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A LUM N I H A L L

pick up Mary’s story and finish what her mother could not. Rowbottom writes intimately about the “girls” in her family — herself, her mother, and her grandmother — and weaves in the stories of other girls connected to Jell-O, or to the town of LeRoy, where the company left an indelible imprint. First, there was the original “Jell-O Girl,” the daughter of an ad man in the company who appeared sweet and mute in the brand’s first big advertising campaign and was immortalized in pamphlets sent to housewives all over America. Years later, starting in 2011, there were the “LeRoy girls,” local high schoolers who, one after another, suddenly woke up with a mysterious Tourette’s-like illness. They were eventually diagnosed with conversion disorder, a condition that causes the brain to convert emotional stress into physical symptoms. A random connection to the Jell-O curse? Not to Rowbottom and her mother, who had both experienced unexplained hand paralysis and other physical ailments. They became fixated on the girls and considered the girls’ histories to be “entwined” with their own. “We are all connected, we women, we

“We are all connected, we women, we Jell-O girls, bound by a web of common experience.” Jell-O girls, bound by a web of common experience, a common language we express through our bodies before we learn it is safe to speak,” Rowbottom writes. Rowbottom’s mother came to believe that the silencing of women was at the heart of the Jell-O curse, and the act of telling her story would be a counter-curse. In writing Jell-O Girls, Rowbottom speaks for her mother and for generations of women in her life. And although she says feminism and the importance of women’s voices remain “great fixations” for her, she is ready to move on. “Having released the story has cleared space for me to think about other stories and let go of what was a real obsession,” she says. She is currently working on a novel, and still teaches, encouraging her students to do what she did: “Push into the hard stuff, the stuff that scares them.”

ALUMNI COUNCIL WHO’S WHO LEO CHIQUILLO ’09 Hometown: Los Angeles Work: As director of audience at ATTN:, a media company that informs through entertainment, he oversees and expands the reach of the company’s social media channels. Alumni Council gig: He’s on the “small and mighty” Young Alumni Committee, where he uses his social media savvy to publicize alumni events and fundraisers. He also organizes NMH’s L.A. Area Club activities. Strategy: “Meet audiences where they are. Young alumni won’t always pick up the phone or open their email, but they are on Facebook and Instagram.” Why volunteer: It’s simple. “I love NMH. I wish I had more hours in my day to give back.” Favorite Alumni Council moments: Meeting alumni from other class years during the Alumni Council Leadership Weekend on campus. “The NMH experience is transcendent. Whether you graduated in 2014 or 1972, everyone shares a similar experience.” His favorite student workjob: The farm. “As someone who grew up in a city, I just loved being in nature, with the cows.”

Chiquillo calls his NMH experience ‘transcendent.”

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Profile for Northfield Mount Hermon

NMH Magazine Spring 2019  

The Magazine of Northfield Mount Hermon

NMH Magazine Spring 2019  

The Magazine of Northfield Mount Hermon

Profile for nmhschool