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Entering Smith Class is Active and Activist

There have been 124 Smith graduating classes before them. More than 60,000 Smith graduates have accepted their diplomas before this arriving class of 2003 has even entered a classroom. But now these entering first-years, with the determination and skills that got them into Smith in the first place, are poised to take their own shots at becoming accomplished alumnae.

"This class promises to hit the ground running," says Debra Shaver, senior associate director of admission, "because they are bright and interesting and involved both in the classroom and in the community."

This fall's first-years, says Shaver, represent a modern trend for incoming Smith students to volunteer and participate during their high school years in varied activities beyond their academic classes. "So many of them come to Smith having made a difference in their communities," she says. "They are bringing a wealth of experience with them from outside the classroom. They are both very smart and very involved."

Lauren Hall, of South Nyack, N.Y., proves Shaver's point. She studied in France during high school and traveled to Kenya with a volunteer agricultural program. She has also been active in Amnesty International and Students Opposing Starvation and has pitched in at the Rockland (N.Y.) Family Shelter for Women while volunteering to assist with "Back Door," a series of teen music events meant to encourage a drug-free community.

"I think it's important for people to be exposed to all sorts of other people and ideas," says Hall. "It's important to help others live a better life and to help everybody interact."

Hall, who is studying visual arts and philosophy, says she opted to come to Smith because she was impressed with the academic environment at Smith and within the Five College area.

Megan Jamieson, of Randolph, Vt., says she participated in many activities outside of class as a way to meet an array of different people. "One of the most important lessons you can learn is in working with other people," she says. "Any time you can give yourself lessons in that, you should. There's so much more than school when it comes to learning."

Jamieson, who has acted with her community theater and sung in various town choirs, is not yet sure what she will major in at Smith. "But I know it will definitely involve writing, definitely languages and definitely people," she says.

After she graduates from Smith in 2003 with a degree in government, Carolyn Hsu, of Hillsborough, Calif., plans to study law and "fight for the social causes that I believe in," including equal rights for women, reproductive rights and the eradication of racism. She believes Smith is a good place to advocate for her causes. "I chose Smith because of the visible level of community awareness about social issues and because of the competitiveness of Smith academics," she says.

Hsu, who completed an internship in Washington with the National Organization for Women, co-founded the Women's Empowerment Club in her high school and worked with Planned Parenthood in California.

The class of 2003 numbers about 670 students accepted from among almost 3000 applicants, says director of admission Nanci Tessier. Of the pool of applicants, Smith admitted 1,681, or 56 percent.

Shaver says a student's academic performance, a combination of her grades and high school curriculum, is what admissions personnel examine first. Also important are a student's extracurricular involvement, her personal essay and college testing, and what her teachers and counselors say about her. "Although all the components are important, the most important remains the transcript," says Shaver. "We are looking for bright, interesting women."

Joemy Gates, of Berkeley, Calif., says that's one of the reasons she came to Smith. "Smith produces a lot of dynamic women and I look forward to being part of that atmosphere," she says. Gates, who studies psychology and music, hopes to work with children in need after her Smith tenure, possibly as a social worker.

One aspect of coming to Smith that the new first-years say they've looked most forward to is meeting new people. "I look forward to meeting new people of all types," said Hsu last August from Calif., "from different ethnicities, backgrounds, sexualities, ideas, ideals, beliefs, socio-economic classes, et cetera."

She's come to the right place.

August 30, 1999


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