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

Summer 2010

Cultivating a

Better World Farmers and Activists Stage a Plate-Changing Revolution

22 Unwrapping Gift-Giving’s Meaning 24 Octogenarian Comic ‘Kills’ 18 Alum Chills in Antarctica

Genevieve Ellison FP’97 at the South Pole.

Life on the Ice While those in the Northern Hemisphere tend and eat summer crops, it’s winter in Antarctica. Associate Editor Mieke H. Bomann interviewed Genevieve Ellison FP’97 about life at the bottom of the world.


A Standout at Stand-Up By em ily Harrison we ir

Dottie Segal Casper ’48, who started her career as a comic in her late seventies, quips, “At my age, the hardest thing about stand-up is … standing up.”


More Than Face Value By jos h ua H. Rot h

Roth, an MHC associate professor of anthropology, looks at gift giving in consumer society.


Mount Holyoke Quarterly Summer 2010 Volume 94 Number 2 Editor Emily Harrison Weir

Associate Editor Mieke H. Bomann

Cultivating a Better World

Class Notes Editor jill parsons stern ’84

By hannah M. Wa ll ace ’95


Alumnae farmers and food activists stage a plate-changing revolution by turning their attention back to the land.

ALDRICH DESIGN Design Farm (class notes)

Editorial Assistant


cass sanford ’11

On the cover: Kristen Schafenacker ’05, farm manager and agricultural programs coordinator at Added Value in Brooklyn, one of the country’s best-known urban farms. Photo by Joe Lawton

Viewpoints 2 Nourishing poetry; chocolate and bacon Campus Currents 4 Gail Collins delivers commencement goodwill; microfinance and choral music; fundraising campaign closer to goal Alumnae Matters 27 Reunion happiness; on the road with goldfish Betsy and Duke; Southern motherhood Off the Shelf 36 Life’s imperfect chances; ethical dilemmas; financial savvy Class Notes 40 Pictures of reunion paraders; lots of juicy, personal stories Bulletin Board 79 Ansel Adams in Vermont; Henry VIII still in England

Quarterly Committee: Marg Stark ’85 (chair), Cindy L. Carpenter ’83, Olivia Chin ’13 (student rep.), Emily A. Dietrich ’85, Jillian K. Dunham ’97, Catherine Manegold (faculty rep.), Missy Schwartz ’97 Alumnae Association Board of Directors President* Cynthia L. Reed ’80 Vice President (Engagement)* Jennifer A. Durst ’95 Treasurer* Linda Ing Phelps ’86 Clerk* Julianne Trabucchi Puckett ’91 Classes and Reunion Director Erin Ennis ’92 Alumnae Trustee Director Lila M. Gierasch ’70 Nominating Director Antoria D. Howard-Marrow ’81 Director-at-Large, Human Resources* Joanna MacWilliams Jones ’67 Director-at-Large (Global Initiatives) Sharyanne J. McSwain ’84 Director-at-Large (Communications) Elizabeth A. Osder ’86 Young Alumnae Representative Akua S. Soadwa ’03 Quarterly Director Marg Stark ’85 Clubs Director Jenna L. Tonner ’62 Executive Director* Jane E. Zachary, ex officio without vote *Executive Committee The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc., 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075-1486; 413-538-2300;

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 01075-1486). For class notes matters, contact Jill Parsons Stern ’84 (413- 538-3094, 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 010751486. Summer 2010, volume 94, number 2, was printed in the USA by Lane Press, Burlington VT. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: (ISSN 0027-2493, USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Alumnae Information Services, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075-1486.


It’s Always Time for Chocolate Hooray for Barbara Passino ’69! (Off the Shelf, spring). When my first grandchild was born, I made one request—that I be the first one to feed her chocolate. My kids put me off for a year, even when I arrived for her first birthday with a box of See’s Candies. The next morning, daughter-in-law Jen was preparing a big bowl of fresh fruit and frying up a pound of bacon. I announced that the time had come, and plunked the See’s box on the table. Since that day, ten years ago, that combo has become known as the “Gran Jan

breakfast” and my “grands” expect it whenever I visit. We’re on opposite coasts, which helps keep it a special occasion. Barbara, your book Chocolate for Breakfast: Entertaining Menus to Start the Day With a Celebration, From Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll Inn will be on my Christmas list for them this year! Jan Laing Hetterly ’57 Fairfield, Connecticut

A History of Homegrown Alums “Pioneers of Change” (spring) caught my eye, and unleashed memories from the 1950s

when I attended MHC along with several other “townies” from South Hadley. Most of us (not all) were first-generation college students, given the opportunity to acquire a top-rated degree thanks to far-sighted college policies that encouraged applications from local residents. Looking at the photo of current student Zaida Cutler FP’11 against the backdrop of Holyoke made me think of a very different time for the city, when immigrants, like my ancestors, came to Holyoke to work in the mills. My Danish grandfather was employed as an engineer on the canals, my Yankee father worked in the woolen mills,

First-gen alums talk to us on our Facebook page. (“Friend” us at and join the conversation.) I am the first in my family to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. My educational pursuits freaked out a couple members of my family to the point that we can’t communicate anymore at all. I think they felt I was putting them down by pursuing higher education, but that was not at all what I was doing. College is the best thing I’ve ever done for me—hands down. I’d do it all over again in a second! Sarah Aubuchon FP’08

Ashburnham, Massachusetts

I am the first in my family to go to college, earn a BA, a PhD, and an MEd. My family was very working class and thought I had lost my mind going to MHC as an FP. It changed my life forever. Thank you Mary Lyon and Frances Perkins! Donna Rowe FP’91

Sunderland, Massachusetts


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and my Scandinavian mother and her sisters in the paper mills. So history does repeat itself. I applaud MHC for the generous support that it continues to provide to the young and eager residents who reside nearby today. Nancy Crosier McKersie ’53

Arlington, Massachusetts

Freedom Is Not Free I was intrigued when I received the [summer 2009] Alumnae Quarterly with a major on the cover because in my twenty-five years since graduating from MHC, and being an assistant staff judge advocate with twenty years of active and reserve service, I never expected the Alumnae Association to present any views of graduates in the military. I also experienced sadness when I read the article, and the responses to it, as it is clear many do not understand the commitment an individual makes when she decides to join the military. An officer’s oath of office is: “I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the United States Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without

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

Spring 2010

Looking BAckwArd

Taking Stock of “The Creighton Effect”

any mental reservations or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, (so help me God).” It is important to understand that the decision to go to war is not made by the military. That decision is made by elected, civilian political leaders. The military implements that decision and is obligated to follow that decision. It is also the service member who has the greatest hope that the political and diplomatic process will first work before the decision to go to war is made, as it is the service member who is willing to give her life to defend one of the most precious documents in the world. I am proud to work alongside those women who have pledged their life, along with those who have ultimately given their life, so that others may live in the land of the free. For as the saying goes, freedom is not free. Julia P. Eckart ’85 Tampa, Florida

Poetry as Sustenance I’ve spent thirty years as a certified nurse midwife, but my major at MHC was English literature. I went into a different line of work because I didn’t think I could teach English, though I loved writ-

ing. Not enough confidence way back then—not that my profession has not been exciting and fulfilling. Still … I loved Nigel Alderman’s article and the poem. My husband teaches poetry and advanced writing at a university, and he spotted “Poetry Demystified” and read it before I did, then recommended it.

• MHC on YouTube • PoeTrY DeMYsTifieD • TroubleD Trees

Got Opinions? Let Us Know!

We alumnae continue to need this nourishment. Janne Debes ’63

Columbia, South Carolina

How Not to Read a Poem I finished reading Nigel Alderman’s essay (“How to Read a Contemporary Poem,” spring) and thought of a poem my mother had published in her book Scrambling the Stones. It has also been published in several anthologies. Here it is: If This Poem If this poem be ever published Scribed or writ on printed page all children must beware. For someday there will come a teacher with a rule of thumb to tear these words apart and you, with stubborn heart and word fulfillment of your own, will dissect it, line for line look up, seek out my meaning lay it bare cold and comfortless in arid classroom air. —Dorrit A. O’Leary (Doris Anderson O’Leary ’35) Beth Laura O’Leary ’74 Las Cruces, New Mexico

We continue to welcome letters for the printed Quarterly. Indeed, we crave them. What’s the use of singing our hearts out to an empty theater? We need your ideas, your opinions, your letters. Of course, we will edit your letters for accuracy, length, and clarity. Please keep your letters to no more than 300 words. You can also post your comments online. Go to www.alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/Q, and use the “click here to comment” buttons found at the bottom of most pages. We especially like hearing from you by e-mail. Send your thoughts to

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


Summer 2010



Gail Collins, whose columns for the New York Times target both the ridiculous and the sublime with kind-hearted hilarity, advised the graduating class at MHC’s 173rd commencement to seek the counsel of their sisters as they work to address the country’s remaining inequities. “Whatever the problem, no matter how complicated, the solution always begins the same way. Talk to other women. Support other women. Have confidence in


the community of women,” Collins told the 621-member-strong class of 2010. Recipient of a doctorate of humane letters from the college, Collins, the first woman appointed editor of the Times editorial page, was part of a distinguished honorary degree line-up that included Victoria Hale, founder of the Institute for OneWorld Health, the nation’s first nonprofit pharmaceutical company; Sheila Barshay Goldbloom

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illust r at ion by Joseph Ci ardiello

“We Have Been Waiting for You for All of Western History,” New York Times Columnist Tells Grads

Commencement speaker Gail Collins

Ben Barnhart

’47, a social worker and community activist; and Joanne V. Creighton, the outgoing president of MHC. Sarah Elahi ’10, who gave the student address, told her classmates, “Perhaps we will never again be in a place where everything is geared toward our learning, but from having had that privilege, we have acquired the ability to know what we need, and what we need to give back.” Collins—who has written two books on the history of women’s rights includ-

ing, most recently, When

Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present—echoed that sentiment

as she noted the profound changes her generation had experienced, but also ticked off another list of issues that still need attention, including violence against women, full rights for gay couples, and a proper balance of work and family life. Thanks to all the women who went before them, opening doors and establishing legal equality for women, the MHC grads of 2010

“grew up just being themselves,” said Collins. “We have been waiting for you for all of Western history. You’re special, you’re chosen, and I cannot wait to see what you do with the gifts you’ve been given.” Neither can we.—M.H.B. For the full text of commencement speeches and citations and a gallery of photos, go to index.html

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


Summer 2010


College Campaign Reaches $200 Million, New Residence Hall Named for Joanne Creighton


The campaign also surpassed its goal of raising $2 million for the Legacy of Diversity initiative, which offers alumnae women of color a distinct voice in the five-yearlong campaign.

Walmart and the Evolving World of Microfinance

The $30 million, 176-bed residence hall, which opened in September 2008, houses 176 students and is also meant to serve as a “swing space” as other, older dorms are renovated.

While the desperately poor may not require the kind of retirement planning tools hawked 24/7 to the rich, “It is not hard to see that prudent financial management for people living in such extreme poverty can be a matter of life or death,” says Satyananda Gabriel, chair of the economics department and author of a new book,

“During her tenure, former President Creighton was responsible for transforming the campus through her efforts to revitalize existing facilities and initiate new building development,” said Leslie A. Miller ’73, former chair of the board of trustees and campaign cochair. “There could be no more appropriate gift in her honor than the naming of this new residence hall Joanne V. Creighton Hall.” The focus of campaign volunteers and staff in securing the final $100 million will be on gifts to support scholarships, faculty needs, and the Annual Fund. The chief priority of the $300 million fundraising effort is to increase the college’s endowment by $175 million.

The World Bank estimates that 2.6 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day.

Microfinance: The Way of Grassroots Finance.

Satyananda Gabriel

“People are creative, resourceful,” says Gabriel, who before coming to MHC in 1988 worked for the Urban League in Oregon and served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme. “The perception that poor people lack in motivation or intellectual where-with-all is wrong,” he says. What they don’t have is access to the resources—cash, raw materials, tools—to create the products they need. Microfinance has proven extremely successful in providing those resources. Grameen Bank in Bangladesh was the early model of this evolving industry and is based on small groups of borrowers,

mostly women, who use the bank’s micro-loans to build businesses such as small-scale trading and weaving. Thanks to peer pressure within the groups, the borrowers’ default rate is just 10 percent. But if most of the microlenders to date have been not-for-profit organizations, the huge number of poor people in the world and their immense need for capital means that for-profit companies will have to join the movement for capital availability to come close to meeting demand, says Gabriel. It’s already happening. Walmart has opened banks inside its supercenters in Mexico. It offers savings

Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r , To p : B e n B a r n h a rt

A $5.2 million gift from trustees, alumnae, and friends in honor of President Emeritus Joanne V. Creighton brought The Campaign for Mount Holyoke to the $200 million mark this spring and resulted in the college’s newest residence hall being named for the fourteen-year president.

accounts and consumer credit for in-store purchases. The company charges very high interest rates—some would say exorbitant—and its profits are sizable. Given that only 25 percent of urban Mexicans have any kind of financial account, Walmart’s potential market is huge and its competition limited— so far.

The possibility of abuse is real, he says, and governments cannot always be counted on to compel commercial transparency and quality. That’s where nonprofits might find a new usefulness. But the poor should not be deprived of obtaining loans that could raise the quality of their lives, he adds. Gabriel became an economist to see how the world might be made better for children, whose lives are so often compromised by poverty, ignorance, and corruption. “Everything we do to alleviate poverty will have an effect,” says Gabriel. “As I see it, microfinance is one of those things.”—M.H.B. Coming in the winter Quarterly: Alums make microfinance work worldwide.

Fred LeBlanc

Faculty Members Honored for Teaching and Scholarship Good teaching and notable faculty scholarship are part of the promise of an MHC education, and this year’s recipients of the Mount Holyoke College Faculty

Margaret Robinson, professor of mathematics, and Ying Wang, associate professor of Asian studies, received awards for outstanding teaching. And Robert Shilkret, professor of psychology, and Darby Dyar, associate professor and chair of astronomy, were recognized for their exceptional research. Dean of the Faculty Donal O’Shea remarked on the breadth and reach of Robinson’s teaching and the high praise of her students. Accepting the award, Robinson humbly noted, “Teaching math is like teaching anything. You put yourself in a student’s place and go from there.” Ying Wang, whom O’Shea credited with building the best Chinese department in the Five College community, pointed to the Confucian principles of teaching—make no social distinctions, be tireless, and adapt your methods to suit each class—which she strives to meet in her work. Dyar was recognized for her prolific and groundbreaking scholarship in astronomy including lunar and Martian sciences, but O’Shea remarked that she, like the other honorees, could also have received the teaching award. Interestingly, Dyar described a career path that took her from art history and painting to mineralogy, geology, and astronomy. She also credited the teamwork at MHC that allowed her research to go forward. “It takes a college to make a research group function!” she underscored.

Faculty Honored: (left to right) Donal O’Shea, dean of the faculty; Darby Dyar, astronomy; Ying Wang, Asian studies; Margaret Robinson, math; Robert Shilkret, psychology; and President Emeritus Joanne V. Creighton.

In Shilkret’s thirty-seven years on the faculty, he has contributed important work to the “control mastery” theory of psychoanalysis, as well as to the history of the treatment of mental illness. With humility and humor, Shilkret recalled how serving for years as dean of studies sparked his interest in the development of young people and their success in college.

Emeriti Reach Melodious Accord With Composer Ever wonder what your favorite professors are up to now that they’ve retired? We’re on it! Here’s another in an occasional series exploring the lives of professors emeriti. If you were to open a window right now or pop your head out your door, the sounds you’d hear likely would be more jarring than harmonious. In a world punctuated by random noises insistent in their lack of melody, a single line of music sung by a choral group can deliver “the center—melody, pure

and simple,” that is almost forgotten—but not by Alice Parker and two retired MHC professors. Parker—a highly regarded composer, conductor, and lecturer in the field of choral music—has spent more than fifty years creating a rich and diverse repertoire of folk songs, hymns, spirituals, and operas. Marilyn Pryor, professor emeritus of biological sciences, and Kay Holt MA’58, lecturer and director of laboratories emeritus of biological sciences, have devoted the decade since their retirement to helping bring Parker’s talents and passion to a wide range of admirers. Pryor and Holt both taught biology at MHC for nearly forty years and first met Parker at a choral festival shortly before they retired. As longtime singers with the South Hadley Chorale, they were well acquainted with the renowned composer’s work and meeting her in person proved a turning point in their plans. Parker had recently moved to western Massachusetts


But Gabriel notes that more corporations are entering the microcredit market, such as Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, offering more products at better prices, and enabling more poor people to fund their basic needs and more.

Award for Teaching and the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship point to its continued realization.

and had stacks of boxes filled with a lifetime of compositions to unpack. Anticipating some free time, the two professors offered to pitch in. Ten years on, Holt admits, “We never retired. We just changed fields.” They now call Parker a good friend. Over the years, their tasks have grown more varied and include administration of Parker’s music company, which licenses her works for performance; publication of her newsletter, and maintenance of its 4,000-name mailing list and Web site; recognition of donors to Parker’s nonprofit organization, Melodious Accord; managing a fellows program of those who study with her; and mailing out books, CDs, and music ordered from Parker’s Web site. Their latest project is a hymnal of Parker’s original

compositions and arrangements. Pryor, one of the first faculty members on campus to use a computer in her lectures, is typesetting the book using the music notation software Sibelius. Holt is the proofreader. “Hymns are very much a part of my background,” says Pryor. “I am learning so much about the history of music. It’s another direction for my interests.” Holt says that her years of writing recommendations for prehealth students gave her the skills she now uses when writing to donors and funders. Unpaid but completely engaged in their work, Pryor and Holt say the time they spend handling Parker’s affairs is time the artist uses to her best advantage. “We are trying to give Alice time to do more music,” says Pryor. “It’s worth it.”—M.H.B.

Professors emeriti of biological sciences Kay Holt, left, and Marilyn Pryor

Hortense Parker Day Celebrates “Deep Roots” “We find our guidance and strength from folks all around us,” said W. Rochelle Calhoun ’83, the guest speaker at the second Hortense Parker Day celebration on April 7. The emerging annual tradition honors the first known woman of color to graduate from Mount Holyoke, in 1883. Calhoun, who is currently dean of student affairs at Skidmore College, held many administrative positions at MHC during her


twenty-five-year career here, finally serving as executive director of the Alumnae Association. The theme of the Parker event was “Deep Roots Still Growing” and focused on the value of mentorship. A fivemember panel—Calhoun, politics professor Preston Smith, Kimberly Hebert Gregory ’94, Yedalis Ruiz FP’08, and Yolanda Aponte FP’10 shared personal stories of motivation and encouragement.

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“What I learned as a mentor and as a mentee was that you’ve got to open that door—open it and hold it open for the next woman to walk through it,” said Ruiz, who is the director of MHC’s Take the Lead program, which sponsors leadership workshops for high school women from across the country.

“Hortense Parker Celebration Song” was a civil rights song modified by Moore to fit the event. Its rousing last verse, to the beat of “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” goes:

Rev. Gladys Moore, dean of religious and spiritual life, led everyone in song at the end of the gathering. The

We will work for true equality of everyone alive,

We the leaders of the century will keep her flame alive, We will mentor, struggle, educate and claim our right to thrive.

As we go marching on!

—Cass Sanford ’10

Student Edge

410 BC Rocks T-Shirt Biz in 2010

Giambalvo cofounded her company, 410 BC, in 2006, when she was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Named for the year in which democracy was restored to Athens, she designs or draws all the images for the shirts herself, puts out four new lines of shirts every year, handles packaging and shipping, and writes a blog on trends in fashion, art, and design. Got that?

Th i s pag e : C l a i r e B a r c l ay, fac i n g pag e : Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

“It’s pretty intense,” says the petite student with long, black hair and eyeliner that accentuate her intelligent face. “I don’t have much of a social life.” Geared toward urban, twentysomethings, her designs are related to a wide range of interests and influences such as 1980s Goth culture, rock and punk music, skateboarding, mythology, the zodiac, Latin, and philosophy. One shirt in her spring line features, in red, white, and blue lettering, Louis XV’s famous foreshadowing of the French Revolution. The bet is that for many 410 BC customers, “Après moi, le déluge” yet rings true. Giambalvo originally handprinted the shirts herself, but after she transferred to MHC in 2007 and launched the Web site (, orders started piling up. So she and her partner outsourced the printing to Blue Collar Press in Kansas, which is run by a group of young artists

and musicians. That fits well with 410 BC’s broader mission to be sweatshop free and made in the USA. Sales of the T-shirts—and related hats and sweatshirts— have gone up and down but right now the company fills about 200 orders a month and is breaking even. She and her partner recently invested in a redesign of their Web site and created tags for the back collars of the shirts to help solidify their brand. It’s working. “We’re getting a lot more hits with the new Web site,” she says. “Two days ago I walked into someone at the library with one of my shirts on. Crazy,” Giambalvo says with a smile. While she kept quiet, she says she can’t help but wonder what students would think if they knew they were wearing her work. After graduation, she plans to return to New York and see where the business leads. “I don’t know what it’s capable of becoming until I can devote my whole attention to it, ” she explains. Like many savvy students, she also has a plan B in the works. Law school. Public interest law, specifically. Which, the young businesswoman added, relates well to 410 BC’s advocacy for the ethical workplace.— M.H.B.

Nicole Giambalvo models one of her T-shirts, which sports a Latin phrase, Animum debes mutare non caelum. (You should change your state of mind, not the sky.”)

campuscurrents campuscurrents

Nicole Giambalvo ’10 doesn’t have a lot of time for small talk. A philosophy major and studio art minor, the Long Island native also runs a T-shirt business, and she’s got things to do.

Lauren Orr ’10 Named AA Scholar-Athlete

“I have never seen a soccer player like Lauren, who is always hungry to get better and better. She is the type of person who naturally gets a lot of respect from her teammates because of her positive attitude to soccer,” said head soccer coach Kanae Haneishi. With Orr leading the way, Mount Holyoke made its second straight appearance in the New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament this season. The senior was named to the NEWMAC all-conference second team after racking up eleven points on four goals and three assists. For her career, she totaled twenty-two goals and twelve assists. Orr also was named to the NEWMAC all-conference second team following her outstanding sophomore season. She collected NEWMAC academic all-conference honors in each of her final three seasons. Orr, who double-majored in Spanish and politics, boasted a 3.70 grade point average. She served as secretary of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee for two years. “As a coach, it was truly a pleasure to have an opportunity to interact with such a wonderful young woman,” Haneishi added.—M.H.B.


Teaching Well, Globally Students interested in teaching English overseas can develop pedagogical skills and get help finding a job in MHC’s new Global Teaching Certificate program. The four-week, $2,700 intensive training piloted this summer is open to the public as well as the MHC community. “Every year, my of fice is flooded with students who realize they’re graduating and haven’t thought about how they’ll put what they’ve learned to use,” said assistant professor of education Lenore Reilly Carlisle. Here’s one answer to that problem.

“Lady Gaga” (Kate Singer, English) and her backup dancers (Craig Woodard, biological sciences; Dave Allen, physical education; Ron Peterson, LITS; and Jeff Knight, biological sciences) tried to show they’re in step with contemporary music at the faculty show. phy, politics, and science of food. Famine and food security, agri-business, diet and culture, genetically modified food, wine, medicine, and animal welfare, are slated for discussion in a variety of public events and seminars, exhibits, and outdoor fairs. Speakers include agroecologist Peter Rosset, controversial ethicist Peter Singer, renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin (below), and author Anna Lappé.

Peter Singer, Temple Grandin Headline Food-focused Fest A yearlong, campuswide food series will probe the ar t, economics, philoso-

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Faculty Show Off… on Stage Mount Holyoke faculty members per formed their quadrennial satire, the Faculty Show, in Chapin Auditorium in March. No wallflowers here. Check out the brilliant photo galleries at f sets/72157623618305857 and f sets/72157623610502225/.

$5 Million Gift Names Center for the Environment Leslie Anne Miller ’73, former chair of the MHC Board of Trustees, and her husband Richard Worley have given $5 million to benefit environmental programming and education. In recognition of the generous endowed gif t, the Center for the Environment, established in 1998, will be renamed the Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Center for the Environment. A dedication weekend is slated for Oct. 29–30, and will feature seminars on environmental issues.

1,500 questions. The staf f chooses ten, posts them online, and invites students to vote on their favorites. The two winners become the shor t-answer questions on the college’s common application supplement. This year the winners were these: “By looking at me, you’d never know that...” and “How are your hands dif ferent from anyone else’s in the world?”

The series is sponsored jointly by the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, and the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Ar ts. Hands-Down One of the Best AdmissionApplication Questions Ever y spring, the admission of fice asks students interested in MHC to submit essay questions they’d like to answer as par t of their application. Typically, about 1,000 students submit

Wait ’Til You Hear My Idea The entrepreneurial bug is spreading—and being recognized. This spring, MHC students were finalists and winners at an innovation competition at UMass. Read about their business ideas (women’s shoes with detachable high heels! … better ways to distribute independent films!) at mtholyoke. edu/news/channels/22/ stories/5682176.

O rr : R ich ard O rr P hoto gr aphy, top: B en Barn h art

Soccer team member Lauren Orr ’10 earned the prestigious Alumnae Association Scholar-Athlete Award this year. Orr was selected by the athletics department for her outstanding academic and athletic achievements.


In Session

9/11: An Event Seen (Differently) Around the World

Debor ah Wright

“For us, America was untouchable,” Weerasinghe said. “You guys were a superpower.” Weerasinghe was one of ten students enrolled in The United States and the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights, a seminar taught by Five College Associate Professor of International Relations Jon Western.

“We have students from around the world in this class and, although none of them knew each other at the time, they all watched television on that day. But they also interpreted and understood the meaning of 9/11 through a different lens based on their world experience at the time.” Jon Western

Western has been teaching the class for ten years, and every year he asks the same question: what does 9/11 mean to you? “The purpose of asking students to share a few personal observations and recollections … is to demonstrate the multiple meanings of 9/11,” said Western.

“I was in art class. We thought it was funny,” said one student from Asia. “[We thought] that the pilot must have been drunk.” “When my dad came home he just sat in front of the television and cried. I’d never seen him cry,” said another, from Washington, D.C.

of her experience. “Deep down, I knew that things would never be the same.” By the end of the class, Western has made his point clear: there is no single way to understand a global event like 9/11. Personal accounts are as relevant to the overall meaning as are analytical articles. “Understanding that a singular event has multiple meanings is important in exposing students to the different ways in which we can ask questions about an event, and the different ways we can evaluate the responses to that event,” he says. —Cass Sanford ’10

“I had just flown back from Bosnia,” said a third student

Live from South Hadley: It’s the Presidential Inauguration Lynn Pasquerella ’80 will be inaugurated as the eighteenth president of Mount Holyoke College on September 24 at 2 p.m. in Gettell Amphitheater. The event and many related activities are open to the entire college and alumnae community. If you can’t be here in person, you can still see the inauguration live via a Webcast. For the full inauguration weekend schedule, or to view the Webcast live, go to webcast.html.

B en Barn h art, Fred LeB l anc

Lynn Pasquerella ’80, shown here celebrating her thirtieth reunion in May, will be inaugurated as president of MHC this September.

Retiring faculty members were feted at President Emeritus Joanne V. Creighton’s house this spring in honor of their combined 118 years of service. To the right of Creighton are Walter Stewart (left), professor of politics, and Howard Nicholson, Kennedy-Schelkunoff Professor of Physics. Tom Dennis, professor of astronomy, is not pictured. All were given citations noting their broad contributions. Read more about these professors at alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/retirees2010.


Pasangi Weerasinghe ’10 stood with a crowd outside an electronics store in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and watched in disbelief as the image of planes hitting the twin towers in New York City was shown over and over on the many television screens in front of her.

Farmers & Activists Stage a

platechanging Over the past five years, a powerful food

movement has taken root across the country. Touchstone books such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and films such as Fresh and Food, Inc. have rallied many American eaters from their processed-foods stupor. First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden has inspired tens of thousands of first-time gardeners. Mount Holyoke alumnae are driving these movements, here and abroad. Not only are they active farmers—navel orange growers, peony propagators, cheese makers, and biodynamic vegetable farmers—but they are also foodjustice activists, anti-hunger advocates, and supporters of small-scale farms. Perhaps because of recent campus initiatives such as an active Food Justice Society, a student-run vegetable garden, and classes that tackle agricultural issues, young alumnae in particular are pursuing careers in farming. For example: Annie Sullivan-Chin ’08 delivers Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares by bike for Stone Soup Farm in Belchertown, Massachusetts; Clare Robbins Fox ’04

helps convenience stores in Los Angeles sell fresh fruit and vegetables through her work at the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency; and, in a move that would make British chef Jamie Oliver proud, Sarah Kadden ’01 is changing the landscape of public-school food in Burlington, Vermont, via Shelburne Farms’s Sustainable Schools Project. As I interviewed alumnae for this story, several themes emerged. While success is measured in different ways, everyone agreed that having a firm grasp on the business side of farming is as important as knowledge of crop rotations and conservation tillage. MHC grads are also working to solve the two hot-button food-justice issues of our day—“food deserts” and food insecurity. Business Savvy One of the main challenges for farmers—especially new farmers—is the financial-planning side of things. Or as Eva Agudelo FP’08 puts it, “the nitty-gritty paperwork stuff that farmers aren’t necessarily super excited about.”

By Hannah M. Wallace ’95


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o n e : C y n t h i a S t. C l a i r , t h r e e : O w e n Ta y l o r , f o u r : J o e L aw t o n

Revoluti n


1. Eva Agudelo FP’08 supports farmers through Sustainable Connections in Washington; 2. Joanna Repka Rossouw ’01 and husband run a 2,000-acre farm in the Western Cape of South Africa; 3. Bilen Berhanu ’03 built a chicken coop in Queens; 4. Added Value, an urban farm in Brooklyn


1 4

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According to the White House, some 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts. Agudelo, who was a critical social thought major, works for Sustainable Connections, a network of local, independently owned businesses in Washington State. She heads the “Food to Bank On” program, which supports beginning farmers with peer-based business counseling and planning, and teaches them about cash-flow statements, crop maps, and so on. In addition, she connects new growers with farmer-mentors, and promotes their produce. Sustainable Connections also pays these farmers market rates to provide organic, locally grown produce to local hunger-relief agencies. “It’s a really small amount—about $1,200 a year, per farmer,” says Agudelo. “But it’s supposed to simulate market experience in a lower-pressure situation.” The food banks and women’s shelters are more forgiving than a restaurant would be if a delivery is late or produce doesn’t look perfect. This experience, in turn, lets new farmers practice invoicing and making regular deliveries. “I never thought I would find myself advocating for social change through the business sector,” Agudelo says. “But I really love it.” Figuring out what to plant and how to make a profit is a task that Joanna Repka Rossouw ’01 embraced when she and her husband, Daniël, took over his family’s 2,000-acre farm in the Western Cape of South Africa. Prior to this, Rossouw had no hands-on farming experience—she had been a history major at MHC. While Daniël and thirty full-time employees plant and harvest wheat, alfalfa, wine grapes, and olives, Rossouw helps decide which rotations to make on the fields and manages the accounting and wages. The couple also raise sheep for their wool. With wheat prices so low and other countries subsidizing their domestic crops, it can definitely be a challenge to break even. “Some years we’ve decided to plant less wheat,

Jane Barber North ’60 (right) raised sheep and made cheese from their milk for years at her Northland Sheep Dairy farm. Since North retired, Maryrose Livingston (left) has carried on the tradition.


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depending on the wheat price,” she says. “We’re just hoping for the best.” For cheese maker Jane Barber North ’60, success meant choosing not to scale up when her product—gourmet sheep’s milk cheese—was in high demand. A French major at MHC, North and her husband, Karl, moved to southern France with their two children in 1973. “We were basically back-to-the-landers and had a small farm on the mountainside where we had goats and sheep and grew our own food.” They started milking the sheep, and Jane made blue cheese, selling it at the local market. Eventually, the Norths returned to upstate New York, where they had acquired a plot of land. They slowly built their house and flock into Northland Sheep Dairy. Barber made and marketed the cheese while Karl oversaw livestock care and milking. “We set a goal of no more than fifty sheep,” says North. “We wanted to keep it doable by two people.” They also wanted to sell as locally as possible. Ignoring the naysayers who predicted they’d have to scale up production to make a living, they had no problem achieving both goals, thanks to the Ithaca Farmers’ Market. “This was the late ’80s and hardly anyone in the United States knew what sheep’s milk cheese was,” remembers North. But Ithaca’s international clientele knew and were willing to pay more for it. Soon, the couple added meat, tanned sheepskins, yarns, and hand-knits to their stand. “We had the complete sheep there,” says North. It wasn’t long before requests for the cheese came from retailers on the West Coast. Renowned New York City cheesemonger Anne Saxelby still longs to sell North’s cheese at her store, but it is available only at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market—where it regularly sells out.

Growing Produce in Food Deserts According to the White House, some 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts—nutritional wastelands where people don’t have easy access to affordable, fresh, healthy food. In recent years, food-justice activists have worked tirelessly to get fresh produce into bodegas and convenience stores, and to open farmers’ markets and urban gardens in low-income communities. One of the country’s best-known urban farms is Added Value in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where Kristen Schafenacker ’05 is the farm manager and agricultural programs coordinator. In addition to getting her hands dirty with planting and harvesting, Schafenacker is also in charge of cultivation, harvesting, farm maintenance, on-farm volunteer activities, and sales. It is she who ensures that Brooklyn restaurants such as Good Fork and Frankies 457 get regular deliveries of Added Value produce. Added Value’s two farm sites provide nearly 10,000 pounds of fresh produce a year to an underserved community via an on-site farmers’ market and a CSA. The nonprofit also pays a monthly stipend to South Brooklyn teens learning to grow food from seed to sale. “I try to make the crops as diverse as possible and take into consideration what sells well, and what is unique and exciting, educational, and productive for a small space,” says Schafenacker. “Other factors we have to consider include what can grow in shallow soil; what the city animals might


A history major at MHC, Joanna Repka Rossouw ’01 (shown with daughter Natanya) had no hands-on farming experience before taking over her husband’s family’s 2,000-acre farm in the Western Cape of South Africa.


to Support the Local Food Movement

1. Buy your food directly from the source by shopping at a farmers’ market or joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. ( 2. Support local meat and dairy farmers. ( 3. Plant a garden and start growing and cooking your own food. ( 4. Take part in an Eat Local challenge. ( 5. Speak out for small-scale farmers. Join an advocacy group such as the National Family Farm Coalition ( or the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. (

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1 + 2: Kristen Schafenacker ’05 at Brooklyn’s Added Value urban farm; 3: Bilen Berhanu ’03 and a youth team built a chicken coop at Culinary Kids gardens in Queens; 4: Meredith Bambrick ’05 has worked on sustainable agriculture initiative in Afghanistan and Nigeria. Here, she (left) stands with a Mercy Corps colleague by their armored vehicle north of Kabul ; 5: Men in a cash-for-work project in Northern Afghanistan with which Bambrick was involved 4



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o n e & t w o : J o e L aw t o n , t h r e e : O w e n Ta y l o r , f o u r : L u k e C o n wa y, G l o b a l G r o u p, f i v e : A S A P P r o j e c t

eat and destroy; and what the soil conditions are like.” This past spring, the farm’s staff and volunteers planted kale, collard greens, broccoli, salad greens, peas, radishes, and okra. “We have grown melons, but the rats like to eat them,” Schafenacker says. But urban farms are not the only way to get fresh produce into low-income communities. Though not a farmer herself, Bilen Berhanu ’03 provides technical and material support to urban gardeners in New York City as outreach coordinator at GreenThumb, the largest urban garden program in the country. Berhanu estimates that over 80 percent of the city’s 600 community gardens grow food. “There’s a very serious, vibrant movement in the city,” says Berhanu, who has seen interest in community gardens skyrocket during her four years at GreenThumb. “Now it’s just out of control! College students are showing up at our workshops, interning in our offices, and basically beating down our doors to get involved any way they can.” Tackling Hunger and Food Insecurity Access to food is a universal human right, though in many parts of the world, conflict, poverty, or lack of agricultural infrastructure makes that impossible. Many alumnae are working to ensure that others have food security—which includes both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs and preferences. “In societies where most people are dependent on agriculture or agribusiness for their livelihoods—particularly in conflict and postconflict zones—it is imperative that we focus on food security if we are to even consider improving political and financial security,” says Meredith Bambrick ’05. A manager at USAID contractor Chemonics, Bambrick has worked on sustainable agriculture initiatives in Afghanistan and Nigeria. In northern Afghanistan, she ran the operations for a $15 million program that introduced laser land leveling for commercial farming; simple farming techniques (such as grape trellising to increase yields) to aid small-scale farmers; and a massive cash-for-work program. The program included initiatives to reforest wild pistachios, plant pomegranate saplings in the north, and distribute emergency animal feed in the winter. Last fall, Bambrick began work on a similar project in Nigeria, which seeks to increase agricultural productivity among small-scale farmers by introducing better equipment, pest-management techniques, and access to new seeds. The MARKETS project focuses on increasing yields in commodity crops such as rice, sorghum, sesame, cowpea (black-eyed pea), maize, and cassava. It also links processors and smallscale producers. “MHC strongly influenced my desire to work in international development,” says Bambrick. “Although I initially focused on human rights, community development, health, and gender issues, I came to realize that agriculture-focused projects encompass all these things.”

“It’s really about building regionally based food systems as a response to both hunger and poverty.” Siena Chrisman ’99 encountered food-justice issues in women’s studies courses taught by Professor Emeritus of Politics Jean Grossholtz. “She introduced me to Indian environmental activist and author Vandana Shiva and taught me how neoliberal trade policy was destroying the lives of women farmers in India.” This interest led Chrisman to a job at WhyHunger, a New York nonprofit that promotes sustainable, community-based solutions to hunger and poverty. Initially, Chrisman focused on WhyHunger’s Global Movements program, which connects peasant leaders and other international visitors with Brooklyn farmers and works on food-sovereignty issues. (Food sovereignty goes beyond supplying people with adequate and nutritious food by taking into account the social, economic, and environmental impacts of how that food was produced and also who is controlling that food.) Now, she’s creating a grassroots action network of good-food advocates, hunger organizations, urban farmers, and other groups that increase self-reliance within their communities. “It’s really about building regionally based food systems as a response to both hunger and poverty—poverty being the root of hunger,” says Chrisman. Cultivating a Better Future Shifting from an industrial food system to one knit together by regional networks of family-run farms, urban gardens, artisanal food producers, and locally owned stores will take time. Agribusiness and confined animal feeding operations are still the norm across America, but the number of small farms is on the rise. In 2007 there were nearly 19,000 more small farms (those making less than $250,000) than in 2002, according to census data. This hopeful trend corresponds with a rise in the number of female farmers, which grew by 30 percent in those same five years. You need look no further than MHC’s Prospect Hill (behind the Mandelles), where student gardeners tend a 7,000-square-foot garden, selling the produce to Dining Services, to see that a local food economy is feasible everywhere, even in your own back yard. What have you done to drive the local food movement? We’re eager to hear—please post your stories at alumnae. fresh ideas

To raise your awareness of gardens, farms, and food-justice initiatives, and for advice to new farmers, see

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It’s winter in Antarctica: Do you know where your mittens are?


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we settle into summer in North America, relishing our growing gardens and skimpy wardrobes, residents of US Antarctic research stations are experiencing a different kind of weather.

Genevieve Ellison FP’97 is in the middle of her seventh season at the bottom of the world, and a walk outdoors involves extreme cold-weather gear and several pairs of long johns. In charge of waste management at the AmundsenScott South Pole Station, Ellison spends lots of time sorting, moving, and generally organizing refuse. Why would someone choose to work in a place where the winter temperature can reach nearly minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit? “The beauty, the peace, the absolute dumbfounding, mind-boggling amazement at my good luck to be doing the most ridiculously mundane things in the most utterly sublime place on this planet—that’s what brings me back,” says Ellison. Genevieve Ellison’s work involves disposing of waste such as these old arches. The largest is three stories tall. (above right) Frozen water vapor from Ellison’s breath makes her eyelashes go “plink, plink” when she blinks.

So turn up the air conditioner, fix yourself a cool drink, and read about life on the ice. —Mieke H. Bomann photos by Genevieve Ellison FP’97

QUARTERLY: You work in waste management at the South Pole station. What exactly do you do? GENEVIEVE ELLISON: I have worked many different jobs in both McMurdo and South Pole stations: shuttle driver, housing, airplane “fuelie,” loading cargo, and now wastemanagement specialist. My job in the winter is to pack everything (food waste, glass, plastics, wood, paper, etc.) into large, triple-thick cardboard bins, label them, band them shut, and—with a forklift—place them on our storage berms, which are four feet high and made of snow. I am also responsible for any hazardous waste that shows up, such as oil, diesel, glycol, science-generated items, and batteries.

our lungs is that we will inhale and the cold will freeze the moisture in our lungs and cause damage that will develop into pretty severe pneumonia. We limit our time outside at the really bad temperatures, and do less work. My face is pretty much completely covered except my eyes, in a narrow slit between my hat and my gaiter. Goggles don’t work at those temperatures; my breath as I exhale gets into them and doesn’t just fog up, but freezes solid, and I cannot see. So I peer out between the layers and get little balls of ice on each eyelash that go “plink plink” as I blink them together.

QUARTERLY: What is done with waste on Antarctica? No

landfills, I take it. GE: All waste is shipped off the continent from McMurdo to Port Hueneme, California, where it is incinerated, recycled, or put in a landfill.

that made me realize I didn’t have to be a scientist to get to Antarctica; I could clean toilets. I found out about the job fair by Raytheon, the current support-services contractor with the National Science Foundation (which is in charge of the stations).

QUARTERLY: Let’s talk about the temperature. GE: Summer at [the pole] starts between about negative

QUARTERLY: What did you major in at MHC? GE: Women’s studies. I had no idea what I was going to do

50 to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In the middle of the summer, we get temps as warm as the negative teens. In cargo and many other jobs, the work starts outdoors and stays outdoors throughout the summer season. We are issued extreme cold-weather gear, with special boots, parkas, long underwear, goggles, mittens, and insulated overalls. Starting off in the negative 40s seems very cold, but by the time the negative 20s roll around, it feels like a heat wave, and you are shedding layers left and right. In winter, the temps start at negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit and drop as low as negative 95 degrees. QUARTERLY: Are human lungs even capable of breathing at negative 95 degrees? GE: It hurts like heck to breathe in at those temps. So we always have our mouths covered with a gaiter or some such, to warm up the air a bit before we inhale. The risk to Waste is stored during the winter in these berms; by season’s end, many are covered with drifting snow.


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QUARTERLY: How did you learn about the job? GE: Read a book by Sara Wheeler called Terra Incognita

when I graduated.

QUARTERLY: What had you done for work before this? GE: I worked in a community health clinic, did customer

support for a veterinary laboratory and equipment company, worked in the film business in New York City, in the radio and music businesses in Canada, and taught English in Japan. I’ve done a lot of temping.

QUARTERLY: What’s housing like on the ice? GE: In the summer there are two housing options: Summer B O L D I N T H E CO L D Link to research being conducted in Antarctica and follow Ellison’s exploits on her blog, www.icewishes.

Ellison in the summer of 2007–08, reading atop Hogback Mountain in the Dry Valleys while working as a “fuelie”


The new station is elevated so it isn’t buried (as the previous two stations were) by winter winds blowing snow across the polar plateau. 140

Camp and the New Station. Summer Camp is a series of heated Jamesway tents clustered around a central building containing the toilets, showers, and laundry. They are quite primitive, and rooms can vary from canvas curtain walls to quite fancy plywood walls with doors. I had the seniority to have a room in the New Station (the elevated station they just finished building), but I chose to be at Summer Camp. I prefer it, and I had quite a choice room with a window, a built-in bed with shelves and drawers, and solid plywood walls. Summer Camp can be cold. I’ve known people to put a can of Coke on the floor and have it explode quite dramatically in the middle of the night. But there’s fresh air, morning sun in the window when I wake up, and it’s very, very quiet. During the winter, Summer Camp is shut down, so I am forced to take a room at New Station. QUARTERLY: Is the food good? GE: All the food is frozen or dried or both. We do have


COLD COMFORT? Sources: US Antarctic Program; Genevieve Ellison



+32°F: water freezes 40


-20s F: temperature that Genevieve Ellison says feels “like a heat wave”




a greenhouse, and we get some “freshies” from it, mainly lettuce, cucumber, bok choy, zucchini, hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and flowers, this winter. The miracles they perform with frozen liquid egg product, powdered milk, frozen potatoes, and dried onions are on a par with the loaves and the fishes. QUARTERLY: There must be a mysterious appeal to keep




-28°F: average temperature at South Pole (summer) -76°F: average temperature at South Pole (winter) -129°F: coldest recorded temperature anywhere in Antarctica



you going back. What is it? GE: I’m in love. I have seen so many things that so few people will ever see, and I have been incredibly lucky to have lived and worked in a landscape that causes my heart to swell with joy each time I am outside in it. I love Antarctica, and it is a true home to my soul.


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are given an imaginary amount of money, and decide whether to give any of it to a partner. The catch is that if the partner refuses the offer, the money vanishes and neither benefits. Most MHC students offer their partners between 40 and 50 percent of the money, an amount that no one refuses, and a result that bears out research done in industrialized countries. Only a few outliers offer under 20 percent, and what is perceived as stinginess is rewarded with spite. (Recipients of low offers refuse them even though it means both parties lose their money.) This suggests that, even in our society, people don’t always focus on maximizing individual gain; fairness is also valued.

BY JOSHUA H. ROTH, MHC associate professor of anthropology


e shop for our food, for our clothes, for our colleges. We purchase cars, manicures, and vacations. It seems there is little that cannot be bought or sold. So where does gift giving stand in a society that often values objects according to their market price? Is it merely another form of commodity exchange?

That’s one question of many we discuss in a course called Shopping and Swapping: Cultures of Consumption and Exchange. We examine exchange systems cross culturally to understand the cultural significance and social consequences of various forms of economic transactions. We explore how our own commodityexchange system, which appears to be no more than an efficient means of distributing goods and services, in fact contains intriguing symbolic dimensions similar to, as well as distinct from, those often attributed to the gift-exchange systems of Native North America, Melanesia, and Africa.

Give me money, please … I begin the semester with an “ultimatum game,” in which students


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Anthropologists have found that a typical offer in the ultimatum game varies dramatically among cultures. Among the Lamalera in Indonesia, the majority made offers greater than 50 percent of the total; curiously, there were a significant number of rejections of such generosity. At the opposite extreme, among the Machiguenga in the Amazon, the average offer was rather small—20 to 30 percent—but rejections were rare. Clearly, there is substantial cultural variation in the meaning of gift giving, understandings of fairness, and the compulsion to maximize individual gain. We read some of the classics in economic anthropology, which dispel the romantic notion of harmony and goodwill in premodern economies based on gift giving, in contrast to the cutthroat competition in modern market economies. Many anthropologists have shown that gifts always come with strings attached— the obligation to reciprocate in some form, or face animosity and possible retribution.

How can an object be worth nothing and everything? In the second half of the course, we explore more contemporary consumer societies and find

that gift giving continues to be an integral part of modern economic activity. The frenzy of purchases made during the Christmas season attests to this fact. Some dismiss year-end giving as thoroughly commoditized and therefore different in quality from the gift giving of previous times. Indeed, the spread of money does facilitate widespread commoditization. Yet people in our society transform commodities into “singularities”—things whose value to the owner doesn’t depend on the object’s market value. Often, people invest objects received as gifts with special value, such that these objects come to embody social relationships.

Illust r at ion by Miguel Gall ard o

To demonstrate this, every student writes a “cultural biography” of an object. This past year, the most interesting projects included hand-carved, mother-of-pearl shell earrings one student received from another student her first semester at MHC. The earrings were lost, then found; broken, then repaired. They carried special significance for the student, and allowed her to muse on artisanal work, consumerism, and relationships in a more profound way than I have ever done myself. Another focused on her cousin’s pet dog, and the animal’s transition from commodity (an item for sale) to singularity (“man’s best friend,” a cherished pet whose worth has no price tag). The Shopping and Swapping course makes clear that many material objects serve a function far beyond their market value: sustaining social relationships. Anthropologists have begun to explore the ways in which not only year-end rituals of giving, but also daily acts such as shopping for food or clothing, are often done with others in mind, and serve to shape and nurture relationships. By examining the many ways people around the world acquire and exchange goods, this course explores some of the ways that our acts of consumption, whether lavish or modest, are permeated by cultural significance.

What Is Your Dog Worth? A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, Oscar Wilde famously said. Joshua Roth’s anthropology students consider both, and much besides, while writing a “cultural biography” of an object they choose. Here are excerpts from two students’ papers: Tricia Chase ’12 : “Have you ever thought about selling your dog to make some extra cash? Almost any dog owner you ask would say no … both my dogs are singular, as in, there is nothing equal to them in value. Though household pets, dogs in particular, are not often regarded as commodities, the truth is that they can be …” Zoë Darrow ’12 : (on shell earrings given to her) “Before the second earring broke, the pair would have been resellable … [now] the pair is monetarily worthless. Ironically, after the unfortunate snap, they are worth all the more to me. These little earrings have become an anomaly of perseverance, a reminder of friendship, a story of finding what is lost and repairing what is broken.” Read more at

Joshua H. Roth

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Dottie Segal Casper ’48 didn’t think

of herself as funny for most of her life. But in her late seventies, she suddenly started knocking ’em dead as a stand-up comedian.

On little more than a whim, she showed up for a 2004 comedy workshop at Side Splitters in Tampa, Florida. “They gave me this look like, ‘What on earth are you doing here?’” she recalls. All the others were young and experienced performers. Casper was neither.

Photo by Melissa Ly ttle/St. Peter sburg Times

But when the workshop leader said to her, “You obviously don’t want stage time today,” she shocked everyone by taking the stage immediately. “I went up, and all these things just came to me,” she says. “For instance, they’d left the mike way too high for me, so I climbed on a chair to reach it, and they were hysterical. And from there on in, I had them in the palm of my hand!” Organizer Maurice Jovan told her to get a routine together and she’d be in front of an audience the following week. Casper had only one question: “What’s a routine?” She was that clueless.

divorce lawyer. She was also a Donna Reed–style homemaker and mother of five. “We had a traditional marriage where the woman is in the background, and I had all these things to say that never got said.” Dig into Casper’s history, and you’ll find plenty of clues to an adventurous spirit. As a child, she climbed trees, and shot and developed her own photos. Later, she and Mark lived on a houseboat during “his hippie stage.” And she has been a “protector of the underdog” all her life. While at MHC, she earned a pilot’s license and started a campus flying club. As her children grew, Casper became a swimming teacher, earned a B.S. in counseling, and cofounded a business with her daughter providing continuing education for mental-health professionals.

The next weekend, though, she had a routine and “killed” her first comedy audience.

Still, Casper always took a back seat to Mark. “The world revolved around what he was saying and thinking, and I learned to live with that comfortably,” she says.” But when my husband died, I came into my own. And I discovered that I was funny. If Mark could see me now, he’d roll over in his ashes and fall off the mantel.”

“I told [the audience], ‘They taught me to hold the microphone next to my chin so when I turn my head, the mike will go with me … I wish I could turn my head, it would make driving so much easier … especially backing up!”

And she is funny, a peek at the videos on her Web site ( confirms. And although Casper adjusts her act to each audience and abhors the “heavy sex stuff ” other comics use, many of Casper’s jokes are risqué.

The audience roared, and Casper was hooked. At age eighty, she bested 140 contestants to win the title of “funniest person in Tampa.” Jovan says of Casper, “She’s a fearless performer. Those strike a chord with audiences because they put their whole self out there.”

“I go on stage wearing an eye patch and say, ‘Please excuse my nicotine patch; I’m trying to quit smoking … I’m also trying to give up sex, and boy you should see that patch!’”

Mark Craycraft, an entertainment consultant who helped Casper reach broader audiences, says, “She’s a great ‘left turn’ from a guy in a suit or a young loudmouth offending someone’s wife. She’s funny, relatable, and worth the price of admission.” On the surface, nothing in Casper’s earlier life made comedy a likely career choice. She had a “perfect partnership” with husband Mark Casper—she became a marriage counselor and he became a

(left) Dottie Segal Casper ’48 tells her audiences, “At my age, the hardest thing about stand-up comedy is standing up.”

“Some of the things I say are funnier coming out of my mouth than from someone younger,” she admits. “They don’t expect innuendo from a little old lady.” That’s why, when she pulls stage props such as K-Y jelly from her oversized purse, she’s got the audience in stitches. Casper writes and rewrites—as many as twenty times—routines that evolve from real-life incidents. She often runs jokes in progress past her lifelong friend and comedy sounding board, Ethel “Junior” Edwards Goldstein ’47. “I like to write and imagine, so I can take some funny thing that happened and make it funnier. I wouldn’t do some of the things I talk about, but I can give myself permission to talk about them on stage. It’s almost a fantasy life, where you can free the bad girl part of you without having to be a bad girl.”

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


Summer 2010


“WHEN MY HUSBAND DIED, I CAME INTO MY OWN. AND I DISCOVERED THAT I WAS FUNNY. IF MARK COULD SEE ME NOW, HE’D ROLL OVER IN HIS ASHES AND FALL OFF THE MANTEL.” “When I was younger, the funny things I said were never received as humor, so I learned not to say them. Luckily, I unlearned it. I was always such a good girl that my goal now is to live long enough to make up for it.” Casper on a local Mardi Gras–style parade: “I walk with a cane and use it to catch the beads the ‘pirates’ throw. Fortunately, at my age, I don’t have to lift my shirt very high to flash.” Most of Casper’s offspring are fans of her act, which she says helped loosen up her relationship with her grown children. Her grandchildren—the ones old enough to hear her act, at least—love having an outrageously funny granny.

How to knock ‘em dead You’ve heard the line, “Death is easy; comedy is hard.” Casper makes it a bit easier with advice for stand-up newbies at You can also see video clips from her act.


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And Casper is having a blast. “I love to make people laugh,” she says. “If I do that, my health and everything else improves. And I enjoy being the center of attention. On stage, when I’m talking, nobody’s interrupting me! It’s not easy to get that, especially for women. And not having had it, to have it now is so much fun.” Medical issues have recently curtailed Casper’s performances, but until she can return to the stage more often, you can find her riding her adult tricycle, taking photos, pondering writing a column for the local newspaper, acting in an independent film, and playing competitive ping-pong. (She qualified for last year’s Senior Olympics national finals.) “I’m the kind of person who needs new things all the time, which is probably why I had so many babies,” she quips. You can almost hear a comedy club drummer going ba-da-bum in the background to underscore the punch line. Material from an interview by Jill Parsons Stern ’84 contributed to this article.


Reunion 2010 Whether they settled into Adirondack chairs on the grass to soak up the campus greenery, laughed till they ached with their pals into the early hours of the morning, or relived their classroom experience at a back-to-class session, alumnae who returned for Reunion 2010 were busy. They went to social hours, class dinners, class meetings, horse clinics, lunch with the president, tours of dorms and other campus buildings, tea ceremonies, greenhouse receptions, choir concerts, parades, cookouts, tag sales, dance concerts, department at-homes, and various area watering holes. These two weekends at the end of May are the result of months of planning by awesome alumnae volunteers, along with Alumnae Association staff, and when it finally happens, everyone has a good time! Plans are already in the works for Reunion 2011. See you then!

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


Summer 2010



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P h o t o s b y B e n B a r n h a rt a n d Pau l S c h n a i t tac h e r

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


Members of the class of 1960 (some in their original gym suits!) greeted the seniors with a Dixieland band on commencement weekend. It marked the culmination of a three-year project connecting 1960 and 2010. Read more at

Reunion to Go:

Watch and Listen! Mind-widening, challenging, fun miniclasses were offered during Reunion 2010. We captured a few on video and audio for your listening pleasure. Catch everyone’s favorite professor of politics, Vinnie Ferraro, speaking on America’s changing role in the world, or review the history of the earth and the origin of animals in geologist Mark McMenamin’s presentation on the Cambrian Explosion at http://www.alumnae.mtholyoke. edu/Reunions/2010.php.

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


Summer 2010


Reunion to Go: instant nostalgia!

Sophomore Year in Mead: The Soundtrack (c. 1987–88) Twenty years after graduation, one alumna recalls the music that rocked her world. By Sarah Gray King ’90

On Saturday night, we made the short walk from Mead to Chapin to let go of the week’s pressures. Hips swayed and hands clapped to Los Lobos singing “La Bamba.” INXS let us “Live, baby live” with a “New Sensation.” Dead or Alive made us dizzy with “You Spin Me Right Round, Baby” (Right round like a record, baby), and Billy Idol made us believe it was “So good! So fine!” riding the pony to “Mony, Mony.”


With the help of Sony and Memorex, we gained immediate access to our musical preferences stored on iridescent CDs. The Walkman went everywhere: across Skinner Green to class; on those long walks between the Mandelles and the barn; on an afternoon jog past The Orchards. At the end of the day, we would regroup in Mead 218 and turn on the CD player. Blowing leaves, Mountain Day bells, and Patrick Swayze convinced us we were “Like the Wind.” We imagined Rob Lowe playing saxophone on the roof and felt “Young and Innocent.” As the days got colder, the work piled higher, and our hearts ached. Peter Gabriel’s So became our definition of distraction on the second floor of Mead; if you could not stop everything for “In

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Your Eyes,” you didn’t have a pulse. Phil Collins haunted us with that something “In the Air” and we longed for winter break. Returning to campus for spring semester meant new schedules filled with ambitions. Squeeze forgave us for that “stain on our notebook” from “Black Coffee in Bed” while we confirmed travels for junior year. One spontaneous road trip to West Point amused us, as Salt-n-Pepa chanted “Push it” on a dance floor crowded with cadets. We fantasized about the future and Tom Cruise in a tropical destination while the Beach Boys sang “Kokomo.” The grass on the Green began to grow and the sun encouraged us to study on beach towels. George Michael reminded us that all we needed was

“Faith, faith, faith … Ba--by” and we would make it through finals. Alphaville gave us every reason to believe we would be “Forever Young.” Now, at our twentieth reunion, we recall this desire to be “Forever Young” as the class of 2010 listens to the remake by Youth Group on their iPods. I get to relish these memories with the added bonus that, twenty-three years after my sophomore year, my daughter is finishing hers in Mead as well. When I climb those stairs carrying the bags that define her own MHC experience, I look through the closed door of Room 218 and still see us sitting there, a circle of friends listening to CDs. Twenty years after graduation, we hear those songs and think of each other.

Ben Barnhart

It was September 1987, and we were filled with the energy of our return to campus. We had survived our first year and were living on the Green. We were one step ahead, familiar and confident that “We got it. Yeah baby, we got it,” just like Bananarama sang in “Venus.”

Alumnae service—to the college, the Alumnae Association, and the communities where they live and work—was honored during Reunion I and II.

The Mid-Eighties Playlist

At Reunion I, Medals of Honor for exceptional volunteer service were given to Patricia Steeves O’Neil ’85 and Jennifer A. Durst ’95. An Achievement Award for “service to society that exemplifies the values and virtues set forth by the college” was given to Eileen Shanley Kraus ’60.

Bananarama “Venus,” Venus Los Lobos “La Bamba,” La Bamba soundtrack INXS “New Sensation,” Kick Dead or Alive “You Spin Me,” Youthquake

The Reunion II Medal of Honor winner was Joan Ford Mongeau

’80. Kathryn A. Willmore ’65, Merrill W. Sherman ’70, and Deborah Klein Walker ’65 were presented with Achievement Awards. Elizabeth “Liza” Maxwell Lee ’65 was honored with the Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award. It is given to outstanding alumnae educators in honor of MHC President Emeritus Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 for her service to MHC and education generally. Read the citations presented to all awardees at www.alumnae.mtholyoke.


Take a Bow, Awardees: Volunteers Make It All Happen


Billy Idol “Mony Mony,” Don’t Stop

Elefante “Young and Innocent,” St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack Peter Gabriel “In Your Eyes,” So Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight,” Face Value Squeeze “Black Coffee in Bed,” 45’s and Under Salt-n-Pepa “Push It,” Hot, Cool, & Vicious

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

Patrick Swayze “She’s Like the Wind,” Dirty Dancing soundtrack

Reunion II award winners were, left to right, Kathryn A. Willmore ’65, Merrill W. Sherman ’70, Deborah Klein Walker ’65, and Joan Ford Mongeau ’80.

The Beach Boys “Kokomo,” Still Cruisin’ George Michael “Faith,” Faith Alphaville “Forever Young,” Forever Young

(left) Marion Leaman, Erica Harper, Naomi Mitchell Cammarata, and Sarah Gray King (left to right), all ’90 and friends since their Mead Hall days, reminisced at reunion 2010.

Ben Barnhart

Youth Group “Forever Young,” Casino Twilight Dogs

Reunion I award winners were, from left, Jennifer Durst ’95, Patricia Steeves O’Neil ’85, and Eileen Shanley Kraus ’60.


Take Our “Dorm Days” International Clubs Pick Up The Pace Alumnae who live overseas are forming new clubs and informal groups at a brisk clip, and meeting around the globe. “There seems to be a growing desire among our alumnae overseas to keep Mount Holyoke connections strong,” said Maya D’Costa, director of campus programs and global initiatives. “Of the twenty-six international clubs/informal groups we currently have, seven were started just in the last year.”

Pop Quiz

Did you see our Facebook series about dorm life? So many of you shared your memories that we now can ask you to match the memory to the appropriate residence hall. OK, pencils ready? Go!

I REMEMBER … 1. I lived on the fourth floor with my best friends and the ghost. One night the water in the kitchenette turned on all by itself! 2. The foreign language fellows living on the various floors … the view of Upper Lake 3. The geese waking us up every morning … the common room, with its own outside entrance and walled garden space, was the scene of the best illegal BBQ MHC has ever seen.

1837 Brigham Ham MacGregor

Two new clubs/informal groups formed this spring, one in Jamaica and another in Brazil, and an informal group is forming in the Philippines.

4. The final trek up the hill after all my classes to the wonderful dining hall, window seats, and view of the lake


5. Getting locked out of my room on my way to the shower

New Residence Hall

The newly formed group in Poland has also been busy. Club contact Sheila Callahan ’82 wrote: “MHC junior Elizabeth Dobrska spent spring semester in Warsaw and introduced me to several of her favorite Warsaw cafes. Right now, the alumnae in Poland are planning a spring gettogether, the first ever, I believe. It looks like we will be at least five or six, ranging from the classes of ’65 to ’11.”

7. Sledding on cafeteria trays on the hill behind the dorm … hearing the waterfall out my window at night … It felt a little like living in a castle.

6. Sunbathing on the roof, overlooking the president’s house … Mr. Gettell was not amused.

8. Our dorm T-shirt in 1979–80 said, “Commit Brighamy.” 9. The rumor of a secret tunnel to Deacon Porter’s grave 10. Rumor had it that [this dorm] was built as a temporary dorm, so we called it “the mistake on the lake.” … watching the turtles and ducks, seeing the trees turn colors in the fall.

Pearsons Porter Prospect Wilder

To read all the comments, go to

ry r memo Test you quiz: Is this r with ou dorm, or is it t s o h g p the at the to the one hill? of the

“Dorm Days” Pop Quiz Answers: 1-Wilder, 2-Ham, 3-1837, 4-MacGregor, 5-New residence hall, 6-Pearsons, 7-Mandelles, 8-Brigham, 9-Porter, 10-Prospect


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OPENING ACTS Looking back on our first and near-first jobs can be fun, painful, even hilarious. They sometimes are the obvious first step in a career trajectory; more often they are unrelated to anything but a chance to earn some cash and think about the years of work ahead. In spring, we shared the tale of Paula Alekson ’90, who landed a great first gig working in a bait shop. This issue, Nada Skerly Arnold ’56 recalls her travels with goldfish post-MHC, while hawking plastic bags that have since become a mainstay of our leftover-filled lives. Curious? Read on.—M.H.B.

The Goldfish Chronicles Well, there I was, five years out of MHC and flying to television gigs around the US with two goldfish in a plastic bag. I have my moments of concern—mostly for the sake of my parents and MHC—about going against the grain of my poli-sci major in favor of a grossly commercial shtick. But my “stage” pseudonym, Nadine Adams, is some cover, and the experience a great teacher. In the early 1960s, the creator of the Snap-Off-Bag (gallon-size, plastic bags on a roll) has the idea—but neither name nor market until I enter, stage right— for a new Betty Crocker. Job description: Create consumer demand. Lacking television, public relations, advertising, or marketing experience (how times change), I telephone major cities from our Park Avenue sales office, and book myself

on free, prime-time interview shows on television. What chutzpah! I went on-air with goldfish Betsy and Duke, to demonstrate a breathable bag that doesn’t leak. They are given interesting stories (goldfish courtship, marriage, habits) and well, it worked. A very glamorous gig, it was, engaging TV talk-show hosts coast-to-coast—ostensibly to hype the goldfish courtship, but really to tout the breathable bag with nonleak qualities, perfect for storing produce. My television spiel concluded with, “If you, Mrs. Consumer, would like free samples, just write to me and I’ll send you some.” What she received was a postcard that the local grocer would honor—after he stocked the product. My initial “training” is on-air in Charlotte, with

instructions to look for the camera’s red-light button signaling “on.” All goes smoothly in subsequent appearances. My only panic was as I flew to Los Angeles from New York, with an overnight stay slated before an important 5 a.m. appearance on a morning show. I cannot sleep. What if the fish don’t make it? Where, predawn, would I find replacements? Never thought to take backups. So I buffer the fish, still in the original Snap-Off-Bag, between two fat towels in a hotel wastebasket, checking hourly to see if they are still alive. Well, we make it just fine. And eventually AP photo wires the story (see photo.) My parents never commented, but I wondered how many relatives and family friends thought, “For that she went to Mount

Holyoke?” Actually it was Mount Holyoke that inspired, supported the selfconfidence, and spurred the creative skills that launched me. Goldfishin-a-bag introduced me to the importance of focus, having something interesting to say, communicating with my audience, and the value of theater to add drama. Eventually it all came together in journalism, reporting for TIME, Eastern Europe; the Alicia Patterson Foundation journalism grant to study international aging; and becoming a Newsday columnist. Nowadays, I write about travel and the arts, and have written a memoir, The Youth Pill. —Nada Skerly Arnold ’56

In an informal setting, students were able to ask young alumnae working in banking, biomedical sciences, and public administration how best to prepare for their future. Questions ranged from how to find a cheap apartment in a good New York City neighborhood to what constitutes a sustainable career path. “To me, the students seemed very well prepared to join the ‘real world,’” said Iva Peeva ’04, assistant vice president at Barclays Capital, New York. “Some of them had already accepted job offers and had questions mostly with regards to the apartment hunt, good neighborhoods, career trajectory, [and whether] they would need an MBA … The ones that didn’t have job of-

International seniors get advice from Cristina Ghenoiu ’04, a Romanian alumna currently studying at Cornell.

fers yet had clear goals and questions mainly related to different job fields, and hunting strategies. Overall, all of them seemed very mature and driven, which was quite impressive.”

Atlanta Alum Wows Recipe World Quinoa pilaf rules! What, never heard of it? It won the top prize in our “best alumnae recipe for under ten bucks contest,” featured in the March Laurel Chain e-newsletter. Submitted by Anupa Doraiswami MA’86, the pilaf is a little spicy and a lot delicious. Doraiswami (who just happens to teach courses in Indian vegetarian cooking, which fellow alums in Atlanta, Georgia, rave about) won $100 to

make it again for her ten best alumnae friends. Host your own alumnae dinner party! See the full recipe with photo, and all the tasty runners-up, and post your own recipes, at

Southern Motherhood the Focus of Woolley Fellow The complex roles that mothers played in the American South during the Revolutionary Era were very different from those performed by their northern counterparts. Katy Simpson Smith ’06 is examining the diverse amalgam of women in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century South thanks to a Mary E. Woolley Fellowship. This year’s winner of the $7,500 prize from the Alumnae Association, Smith will use the grant to work full-time on her doctoral dissertation at the University of North Carolina, with the expectation of completing it next year. A double-major in history and film studies at MHC, Smith credits history professor Joseph Ellis with stimulating her interest in

Cheap and tasty quinoa (bottom bowl) wins


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early American history. Initially drawn to the lives of elite white women in the Revolutionary Era, she now finds herself writing a comparative history that includes white, black, and Native American women. Caught up in a “complex web of violence and interdependency,” the women who made up the diverse southern mother population led to very different definitions of the role of motherhood, Smith says. “From the white mistress to the black laborer, from the Cherokee farmer to her impoverished white neighbor, mothers constructed their lives in relation to broader social networks, intellectual trend, economic imperatives, and political responsibilities.” After she finishes her dissertation, she hopes to teach at a liberal arts college. —M.H.B. Katy Simpson Smith ’06

B e l o w, l e f t : J. J o h n s o n ; a b o v e : S a r a h Tu l i m at ’ 1 3

Cheap Digs, Good Jobs With an International Flair As the class of 2010 enjoyed their last days on campus, graduating international students had the opportunity to meet with international alumnae to discuss career opportunities in the United States.

The spirit of Mary Lyon lives on in alumnae who have chosen to pursue a career in the nonprofit world. Thousands of MHC alums around the world work in organizations that improve the world we live in. Now, those women are connecting with one another through the everexpanding social media. A new network will give alumnae who have chosen the not-for-profit path a way to connect with each other for career and professional advice. With more than 200 members already on the LinkedIn group, your membership will strengthen a network working to expand members’ talents, skills, and opportunities. If you or an MHC alum friend want to join this growing movement, search for the group “MHC NPO Alumnae” on LinkedIn and Facebook or e-mail Mari Ellen Reynolds Loijens ’91 at mrloijens@siliconvalleycf. org to have an invitation e-

mailed to you and to have your questions answered.

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

Mary Lyon Award: For young alumnae who have been out of the college fifteen years or fewer, who demonstrate promise or sustained achievement in their lives, professions, or communities consistent with the humane values that Mary Lyon exemplified in her life and inspired in others.

Alumnae Medal of Honor: Awarded for eminent service in promoting the effectiveness of the Alumnae Association, for signal service in completing definite projects undertaken by the college, or for other noteworthy services that strengthen the position of Mount Holyoke College. Deadline is August 15, prior to Reunion year.

Loyalty Award: The Loyalty Award will honor an alumna who has demonstrated consistent effort and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time. Volunteer effort can be on behalf of a class, club, affinity group, the association, or the college. Nominees should be from classes that will hold reunions in the following spring. Deadline for submission: August 15.

Alumnae Trustee: Selected for willingness and ability to involve herself actively in the workings of the college, participate in the policy-making discussions of the Board of Trustees, and use her expertise in special areas to enrich those discussions. Deadline is January 15, annually.

Young Alumna Loyalty Award: The Young Alumna Loyalty Award will honor an alumna who has demonstrated consistent effort and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time. Volunteer effort can be on behalf

of a class, club, affinity group, the association, or the college. Nominees may be from any class that has graduated ten years or fewer from the date of the upcoming reunion. Deadline for submission: August 15.


Calling All Nonprofit Professionals “When you choose your fields of labor, go where nobody else is willing to go.”—Mary Lyon

Achievement Award: For alumnae whose achievements and service to society exemplify the ideals of excellence of a liberal-arts education; who use their talents with professional distinction, sustained commitment, and creativity; and who reflect the vision and pioneering spirit of Mary Lyon. Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award: Given periodically to an outstanding alumna educator, honoring the service former President Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 has given to the college and to higher education in general.

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


Summer 2010



Words Worth a Second Look Fiction Jane Slayre By Sherri Browning Erwin (Pocket) If Brontë’s original novel wasn’t as action-packed as you’d have liked, this revamped version of the Victorian classic will certainly keep you turning the pages. Jane Slayre is not just a young governess, but also a merciless, zombie-killing romantic, who must perfect her slaying skills in order to be with the man of her dreams. Sherri Browning Erwin ’90 lives in western Massachusetts and has written both historical and contemporary romances.

Nonfiction Women’s Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence By Eleanor Blayney (Direction$ L.L.C) Plenty of smart women with assets are lacking in financial confidence and know-how. Blayney, a nationally recognized financial planner, is here to help. Combining practical advice and easy-to-do exercises, Blayney helps you understand your beliefs about money, learn the fundamentals of financial planning, and gain the confidence to make smart decisions. Eleanor Hotchkiss Blayney ’73 is the only woman in a fourpartner financial planning firm. She serves as consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.


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Applying Ethics: A Text with Readings By Julie C. Van Camp, Jeffrey Olen, and Vincent Barry (Wadsworth Cengage Learning) Ethical dilemmas aren’t just for philosophers and theorists. The tenth edition of Applying Ethics is filled with case studies of current ethical issues, including cloning, torture, female mutilation, and sweatshops. Accompanying these modern-day issues are essays by great thinkers from Aristotle to Kant. Van Camp’s updated edition is a textbook that you will want to read outside of the classroom. Julie C. Van Camp ’69 is a professor of philosophy at California State University, Long Beach.

Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein By Jan Balakian (Applause) This book takes Wendy Wasserstein ’71 from Broadway back to Mount Holyoke, with unpublished handwritten notebooks and commencement speeches as well as Balakian’s own interviews with the playwright. Balakian traces the history of feminism through Wasserstein’s seven award-winning plays. With photos and primary documents, this book will be interesting for theatergoers and “uncommon women.” Jan Balakian is a professor of English at Kean University in New Jersey.

Lesbian Health 101: A Clinician’s Guide By Suzanne L. Dibble, RN, DNSc and Patricia A. Robertson, MD (UCSF Nursing Press) In 1999, the National Institute of Medicine reported that lesbians were inadequately served in the health care system. Little has been done to remedy the disparity. In what is the first comprehensive textbook on the topic, Lesbian Health 101 demystifies the general assumption that lesbians face the same health issues as heterosexual women. From diabetes to depression, the text fills a void in lesbian health care. Dr. Patricia Robertson ’72 is a longtime activist in lesbian health care and is cofounder of the Lesbian Health and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum By Marcia Brennan (The MIT Press) John Sweeney, who would become the director of the Guggenheim Museum, believed that the pioneers of modern abstraction and surrealism were revealing the unseen world. Interested in how the supernatural and mystical were revealed in art, he developed a renowned curatorial approach that emphasized art’s capacity to create alternative worlds and an exhibit’s ability to provoke deep aesthetic responses. Marcia Gagliardi Brennan ’88 is associate professor of art history at Rice University. She is also the author of Modernism’s Masculine Subjects: Matisse, the New School, and Post-Painterly Abstraction.

Spanish for Breastfeeding Support By Diana Glick and Tanya Lieberman (Hale Publishing) For Spanish-speaking women who want to breastfeed, it’s essential there be clear communication between them and lactation consultants. The authors have written a reference guide for professionals on common breastfeeding challenges such as milk supply, positioning, and pumping. The book and CD package also contains tear-out sheets with key terms and spoken versions of the Spanish breastfeeding vocabulary. Diana Salazar Lowe Glick ’93 taught Spanish to medical professionals for five years in California, where she lives.

Three Centuries of Hooking: Mount Desert Island Historical Society Exhibition, August, 2009 By Judith Burger-Gossart ( In this detailed history of rug hooking, Burger-Gossart encourages people to look at hooked rugs as more than something on which to wipe their feet. An expansive collection of colorful and intricate rugs fills the pages of this exhibition catalog, which celebrates them as historically and culturally relevant pieces of art. Judith Burger-Gossart ’65, a rug maker herself, serves on the board of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society and curated the rug exhibit in 2009.

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By MHC Faculty Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India By Kalyani Devaki Menon (University of Pennsylvania Press) Hindu nationalism has been at the core of many extreme acts of violence against religious minorities in India. Menon wonders how Hindu women fit into this movement. Everyday Nationalism explores the cultural appeals of nationalism and how activists use history, religion, and social work to attract diverse groups to a mass movement. Kalyani Devaki Menon ’95 teaches religious studies at DePaul University in Illinois.

The Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage By Beth Laura O’Leary and Ann Garrison Darrin (CRC Press) There are currently 27,000 tons of man-made material floating in outer space. These objects are more than just discarded or antiquated pieces of technology. This handbook brings together anthropologists, historians, physicists, and engineers who study mankind’s history in space and takes a retrospective look back in time, tracing the human exploration of outer space. Beth Laura O’Leary ’74 is an expert in the developing field of space archaeology and heritage, and is a professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University.


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Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North By Catherine S. Manegold (Princeton University Press) Ten Hills Farm tells the powerful story of five generations of slave owners in colonial New England. The farm, an estate north of Boston, passed through three dynastic families all tied to the Native American and Atlantic slave trades. Manegold unfolds how the legacy of these families and the institutions they founded, including Harvard Law School, depended on slavery’s profits until the practice was abolished in the 1780s. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Catherine S. Manegold is a senior visiting instructor of English at MHC. Read more at

The Writing Circle By Corinne Demas (Hyperion/Voice) They are the Leopardi Circle, an exclusive group of five writers including a charming poet, an arrogant biographer, a serene historian, a young aspiring novelist, and a divorced father who writes thrillers. When Nancy is invited to join the circle, she soon finds that the group shares more than words on a page. Buried secrets, passionate affairs, and suspicion complicate relationships and make for a captivating read. Corinne Demas is a professor of English and creative writing at MHC. This is her second novel.

Ousmane Sembène: The Making of a Militant Artist By Samba Gadjigo (Indiana University Press) On the heels of his 2007 biography of Sembène, the celebrated founder of African cinema, Gadjigo has now written a portrait of the artist in the context of colonialism and its aftermath, his political activism, and his films, including Moolaadé, which brought to light the tradition of female circumcision, and a group of its opponents, in Africa. Samba Gadjigo, a professor of French at MHC, was appointed Sembène’s official biographer by the filmmaker in 1994.

A Closer Look

Martha Ackmann writes books about women who, despite their remarkable accomplishments, have been treated as footnotes in history. In her first book, The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight, Ackmann, who is a senior lecturer in gender studies at MHC, outlined the secret training program for women astronauts that took place during the early days of the space race. Despite their comparable, and in some cases superior, performance to the men who were ultimately selected, these female aviators were denied advanced training simply because they were women, and their personal hopes for space travel—and those of all women astronauts—were grounded for twenty years. Ackmann’s latest book is also about perseverance in the face of formidable barriers, but this time her subject is both female and black. Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League, unfolds the stunning professional accomplishments of the female ball player hired in 1953 to replace Hank Aaron on the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns.

A natural athlete in all sports, Stone had been knocking around for fifteen years on various male barnstorming teams before moving to the championship Clowns. The move to hire a woman was an astute calculation. When Jackie Robinson broke through the color barrier in the major leagues in 1947, the Negro League started losing some of its star players—and fans. What better replacement than a woman who played with men? Stone had mixed feelings about her box office attractiveness. She understood that she had been hired more for her gender than her considerable athletic talent. But the bottom line for Stone, Ackmann relates, was her passion for the game. She learned to turn deeply offensive treatment by some of her teammates and a segregated nation into a toughness and resilience that saw her through a seventeen-year career. “What happens when life hands you an imperfect chance to live your dream?” Ackmann wondered as she researched the book. Stone played ball in some of the most celebrated stadiums in America, including Comiskey Park, Griffith Field, and Yankee Stadium. She ultimately played for the Kansas City Monarchs, following in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Satchel Paige. But hoteliers treated her like a hooker when she traveled with her otherwise all-male team, and she was made to sleep in local brothels. Teammates tried to get her spiked by oncoming runners. In the last years of her career, she spent more time on the bench than she could stand. Toni Stone retired in 1955. In 1991, almost forty years later, the Baseball Hall of Fame finally recognized her talents and the struggles of the Negro League. “[Hers is] a story about how far passion, persistence, and talent will take you,” Ackmann says. “But it’s as much a story about Jim Crow America as it is Toni Stone.”—M.H.B.

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


Summer 2010


To n y R i na l d o

When Life Hands You an Imperfect Chance—Play Ball!


bulletinboard Help Support the Western Riding Club Team

Calling All Former Joseph Brodsky Students

MHC’s Western Riding Club team, founded in 2008, is making Mount Holyoke a leader again in expanding intercollegiate riding sports. Team member Sarah Zabek ’11 says, “In just our second year, we sent riders to regional semifinals. We are hoping to make 2010–11 a pivotal year, as we begin to practice on campus and become more successful competitively. “The team has put immense effort into fundraising already, but as our dreams grow, so will our expenses. We hope that alumnae will help us build momentum and support us. We need funding, show clothing, equipment, and Westerntrained horses.” For more information, or to help, contact Sarah Zabek at

To celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the birth of the dissident poet, Nobel laureate, and former MHC faculty member Joseph Brodsky, an exhibit is set to open October 8 and run through the fall in Rawson House, his former residence that is attached to The Sycamores, a former MHC dorm.

Class and Club Products Lots of MHC-related class and club products are for sale. For details and photos of many items, visit www. shop/alumgifts.php or phone the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 to request a printed copy of the information.

The exhibit, which features forty-seven large-scale photos of Brodsky throughout his life, as well as a film of him reading his poetry in Russian, will open with a rededication of the plaque that once graced his house. Born in Leningrad, Brodsky was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1972, came to the college in 1974 as a member of the Russian department, and in 1987 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was honored with a MacArthur “genius” award in 1981 and named poet laureate of the United States in 1991. Brodsky was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Literature at MHC from 1990 until 1996, when he died at the age of 55. If you were a Brodsky student and would like to share your reminiscences of him, contact chemistry professor emeritus Ken Williamson at For more information on the exhibit and Brodsky, see

Ansel Adams Photos in Vermont, Via MHC The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is mounting an exhibition of the works of Ansel Adams, many of them on loan from the Mount Holyoke Art Museum. The exhibit, Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes, features more than sixty works by Ansel Adams, the legendary photographer of pristine American wilderness, and Edward Burtynsky, whose contemporary photographs illuminate human impact on the natural world. The exhibit explores how carefully crafted images can lead the viewer to make specific conclusions and ultimately shape public

Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, ca. 1927. Photograph by Ansel Adams. Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. On loan from Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

perception about land use, natural resources, and beauty. Adams’s classic and pristine black-and-white images of undisturbed nature contrast with Burtynsky’s stunning color prints of landscapes altered by man, including quarries in Vermont. The show runs through October 24. Go to www. or call 802-985-3346 for more information.

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


Summer 2010


travelopportunities September 26– October 5, 2010 England: The Canterbury Tales and Henry VIII

Dover—England trip

With Smith College and professor Nancy Mason Bradbury Follow in the footsteps of two of England’s most familiar historical figures, Geoffrey Chaucer and Henry VIII. We start with three days in London, visiting places related to the Canterbury pilgrimage and dining at the historic George Inn, where many pilgrims started their journey. We also take a day trip to Oxford. Three nights in Canterbury allow time to visit the cathedral and learn the story of Thomas Becket. We also see Dover and explore the famous coastline of the English Channel. In Kent, we discover England’s beautiful countryside, visiting historic castles and stately country homes from the time of Henry VIII. We spend two nights in the Georgian spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, and conclude our trip with an elaborate banquet in the historic Great Hall of Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn. A three-day London theatre extension program, with daily theatre tickets, is also available. Cost: $4,995 per person double occupancy. Single supplements available. For more information, please call Siemer & Hand Travel at 800-451-4321 or e-mail


January 5–19, 2011 Namibia and South Africa by Sea: Natural Treasures and Human Accomplishments

With lecturers from MHC, Yale, and Syracuse Universities, and a local ornithologist The arc of southern Africa is one of the most astonishing natural environments on the planet. Flamingos fill the sky, elephants and giraffes move with lumbering grace through the terrain, and humpback whales roll in the ocean waters. Join us on an extraordinary journey to the immense wilds of Namibia and South Africa. We will be exploring no fewer than five of South Africa’s outstanding game reserves. Each is a unique biosphere, from the Kariega River Valley to HluhluweUmfolozi National Park, the country’s oldest, and where the black and white rhinos were saved from extinction. The astounding landscapes are not South Africa’s alone, however. We will also witness tens of

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thousands of flamingos and other seabirds take flight in Namibia’s Walvis Bay, and marvel at the 1,000-foothigh dunes of the Namib Desert’s world-famous sea of sand. The story of Namibia and South Africa is also one of history, culture, colonialism, and independence. We will explore these aspects as well, with visits to Namibia’s diamond country and South Africa’s gorgeous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, with an overnight stay in Cape Town. Accompanied by study leaders and area experts aboard the elegant 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II, our trip Namibia and South Africa trip

highlights the natural and cultural wonders of the Cape of Good Hope, and beyond. There is an optional postcruise extension to Victoria Falls. Cost: $10,995 per person, double occupancy. For reservations or more information, please contact Travel Dynamics International at 800-257-5767 or 212-517-7555. Interested? To request a brochure for any of these trips, please call the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 or visit our Web site at For additional information, please call the travel company sponsoring the trip.


Thanks to you, The Campaign for Mount Holyoke is at $200 million and counting! We are two-thirds of the way to our goal and headed into the home stretch. With your support, we accomplish great things.

EVERY NIGHT AT 9. You swapped stories over M&Cs. You still can. (And you don’t have to wait until after dinner.) Join the Alumnae Association’s Facebook group and get the latest—anytime.

What’s not to like? Give yourself a treat. Join today.

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Summer 2010