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   Date: 9/30/09 Bookmark and Share

Sriyanie Miththapala ’88

Miss Horner and I kept in touch long after I left Smith in 1988. Every six months or so, an airmail letter would arrive at my home in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Each letter was several pages long and covered with small, neat cursive. Each contained a wealth of detail about what she was doing at the time: publishing papers on Peromyscus, attending annual mammal meetings wherever they were held, and continuing her research. Sometimes they contained paper or journal cuttings about my original area of research—big cats.

Then one Christmas, I nearly fell off my chair with amazement to read that Miss Horner, at 80-something years old, had gone on a grueling field trip with a group of other researchers to Costa Rica. The reason, she wrote, was that “there was so much to learn.” This statement, to me, epitomizes Miss Horner. She had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a child-like delight in discovery. It is this eagerness and enjoyment that she conveyed to the many students of her teaching career. Now firmly into middle age, I hope that I too can retain the love of learning well into old age as she did, and convey it to my students and younger researchers as she did, for this is the legacy Miss Horner has left to Smith through generations of her students.

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