it One Step at a Time
Every student who arrives at
Smith College does not develop an instant love for the school.
Place graduating senior Shain M. Neumeier, of Los Angeles,
in that category.
Neumeier, a history major,
was initially attracted to the college by its beautiful
architecture and the friendly welcome she received during
her campus visit. But, she says, “I
had a bit of a hard time adjusting socially.”
Fast-forward four years and the 21-year-old Neumeier is
now planning staying on the East Coast after graduation to
remain close to Smith and return for various events. She
praises the role that her college has played in her life.
“I’m really glad to be done with the work but I could spend another
four years here,” said Neumeier. “What I’ll miss most about
Smith is the kind of community and home that you can feel part of.”
In the fall, Neumeier
will begin graduate school at Suffolk University Law School
in Boston on what amounts to a full scholarship—an accomplishment “almost unheard
of” in law school, according to Stacie Hagenbaugh,
director of the Career Development Office.
Neumeier’s decision to pursue disability law, which
falls under the rubric of health and biomedical law, has
a direct personal connection. Born with a cleft lip and related
medical conditions, Neumeier identifies with the feeling
of “being on the outside,” she says, and is passionate
about the treatment of disabled people.
At Smith, she was a member of Body Talk, an organization
focused on body image. She has also connected with several
online communities that educate and advocate for the disabled.
Couple that with her passion
for debate, and Neumeier’s
choice to pursue disability law was not a stretch. “It
was suggested to me by everyone I know,” said Neumeier, “because
I like to argue so much.”
Her debating skills stand
out in the mind of Ernest Benz, Neumeier’s adviser
and favorite professor.
“What I find most striking about Shain is her forthrightness,” said
Benz, associate professor of history. “She is not afraid
to say the unsayable whether in a classroom discussion or
a campus one.”
Neumeier credits her debate
skills to her father, Edward, who challenged her to support
her opinions on “everything
from what happened at school to whether you should be able
to hang a Confederate flag outside a building.”
As she prepares to leave Smith for Cambridge and law school,
Neumeier is both looking ahead and thinking about the occasions
that will draw her back to Northampton.
Atop that list is ConBust,
the annual a three-day sci-fi/fantasy/anime/gaming convention
hosted by Smith’s science fiction and fantasy
club. The convention attracts hundreds of fans to campus
to hear the industry’s top authors discuss such topics
as making believable villains, the science of magic and gender
bending. And then there are the Northampton restaurants Neumeier
vows to return to regularly—Joe’s Café,
Spoleto and Pizzeria Paradiso among them.
And as her path wends
away from campus, Neumeier aims to remedy wrongs committed
against the disabled through the law just as she did her
rigorous academic assignments at Smith. “I’ll
tackle it one step at a time.”