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Sept. 12, 2012

Rally Day 2013 to Honor Five Accomplished Alumnae

The following alumnae will receive awards: Gail Paster, Shakespearean scholar; Kay Holekamp, zoologist and field biologist; Janet McKinley, global investor and philanthropist; Anne De Groot, scientist and entrepreneur; and Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass – For their extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities, five alumnae have been named 2013 recipients of the prestigious Smith College Medal. Established in 1962 to recognize women who exemplify in their lives and work “the true purpose” of a liberal arts education, the honor will be bestowed at Rally Day at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

The following alumnae will receive awards: Gail Paster, Class of 1966, Shakespearean scholar; Kay Holekamp, Class of 1973, zoologist and field biologist; Janet McKinley, Class of 1976, global investor and philanthropist; Anne De Groot, Class of 1978, scientist and entrepreneur; and Sherry Rehman, Class of 1985, Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.

Rally Day is a time for the Smith community to gather, remember the past, look to the future and celebrate student life. The occasion marks the first time that seniors publicly wear their gowns along with inventive hats in keeping with the spirited, “rallying” nature of the day. Classes are cancelled.

In addition to celebrating the medalists, Rally Day has become the occasion that President Carol Christ announces the commencement speaker.

Gail Kern Paster, Class of 1966, Shakespearean scholar

1Recently described as a “rock star of the world of Shakespeare,” Gail Paster first gained recognition for her scholarship while at George Washington University. In 2002, Paster was appointed to the prestigious post of director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, where she served for nine years. As director, Paster strengthened the Folger’s educational outreach to scholars of all ages, particularly through digital initiatives. She oversaw the acquisition of rare documents of the Elizabethan era and raised more than $28 million for collections and renovation of the library’s historic building. During her tenure, the audience for public programs grew by more than 25 percent. Paster’s scholarly work has won her fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson, Andrew W. Mellon and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities. At her retirement, the Folger’s Board of Governors renamed the Old Reading Room in her honor. She was also recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her distinguished service to the arts.

Kay Holekamp, Class of 1973, zoologist and field biologist

1For more than two decades, Kay Holekamp has led groundbreaking studies of spotted hyenas in the Masai Mara, Kenya. Her research is renowned because of its cross-disciplinary approach incorporating the perspectives of zoology, ecology and animal behavior. A distinguished professor of zoology at Michigan State University, Holekamp’s work focuses on group dynamics of the matriarchal hierarchies of hyenas, the influence of hormones on their behavior and their remarkable resistance to disease and toxins. In recognition of her research, Holekamp has received numerous awards, including the C. Hart Merriam Award for outstanding research in mammals given annually by the American Society of Mammalogists. Throughout her career, Holekamp has published widely in scientific journals. In 2001, she was elected a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. She contributes to the “Science at Work” blog at the New York Times. A psychology major at Smith, Holekamp did her graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley.

Janet Clarke McKinley, Class of 1976, global investor and philanthropist

1After an extraordinary career in the investment sector devoted to stewardship of clients’ life savings, Janet McKinley retired to partner with organizations intent on creating lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice. Upon graduating from Smith, McKinley was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Krakow, Poland, and later attended night classes at New York University’s Stern School of Business.  Her successful career at Capital Research and Management Company culminated in her responsibility as principal executive officer and chairman of the Income Fund of America – an equity-income fund exceeding $50 billion in assets under management.  After her 2004 retirement, McKinley began contributing to international development efforts. McKinley has focused on financial innovations in vulnerable communities, the advancement of women and sustainable agricultural practices addressing needs related to climate change. She has also been instrumental in the growth of Oxfam America, where she served on the board for a dozen years including the last five as chairperson. A former trustee of Smith, McKinley recently facilitated an institutional partnership between Oxfam and Smith, which will provide internship opportunities for students. [Editor's note: Read more about McKinley's efforts to help lift the world's poorest women out of poverty in the Smith Alumnae Quarterly.]

Anne Searls De Groot, Class of 1978, scientist and entrepreneur

1Internationally known for her research on the immune system’s response to vaccinations, Anne De Groot has explored the “genome-to-vaccine” approach to solving some of the world’s biggest infectious disease problems. Her biotech company EpiVax and her academic Institute for Immunology and Informatics are collaborating on epitope-driven vaccines to counter tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, dengue fever, cervical cancer, smallpox and tularemia. First at Brown University and now, the University of Rhode Island, she has introduced the next generation of researchers to the field. She earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago. In addition to founding EpiVax, De Groot has dedicated her medical skills and research to expanding the availability of vaccines by founding the Global Alliance to Immunize against AIDS (GAIA) Vaccine Foundation that collaborates with clinics and laboratories in Mali, West Africa, and was part of a group of medical volunteers who founded the Clinica Esperanza (Hope Clinic), a community health center that offers free medical care and preventive health services to Rhode Island residents. [Editor's note: Read more about De Groot's efforts to eradicate some of the world's most deadly diseases by making vaccines available to everyone in the Smith Alumnae Quarterly.]

Sherry Rehman, Class of 1985, Pakistan Ambassador to the United States

1A fierce defender of women’s rights, Sherry Rehman dove into the world of Pakistani politics – first by writing about key social and political issues and later, by entering politics. After graduating from Smith, Rehman returned to her country to work at The Herald, Pakistan’s leading English news magazine. She became a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was elected to Parliament in 2002 and appointed Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 2008. A year later, when she disagreed with the government’s move to curtail press freedoms, she resigned. The assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in 2010 brought Rehman back into the news when she introduced legislation to repeal the Blasphemy Law that Taseer had fought. Last year, Rehman was appointed Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, a post “she was born for,” according to the Washington Post. Rehman has been recognized with honors including the Freedom Award from the Association of Television Journalists and the International Peace Award from the Human Rights Commission. She is currently chair of the Lady Dufferin Foundation Trust, a nonprofit provider of healthcare to women and children.


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