Mount Holyoke Alum Online Book Club
Enjoy books with alums from across generations and around the world through the Mount Holyoke Alum Online Book Club.
Spring 2021 Alumnae Quarterly
Read the spring Alumnae Quarterly on our new, more accessible online platform.
Sonali Gulati’s ’96 Letter to Jean Grossholtz
I will never forget the day you and Eileen drove to Boston from South Hadley, to take me to Logan International Airport, which was only 20 minutes away. It was the day I learned — on my answering machine — the news of my mother’s murder in India.
Thank you, Jean, for creating a Sonali Room, first in your heart and then in your home in South Hadley. Both beckoned and welcomed me back home for more than two decades. I cannot tell you how special I felt to be listed under “Family” on your kitchen cork board.
During these last 26 years of knowing you, I always felt your knack of knowing what I needed. Like a child, I would manage to hold it together until I’d hear your voice at the other end of the phone, and then I would break down. You knew how to hold me even from afar. Thank you, Jean, for being my rock, my go-to person and for simply just being there.
Thank you for singing “Happy Birthday” on the phone each year and for all of your false promises of singing in tune the following year. Thank you for being such an incredible role model, for inspiring me to follow in your footsteps and become a professor. Thank you for the countless letters of recommendations you wrote over two decades for my applications to grad schools, fellowships and jobs.
Thank you for helping me recognize feminism and all the ways in which it intersects and influences our lives. I now consciously bring it to my own parenting, in raising a feminist son, who recently told his classmates that the first order of business, when it comes to holding hands, needs to be the issue of consent.
Thank you, Jean, for igniting the fire within me to be an activist, to continue fighting for justice in every shape and form. Thank you for showing me that it’s OK to be a lesbian, and even better to be an out and proud one.
Thank you for nourishing me and for introducing me to fine wine and Manchego cheese. Tomatoes will forever remind me of you, as will green beans. Thank you for teaching me how little we need to survive, of being conscious and mindful in our consumption.
Thank you, Jean, for being the parent who drove me to get my driver’s license and for showing me dynamite dyke U-turns. Thanks to you, my son Rohan announced to his teacher during a field trip that his mother does not “Go straight” but instead only goes “gayly forward!”
You often said goodbye with “I’m glad you got to see me,” and I am glad I got to see you. I’m also glad that I knew enough when I came upon you to link arms and to not let go. Thank you, Jean, for all the love, for all the years. Thank you for everything.
Sonali Gulati ’96 is an independent filmmaker, a queer rights activist and a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, where she teaches film production. She is a Guggenheim fellow whose films have been broadcast on public and cable television globally and have screened at film festivals worldwide.
Jean Grossholtz is remembered in the spring 2021 Alumnae Quarterly, which can be read online.
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Reunion 2021 Class Histories
For many, the reading of class histories is considered a favorite part of the Annual Meeting program.
At Mount Holyoke we affirm oral histories as an important way of understanding the College’s past and the experiences of alums in their own words and voices. We also acknowledge that histories may be written using language that is different than the language we now use at Mount Holyoke to ensure a just, safe and welcoming community. Continuing to understand and document the experiences of alums, and continuing to interrogate our own practices, is part of the ongoing work of the Alumnae Association, in close partnership with the College, with the aim of better supporting our alums, students, faculty, and staff.
Below please find the complete written class histories for each 2021 reunion class, each of which offers us a perspective on the similarities among and differences between generations of Mount Holyoke graduates.
Submitted by Anne Davidson Lester
I’d like to invite you to join me in a brief trip down Memory Lane.
December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, was just months before the class of 1946 entered Mount Holyoke, so our entire college experience was defined by World War II, which, as you know, ended in the summer of 1945.
The College, as well as the nation, faced many wartime restrictions, one of which was a severe cutback in the use of fuel oil to heat its buildings.
Here is how we dealt with that. In every dorm pairs of students signed up for a few days of
“Heat Cop” duty. The two “Heat Cops” got up at the crack of dawn and went into every dorm room — no locks on the doors in those days — and closed the windows so that the heat from the radiators, which were turned on earlier by management, would not escape before the girls were able to get up to close them.
This was just one small way the “Heat Cops” of my class of 1946 took our place in the nation’s war effort.
When we entered in 1947, our tuition, room and board was $1,200; when we left in 1951, $1,600. Back then, that was a lot of money. The minimum wage was $1.00 an hour; we were paid $.35 an hour for on-campus work.
Mount Holyoke was smaller then than it is now. In 1951 241 of us graduated; another 94 members of our class left after completing at least two semesters.
Our Mount Holyoke reflected the austerities of World War II. Many of us lived in what were called temp doubles that housed WAVES in training during the war. Two in a room designed for one, furnished with a double-decker bed. We got cinnamon-flavored margarine on our morning toast, though butter was no longer rationed. At lunch and at dinner we got butter, but only half a pat. A daily conundrum: to squander it all on one roll and taste it or spread it thinly on two and barely notice it? With luck one’s waitress could snatch butter from an unoccupied table.
Dorms had smokers, and many of us smoked. Starting to smoke was a ritual of maturity; the surgeon general’s report lay in the future. There we also drank coffee, played bridge, and knit; some of us could do all four at once. And there some of us assembled early to write the many papers we were assigned, leaving roommates to sleep. We had telephones on each floor and one at the bell desk at the front door. We were paid to sit bells, that is, to watch the front door and take messages.
We were allowed to wear pants — they were mostly jeans — and Bermuda shorts during the day but were required to wear skirts to dinner. President Ham set forth, in morning chapel, the difference between a Bermuda short, allowed, and a short short, disallowed. For physical education we wore short cotton dresses in our class colors with matching underpants; in yellow, we looked like a bunch of daffodils. We dressed up for Wednesday evening and Sunday noon dinners with stockings. Wednesday dinner added candlelight and faculty guests. It was “gracious living,” according to the College; “cautious living,” according to a cook in my dorm who rivaled Sheridan’s Mrs. Malaprop in delightful massacres of the English language.
We had classes six days a week and took five three-hour classes a semester. Those who came from small prep schools found the world of the college vast; those who came from large urban high schools, intimate. Regardless, our teachers knew us and we knew them. Each of them, it seemed to us, considered our time as more or less exclusively hers, occasionally his. Women were a significant faculty presence. Some departments were reluctant to hire men, and Mary Woolley, Mount Holyoke’s long-serving and distinguished president, declined to set foot on campus again after the trustees hired Roswell Ham as the College’s first male president. (Fair enough — men’s colleges and major coeducational universities at that time refused to hire women.) We worked hard, undistracted by television, and got an absolutely first-rate education. Plain living was offset by high thinking — our education was a luxury item.
Parietal rules were strict. We had to sign out to go beyond the boundaries of South Hadley: Moody’s Corner to the north, the bridge beyond the sash factory to the south, the Connecticut River to the west, and the Granby Road to the east. We needed parental permission for an overnight. One demerit was the penalty for an omission or mistake on a sign-out card.
We lived apart from the world but were not insulated from it. The College brought many notable speakers to campus. In 1948 the state of Israel was established and Harry Truman was elected president. In 1949 both NATO and the People’s Republic of China were established. In 1950, shortly after the Korean Peninsula was divided into North and South, hostilities broke out; by the time we graduated, our male contemporaries, drafted, were fighting on the front lines. We seem to have been more or less at war ever since. But domestically, a year after we graduated, Dwight Eisenhower was elected president and we entered the placid Eisenhower years.
Submitted by Judith Rutherford Sewell
My roommate arrived from Houston, Texas. We settled into our “temporary double” with sufficient floor space for two desks, two dressers. Cars parked close to the dorm entrance. Family members helped unload clothes, pillows and bedding, even an occasional rug. The resident Junior Group organized activities for the freshmen. By dinnertime, we were introduced to the dining room ritual: finding white cotton napkins which we picked up and returned at every meal from the rack of cubbyholes by the DR door.
Harry Truman was president when we entered college. The 1952 presidential campaign was underway: Dwight Eisenhower vs. Adlai Stevenson. Ike won. Princess Elizabeth was coroneted as Queen of England one year after the death of King George VI. Firsts: nuclear submarine, the U.S.S. Nautilus launched and virologist Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine for polio. The RSV Bible, Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” were published. Virginia Apgar, MHC class of 1929, developed the Apgar Score, providing a visual assessment of a newborn’s well-being.
Eisenhower sworn in; Dag Hammarskjold elected as UN secretary general; Ian Fleming introduced Agent 007 in the first James Bond novel. The British expedition reaches the summit of Mt. Everest. UNICEF raised to a permanent specialized agency. As Albert Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Playboy publishes its first issue.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott is the first major event in the civil rights movement. Gasoline: 23 cents a gallon. Minimum wage: $1.00. Congress approved the interstate and defense highway system. Class of 1956 graduates on June 1.
Many students met for coffee at the College Inn. Socializing in the dorm “smoker” was popular, even for non-smokers who wanted to catch a bridge game or just to hear the latest campus news. Biking was always an option in fall and spring. Campus-friendly paths and roads made getting places easy; no one was allowed a car on campus, except following spring vacation senior year. Small country roads surrounding the college led to the Connecticut River, Northampton, even Quabbin Reservoir. The Halfway House was a destination for hamburgers and french fries. Some enterprising classmates would bus into Holyoke, especially during the presidential campaign. Television on campus was limited to ONE TV set, in Wilbur lounge.
Submitted by Mary Ginn Weinland
When we arrived on campus in the fall of 1957, the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik, Orval Faubus had called the National Guard to prevent nine African American students from integrating Little Rock Central High School, and we were to shortly face the 1957-1958 Flu Pandemic and quarantine in the gym. We were welcomed by our Big Sisters, learned the required songs, which we had to sing on demand, and learned to live for milk and cookies. We were President Gettell’s first class, i.e. the original class of “Uncommon Women.” We experienced gracious living and pay phones “down the hall.” Sitting bells was a critical part of our life on campus.
During our time on campus, Fidel Castro launched a revolution and NASA was founded to start the Mercury Project to take the first Americans into space. Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states. We were lucky to hear in person Robert Frost, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Updike and Justice William Douglas (as our graduation speaker). We celebrated four lovely Mountain Days, played bridge in the smoker and met new professors and friends every year. We experienced the first Father’s Weekend with our own Diana as May Queen. It was a time of travel and opening up new horizons.
We spent our free time on campus navigating strict parietals and curfews, relaxing at the CI and Glessies, in the smoker watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and organizing protest against Chapel and assembly requirements. We were agitating to let seniors have dorm keys (gasp), which nearly produced a heart attack from the dean! We were the first class to experience graduation in the brand new Amphitheater. Finally, our submergence in the traditions of Mount Holyoke produced 400 young women to spread widely the dignity and idealism of their alma mater.
Submitted by Joan Shapiro Green
Five hundred and one of us arrived on campus in September 1962, to the surprise of the College. We moved our portable hair dryers, record players and clock radios into the “temp temp doubles” that had been arranged to accommodate us.
In our sophomore year, the single television in our dorm living rooms became the place where we watched in shock as all the events of the Kennedy assassination unfolded, and later where we screamed at the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
Speakers such as Indira Gandhi and our own Ella Grasso gave us models for the changing role of women, but we were bemused by Betty Friedan’s talk about her new book, “The Feminine Mystique.”
Our Junior Show, called Shedding Light on Versylum, pointed out some curious similarities to our life on campus and the inside of a mental hospital, but in the end, it proved that “Extraordinary People Do Extraordinary Things.” We were proud to be “uncommon women.”
Our class had little diversity or international presence. A few classmates did junior year abroad in very structured programs, almost entirely in Europe. Since graduation we have made up for that, as so many of us live and work in other countries. Double or multi-disciplinary majors were very rare. In our senior year there was a technology breakthrough when the College offered a one-credit course in computers.
What people think of as “the sixties” really started after we graduated; there was little activism on campus. Architect Philip Johnson was our commencement speaker, and he sent us out into a world that was about to change dramatically.
Submitted by Liz Berens
Class of 1971: When we arrived on campus
Thurgood Marshall had just become the first Black Supreme Court Justice, while that same court struck down the ban on interracial marriage. Haight Ashbury epitomized the era of “free love,” and the British Parliament had decriminalized homosexuality. As we settled into the rhythm of college life, the musical “Hair” premiered off-Broadway just days before John McCain became a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
At convocation President Richard Gettell referred to us as “…uncommon women in this age of the common man…”
We were the first class to NOT have a five-course load or Saturday classes.
The Four College Consortium allowed us to take courses at Smith, UMass and Amherst. Hampshire College would open before we graduated, making it a group of five.
When we arrived, all of the Seven Sisters, five of the Ivy League schools as well as many other elite colleges, were single sex.
There were many rules and much oversight of our lives: freshmen had limited overnights with parental permission necessary, men were not allowed above the first floor, in most dorms there was but one pay phone per floor for off-campus calls, and there were no locks on the doors of our rooms.
Gracious living twice a week still existed, but the mandatory skirts were often topped by sweatshirts adhering to the letter of the law if not the spirit.
During our time on campus we experienced these historical international and domestic events:
Dr. Neil Barnard performed the first successful human heart transplant, and Golda Meir was elected the first female prime minister of Israel. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, and the original Woodstock music festival occurred in Upstate NY. A massive oil spill occurred off the Santa Barbara coast while the first African American woman, Shirley Chisholm (who later taught at Mount Holyoke) was elected to Congress. “Sesame Street” debuted, as did Earth Day and Garry Trudeau’s comic strip “Doonesbury.” The first Vietnam draft lottery determined who among our friends and family would be in jeopardy of being conscripted. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was signed into law. Widespread anti-Vietnam War protests were common, with four students killed and nine more wounded by National Guardsmen at Kent State as they protested the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times and published.
We tested the waters of co-education, visiting various men’s colleges for a week, a semester or a year. Some of us transferred to these schools, although many of us determined that we wanted to graduate from Mount Holyoke despite having choices that did not exist when we applied for admission.
How we spent our free time while we were on campus:
We spent hours playing bridge, sunning on Skinner Green or hanging out at Glessies, the CI and the Odyssey Bookshop.
Judy Collins, Livingston Taylor, W.H. Auden, William Ruckelshaus and Mark Rudd visited campus greeted by various levels of enthusiasm.
Some of us were politically active; many were not.
By the time we graduated:
House mothers had been replaced by faculty members or resident fellows in some dorms. Gracious living was gone, as were the smokers. (Students were allowed to smoke in their rooms.)
We had self-scheduled exams.
The College had taken its first steps toward greater diversity, hiring faculty of color, creating a Black studies major, and approving housing for a Black Culture Center.
And the College was wrestling with the option of co-education. 50 years later it has become very clear to me that the College made the correct decision.
A composite history with contributions from the class officers. Contributors: Laurie Bent, Susy Ham Heldman, Edith Kaselis, Susan Peck, Anne Schneider McNulty, Susan Mertz Saviteer, Pam Schwarzmann, Becky Swanson-Bowers.
- The family Buick was full, including the car top carrier. My brother looked out our window in MacGregor at Upper Lake and the archery field and said, “You’re back at Camp!”
- I arrived at Buckland with my parents in an overstuffed Pontiac Catalina, including my bicycle: a vintage 1963 Royce Union.
- My family was still living in Lima, Peru, so my aunt and uncle drove me to campus where I arrived sight unseen.
- The chapel bell kept me awake most of that first night. The next day we hitchhiked to an outdoor concert at Amherst where the music was loud and the air blue.
- I first smelled marijuana at Convocation.
- At the Amherst outdoor concert I first heard, “In Heaven There Is No Beer.”
- I felt liberated to be in classes not dominated by boys, to be with women who thought about more than boyfriends, and to have women professors who were accomplished leaders.
Historic Events and Politics:
- As a freshman, I voted in the first presidential election in which 18 year olds could vote.
- My California ballot contained a referendum on legalizing marijuana.
- Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. My high school friend had to travel out of state for an abortion, keeping it secret from her parents.
- The Vietnam War was raging and bombers flying over us as they flew out of Westover to Vietnam interrupted my political science classes.
- Sophomore year, OPEC imposed an oil embargo. Students with cars woke up early on odd or even days to get in gas lines.
- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young blared over Skinner Green, and the Congressional hearings about Nixon were on the radio, as I packed after sophomore year.
- In 1974 I voted for Ella Grasso for governor of Connecticut, the first woman to be elected to a state governorship in her own right, and an alum!
- Senior year brought Bicentennial Celebrations, including ours when we released our surprise red, white and blue balloons at graduation!
How We Spent our Free Time:
- We sat in the hallway sharing Boone’s Farm wine. The drinking age of 21 was ignored if you were on a college campus with a college ID. I was 17.
- Freshman year my roommate and I found a waffle iron in someone’s trash can. After the wiring was repaired, we occasionally made waffles for Pearson friends.
- We held deep discussions about the meaning of life, philosophy and psychology. As a prank, my roommate and I built a snowman right outside of our neighbors’ door in the Rockies.
- I loved the 25-cent ice cream cones at Wilbur. I remember sitting in the hallway playing Hearts and eating popcorn-maker popcorn. Movies on campus in Gamble were also a favorite.
- Watching Walter Cronkite on the news every night in the dorm was a must.
Submitted by Cerise Jalelian-Keim
We entered MHC in the fall of 1977. Our junior “Big Sisters” accompanied us to our first Convocation in the Amphitheater. President and Mrs. Truman hosted us at a garden party in their front yard and we moved into our dorms during a heat wave. Tuition was $5,800 for the entire year. Fees for books and activities averaged $250 per semester. Only 4% of our class came from homes outside the U.S. Rotary dial telephones, manual typewriters and carbon paper were our advanced technology. Each dorm had a smoking room. The collective weight of our class was 117 tons. We bought our books at the college bookstore in the old PO, the Odyssey, and the book coop. Sophomores elfed us. Wild and crazy seniors hazed us with shellacked bagel necklaces. We checked our mailboxes every day in Blanchard for packages and news from home.
Jimmy and Roslyn Carter were the U.S. President and First Lady in the White House. The BeeGees, Earth Wind and Fire, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and SuperTramp were our soundtrack. Elvis had just left the building for the last time. “Rocky I” and “Saturday Night Fever” were our movies. Hall and Oates performed at Mary Woolley Hall. The Blizzard of ’78 socked us in with six-foot snowbanks marking our paths to classes. Fire hit the central heating plant during our freshman final exams. The flu hit us hard. Little did we know that 40 years later we would look back on having the flu with a sense of nostalgia.
We fell asleep in the red chairs in the library reading room. We jogged Upper Lake. We canoed Upper Lake and sometimes got a little too close to the waterfall. We fed the ducks at Lower Lake and played tennis on the old courts next to Pratt Hall. We had road trips to Hanover and Cambridge. We trayed at Amherst and behind the Mandelles and threw snowballs with our friends, some of whom had never seen snow. Christmas Vespers in the Chapel grounded us with holiday spirit before final exams. We visited the banana trees and breathed warm air in the greenhouse during winter and especially during the Spring Flower Show. Dorm party brawls, MHC security guards escorting our guests outside after mixers, and a vandalized Winged Victory outside the Art Museum hit the campus police blotter. We crossed the bridges every day to 1837 or the Mandelles. The CI, Willits and Wilbur snack bars were our go-to places for ice cream sundaes, beer, and wine (after 11 a.m.); Chanticleer for carrot cake and cherry cheesecake and Fitzwilly’s in Northampton on special occasions. M&Cs were our evening study break and a chance to catch up with friends. We had waitressed meals and Gracious Dining in our dorm dining rooms.
We boycotted Nestlé and marched against apartheid. We followed Luke and Laura’s courtship. We started the College tradition of Pangynaskeia. The College trustees served us ice cream at 6 a.m. at Mary Lyon’s grave on Founder’s Day. The bells rang and we climbed Mt. Holyoke, or not, on Mountain Day. In 1978, Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 became the first alum to serve as president of Mount Holyoke College. Mrs. Kennan rode in on a horse and pulled Excalibur from the stone on Skinner Green. Some of us read “The World According to Garp” with Professor John Irving. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Iran hostage crisis, the shootings of John Lennon and Ronald Reagan, and the release of IBM’s first personal computers were our news flashes. The 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team completed a miraculous run for the gold. We danced in the dance studio (which now covers our old pool) and we watched snowflakes fall while we swam laps. We performed an awesome Junior Show, which we are sure we taped on VHS and still cannot locate to this day. And of course, we went to classes and did our homework.
We watched the Canoe Sing on Upper Lake the night before graduation. Shirley Chisholm and Rosa Parks were our graduation honorees. Green balloons floated into the sky. 40 years later, it is incomprehensible that we would be enduring an international pandemic and attend Reunion virtually. We are reminded of Mary Lyon’s vision: “Go Forward; Attempt Great Things, Accomplish Great Things” even when “going forward” means dialing into Reunion, “attempting great things” means remaining calm in the face of international adversities, and “accomplish great things” means keeping yourself and your family safe from COVID-19. We are grateful for the gifts of our lifelong college friends. Wherever you are today, look around you and be grateful for our shared experiences. Think forward. We will celebrate together again in 2026 for our 45th Reunion. Class of 1981: Please rise and Be Recognized!
Submitted by Kayla Jackson
When we arrived on campus in September 1982, the world seemed like a much simpler place. Reagan was president, preppy clothes were all the rage, and “Abracadabra” by The Steve Miller Band was the number 1 song in the country. Everything seemed possible – there were no limits to what an 18-year-old young woman could do in the world!
After years of relentless organizing by students, the Board of Trustees voted to divest Mount Holyoke’s endowment from South African stock to protest apartheid in 1985. There was “LiveAid” and “We Are the World” to raise money and bring attention to famine in Africa. The Challenger crashed on January 28, 1986, shocking many of us who watched the launch live. South Hadley’s beloved College Inn burned down on December 14, 1985.
We spent our free time watching “Dallas,” “Dynasty,” and “All My Children” in the TV room of the dorm. We enjoyed dorm parties, road trips, walks around the lake, dinner at Woodbridge’s, and Friday afternoon happy hours at the CI. Winter term was a good time to enjoy the quiet beauty of the campus while honing our knitting and needle-work skills, traying down the hills behind the Mandelles, and enjoying peppermint schnapps in our hot chocolate. There was Las Vegas Night every fall, dorm semi-formals, and concerts, plays, and recitals in Chapin and the other colleges. We had long conversations at dinner every night, often times talking long after the student workers had finished for the evening. We hung out with our friends, cementing lifelong friendships that have been the foundation of our adult lives.
Submitted by Julianne Trabucchi Puckett
The amazing class of ’91 arrived on campus in 1987 as freshmen, not firsties. While we had phones in our rooms, they certainly were not smart: “trunk lines” became an integral part of our vocabulary. WMHC’s DJs played records and only our more technologically advanced classmates used XYWrite in the computer lab — one single lab. We pegged and cuffed our skinny jeans and loved our oversized Icelandic sweaters, purchased at the bookstore — which actually sold books. It was always questionable which was bigger, our hair or our shoulder pads.
Our years on campus included the first National Coming Out Day, the debut of Prozac, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the nominal end of the Cold War, the launch of the Hubble telescope, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Gulf War. But we created our own history, too: Always thinking outside the box, our class established Mount Holyoke traditions that still endure, like the Senior Ball and care packages from Atkins. Basically, we gave you cider donut delivery, so you’re welcome.
We gorged on $1 bags of Wilbur popcorn, and then enjoyed the “new” Blanchard with its fancy snack bar, Thursday night Rat, and remodeled PO, where we would often check our mail more than once a day. We sat bells — or just hung out at the bell desk — and tuned in to brand-new TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “Thirtysomething,” although it never seemed we’d be as “old” as Hope and Michael. We loved our in-dorm dining rooms, where we ate breakfast in our pajamas and dinner as a family, which we were, are, and forever shall be.
Submitted by Kim Berney-Brooke
We saw President Bill Clinton into the White House during our first year, and Alec Baldwin campaign for Ted Kennedy in Clapp.
We watched in awe during our senior year as the OJ Simpson verdict was read. And on our way out, successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a Muslim blessing at our graduation.
We heard Liz Topham Kennan ’60 say “pusillanimous” and “penumbra” during convocation speeches, and Professor Lippman sings about “mud, mud, glorious mud.”
We watched “Friends,” “ER,” “Seinfeld,” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” and enjoyed Princess bars at M&Cs. We dined in our dorms, worked the bell desk, carried keys and received our first email addresses. We called friends and family on landlines and had enormous long-distance phone bills. Most of us used computers in Dwight or the dorms; we had to sign up for them (on paper) during finals. We got printed newspapers delivered to us in the dorms and bought music CDs from paper catalogs. Student work was paid about $5 an hour and with that, we could buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and still have money left over.
Main Moon and The Thirsty Mind opened at the Commons, and Ellen DeGeneres was still in the closet when we graduated.
But most importantly, we formed intellectual connections and close friendships that will last a lifetime.
Submitted by Becky Deusser
We were the first graduating class of the new millennium. We survived Y2K unscathed and rode the wave of the technology revolution by dialing up to AOL and maybe even downloading from Napster. But, there was still a ways to go: we had to keep track of long-distance charges on a land line, the Language Resource Center used cassette tapes, and we carted around books of CDs as much as books themselves.
We arrived on campus the day world awoke to news of the tragic death of Princess Diana. President Jo-Jo Creighton was almost as new on campus as we were, as was the Blanchard Café, where magic cookie bars by the enthusiastic Jeff the Chef reigned supreme.
We hold ourselves (and possibly The Mezz specifically) responsible for finally removing Mount Holyoke from the Princeton Review’s “Top 10 Stone Cold Sober Schools,” resulting in a long-lasting friendship with Kevin the Party Cop.
By the time 2001 rolled around, if you asked us what our “plan” was, we automatically assumed you were referencing Telnet.
The pouring rain during Commencement weekend did not douse our signature high spirits. In fact, you could even hear our enthusiasm reverberating inside the Kendall Sports Complex — where we graduated.
Submitted by Rachel Schaefer
We arrived on campus on a sticky August day in 2002 as Uncommon Women on Common Ground. We spent our first year working side-by-side in our dorm kitchens, attended (and immediately regretted) TAP, and picked up our mail in the Wilder basement, which served as our makeshift campus center.
During our sophomore year, kitchens in the smaller dorms were closed, replaced by sandwiches and “meltdowns” in the newly reopened Blanchard. But that meant we could share dinner with 50 of our closest friends while watching the “Friends” finale on the big screen TV. We won the fight to keep milk and cookies, instead of milk and carrots!
During our junior year, we created profiles in this new site called Facebook — but we never forgot to update our Telnet plans! We celebrated Convocation only days after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
We were one of the largest matriculating classes Mount Holyoke had ever seen, and 10 years later, we are still Bigger, Better, and Redder than Ever!
Submitted by Marija Tesla
When the class of 2011 started at Mount Holyoke, we were confronted with a world without scripted television — the Writer’s Guild of America went on strike in November 5 and lasted until February 12. Without television, we discovered a new hobby to occupy our time, and the Holyoke Confessional became public enemy #1. We were saddened by the loss of a world leader, Benazir Bhutto, but were greeted with the emergence of a new nation, Kosovo.
In our sophomore year, we lost all hope for future employment thanks to the Great Recession of 2008. While vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was waving to Russia from her house, presidential hopeful Barack Obama encouraged us that “Yes We Can.” On the evening of November 4, 2008, the Blanchard Great Room exploded with enthusiasm as the United States elected its first African American president.
Leading up to our junior year, we were shocked with the death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. At the same time, class attendance dwindled as students were quarantined due to the H1N1 Influenza “Swine Flu” pandemic. After the devastation of the January earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the College reached out to help those in need. By spring, swine flu victims had recovered enough to protest the elimination of class-colored OneCards and bid adieu to Jo Jo.
Before entering our final year at Mount Holyoke, we were relieved when a cap was finally put on the devastating BP Oil Spill. While the United States government was attending to one leak, it was bombarded by yet another — Wikileaks. We arrived back on campus in fall 2010 and took our time getting out of bed due to the cut of made-to-order breakfast. Although we missed breakfast, we enthusiastically attended our classes knowing that we were ranked #1 in Best Classroom Experience by the Princeton Review. We welcomed not only an exceptionally large first year class, but also 1980 alum, and Red Sox fan, Lynn Pasquerella as our new college president. On May 22, 2011, we tossed our caps in the air, and entered a world of change and challenges; the outcomes of which are still being determined…
Submitted by Ymani Francis
When we arrived on campus, we were greeted with joy and the heat of summer. A class of strangers were soon to become lifelong friends. It did not take long for intros to begin and conversations to flow. Both our excitement and nervousness could be felt by all around us. However, the latter would slowly melt away with every new introduction. This was our new beginning. We began and began and began. Enjoying our new experiences every day and reaffirming that we belonged. After all, Mary Lyon did see us coming.
Shortly after the November Rule expired, the nation re-elected President Obama. For many of the domestic students, this was the first time we were eligible to vote. Many of us did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and protested in solidarity with those in Ferguson, Missouri. After two weeks of waiting, 195 countries left Paris with the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement that would improve the earth we all share. Our time at Mount Holyoke was bookended by the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The average Mount Holyoke student does not have much free time, but when we did, we would spend that time with our friends. You would know you timed getting to Skinner Green perfectly when you could pull all the Adirondack chairs together for your friends to sit together. We gathered in common areas to watch “Scandal” every week. Some of us were dedicated monthly “Rocky Horror Picture Show” viewers at Tower Theaters. We roller-skated at the Hampshire Mall and found new places to eat in Amherst and Northampton. We saw IYA Sushi open in the South Hadley commons and promptly started ordering sushi for all events!
Submitted by Relyn Myrthil
We battled swarms of bees and our fellow classmates to eat lunch on Skinner Green in the midst of Move-In Day and years later, we stood in perpetual lines to make the 12:15 p.m. “SuperBlanch” lunch rush. We made friends at long tables in the Prospect Dining Hall and gossiped over a smoothie from Uncommon Grounds. Three years later, those spots condensed to fifth floor carrels and booths at the pub. We checked YikYak way more than we checked our Blanch mailboxes, and we made sure all of our friends knew that overpriced coffee from Thirsty Minds was nine times out of 10 worth it!
We sat awake with our friends in common rooms to watch the 45th presidential election and continued to be each other’s support line. We marched for Black Lives Matter, and demanded a sanctuary campus. We witnessed the rise of the #MeToo movement. We held vigils for victims of violence and called for divestment. Marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts. We also saw the largest voter turnout in a century in the 2018 election and elected more minority leaders into office than ever before.
We spent all our money at IYA and studied the PVTA schedule harder than any of our class notes. We went to cultural nights, concerts and Chapin parties. We sled down the Delles hill and roasted marshmallows on the lantern green. We ate more mozz. sticks and personal pizzas at Late Night than we are willing to admit. We climbed Skinner mountain in the fall, marveled at the first snow in winter (and groaned at the last), and celebrated spring on blankets on Skinner Green. We explored the Valley and made it our home. The bonds we created, the friendships we nurtured across peers, faculty and staff continue to stand testament to the people Mount Holyoke aided in creating. We are the class of 2019.
Submitted by Safa Jawad
When we arrived on campus:
It was a hot and sunny day in August of 2017 when each of us entered the Mount Holyoke College grounds for the first time as students. Some of our peers were celebrating Eid as all of us green griffins picked up room keys and orientation packets, and excitedly embarked on our journey at Mount Holyoke. Dressed in green, we walked to the amphitheater to partake in our first Convocation where we heard the “Alma Mater” for the first time as it was sung by the choirs. We explored the Greenhouse in hopes of picking the best first-year plant to grow and develop alongside us during our time here. We shook hands with our advisors, introduced ourselves at the involvement fair, and received a loud, warm welcome from the upperclassmen in Chapin Auditorium during O-101.
During our time on campus, we experienced these historical international and domestic events…
October of our first year here saw the spark of the #MeToo movement across the country. It began with victims of sexual assault and harassment by Harvey Weinstein, often referred to as a known secret in Hollywood. In our sophomore year, this movement exploded out of the Hollywood film industry. It stretched across oceans and industries, and around the world to give power to the voices of every person who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to stand up against their abusers. In our junior year, we watched as Triple E hit the Northeast in the fall, and COVID-19 began its rampage through the world in the early spring. As we scrambled to pack up our rooms and make travel arrangements in early March of 2020, we hugged each other goodbye with promises to meet up after the danger had passed. And now, in 2021, as accessibility to vaccines is increasing, there finally seems to be a light at the end of this long tunnel.
This is how we spent our free time on campus:
We walked into “SuperBlanch” for the first time alongside all of our friends and peers, wandered into the pub for a smoothie, and fantasized about coming back for a drink in this same spot as a senior. All glammed up we headed to Chapin for our first-class dance, SnowBall, where we danced the night away to Nicki Minaj and posed for pictures in the photo booth. We passed rainy days away creating exciting projects from scratch using wood, cloth and limitless other materials in the MakerSpace.
We hiked mountains, took photos, and ate ice cream with President Stephens on Mountain Day each fall. In the winter, we built snowmen on the green, drank hot cocoa and sledded down Delles hill. We donned flower crowns, glittery tattoos, and danced the maypole on Pangy Day each spring. We took internships, completed research alongside professors, and gained valuable experience in our field of choice.
As we graduate from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, it is strikingly obvious that the world we are entering into as graduates is significantly changed from the one we came in with as first-year students. The pandemic showed us how to keep connected through social media, help each other through countless Zoom classes, and how to persevere through anything that gets thrown at us. These invaluable skills are the ones that will allow us to go our separate ways as alums but remain connected to one another, as well as to Mount Holyoke.
The last four years have shown us that no matter how much the world changes, Mount forever shall be our MoHome!