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Smith Honors Five Alumnae Leaders

Five women who have risen to the top of their fields while contributing their talent and expertise to the improvement of others’ lives will be honored with this year’s Smith College Medal, an award presented each February on Rally Day.

The event, which honors distinguished alumnae and gathers students in a celebratory, festive rally, will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 1:30 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage.

The Smith College Medal was established in 1962 to recognize and honor alumnae “who, in the judgment of the trustees, exemplify in their lives and work the true purpose of a liberal arts education.”

This year’s Smith College Medalists are Sarah Chasis ’69, Mary Ann Freedman Hoberman ’51, Carolyn Scerbo Kaelin ’83, Amy-Jill Levine ’78, and Trudy Rubin ’65.

The five medalists will participate in a panel discussion, following the presentation of their awards, at this year’s Rally Day convocation.

Sarah Chasis ’69, environmental lawyer
As a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (NRDC), Sarah Chasis has become one of the nation’s most influential leaders in marine conservation and advocacy. Currently the director of the NRDC’s Ocean Initiative, she has advocated to protect waters from damaging offshore oil excavation and pollution, promote improved fisheries management and preserve natural habitats. Chasis worked with the Pew Oceans Commission, one of the world’s foremost groups of ocean experts, and has testified before the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. In 1992, Chasis was named the first Coastal Steward of the Year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Meanwhile, Chasis continues her mentorship of students of environmental law as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law.

Mary Ann Hoberman ’51, children’s author
The author of more than 40 books of poetry and stories for children, Mary Ann Hoberman has won numerous awards for her writing since the publication of her first book in 1957. In 1983, she received a National Book Award for A House is a House for Me and in 2003, the Poetry for Children Award from the National Council of Teachers of English. Her recent book You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together was a New York Times bestseller. During her writing career, Hoberman has volunteered extensively in programs promoting literacy, and donates a portion of her book royalties to Literacy Volunteers of America (now ProLiteracy), an international nonprofit organization that promotes family literacy. Hoberman has taught writing and literature to students from elementary to college level. She co-founded and performed with The Pocket People, a children’s theater group, and Women’s Voices, a dramatized poetry reading group.

Carolyn Kaelin ’83, physician
When she became founding director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1996, Carolyn Kaelin was the youngest woman ever to direct such a program at an academic hospital. A surgical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kaelin also serves as a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, where her research has centered on quality of life
following breast cancer treatment. Three years ago, Kaelin learned she herself had breast cancer. Already a persuasive, eloquent speaker and a leader in breast cancer research and treatment, this sea change in her own life encouraged her to pursue survivorship initiatives that would benefit all patients. She has received the Partners in Excellence Award for her mentoring skill and the prestigious Mary Horrigan Connor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women's Health. Newsweek singled her out as one of the women to watch in the millennium. Kaelin is the author of an award-winning book titled Living Through Breast Cancer. She also wrote The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan, which focuses on recovery.

Amy-Jill Levine ’78, feminist biblical scholar
The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Amy-Jill Levine is known for her ability to create points of contact between Jewish and Christian faith traditions. The founding director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality, Levine’s numerous publications address Christian origins, Second-Temple Judaism, Jewish-Christian relations, and biblical women. Her most recent book, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, is a best-seller. She is also the editor of the 14-volume series Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings, and has served on the boards of the Journal of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. A highly sought speaker, Levine is known for her effective blend of historical and literary criticism, inclusiveness of beliefs and backgrounds, and timely humor in her presentations.

Trudy Rubin ’65, journalist
The "Worldview" columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Trudy Rubin is one of the nation's most distinguished commentators on foreign affairs, with frequent appearances on public television and radio. She has particular expertise on the Middle East, about which she has written for 30 years, and she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2001 for her columns on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. An intrepid correspondent, Rubin has focused her column on Iraq over the past four years, and made seven lengthy trips to that country. In the last few years, she has also visited other hot spots such as Iran, Israel, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and others. She served as the Middle East correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, as staff writer for the Economist in London, and as a radio correspondent in Czechoslovakia during the 1968 Prague Spring. Rubin strives to educate her readers in her columns, often incorporating history and sociology into her analyses. Most recently, she is the author of Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq.

1/10/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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