on the Smith Sisterhood
Aubrey Menard ’08 (left) and Gwen Mason ’82 consult
in Mason's campaign headquarters.
connections among Smith students and alumnae happen all the
time. Alumnae often offer new graduates valuable career advice
and host current students when the students visit new locales.
The Smith sisterhood is a lifetime
membership to a global club, and the connection between Aubrey
Menard ’08 and Gwen Williams Mason ’82 is
the latest example.
After graduating with a degree
in American government, Mason’s interest in public service led her to
a career at the Department of the Interior in Washington,
D.C., and a successful run for the Roanoke, Virginia, City
Council in 2006.
When a seat opened up in the
Virginia House of Delegates—America’s oldest legislative body—Mason jumped
at the chance to run. She teamed this year with Menard, who
serves as the campaign’s finance director.
“Smith truly is a sisterhood,” attests Menard, “and we are proving that your
sisters help you out when you need it. Regardless of partisanship, Smithies know
that women bring dynamic representation to public office.”
Not only have her fellow Smith
alumnae contributed monetarily to Mason’s campaign,
notes Menard, but several have come forward with donations of their time and
words of encouragement. In one such example, Mason’s classmate Amy Northcutt ’82,
the deputy general counsel for the National Science Foundation, offered to travel
to Roanoke, in Mason’s district, to walk door-to-door alongside the candidate
talking to voters.
“It has been amazing for me
to see how supportive Gwen’s classmates have been,
nearly 30 years after their graduation,” she says. “Gwen’s
talked to 1982-ers from California to Maine to Florida. And
she’s seen friends from each of the
graduating Smith classes from her four years in Northampton.”
As the House of Delegates campaign
kicks into high gear this fall, the candidate appreciates
the levity and camaraderie that comes with working alongside
her college mate.
“Sometimes I feel like Aubrey lives on my hall in Wilder House,” quips Mason. “We’ve
had many good laughs over eating too much first year, about
beer parties, the beauty of the Quad.”
Being a part of the worldwide
Smith community has given Mason a regular boost of moral
support in addition to other contributions, she says.
“It is an amazing sorority,” says Mason of the Smith alumnae network. “The
support, encouragement and steadfast faith in me as a candidate strengthen
me every day. Smith friends have emailed, or met me at events and shared their
experiences, appreciation for public service and interest in the political
issues of the day.”
Come November, when Mason hopes
to join her state’s House
of Delegates, the real work of change will begin for both
women. If she is elected, Mason will be one of 100 state
representatives charged with passing the state’s budget,
which funds transportation and education. Menard will see
what options surface from the Smith experience, and is hoping
to work on one of the upcoming Congressional or Gubernatorial
races in 2010.
Even as they campaign hard this
autumn, the two Smithies’ thoughts
of their alma mater remain close—they vow to take one afternoon
off on an undisclosed day soon to “frolick in the
fall foliage, pick apples, and picnic in honor of Mountain
Day: we know we’ll end up visiting with some voters.”