Each 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 this year’s Rally Day (on Thursday, Feb. 23).
They once moved into a room in a campus house, 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.) Four of the medalists will give presentations in their fields on Wednesday, Feb. 22, open to the Smith community.
Cynthia Wade ’89
House: Duckett (after one semester in Haven and one semester in Baldwin. “I consider Duckett my Smith home.”)
The entire basis of my life’s work started at Smith. The fact that Smith enabled me to make my first documentary as my Smith Scholars Senior Thesis was life-changing for me. It literally set the course of my life. I was also incredibly inspired and thrilled to be a student in the vibrant arts community of Northampton—the access to the independent film theaters was amazing and exciting.
Favorite Smith tradition: I loved Mountain Day. Was there anything more exciting than hearing those bells ring on a spectacular New England October morning? I remember apple picking on Mountain Day my senior year, and exploring some small New England towns with a couple of friends, and stopping at an 1800s general store. Today, I live in a small New England town in Western Massachusetts and try to live a little bit of Mountain Day any chance I have.
Dolores Kunda ’77
Major: English, “the only major where you could get credit for reading stories. I still can recite the first 18 lines of Chaucer’s Prologue in Middle English! “
House: Cushing, “the only house to beat a Dartmouth fraternity at a beer-drinking contest. We had T-shirts printed up with ‘Cushing Chuggers’ (I still have my shirt).”
The most valuable thing I received from Smith is a cadre of lifelong women friends. I will have a posse of loud, boisterous Smithies from the class of ’77, The Last Competent Class (thank you very much), sitting in the reserve section of JMG.
Favorite tradition: the All-Quad Water Fight. The entire Quad would be involved. Water was everywhere—from buckets, water balloons and hoses. We drove the Kingsmen nuts.
Barbara Brenner ’73
Breast cancer activist
Favorite Smith memories: I remember crowds of women on bikes and foot flooding from campus to the quad at lunch time, talking a mile a minute. I remember sitting in Leo Weinstein’s constitutional law class wondering if I would ever find a better teacher. And I remember every Mountain Day!
Betsy Humphreys ’69
What do you remember about Smith? This question prompted a flood of memories, from the trivial to the important. Here are a few:
- stunning myself and all my teammates by actually catching a deep fly ball to right field in an intramural softball game
- bonding with a fellow history major over finding silly sentences in the History 100 textbook, (e.g., “The horrified workers saw that the little father was not their friend”—and no wonder since the tsar’s troops had just opened fire on them);
- the excitement of my first experience using original sources (in this case, English statutes) to develop a plausible theory about a historical event.
Favorite Smith tradition: The Emerson House Medieval banquet. It was even more fun to help put it on (producing the scrolled invitations in medieval script, delivering them in costume to faculty guests, participating in the musical entertainment, etc.) as an undergraduate than it was to sit at the table as a guest in my senior year. In terms of Smith-wide traditions, Mountain Day was my favorite. There is something very right about an institution that will declare a holiday just because it is a beautiful day in autumn in New England.
Janet Fish ’60
Major: Art (“‘practical art,’ as it was called then”)
I remember working in the basement of the art building. I liked the quiet to make my paintings and prints. There were many small rooms not in use and not always well lit. I took over a couple to make prints and would stay late, once or twice too late, but my friends covered for me and let me back in to the dorm at night.