’s 175th anniversary, the next several Quarterly issues will highlight significant moments from the College’s past. This installment covers the first half-century of Mount Holyoke history, from Mary Lyon’s bright idea through the seminary years. It is based on information compiled by Patricia Albright of the MHC Archives and Special Collections staff. Future issues will include more timeline events, essays on MHC history by faculty, the launch of a major website showcasing alumnae of influence, and more about 175th-related events.



Mary Lyon issues plan for new seminary


First Mountain Day celebrated on June 23 Mount Holyoke seal designed First students graduate

South Hadley chosen as site Seminary construction begins


1837 Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opens on November 8 with eighty students

Mary Lyon’s book A Missionary Offering urges support of missionary work; she institutes “journal letters” (periodic accounts of school events sent to alumnae)

1846 First modern language, German, added to curriculum

1849 Mary Lyon dies on March 5 Esther Howland (class of 1847) establishes commercial valentine industry in the United States


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

All images courtesy of MHC Archives and Special Collections

M o unt H o l y o ke T imeline : T he S emina r y Yea r s

Join the celebration in person! Plan now to visit MHC for the major campus celebrations on November 8 and 9. All-college events will include addresses by President Pasquerella and faculty, gracious dinners in the dining halls, music, videos, and M&Cs for all. Special 175th projects being planned for those days are expected to include a scavenger hunt; a film about ALANA alumnae; music, poetry, and dance performances; displays of historic clothing; and lots more.

1851 Lydia W. Shattuck graduates, teaches chemistry and botany until 1889, and becomes a leading US botanist

1852 Pump House built to supply Seminary Building with running water

1853 Course in trigonometry added to the curriculum Small observatory built near Mary Lyon’s grave

1861 Course of study expanded from three to four years Students make 300 sewing kits to be distributed to Union soldiers




Celebration of twenty-fifth anniversary Walking requirement for students increased from one to two miles a day

Alumnae Association founded Julia Ward (class of 1857) becomes principal Cornelia M. Clapp (class of 1871) becomes teacher of zoology, serving until 1916

Sarah Williston Stoddard becomes the first female trustee Baseball becomes the first organized sports team on campus

Class jewelry tradition begins when seniors decide to have a class pin




Laboratories outfitted with new compound microscopes, dissecting microscopes, and other equipment First elective courses offered Bridge across Stony Brook to Prospect Hill completed


Gymnasium added to Seminary Building South wing completed, forming a quadrangle

1868 Steam heat installed in all rooms

1870 First separate library building constructed; donor covers cost of 5,000 books

Williston Hall opens one of the first US collegiate art museums

Williston Observatory opens Fundraising campaign for student scholarships begins

1883 Elizabeth Blanchard (class of 1858) becomes principal First known African-American student, Hortense Parker, graduates First record of “Deacon Porter’s hat” being served as a dessert


1887 Fiftieth-anniversary-celebration events include publication of the History of Mount Holyoke Seminary by Sarah D. Locke Stow (class of 1859)

1871 Greek becomes part of the curriculum; arts and literature curricula expanded


Alum Doctors Guide You Through the Latest Menopause Research

Hot topic I’m in my late 30s and even though I’ve

been writing about women’s health issues for over a decade, I knew very little about menopause until recently. Sure, I’d read about the surprising results of the Women’s Health Initiative, which in 2002 halted its largest study on hormone therapy (HT) because it showed that a combination of estrogen and progestin increased women’s risks for heart disease and breast cancer. I knew that my great-aunt took Premarin for more than forty years and that at ninety-five, she’s never had heart disease and she’s still got supple, unwrinkled skin. And I knew that my mom has tried to go off HT repeatedly, but each time she does the hot flashes and insomnia return—so she’s made peace with taking daily low doses. That this information—gleaned from newspaper headlines and female relatives—was contradic-

tory never bothered me because I saw menopause as a distant phase of my life. In fact, I’ve been willfully uninterested in educating myself about the next big change my body will go through. I’m not alone. In elementary school, we learn about puberty and periods in Sex Ed and—if we’re lucky— from our mothers, as well. But few of us get a crash course in menopause. “We spend years preparing our daughters for their first periods,” says Jody PhillipsClark ’82. “We need to devote just as much attention to preparing them for what to expect as their reproductive years come to an end.” Phillips-Clark was forty-one when she first experienced symptoms of menopause. But because she and her husband were trying to conceive their third child, she assumed her erratic periods were a good sign. “It never dawned on me that I was menopausal,” she says now. “Never mind that I was experiencing dramatic

By Hannah Wallace ’95 ••• Illustrations by Lillianna Pereira


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

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

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


Summer 2012


Les Misérables

An Inconvenient Truth

“It’s not that menopause is a taboo subject...but women often put off learning about it.” mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes.” PhillipsClark was so young—most women hit menopause at fifty-one—that not even her gynecologist suspected she was perimenopausal (the term used to describe the years leading up to menopause). But when her gynecologist finally thought to check her hormone levels, she found ovulation had stopped. “Wham! Bam! Welcome to menopause!” says Phillips-Clark. “I felt like I was suddenly living in someone else’s body.” Although premature menopause is rare—only 10 percent of women go through it at or before age forty— Phillips-Clark’s experience of feeling unprepared and alone is not. It’s not that menopause is a taboo subject—women seem to gab about it nonstop when they start having symptoms. “The boomers never shut up about anything,” confirms Pamela Thiele ’70. “So we didn’t shut up about that, either.” But perhaps because menopause signals growing older, women often put off learning about it. “There’s a lot of mystery and uncertainty about what it actually means to go through menopause,” acknowledges Cynthia DeVivo Berkley, MD, ’89, who practiced at the Center for Menopause in New York City for three years. “Until you’re of the age when you’re going to start experiencing it, it’s one of these topics that’s not discussed.” This is a mistake. “Sometimes a little bit of education and encouragement is enough to get women to deal with these changes,” says Gina Fitzgerald, MD, ’86, a partner at the Westchester Bronx Ob-Gyn Group. “I educate my patients about what’s happening in their bodies—the


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

reverse of what happens when you’re a teenager.” To make sense of the latest research and determine the most effective non-hormonal remedies for managing menopause symptoms, I interviewed several alumnae gynecologists. None of this is meant to replace the advice of your own doctor. But consider this article a starting point—education and encouragement for embracing this phase of your life. Decoding the Women’s Health Initiative “For years, we gynecologists thought that hormone therapy was what you did when your patients went through menopause,” says Monique Chireau, MD, ’81, assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Not only was estrogen seen as the fountain of youth, scientists also had long thought that hormones could prevent chronic illness, including heart disease and osteoporosis. The results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a long-term randomized controlled trial—toppled the established order. “For a long time, people felt that women really benefited from being on hormone therapy. Then suddenly this study said they didn’t,” says Chireau. The Women’s Health Initiative’s hormone study was and still is the largest trial of its kind—it followed 26,000 women over the course of fifteen years. But it’s worth taking a closer look at the study and how it was designed. There were actually two studies—one followed women who still had their uterus (they took a combination of estrogen and progestin); the other

In the Heat of the Night

Dazed and Confused

followed women who had had a hysterectomy (they took estrogen only). Experts say that women who still have a uterus should take progestin too, since taking estrogen alone can increase risk of uterine cancer. Both studies were stopped early due to an increased risk of stroke in each group. Although the data showed that women taking estrogen plus progestin had a small increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and cognitive decline, there was also reduced risk of colorectal cancer, and fewer fractures. The estrogenonly study found that women had no increased risk for heart attacks or breast cancer, but had an increased risk of blood clots. (Women with a prior hysterectomy who took estrogen alone did not have increased risk for breast cancer.) “In some ways, it seems that the study opened up more questions than it answered,” says Chireau.

that came to this conclusion: “Women who initiate HT more than ten years beyond menopause are at increased risk for CHD [coronary heart disease], and those women who initiate HT within ten years of menopause tend to have lower risk of CHD.” The panel recommended that women who still have their uterus take estrogen-progestin therapy for no more than three to five years (because of an increased risk of breast cancer) and that women without a uterus take estrogen alone for no more than seven years.

Timing Is Everything

Synthetic vs. Bio-identical Hormones

It turns out that when you start HT makes a big difference. Women in the estrogen-progestin trial had already gone through menopause when they started taking hormones—their average age was sixty-three. That may account for the increased risk of heart disease, says women’s health expert Tori Hudson, ND. “Now we think there is this therapeutic window. If you could ‘estrogenate’ within the first ten years of menopause, it may decrease the risk of heart disease. But if you wait ten years or more, where the vessels have aged without the benefits of estrogen— when they age, they get stiffer and have more plaque— your arteries don’t like it,” says Hudson, who has a private practice in Portland, Oregon. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) published a hormone therapy position statement this year

Medical researchers are now also questioning the kind of hormones used in the WHI study: Premarin (estrogen from horses) and Provera (a semi-synthetic progestin). “Bio-identical” hormones, on the other hand, are chemically identical to the ones made in our bodies; these include estradiol and micronized progesterone. Some research suggests that bio-identical hormones may be safer and/or gentler on the system than synthetic hormones, though this remains controversial. There are several FDAapproved bio-identical hormones, including 17-beta estradiol (estrogen) and “micronized” progesterone (progestin). In a recent study in France, researchers followed more than 80,000 women for an average of eight years and found a much lower risk of breast cancer in women who used estrogen combined with bio-identical progesterone

Sharing Women’s Wisdom

For a list of books and websites about the medical and psychological aspects of menopause; and to share your wisdom about it, visit

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


Summer 2012


Hot Mamas cooling hot flashes without hormones Acupuncture—Several small studies have shown that this traditional Chinese therapy can curb the severity of hot flashes. Acupuncture boosts the production of endorphins, which may stabilize the body’s temperature controls.

Avoid triggers—Red wine, coffee, and other hot drinks can trigger hot flashes, as can smoking and warm weather.

soybeans, are high in these plant-based estrogens, and it’s been suggested that high consumption of soy is a reason Japanese women experience fewer menopausal symptoms.

than in women who used estrogen combined with synthetic progestin. In the United States this bioidentical progesterone is sold as a pill (under the brand name Prometrium), as a vaginal gel (Crinone) and as a suppository (Prometrium). Michelle Palmieri Warren, MD, ’61, founder and medical director of the Center for Menopause in New York City, emphasizes that the French study was just observational—not a randomized controlled trial. Yet, she uses Prometrium a lot in her clinic and says her patients prefer it to other progestins. “Some people get PMS-type symptoms when they take progestins,” says Warren. “They don’t get many symptoms on Prometrium.” But not all bio-identical hormones are created equal. In recent years, actress Suzanne Somers and even Oprah have touted the benefits of bio-identical hormones that are custom-mixed in a pharmacy. Warren cautions against these. “They’re untested and unregulated,” she says. “Women like the idea that it’s made up for them alone, but there is no science behind it whatsoever.”

Moisture-wicking sleepwear can make

The Method Matters

nighttime more comfortable.

Finally, it turns out that the manner in which you take hormones matters. The women in the WHI study took hormone pills, but more recent observational studies show that transdermal estrogen (taking it via a patch, a gel, a mist, or a vaginal ring) may be safer, especially when it comes to blood clots. “There is growing observational evidence that transdermal estrogen therapy may be associated with a lower risk of deep vein thrombosis, stroke, and [heart attack],” the NAMS panel wrote. Nonetheless, this has not been proven yet with randomized, controlled trials.

Effexor—This antidepressant can stop hot flashes, especially for women who can’t take hormones.

Black Cohosh—Of all the herbal remedies for hot flashes, black cohosh has the most research behind it—including several randomized controlled trials.

Phytoestrogens—Legumes, especially

Stop smoking—Smokers get more severe hot flashes than non-smokers.


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

Never Let Them See You Sweat

Non-hormonal Remedies There are many safe and effective alternatives to HT, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Before she had experienced hot flashes herself, Fitzgerald didn’t understand what the fuss was about. “So you’re hot. Big deal!” she used to think. “But it’s not the hotness that bothers you. Hot flashes can come with this sense of impending doom!” Cutting back on red wine or coffee can help, since both are triggers. For women with severe hot flashes, Fitzgerald prescribes the antidepressant Effexor. Warren prescribes Effexor and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine). “The studies on desvenlafaxine are very good,” Warren says. “There’s a very significant decrease in hot flashes.” Women wary of taking antidepressants might prefer trying a well-studied botanical like black cohosh or its pharmaceutical-grade equivalent, Remifemin. “The advantage of Remifemin is that you know the concentration and what you’re getting,” says DeVivo Berkley, who prescribed it to her patients at the Center for Menopause. Use of black cohosh dates back at least to nineteenth-century herbalist/businesswoman Lydia Pinkham, who included it in her popular remedy for “female complaints.” Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause—when estrogen levels decline, the vaginal walls become thinner, less lubricated, and less elastic. This can lead to itching, burning, and painful intercourse. Mercifully, vaginal estrogen—in cream, tablet, suppository, or “ring” form—is extremely effective and safe. “It’s not absorbed systemically so it’s thought to be safe even for patients who have a history of cancer,” says DeVivo Berkley. “It works very quickly and can provide tremendous relief.”

No Country for Old Men

For many women, insomnia can be the trickiest symptom to solve. “I hate getting people hooked on sleeping pills,” says Fitzgerald. She and DeVivo Berkley both encourage patients to exercise more and improve their sleep habits. “If exercise were in pill form, we’d give it to every patient!” says DeVivo Berkley. Fitzgerald quizzes patients about their sleep habits, which are often terrible. She tells patients to stop watching TV before bed (that can inhibit melatonin production), go to bed at the same time every night, and cut down on caffeine and alcohol. To Each Her Own But some women may need low doses of HT. “Hormones have gotten a bad rap,” says naturopathic doctor Hudson. “That doesn’t mean we should go around willy-nilly prescribing them, but the benefits of hormones should not be underestimated.” Ultimately, you and your doctor have to figure out what’s right for you. “You have to look at the individual history of the patient, her family history—what her personal risk factors are,” says DeVivo Berkley. Fitzgerald agrees. “You really have to take it patient by patient.” Phillips-Clark decided to go on HT, and she’s glad she did. She tapered off it five years ago and feels fine, though she misses the benefits of estrogen. “We hardly realize all the ways this hormone affects our bodies, our brains, and our emotions until our ovaries no longer produce it,” she says.

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


Summer 2012


Where Did All My Friends Go? 18

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

Young Alumnae Recreate MHC-Style Community After Commencement by C h r i s t i n a B a r b e r - J u s t


oneliness wasn’t a feeling to which Ariel MarkowitzShulman ’10 was accustomed. She’d lucked out in her first year at Mount Holyoke, hitting it off with her roommate Meng Lu ’10, bonding with all the other women on her floor in Prospect Hall, and gaining “fifty instant best friends” by joining the Glee Club. Not once in her four years of college did she feel alone. But there she was after graduation, living with her parents back home in Washington, DC, missing her friends, and dealing with the loss of her beloved “Moho community.” “I wasn’t prepared for the rebuilding that needs to happen after graduation,” she says. “I wasn’t ready to lose having a friend down the hall. I wasn’t ready to figure out how to create a community on my own.” So, for the first year after commencement, she and her MHC friends were constantly in touch, sending old-fashioned snail mail to one another, posting updates on a blog they’d created, and, of course, using Facebook. Then, about a year ago, Markowitz-Shulman finally got a job she liked, as a research technician at Children’s National Medical Center. She joined a choir for young professionals. And she began volunteering at a local hospital. “They aren’t the same as my Moho friends,” she says, “but I have met some wonderful new people through these activities that bring a lot of joy and value to my everyday life.” These days Markowitz-Shulman and her MHC friends talk less frequently, but their bond is as strong as ever. “They’re still very important people in my life, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” she says. “But the difference is that we finally created lives and strengths of our own.”

c r av i n g n e w co n n e c t i o n s Many MHC students feel a strong sense of community while they’re on campus. But after commencement, when they’re coping with jobs and grad schools and in many cases being truly on their own for the first time in their lives, the unnerving realization hits that the support system they built over the past four years is suddenly scattered across the country and around the world. Even with today’s communication technology, and reunions every five years, it’s hard to recreate that network after leaving the dorm for good. w h e r e to b e g i n ? For the newest grads, living with MHC friends can help ease the transition to post-college life. Elizabeth Bernal ’11 is living near Boston with classmates Sarah Baughman, Emily Carol, Sarah Patches, and Cleo Schneider. The decision to live as a group after graduation was a no-brainer for the friends, who spent four years together on the MHC crew team. “It’s just so comfortable to have everyone in the house be not only Mount Holyoke grads but also former teammates,” says Bernal, a coxswain. “It’s like coming home to your family.” Not that she and her housemates aren’t eager to expand their social circles; quite the opposite. They introduce one another to their coworkers at after-work parties, attend events for young professionals in the Boston area, go to evening lectures, and participate in MHC’s Boston alumnae club. Bernal also joined a rowing club, which, experience tells her, is a great way to meet people. “Everyone our age is craving new connections,” she says. Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly


Summer 2012


“If you had a big problem, you needed to grow a spine and appear in the kitchen or dining room and find a way to talk about it.”

“I had this dream of graduating and then settling down somewhere right around the corner. So the idea of going back there is really exciting for me.”

“Having friends who were already in the city and had already lived the so-called ‘real life’ really helped me adjust to life outside college.”

s h ow m e t h e ro p e s Priyanjali Ghosh ’09 also lived in Boston with a quartet of MHC friends. She’s since moved on, as most alums will eventually do—in her case, to UMass–Worcester for a PhD program in biomedical sciences. Ghosh and her friends—Kathryn Kinzel, Mai Nitta, Kate Hanson Plass, and Lindsey Poole, all class of ’08— were all EMTs in college. After graduation they ended up living together, in Cambridge, as well as working together, at Massachusetts General Hospital. That much togetherness wasn’t always a good thing. “Life after college became an extension of college,” Ghosh says. “The conversations were the same, and what we did when we hung out in college was pretty much the same thing we were doing in Boston.” On the other hand, because her friends had graduated and moved to Beantown a year ahead of her, the arrange-


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

“I wasn’t ready to lose having a friend down the hall. I wasn’t ready to figure out how to create a community on my own.”

“I’m always trying to think of ways to bring my Mount Holyoke community into my regular life.”

“Ours is a generation that uses technology to connect with people online, and often it’s easier to do that nowadays than to meet people face-to-face.”

ment had its advantages. “Having friends who were already in the city and had already lived the so-called ‘real life’ really helped me adjust to life outside college,” she says. “The simple things you don’t think about when you’re in college—car insurance, dry cleaning, grocery shopping—they had already been through that. So they kind of held my hand and showed me the ropes, and that was very helpful.” n o s e x o n t h e so fa Daina Agee ’07, who now lives in Taipei, where she teaches, says a shared commitment to community building is the secret to a successful group house. Agee and Meg Massey ’08 were among six women from various alma maters who spent two and a half years living in Washington, DC, at a house they called The Homestead. “At the heart of our house was the idea of living in community, not just as housemates,” Agee says. Traditions

like women’s beer nights, potluck dinners, and after-work barbecues bolstered the housemates’ sense of community, as did formal rules about everything from chores to communication. Sex on the couch wasn’t allowed (“It sounds ridiculous, but you’ve got to talk about these things”), and passiveaggressive behavior was especially verboten. “If you had a big problem, you needed to grow a spine and appear in the kitchen or dining room and find a way to talk about it,” Agee says. Ta b l e f o r o n e Those who go it alone after graduation answer only to themselves. Elise Hale-Case ’09 both lives and works by herself. She has no roommates, and she’s the only paid employee at the food bank she runs in Seattle. With her closest college friends all in New York City, she’s struggled to create a new network for herself. “It’s really hard to make community outside of Mount Holyoke,” she says. “Ours is a generation that uses technology to connect with people online, and often it’s easier to do that nowadays than to meet people face-to-face.” Still, she’s found at least one way to use technology to her advantage. She subscribes to the email lists of her local MHC alumnae club and something called the Unofficial Seven Sisters Club, and has attended social events sponsored by both groups, including a happy hour and a pub night. And, perhaps most importantly for the alumna who established MHC’s Ultimate Frisbee team, she plays on a women’s Ultimate team in Seattle. “That’s a really good community for me,” she says. w h at ’ s o l d i s n e w aga i n Emily Wagner ’08 likewise tapped into her college passions when it came time to build herself a new community after commencement. A tuba player in her first and second years at Mount Holyoke, she dusted off her instrument when she moved to Washington, DC, and joined a five-piece rock band called Milkmachine. “I play in this band entirely for fun,” she says, “and much like the close friends I made in MHC’s orchestra, I’ve grown really close to the guys I play with.” Wagner, who has a day job with the Pew Charitable Trusts, also writes for a food zine called the Runcible Spoon, drawing on her journalistic days as publisher of the Mount Holyoke News. And she started a Tumblr blog, You’re Fine, with MHC friend Natasha Sokol ’08. “I’m always trying to think of ways to bring my Mount Holyoke community into my regular life,” she says. “It’s sort of the backdrop for everything.”

Heidel spent her first year after graduation in New York City, earning a master’s at Teachers College, Columbia University, and her second year in Georgia, living with her cancer-stricken father, who died in January. Her latest move represents a new beginning, she says. “I know it’s going to be an extremely different situation this time around. I’m not going to be living on campus. I’m not going to have the same group of friends. I’m not going to be doing the same things. But ever since my first year at Mount Holyoke I had this dream of graduating and then settling down somewhere right around the corner. So the idea of going back there is really exciting for me. And it’s not going back to an earlier time in my life, it’s going back to a place that I love and moving forward.”

Starting Over 101 Feeling daunted by the prospect of creating a new community after commencement? The Alumnae Association is here to keep your connection to MHC and sister alumnae strong and growing. Start at Or give us a call at 413-538-2300. Update your contact information on the Alumnae Association website so classmates can always find you. Get socially networked. Like us on Facebook at, subscribe to our Twitter feed @aamhc, or join one of many LinkedIn groups. Do the same for your class’s social networks. Join your local MHC alumnae club and participate in events. Find a mentor through our online career network. An older alumna who already lives in your area can introduce you to her professional network. Make new friends, but keep the old. Reconnect with classmates on campus at your two-year reunion and mingle with a range of other classes in reunion at the same time. Read the Alumnae Quarterly and the Laurel Chain enewsletter—you’re likely to find alums with similar interests and learn about new ways to stay connected.

the boomerang effect If all else fails in an alumna’s quest for new community, she can always go back to Mount Holyoke. Really. That’s what Emilie Heidel ’10 is doing in September, when she returns to campus to enroll in the College’s postbaccalaureate prehealth program.

Community-Building Advice for New Grads We asked alums who graduated within the past five years to share some tips from the trenches. Their advice is online at Please add what you have lived and learned.

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


Summer 2012


Still Relevant? A Playwright’s Perspective on Wendy Wasserstein


By Leanna James Blackwell

ike many women in theatre who came of age in the 1980s, I looked to the playwright Wendy Wasserstein ’71 as my lodestar. She was a successful, widely produced theatre artist who talked frankly about sex and relationships (or the lack thereof ). She wrote about feminism, the female body, and a future in which women decide the course of their lives. Before Wasserstein, you didn’t see that on Broadway. Pioneering female playwrights preceded her, but none had achieved Wasserstein’s mainstream visibility. None won Pulitzer Prizes and Tony Awards for blockbuster, commercial hits that dared to show contemporary women’s lives in all their real-world complexity—and make audiences laugh until it hurt while doing it. Wasserstein’s light shone for me and for countless playwrights and directors, women and men, throughout her life and career. When the front page of the New York Times announced her death in 2006, tributes poured in from across the country, and the lights of Broadway dimmed in her honor. Five years later—the fortieth anniversary of her graduation from Mount Holyoke—the College began a yearlong celebration of Wasserstein’s work and life. Staff and faculty organized a major exhibition of her papers, mounted student productions of her plays, led seminars on her body of work, and brought speakers to campus that included theatre luminaries and Wasserstein’s biographer. The final event would be a new theatrical piece, The Wendy Chronicles, based on her plays and myriad other writings. I was assigned the task of creating it. Julie Salamon’s biography Wendy and the Lost Boys: the Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein seemed an ideal place to start looking for the secret contours of Wasser-


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

stein’s life. She had both a privileged and a difficult childhood, being pushed to succeed and rarely experiencing approval. Too chubby, too sloppy, too disorganized was a constant refrain in her home. Her older siblings glittered with achievements and accolades while Wendy looked on with fascination—and fantasized about being someone else. She wasn’t fashionable like her fur-wearing mother, Lola, and college in the late ’60s did little to improve her sartorial style. But this was a Mount Holyoke woman. Who cares about clothes when you’ve got brains? Well...her marks didn’t show it—Salamon wrote that Wasserstein’s grades at Mount Holyoke were “the worst she’d ever had.” Lola was dismayed by the grades and disappointed to see her daughter’s romantic encounters fizzle. But Wasserstein did have an exceptional gift for friendship. To know Wendy, in her Lanz flannel nightgowns, eating peanut-butter cookies and spinning cast albums from Broadway shows in her dorm room, was to like her. Really like her. And yet friends your own age can’t give you a career. When she graduated from college, Wasserstein had no idea what she wanted to do. Her Mount Holyoke housemother, Camilla Peach—later immortalized in Uncommon Women as the sherry-sipping, no-pantsallowed-at-tea-dear Mrs. Plumm—believed Wasserstein was fated for secretarial school. Her 1969 evaluation sniffed, “Responsibility toward work in hall: poor. Offices held in hall: none. Qualities of leadership: none. Wendy is a problem.” Still mining for her innate talent, Wasserstein applied and was admitted to what she later called the “Yale “School of Trauma.” She formed deep friendships in the drama school but graduated thinking that “a career in

@jill krementz

frozen yogurt” was the best she would ever do. “I thought she was lightweight, a little sitcom-y…” shrugged the director of the playwriting program, Robert Brustein. No one in her plays fired a pistol, socked someone in the jaw, stripped naked, or howled expletives. Instead, women talked. Just…talked. In her 1990 commencement speech at Mount Holyoke, Wasserstein explained the source of her fierce

determination to change the above: Wendy Wasserstein, photographed at her desk theatrical landscape. Grinning broadly, a tangle of curls escaping from beneath her commencement cap, Wasserstein told the seniors: “I decided I wanted to see an all-women’s curtain call in the basement of the Yale School of Drama. Uncommon Women was performed for the first time [there]…I will never forget when one rather

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


Summer 2012


literate and informed theatregoer raised his hand and said, ‘I can’t get into this. It’s about women.’ ‘Well,’ I whispered to a friend, ‘I’ve spent my life getting into Hamlet and Lawrence of Arabia. Why doesn’t he just try it?’ And it was at that time that I understood the extraordinary value of all-women’s schools. I believe I had the confidence to become a playwright because I learned at Mount Holyoke the value of an individual woman’s voice.” That voice—infectious, irreverent, sly, witty, and, at times, painfully sad—was her calling card. It was the way she slipped past the gatekeepers and got herself into the big party, where prizes are handed out and reputations are made. Her voice was also what surprised female audiences used to hearing women in plays speak though a male megaphone. Suddenly, sitting in darkened theaters, they heard themselves. It was easy to imagine her as a kind of spy in the curtains of the female psyche, secretly recording with a tiny microphone disguised as a pen. Wasserstein’s breakthrough plays—Uncommon Women and Others, about her time at Mount Holyoke; Isn’t it Romantic; and her masterful generational portrait, The Heidi Chronicles—offered an alternative to the latest Sam Shepard or another David Mamet: brilliant playwrights, but hardly known for their nuanced portraits of women. For actresses not content to watch from the sidelines, or to play another drug-addicted prostitute or girlfriend sidekick, Wasserstein was not only a breath of fresh air, she was the only air in the room. In the ’90s and beyond, new women playwrights joined the scene, many breaking out of the white, upper-middleclass world depicted so skillfully by Wasserstein. The landscape was changing, and her plays were not always reliable hits. They received mixed reviews and had shorter runs. One of her most ambitious and her only explicitly political play, An American Daughter, received the worst notices of her career. By the early 2000s, younger actors and directors

Windows on Wendy For video interviews with Wasserstein biographer Julie Salamon, and “uncommon playwrights” SuzanLori Parks ’85, Christopher Durang, and Marsha Norman, visit

began asking “Wendy who?” I had to brave the question: does her work hold up now? I began with Uncommon Women, waiting for the ring of recognition and the playful kick of wit that would make me laugh all over again. My marathon took me through every play, screenplay, and sketch she wrote, all the way to her final play, Third. A pile of books gathered at my feet, and I was still waiting to laugh. The characters seemed thin. The writing, once so fresh, sounded dated to my 2012 ears. And the unwritten Wendy Chronicles loomed ahead of me. Dutifully, I returned to my tasks: write connecting text and action between scenes. Piece together excerpts from Wasserstein’s plays and snippets from her diaries and letters, speeches, and essays. Try one structure, then another. Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Erika Rundle, the project’s dramaturge, and I spent hours poring over each beat, each moment. For months, I lived with Wasserstein’s voice in my head. Slowly, a new understanding of the writer began to form. First, there was the meticulous craft of her plays—the structure, like a tightly built house, which allowed her dramatic works to stand. It became clear as I lifted, shaped, arranged, and edited the new piece that every word—and piece of music, image, and action—was painstakingly chosen. Each scene built organically to the next, each character served a purpose. Eventually, the one-liners that had annoyed me began to resonate in a different way. There was more to them than just getting a laugh. I began to hear a darkness reverberating below the surface, like the bass notes anchoring a piece of music. How had I missed it? André Bishop at Play-

Major “Year of Wendy Wasserstein” Events, 2011-12 • Class of 1971 reception with Wasserstein’s biographer, Julie Salamon • Grand opening of Archives and Special Collections exhibition, The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein, curated by Jennifer Gunter King and Caroline White ( • Wendy and the Lost Boys book launch and talk by Julie Salamon, led by Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English Christopher Benfey (


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

• Wasserstein and Her World lecture series and student seminar, led by Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Erika Rundle • Uncommon Playwrights symposium with playwrights Christopher Durang, Marsha Norman, and Suzan-Lori Parks ’85 ( • Leading Women in the Arts residency: Heidi Ettinger, Broadway set designer, with special guest William Ivey Long, Tony Award– winning costume designer (

• Uncommon Women and Others: directed by visiting assistant professor Brooke O’Harra • Uncommon Womyn: A new play by Bryna Turner ’12 ( • The Wendy Chronicles: A theatrical revue of Wasserstein’s life and work by Leanna James Blackwell, directed by Don Sanders with dramaturgy by Erika Rundle

Fred LeBlanc

James Gehrt

wrights Horizons, Wasserstein’s great friend and one of the first producers to champion her work, once wrote about why he believed in her: “Because she is good and because she is serious.” The paradox of Wasserstein is that beneath the self-deprecating, giggly exterior lay a powerful will and a ferocious drive. This helped her scale the heights of Broadway—and also served to hide her insecurity, a lifelong struggle to reconcile what Salamon calls her “superiority/ inferiority.” She was better than everyone else, and she was also… nothing. Wasserstein seemed to carry a sliver of pain inside her like an embedded needle. The effort she put into constructing a wall of wit around her was both heroic and sad. And it’s the sadness I hear now, a doubt and regret pulsing beneath the bright surface of comedy, which gives her work its power. The jokes lower our defenses. Then she hits us with serious truths, like a martial artist delivering the perfect, graceful blow. But are the “truths” I discovered anew universal? Would young women today respond to Wasserstein as women did a generation ago? The students in Rundle’s seminar had much to say. Bryna Turner ’12 feels that Wasserstein’s characters bear little resemblance to the Mount Holyoke women of today. “We don’t wonder whether we’ll have a job or get married, or if being a woman is a problem,” she says. “Of course we’ll have a job! Mount Holyoke is teaching us that we’ll succeed, not in spite of being women but because of it.” It’s thrilling to see a young woman’s perfect confidence—and deflating to see an icon topple. But as the class progressed, others expressed different opinions. Miriam Cantor-Stone ’12 signed up for Rundle’s seminar because, she says, Wasserstein is not only her inspiration, but also a major reason she applied to Mount Holyoke. Cantor-

Stone feels that Wasserstein’s characters grapple with issues similar to those she and her friends confront: what does it mean to be a woman in today’s society? The balancing act between career and family, self and others, freedom and limitations is just as relevant today. On the one hand, we have Michelle and Hillary. On the other, Pussycat Dolls and “America’s Next Top Model.” The discussions were passionate and wide-ranging. Just as in Wasserstein’s time, the students disagree with one another, argue for what they believe in, take issue with others’ opinions—and remain fierce friends. As a finale to Rundle’s seminar that would have delighted Wasserstein, Turner responded to the diversity of opinion by writing her own play, Uncommon Womyn. Catapulting Wasserstein’s 1970s characters into the jangling, electronic present, the play was staged as a “cabaret” show following performances of the original Uncommon Women. Rooke Theatre filled with students Wasserstein would have recognized—laughing, raucous, opinionated, outspoken. Several played major roles in The Wendy Chronicles, rehearsing with director Don Sanders for the opening on commencement weekend. As they portray Wasserstein’s characters at various stages of life—just out of college, and later in their thirties, forties, and beyond—they seem also to be rehearsing for their own future lives. Lives that may include following Wasserstein’s path to create the next work of art to rock the world.

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


Summer 2012



L ow e r L e f t : Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r ; o t h e r s : B e n B a r n h a rt

things we love, love,


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


about reunion

It happens every year. And every year

it’s one of the best things that happens. Reunion at MHC celebrates the unique personal and intellectual relationships developed at a very particular moment in a very special setting. When we asked, on Facebook, what you loved about reunion, here’s what you told us: What don’t I love about reunion?! The aha! moment at registration when two older alumnae see each other for the first time since commencement and the subsequent hugging and “I can’t believe I haven’t seen you in fifty years” talk that ensues The funny, good-natured husbands of older alumnae. They are such a kick! The giant tent on Skinner Green during Reunion I The hustle and bustle of so many people working so hard to make reunion a success—and succeeding! The magical connections that occur when alums come back despite “not knowing anyone” Going to back-to-class sessions and seeing how MHC women are contributing in the world The unity of alumnae that is displayed by their white outfits for the laurel parade and their class-color-oriented accessories The clever, poignant, funny signs alums carry in the laurel parade The campus in full bloom The informal, celebratory vibe of the family picnic on Skinner Green

Signs of the Times Class histories and reunion signs reveal the sweep of history that alumnae embody. This year, alums’ experiences stretched from the class of 1937— whose members recalled President Mary Woolley and celebrated Mount Holyoke’s centennial with pageantry and panache—to the class of 2010—whose members saw President Joanne Creighton’s departure and the arrival of the dorm that bears her name. The signs held high during the reunion parades displayed alums’ wit and wisdom, too, from 1947’s “Our education never quit; we’re still learning bit by bit” to a younger class’s simple “We’re MoHOME.” See a photo gallery of signs, and read the class histories, at

The witty, sharp loyalty alumnae Listening to the seniors sing “Bread and Roses” Making friends with people you barely knew when you were at MHC The magic of a beautiful campus that still holds strong after all these years Coming home Mou n t Ho lyo k e Al u m na e Qua r t e r ly


Summer 2012


To p r i g h t : Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r ; o t h e r s : B e n B a r n h a rt

Scarf Ceremony Bridges Fifty Years of Sisterhood


Reunion II marshal Erin Ennis ’92 models the Association’s new alumnae parade regalia. Mary Lyon’s gravestone is in the background.

Parade Regalia Updated Sometimes even traditions need an update. That was the case with the regalia worn by the marshal who leads the reunion parades. The blue satin cape tended to swelter, and sometimes choke, its wearer, and the “jeweled” scepter had seen better days, to put it mildly. So this spring, Alumnae Association board member Erin Ennis ’92 sponsored a contest to design new regalia. Three main designs were submitted, and more than 250 alumnae weighed in on those choices. The winners were a sash—light-blue satin with appliqued laurel leaves, class-color ribbons, and an embroidered MHC seal—designed by Kimberly Calcutt McQueen ’99, and a design by Rebecca Gold ’95 for a lion-headed walking stick with class-color ribbons. Aili Petersen ’02 was the first parade marshal to wear the new outfit, followed by Ennis herself, who led the Reunion II parade in the finery she donated to the Alumnae Association.

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

Alumnae often bond with students, as did MHC’s fiftiethreunion class and its graduating class. At no time was that bond more evident than on May 17, when the Welcome Ceremony for New Alumnae took place in Chapin Auditorium during Reunion I. Following remarks by Alumnae Association President Cynthia L. Reed ’80 and class of 1962 President Margaret Daus Schwartz, members of the class of ’62 welcomed the class of ’12 into the sisterhood of MHC alumnae by presenting them with silk scarves featuring 2012’s class color (blue) and class animal (lion). Emotions ran high during the one-on-one moments when seniors received scarves from their older, wiser counterparts. Tears were shed; connections were made. The “scarf ceremony,” as it’s colloquially known, is only in its second year, but it seems destined to become a beloved tradition. As one alumna posted on Facebook recently, there’s something special about the “unspoken transfer of knowledge” at the event, “where the past and future connect.”— Christina Barber-Just




Medals of Honor for exceptional volunteer service, Achievement Awards for service to society, Loyalty Awards and Young Alumnae Volunteer Leadership Awards for consistent active volunteer involvement, and the Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award for outstanding alumnae educators were presented to alumnae at Reunions I and II. All 2012 award winners are listed in the appropriate class notes column. Award winners included (left to right): 1: H. Catherine Wild Skinner ’52 and Patricia A. Robertson ’72; 2: Erin Ennis ’92, Elaine Kasparian Elliot ’62, and Patricia Gifford Henderson ’62; 3: Mary Beth Topor Daniel ’82, Margaret Butler Coe ’52, and Joanna MacWilliams Jones ’67.

Seeking Awardees In order for the Alumnae Association to honor deserving alumnae, we rely on you to share the names of people you’d like to see considered for a variety of recognitions. These include honorary degrees and the Alumnae Medal of Honor, Mary Lyon Award, Loyalty Award, Young Alumna Volunteer Leadership Award, Achievement Award, and Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award. For a detailed explanation of each award and the required documentation, go to http://alumnae. awards/index.php. You may fill out the forms online or mail us your suggestions with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of references to the Alumnae Association at 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1486. Or email us at AlumnaeAssociation@

New Alumnae AssociationCollege Agreement Signed


Professional and Volunteer Work Honored

Dear Alumnae: We are pleased to announce that the Board of Directors of the Alumnae Association and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Mount Holyoke College have approved a new agreement between the two organizations that took effect on July 1, 2012, and reduces the Association’s budget by 10 percent over the four-year period of the contract. This contract respects the historical relationship between the two organizations. It also ensures that the Association and the College will share the same financial conditions in the future. So we expect to rise and fall together as economic pressures dictate. This process underscores the ongoing collaboration and cooperation that keep alumnae informed and involved with Mount Holyoke College. We look forward to new opportunities to collaborate as both organizations strive to meet the demands of the future and do more with less. Alumnae will continue to be involved in all the areas of the College, as in the past. The full agreement is available for your review in a password-protected space, via this link: It will be available until September 7, 2012. If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to Cynthia L. Reed ’80 Mary Graham Davis ’65 President, Alumnae Association Chair, Board of Trustees of of Mount Holyoke College Mount Holyoke College

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


Summer 2012



Words Worth a Second Look Fiction Seven Views of the Same Landscape BY ESTHER TUSQUETS TRANSLATED BY BARBARA F. ICHIISHI

(Host Publications) This collection of stories takes place in post–civil war Barcelona. Celebrated Spanish author Tusquets tells the coming-of-age tale of Sara, a young member of the Catalan upper middle class whose family sided with Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Disgusted by the cruelty and hypocrisy of her parents’ clan, Sara grows as she searches for meaning in her personal life and the larger social landscape. Barbara Franklin Ichiishi ’70 is the author of The Apple of Earthly Love: Female Development in Esther Tusquets’ Fiction, as well as articles on Spanish and American women’s literature. Crossing Black Waters BY ATHENA KASHYAP

(Stephen F. Austin University Press) This novel follows one family as they immigrate to the United States following the violent upheaval during the partition of India in 1947. The story grapples with the


complexities of leaving home and delves into the psychological impact of losing one’s family and identity. Kashyap also presents the idea that everyone is tied to past and kin for life. Athena Kashyap ’91 is a poet whose work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Sanskriti, Quiddity, and the Fourth River. She currently lives in Bangalore, India. Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells BY LISA CACH

(Gallery Books) Grace Cavanaugh agrees to be a companion for her great-aunt Sophia, an elderly, wealthy former movie star. Grace expects her summer will allow plenty of time to watch Animal Planet and to work on her dissertation in sexual politics, but she is wrong. Soon, Sophia attempts to transform her frumpy great-niece into a version of the B-movie bombshell she herself once was, teaching her lessons about men, sexual liberation, and power along the way. Lisa Cach ’89 has written more than a dozen books in several genres, including paranormal, romantic erotica, and young-adult fiction. Visit her at

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

Hannah Spahn

THOMAS Nonfiction Dare to Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose BY GLENDA HATCHETT

(Center Street) In this paperback release of her best-selling book, Hatchett uses stories from the courtroom and her own personal life to encourage readers to find healing and self-discovery. Each chapter focuses on a life skill or inspirational thought. Throughout the book, Hatchett dares readers to focus on the positive and to uncover their potential for success. Glenda Hatchett ’73 entertains TV audiences with the popular show Judge Hatchett, now in its tenth season. Previously, she was chief presiding judge of the Fulton County, Georgia, juvenile court.

J E F F E R S O N, T I M E,



Thomas Jefferson, Time, and History BY HANNAH SPAHN

(University of Virginia Press) Although Thomas Jefferson was best known for his statements envisioning the nation’s future progress, almost all of his writings include complex references to time and history. Spahn’s fresh take on Jefferson situates him in the late Newtonian Enlightenment period, where she discusses his exceptionalist interpretation of American history and explores

his skepticism of eighteenthcentury philosophical history. Hannah Spahn ’97 is the author of Thomas Jefferson and Slavery: Betrayal of the Enlightenment? She is currently assistant professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Nightingale Songs: Survival Stories from Domestic Violence BY KENDRA FRAZIER

(Marshall Cavendish) Frazier collects the stories of lives that have been affected by domestic violence in Singapore. These accounts reflect the diversity of Singaporean culture, illustrating the prevalence of domestic violence among every ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic group. Proceeds from the book will be donated to AWARE, Singapore’s leading

gender-equality advocacy group. Kendra D. Biteena Frazier ’85 is a counselor living in Singapore. She is the author of Out of Mind, Out of Sight: Voices of the Homeless Mentally Ill. Anti-Women Sentiment in Arabic Literature: The Case of an Eleventh Century I.C. Manuscript BY MOHAMMED JIYAD

(Lambert Academic Publishing) Jiyad discusses how fabricated stories and misinterpretations of the Koran have led many Muslim societies to deprive women of the rights granted to them by Islam. He traces this misogyny back to the religion’s earliest literature: the books of Hadith and Sunnah, which, he argues, contradict the Koran. He notes that the first person to accept the call for Islam was the Prophet’s wife and that the first Islamic martyr was a woman. Mohammed Jiyad is senior lecturer emeritus in Arabic at MHC. He recently translated into Arabic politics professor Christopher Pyle’s book Getting Away with Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law. Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson: Ethiopian Thought in the Making of an English Author BY WENDY LAURA BELCHER

(Oxford University Press) Belcher discusses African cultural influences on England’s most celebrated author, Samuel Johnson. In his early

days, Johnson translated A Voyage to Abyssinia, by Portuguese missionary Jeronimo Lobo. This book, written about modernday Ethiopia, left an imprint on Johnson. Belcher points to traces of Ethiopian influence throughout Johnson’s work and contemplates the metaphor of spiritual possession in the Western literary canon. Wendy Laura Belcher ’84 is assistant professor of African literature in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. She is also the author of Honey from the Lion: An African Journey. Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival BY CHRISTOPHER BENFEY

(The Penguin Press) From colonial America to Nazi Germany, through the arts and crafts of brick-making and pottery to the pioneering educational institution Black Mountain College, Benfey unearths his ancestry, which is quintessentially American. His mother’s descendants were colonial explorers and Quaker craftsmen. His father escaped Nazi Europe along with his aunt and uncle, the celebrated Bauhaus artists Josef and Anni Albers. “What a splendid cast of characters,” said one critic. “A charming book.” Christopher Benfey is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English and acting dean of the faculty

at MHC, where he has taught since 1989. He is a prolific literary critic, poet, and Emily Dickinson scholar. Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption BY LAURA BRIGGS

(Duke University Press) Briggs examines the social and cultural forces that have defined transracial and transnational adoption in the United States. She particularly focuses on the experiences of African American and Native American mothers and indigenous and poor women in Latin America, all of whom have felt pressure to give up their children for adoption or have had their children taken from them. Laura J. Briggs ’86 is chair and professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. An adoptive parent, she writes and teaches about reproductive rights, race, and adoption.

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


Summer 2012


Books for Children & Young Adults

Peter Is Just a Baby


(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) Peter’s older sister can skip, use grown-up words, and even count in French. Peter can’t do any of those things because he’s just a baby. Now that it’s Peter’s first birthday, his big sister hopes he will finally be the brother she’s always wanted. This lighthearted story is perfect for any child adjusting to a younger sibling. Marisabina Russo Stark ’71 started her career as an illustrator and contributed several illustrations and five covers to the New Yorker. She is the author/illustrator of twenty-four picture books, mostly recently I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding During World War II.

Marisabina Russo



(Charlesbridge Publishing) Far from the usual representation of her as a reclusive, frail, serious poet, Emily Dickinson in this book is examined as a dog owner. The book illustrates Dickinson’s relationship with her large, loving, slobbery Newfoundland, Carlo. Through lyrical language and colorful illustrations, Emily and Carlo offers a fresh perspective on a well-known but seldom understood American poet. Marty Rhodes Figley ’03 has written several children’s books about historic figures. She is a member of the Emily Dickinson International Society.


(Finishing Line Press) This collection of poems was inspired by more than 100 letters Thomsen’s grandfather Owen Leach wrote to her grandmother Mattye Seay Leach during World War II. In the words of one reviewer, “Letters that began as gifts to a loving wife have reemerged as art to become gifts for the world.” Poems and book reviews by Melinda Thomsen ’83 have appeared in journals and anthologies in the United States and overseas. Thomsen’s first collection of poetry was Finishing Line.

Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction— An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories EDITED BY HOLLY THOMPSON

(Stone Bridge Press) Titled Tomo (“friend” in Japanese), this collection of young-adult short fiction includes prose, verse, and graphic art related to Japan. The anthology features thirty-six entries contributed by international authors and artists. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go toward long-term relief efforts for teens in the tsunami-struck area of Tohoku. Holly Thompson ’81, whose novel Orchards won the 2012 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature, is a longtime writing teacher and resident of Japan.


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

More Books

For descriptions of these books, go to morebooks_su12. Love Means Second Chances BY SUSAN ELIZABETH DAVIS ’64 (Bread & Roses Collaborative)

Trailblazing Governors: Six Remarkable Women BY GAIL JOHNSON (CreateSpace)

Bare Naked at the Reality Dance BY SUZANNE SELBY GRENAGER ’64 (Bakula Books)

A Closer Look


Inviting Children to Observe the World In her latest book, Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld ’76 takes kids into the garden.

Growing up on a farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld ’76 spent lots of time outdoors, tramping through the woods with her grandfather, looking for bear signs and porcupine dens, and helping her mom in her big vegetable garden. That early experience with the natural world and a longstanding interest in helping technologycentered kids get over their nature phobia are what inspired Zoehfeld to write Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard (Knopf Books for Young Readers). The children’s book is a journey through the vegetable garden of one family, from spring planting to fall harvest. Narrator Alice discovers all the wonders of a garden’s life cycle, and talking chickens proffer scientific information about everything from composting to nutrition. “Kids in elementary school have to learn about food chains, and so you can approach it in an abstract

way, or you can get kids out into the backyard and let them have fun and get their hands dirty,” Zoehfeld says. She hopes her books will inspire the latter. A former children’s book editor, Zoehfeld talks to teachers to figure out what they need to help move their curriculum along. The author of more than sixty books for kids in every age group from preschool through middle school, Zoehfeld is skilled at getting the required facts incorporated into a story that is memorable and makes kids want to turn the page. It isn’t easy. It took her almost ten years to get her first book, What Lives in a Shell?, accepted for publication. It was the mentoring of a Smith alumna at publisher Lippincott & Crowell that first got her interested in science literacy. An Eng-

lish major and art-history minor at MHC, she was fascinated by meshing the written word with visual elements. Her biggest markets are libraries and schools, and in recent years both have suffered hefty cutbacks in budgets. Nevertheless, her books garner lots of praise and prizes, and Secrets is no different; it was recently recommended by Kirkus, the School Library Journal, and Scholastic News’ “Teachers’ Picks.” A resident of gardening heaven Berkeley, California, Zoehfeld has a sequel coming out sometime next year called Secrets of the Seasons, and she is also at work on something completely different: a young-adult historical novel. “It’s good to keep challenging yourself,” she notes. At the start of her career,

Zoehfeld wondered if she really had anything to say. She’s answered that sixty times over. But for a writer, that feeling never goes away. “Can I really do this?” she asks of writing a novel. Alice would likely give her a thumbs-up for braving the unknown in her own backyard.—M.H.B. Check out all of Zoehfeld’s books at com/Kathleen-WeidnerZoehfeld/e/B004N96S8W.

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


Summer 2012



MHC Art Museum

Dutch Painting One of Several Art Museum Acquisitions In his “Frame by Frame” column in the Boston Globe, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee reviews one of the MHC Art Museum’s new acquisitions, Barn Interior with a Group of Peasants, by Hendrik Martensz Sorgh. A seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Sorgh lived in Rotterdam and is known for his detailed genre paintings of everyday life. Check out other recent museum acquisitions, including a gelatin silver print by Abelardo Morell, an oil painting by Fairfield Porter, and an etching by John Sloan, at Sorgh’s Barn Interior with a Group of Peasants

Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project The Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project sponsors a network that joins recovering alumnae who provide support and serve as contacts for members of the College community exploring issues of chemical dependency. It also brings together alumnae with a professional interest in alcohol and drug abuse who act as resources for the project. If you are willing to share your recovery or professional expertise, contact director Susan McCarthy, Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project, Room 110 College Health Center, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1437, or All information will be kept confidential.

Class and Club Products Lots of MHC-related class and club products are for sale. For details and photos of many items, visit

travelopportunities January 11–19, 2013 Voyage of Discovery: Wonders of the Galápagos Islands

This incredible nine-day journey features a fournight cruise in the Galápagos Islands, a nature lover’s dream destination and UNESCO World Heritage site, aboard the first-class small ship MV Santa Cruz. This exploration vessel is fully equipped for the complete Galápagos experience, from a glass-bottom boat to a team of certified naturalists and complimentary snorkeling gear. There is a stargazing program at night.

Visit seven islands and see the exotic birds, animals, and plants that inspired Charles Darwin, including species unknown elsewhere in the world. On mainland Ecuador, enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations in Quito and Guayaquil. The sixnight postprogram option features Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and historic Lima, Peru. The ship’s staff provides attentive service that is recognized in the travel industry as the finest in the Galápagos Islands. The ship also maintains the highest international safety and

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


Summer 2012


Galápagos Islands trip

environmental standards. Prices start at $3,795, plus air. For more information, or to make reservations, call Gohagan & Company at 800-922-3088. June 20–28, 2013 Coastal Life Cruising Along the Dalmatian Coast

Explore the Adriatic Sea’s stunning, island-dappled Dalmatian Coast on this seven-night cruise aboard the exclusively chartered, deluxe small ship MS L’Austral. Visit four countries and seven UNESCO World Heritage sites with this comprehensive itinerary, including Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia; the medieval fortifications of Kotor in Montenegro; Dubrovnik’s perfectly restored Gothic and Romanesque quarters; and the Stari Most bridge in Mostar. To further enhance your cruise, enjoy an exclusive village forum with local residents, a folk-music performance on board, and a specially arranged lecture on the restoration of Dubrovnik. Experience the art and romance of Venice on the two-night, precruise option. Prices start at $3,795, plus air. For more information, or to make reservations, call Gohagan & Company at 800-9223088.


June 25–July 3, 2013 Cultural Treasures of the Black Sea and the Crimea

This exclusive, nine-day cruise aboard the all-suite, 540-passenger ship MV Silver Spirit showcases the Black Sea’s most intriguing destinations: Istanbul, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and the Crimean Peninsula. Unpack only once and explore Istanbul, Odessa, Nessebur (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and the historic Crimean Peninsula, featuring Sevastopol, Khan’s Palace, and Livadia Palace, site of the famous 1945 Yalta Conference. Savor delights created by international chefs in

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

Ancient Greece and Turkey trip: Ephesus

partnership with the prestigious Grand Chefs Relais & Châteaux in six dining venues throughout the ship. Refresh your mind and spirit at the spa and fitness center. Istanbul precruise option and Cappadocia postcruise option are offered. Cruise and air prices start at $4,999. For more information, or to make reservations, call Gohagan & Company at 800-922-3088. September 24–October 2, 2013 Island Life in Ancient Greece and Turkey

Join us for this exclusive nine-day odyssey to Greece’s ancient islands and Turkey’s fabled coast. Cruise from Athens to Istanbul aboard the exclusively chartered, deluxe small ship MS L’Austral. Meet local residents during a specially arranged village forum for a personal perspec-

tive on the true character of the Aegean Sea’s maritime culture. Carefully designed, expert-led excursions are highlighted by the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the classical ruins of Delos, the old town of Rhodes, the Monastery of St. John on Pátmos, and legendary Troy. Extend your voyage with the Athens precruise option and the Istanbul or Cappadocia postcruise option. Ninety-five percent of the deluxe and air-conditioned outside staterooms and suites feature private balconies. The ship company has been noted for its commitment to energy efficiency and environmental protection of marine ecosystems. Prices start at $3,595, plus air. For more information, or to make reservations, call Gohagan & Company at 800-922-3088.

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

Coming this fall . . . the Mount Holyoke Fund. We’re turning the Annual Fund on its head.

Stay Connected Relocated? Changed jobs? Let us know! The Alumnae Association is here

to keep your connection to Mount Holyoke College and your sister alumnae strong and growing. Visit to update your contact information.

Photo: Ben Barnhart

ount Holyoke alumnae community! Welcome, class of 2012, to the worldwide M

Profile for Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Summer 2012  

Hot Topic: Alum Doctors Guide You Through the Latest Menopause Research Where Did All My Friends Go?: Young Alumnae Recreate MHC-Style Co...

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Summer 2012  

Hot Topic: Alum Doctors Guide You Through the Latest Menopause Research Where Did All My Friends Go?: Young Alumnae Recreate MHC-Style Co...