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Smith Alumna Fondly Remembered

Roselle Hoffmaster ’98, who died on September 20 while serving as a surgeon in the U.S. Army in Iraq, was honored by several hundred people during a memorial service on September 29 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Those who knew her in the Smith community fondly remember her. Mary Harrington, the Tippit Professor in Life Sciences, offers this:

Tribute to the late Roselle Hoffmaster

By Mary Harrington

As a professor at Smith College, I have met many outstanding students over the years, but none with the mix of phenomenal abilities and pure heart of Roselle Hoffmaster ’98.  Roselle was smarter and more capable than the rest of us, and she held an almost tender benevolence toward others. She did not ask anyone else to work to the high standards she herself was working to achieve. Her standards had nothing to do with the awards that were continually bestowed upon her; she honestly didn’t care much for those. In the way she enjoyed running track, her pleasure came from working to achieve her own personal best. 

Roselle discovered her affinity for scientific research as an undergraduate, working with myself and other Smith professors on experiments in biochemistry and neuroscience.  She chose a career in medicine because it could provide the challenges she loved, with the selfless service to others that gave her deep satisfaction. Roselle loved nature, and hiked 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the summer after her Smith graduation. She met her future husband in a research lab during the summer after her junior year, and their loving marriage allowed her many enjoyable adventures.

Roselle called me in August to say she was going to be deployed to Iraq. She had not expected to be deployed so soon, although I later found out that she had volunteered to take a posting overseas, to spare the others from her internal medicine residency class, some of whom had small children. She and I talked at length about how a Smith education interacts with the military environment. There were challenges, but none that she could not surmount with her practical and calm approach. 

It was a horrible shock for her friends and family to hear that Roselle died in Iraq Sept. 20, 2007. We have all lost an amazing human being.


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