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September 23, 2005

Ada Comstock Scholars Celebrate Program's 30th

Editor’s note: This event is not open to the public. Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Kristen Cole at

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—The year was 1975. Gerald Ford was in the Oval Office. The fall of Saigon hastened an end to the Vietnam War. On the screen, “Saturday Night Live” premiered, and “The Godfather” became a hit, receiving the Best Picture Oscar.

At Smith College, President Jill Ker Conway began a groundbreaking program that invited women of nontraditional college age to secure a bachelor’s degree in an unlimited time period.

Since its inception 30 years ago, the Ada Comstock Scholars Program has grown from its original 33 students to enroll more than 230 women this year and has served as a model for similar programs at institutions around the country.

On Saturday, Oct. 8, alumnae and current scholars will celebrate the program’s 30th anniversary with “Transformations,” a daylong event featuring talks by Conway, President Carol T. Christ and a panel of alumnae.

In the Weinstein Auditorium of Wright Hall, Conway will deliver the keynote address at 9 a.m.; Christ, the state-of-the-college address at 9:45 a.m.; and a panel of alumnae will discuss their experiences at 11 a.m.

The alumnae panel will include:

Laura Baumeister, an English teacher in Fairfield, Conn., worked as a private health-care attendant and then as a hospital admitting clerk before enrolling at Smith. In 1997, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith and a master’s in teaching at the Smith School of Education.

Christine Forgey, mayor of the City of Greenfield, graduated in 1996 with an honor’s degree in history. Before her historic 2003 election as the first mayor of Greenfield, she worked at Smith in the college relations and provost’s offices.

Melinda (Lindy) Gougeon, an associate dean of math, science, business and information technology at Greenfield Community College (GCC), graduated from Smith summa cum laude with a degree in mathematics in 1988. She also earned a master’s at Smith and, in the 16 years since, earned a doctorate.

Teresa Hacunda, vice president of international marketing for the medical product line for Tyco Healthcare, graduated in 1987. She enrolled at Smith after an interruption in her education of nearly ten years—during which time she worked first as a legal secretary and later a secretary for the Ada Comstock Scholars Program.

Susan K. Smith, a lawyer, worked as a paralegal prior to and while attending Smith. She graduated in 1980 and went on to earn her law degree and join the Santos litigation firm in Hartford, where she had once been a paralegal. In 1995, she left the world of civil trial practice for a practice centered on mediation.

The Ada Comstock Scholars Program combines the rigorous academic challenges of Smith with flexibility for women beyond the traditional college age by providing options for reduced course loads, special academic advising, career counseling and diverse housing options.

The program was named for Ada Louise Comstock, who graduated from Smith in 1897 and later served as dean of Smith and president of Radcliffe.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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