Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 26 ~ Getting That MRS Degree…NOT!

Last week, Gloria Steinem visited my alma mater, Simmons College, in Boston, for the first time in 40 years.* Reading about her visit brought back wonderful memories of my four years at the College on the Fenway, and what a very big deal it was for my family for me to pursue a college education. That’s because I was the first person in my family, let alone first woman, to go.**

For my mother, it was simply out of the question for financial reasons. Raised in a blue-collar family, she may have had some aspirations to attend nearby Westbrook Junior College, on Stevens Avenue, in Portland, but it was a pipe dream at best. She had worked summers at Cushman’s Bakery during high school, and returned there following graduation in 1949.

As for my grandmothers, my maternal grandmother briefly attended Gray’s Business College in Portland, according to her engagement announcement. Beyond that, the whole concept of attending college was completely foreign to my family's way of life.

So you can imagine the novelty of taking a child to the big city in the fall of 1973, settling her into a dormitory room with two strangers, and driving back up the Maine Turnpike without me!

At least they assuaged their anxieties somewhat. Before leaving Boston, they decided to take in a Red Sox game. As they sat there waiting for the game to begin, wondering what I was doing, their conversation was overheard by another couple seated behind them. They too, ironically enough, had just dropped their own daughter off at Simmons College!

Father-Daughter Weekend
South Hall
Simmons College
[Yours Truly 5th from left, Dad 6th from left]

Graduation Day
May 22, 1977

* Ms. Steinem was the first recipient of the Doctorate of Human Justice from Simmons College in 1973 (just before my freshman year).

** My great grandfather Wylie H. Smith graduated from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Lisa Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist blog is presenting her Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month series in honor of National Women’s History Month.

1 comment:

  1. Did you go? My daughter attended with some of her classmates. They loved it, but didn't quite understand what a BIG deal it was to see Gloria Steinham. I remember having the heebie jeebies dropping of my daughter at Simmons. The spring just before she started was the big mob scene on the Fenway where a student was killed by a rubber bullet during big 2004 celebration for the Red Sox win over the Yankees. Her four years were uneventful, even though the Boston teams continued to win championships during her five years there.