Medalists, Then and Now
year as we welcome a select group of distinguished Smith
alumnae back to campus to be venerated and honored with the
Smith College Medal, it’s easy to forget: they were
once undergraduates here, just like those wearing wacky hats
and rumbling the rafters of John M. Greene Hall at (on Wednesday, Feb. 23).
They once took up temporary
residence on campus, competed on sports teams
and clubs, spent countless hours in the library, and attended
the occasional house party.
Since then, they have all
traveled a good share of ground, achieving great things
along the way. Here, in their words, are snapshots of favorite
memories from this year’s
Smith Medalists. (Click on the medalists’ pictures to read
more about their professional lives and accomplishments.) Each
medalist will on Tuesday,
Feb. 22, open to the Smith community.
Professor and anthropologist
Major: independent major, concentration in anthropology
House: Oak House (no longer exists), moved to Tyler House, then to Tenney House
Tenney House was a cooperative
where we bought and prepared our own food. I did not have
much money as a student, so this cut down substantially on
my board. Although, Tenney was also famous for its parties!
I am still in touch with many of my housemates and many other
alums. In fact I know many more Smithies now, of all ages
and stripes, in many cities all over the world, than I did
when I was at Smith!
One of my absolute favorite
things to do at Smith was to wander down to the Lyman Plant
House. I always went to the flower shows, and I can still
remember the smell of warm earth—especially when you came in to the spring Bulb Show
from the cold winter weather outside. In the summer I used
to take an occasional nap under the big evergreens next to
the plant house. It was cool, shaded and perfumed with resin.
Major: Art history
House, where her mother, Alice Houston McWhinney ’16,
and her sister, fellow Smith Medalist (in 1971) Madeline
McWhinney Dale ’43,
loved after-dinner conversations in our house mother's sitting
small group of us from all four classes often retreated from
our frenzied and solitary studies to talk about matters in
the great outer world: Korea, dating, McCarthyism, men, coming
elections, breaking up with our boyfriends, Adlai Stevenson
running for president (he was our commencement speaker).
Occasionally we complained about
the food, the parietals, or confessed to having a crush on
a professor. We always felt smarter, worldlier, and more
connected after these evening diversions. They have become
Pioneer and activist for women's sexuality
Major: Political science
tradition while at Smith: Bike riding to the Whale Inn.
quote from Smith: “If there’s
one thing worse in this universe, it’s a woman without a
man.”—from a Whiffenpoof’s song.
Internet entrepreneur and writer
Major: economics (minor
in international relations)
House: Started in Jordan,
moved to Baldwin, finished in King
loved tea time. Growing up in Miami, I had never experienced
such a thing. Smith somehow managed to make it feel both
elegant and cozy all at once.
I wouldn’t have imagined loving Smith
as much as I did. Because Smith was single sex, I was able
to focus intensely on academics -- and, for the first time
in my life, on myself as a woman. It was an unexpected luxury
to think of my place in the world, something I had never
considered prior to Smith. Those few classes I took in Feminism
were, frankly, perspective-altering. I am not sure if Feminism
101 was a requirement at Smith then, but it should be now!
Policy entrepreneur and author
Major: American studies
I have strong memories of long nights at the Sophian, followed
by long days at the printer hand pasting the layout of the
paper. But it was a phenomenal learning experience that I
value to this day. I still enjoy the tradition of the Ivy
Day parade—somehow it reminds all of us that we are part
of a long line of Smithies. When I was at Smith, we had alums
from the early decades of the 20th century in the parade.
And now we have alums in the first decade of the 21st century.
And we are all connected.