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By Eric Weld   Date: 9/12/11 Bookmark and Share

All in the Smith Family

When Annecca Smith ’15 received her housing assignment in July, learning that she would move into Wesley House to begin her Smith career, her thoughts turned to her grandmother.

It was more than 60 years ago when Shelley Lindner Henderson ’50, Annecca’s grandmother, also took up residence in Wesley House upon her entrance to Smith. And when Annecca’s sister, Sarah-Neel Smith ’07, entered Smith, she moved in next door to Wesley, in Haven House.


Annecca Smith '15 moved into Wesley House, where her grandmother lived more than 60 years ago.

That’s not the extent of Annecca’s Smith legacy. In fact, it stretches back a hundred years, to 1902, when her grandfather’s aunt, Nellie Henderson Carter, graduated from Smith. Finally, Annecca’s aunt, Sylvia Henderson ’83, is another graduate of the school.

By the time she arrived on campus earlier this month, Annecca Smith, who is from Worcester, Mass., was well acquainted with the school with which she shares a name. “I heard my aunt’s [Sylvia Henderson’s] stories about Smith,” she says, “and I visited my sister a lot when she was here. It’s nice, because I can benefit from their experiences and advice.”

Of course, much has changed in the 60 years since Shelley Henderson lived in Wesley, notes the octogenarian, who visited campus for her 60th reunion.

“It’s all totally different now,” says Henderson, who lived in a third-floor room in Wesley her first year, then moved to Haven House. “Everything’s changed.”

In Henderson’s Wesley House, for example, there was a single telephone for each floor, she recalls. There was, of course, no television, nor air conditioning. And amid those World War II years, when conservative use of goods and services was emphasized, students were restricted to two electrical devices—Henderson brought a lamp and a radio.

A faculty resident lived in the house and supervised the comings and goings of students and their guests.

Henderson recalls her third-floor room warmly. “I had this magnificent view of the library and the planetarium. I loved it, it was a wonderful four years at Smith.”

When she received her housing assignment (not requested), Annecca forwarded the news to her sister and grandmother.

“My grandma called me that night, very excited,” she recalls. “She looked up to see which room I was assigned.”

For Annecca, Smith was a carefully considered choice, she says. She applied widely to colleges, and weighed several options. And while her extended family carries a proud Smith legacy, her predecessors were respectful in allowing Annecca to make her own decision.

“They all look back very fondly on Smith,” she says, “but they were good about not telling me I had to go here. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to Smith because my sister went here. But when I visited [as a prospective student] I came to love it for my own reasons.”

Annecca, who lived in Germany as a high school cultural exchange student, has interest in studying languages and music, among other areas.

“There’s so much out there that I haven’t even scratched the surface of yet,” she says. “I’m really excited to have a chance to decide what I want to study, on my own terms.”

And when it comes time for advice, she has a selection of experienced family perspectives to choose from.

“It allows me to enjoy an even fuller picture of the institution, knowing that women in my family have gone through this,” she says. “Everybody’s very supportive and excited.”

Annecca will likely not be the last in her family to attend Smith. Some day in the future, when she is in position to advise her descendants on college choices, “I will definitely encourage them to visit Smith,” she says.

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