Mount Holyoke Forever Shall Be

Alumnae recall their time at Mount Holyoke during Reunion festivities

More than 1,200 alumnae from generations that span nearly a century traveled back to campus from around the globe for a single shared cause—their love of Mount Holyoke College. From thought-provoking Back-to-Class sessions to outlandish parade costumes to M & Cs with classmates in the dorms, the two weekends of Reunion were filled with alumnae celebrating their connections to one another and to the beautiful oasis they still call home.

After the laurel parade, alumnae gathered in Chapin Auditorium for the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association. Association President Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67 presented volunteer and achievement awards to thirteen alumnae, and the College recognized advancement award recipients. Between these presentations, representatives from each returning class were invited on stage to read from their class’s histories. Though each history told a unique story, all expressed the shared experiences of what it means to be a Mount Holyoke alumna.

Click on each class year to read their histories for Reunion 2015.

1945

Has any freshman class had a year quite like that of ours? We arrived to find a drought in progress that mandated measuring our bath water but also brought invitations from Harvard and Yale to share their showers. Scandalous! Shortly thereafter, a gorgeous and awesome display of the Northern Lights greeted us. Perhaps it was a sign foretelling four wonderful years to come. However, the way our college years became distinctive was not in beauty but war. We all can remember what we were doing December 7, 1941, when we heard about Pearl Harbor and then the nation’s entry into WWII—a war that ended just before our commencement. Almost every facet of our lives on campus was affected by war. We participated in air-raid drills; became land girls to help local farmers; acted as heat cops in the wee hours of the morning, closing dorm windows before the heat came on; sharing Thanksgiving dinner with the WAVES who occupied the Rockies. Social life? Rather limited, though on one occasion a squadron from Westover arrived in Abbey for blind dates.

When talk of a labor draft of young women arose, the College offered the opportunity to accelerate so we could complete as much of our education as possible. Some of us responded, studying summer classes at other colleges or universities, thus widening our college experience. Acceleration created three commencements for our class: August 1944, January 1945 and May 1945. Although our experiences varied considerably, we gained something of value despite the limitations imposed by the war. Because our days at Mount Holyoke were campus-centered, our bonding with each other was strengthened and with Mount Holyoke as well. (And maybe an important reason for the strong turnout for this, our sixty-fifth reunion.)

Looking back, we can see that the war years were pivotal to the cultural changes that have taken place since then—and continue today—away from the rules of behavior and control of young women to greater freedom in all areas of life. Nonetheless, our college years were rich and rewarding both for what we learned and what we did during this very special period in history.

1950

By Jennie Lou Elliot Brockelman and Sylvia Burleigh Sanchez

We were depression children, WWII teenagers, and are parents of the Boomers. We have alumnae who were our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters. Much has changed since our great-grandmothers’ time, but so has it for us since we came to this beautiful campus in 1946.

What do we remember from sixty-nine years ago?

  • Tuition, room, and board were $1,100
  • Gracious Living
  • Faculty guests at Wednesday dinner, and coffee in the living room
  • Each dorm had its own dining room and waitresses
  • Compulsory chapel
  • Bells and curfew
  • Dorm doors were unlocked until 10:00 p.m.
  • No one locked her room door
  • No men above the first floor
  • Saturday classes
  • We had to pass a comprehensive exam in our major in order to graduate
  • Card catalogs in the library to find a book
  • The smoker
  • Skiing on Prospect Hill
  • Red gym suits
  • Christian Dior’s “New Look” in our sophomore year
  • Girdles, garter belts, and stockings; no panty hose
  • Merry Widow corsets
  • Penny loafers
  • Bobby socks
  • Getting pinned and blind dates
  • The CI
  • House mothers
  • Ice cream on Wednesday and Sunday
  • No cars or Five-College bus, no Hampshire College
  • We brought typewriters and record players
  • No computers, email, TV, cell or room phones, Internet, texting, etc.
  • Rules, of college and of our times, and that we obeyed them, MOSTLY

Who are we as alumnae now?

We have kept in touch with a yearly mini-reunion on campus, and we cherish and nourish our friendships started those many years ago. As a class we have supported the College and Alumnae Association faithfully and generously. We treasure our memories, our education, and our friendships and take pride in being a part of the Mount Holyoke family.

1955

By Joan Winkel Ripley

We know you are looking at the class of 1955 and seeing very mature ladies, mostly in tennis shoes. However, we are looking at each other and seeing the shining faces of our freshman pals of sixty-four years ago, back to a time when freshman dorms were flourishing. Back to a time when we knew all our classmates, and sister classes were very important. Back to a time when we were called Miss, and we called our teachers Mr. or Miss, and when the thought of calling them by their first names would have brought on cardiac arrest.

Make no mistake, we were girls, not women, and we dated boys, not men; men were our fathers. Tuition, room, and board cost $1,650 back in 1951, and our starting salaries after graduation were in the $2,000 range . . . for a year, not a week.

Diversity was not an issue. It didn’t exist. Neither did keys nor key cards to get into dorms. There were no locks on our room doors, and anyone could go in any building on campus. Of course each dorm had a student who “sat bells” to guard the chambers against any male anytime. Sitting bells and doing the dishes were required jobs we all had to do and were assigned each month. Our days seemed to be filled with song, especially the big sisters song, which we burst into at every occasion.

Each dorm had its own dining room, which was the center of our home away from home.

Great conversations at every meal were a highlight of the day.

We had to wear skirts for dinner and stockings and heels on Wednesdays and Sundays. Our linen napkins were stored in named slots by the entrance to the dining room, and sometimes there was a bonus sample of free cigarettes in there, too. Horrifying to think of now. Unfortunately, most everyone smoked, and those that didn’t inhaled enough secondary smoke in the smokers during marathon bridge games to last them a lifetime. How so many of us are still alive is rather miraculous.

We preferred our communication face-to-face, rather than on Facebook, and we still do. Snail mail was an important part of our lives, and the one telephone per floor of each dorm did double duty. The College bought its first TV the end of our junior year. It was black and white, of course, and was huge. Well, the cabinet was huge, but the screen was a mere eight inches diagonally. As our sign says, “High tech for us was a slide rule.” We used a card catalog in the library and fountain pens that required ink.

We were introduced to temp doubles—which, we were told were, temporary, the CI and all its calories, and we were victims of the greatest academic hoax in history . . . posture pictures. We went on blind dates and learned our Greek alphabet from fraternity pins. We had rules upon rules, which we mostly didn’t question, and a judicial board that ruled over us if we strayed even a little. There are yellow cards in the archives that recorded everything about each of us: grades, SAT scores, height, weight, and number of demerits each of us accumulated. Our parents received copies of our grades each semester.

We remember our years at Mount Holyoke as a turning point in our lives. Mount Holyoke gave us confidence to do our best and instilled upon us a love of learning that is still with us today. Most importantly it gave us lifelong friendships that are visible right here in Chapin Hall. It gave us wonderful memories to reflect on as we grow old. I remember the first snow my freshman year. A bunch of us were walking to the gym, and it was just getting dark. The campus looked so beautiful; it was a winter wonderland. We were singing, “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening . . .” and we were so happy to be with our new friends at this wonderful place. One of us said, “This is something that we will remember for the rest of our lives.” And I have.

1960

By Pat Kennedy Ascher

On a warm, sunny day in September 1956, the class of 1960 came to Mount Holyoke. We wore Bermuda shorts and blouses with Peter Pan collars. Our purses contained wallets, maybe checkbooks, but not credit cards and no cell phones.

Many of us thought we were so smart that we wouldn’t have to take “Baby English.” After the exam, only one or two of us received the exemption, and we realized that Mount Holyoke was an academically rigorous school! In order to graduate we had to have one entire year of a lab science and another year of a lab science or math. And there was a foreign-language requirement as well. We typed our papers on typewriters. No one had a computer!

We had a lot of rules. None of our dates were allowed in our rooms, and if you spent the weekend away you had to have a permission note from your parents. We had monthly church and chapel requirements, and we had to put on a skirt for “Gracious Living” dinners every week. We had linen dinner napkins, which were kept in napkin boxes.

In 1956 , the terms “women’s lib,” “gay rights,” and “transgender politics” were not yet in our lexicon. Protesting or marching for civil rights was not on our agenda. John and Bobby Kennedy were still alive. Camelot was around the corner for them, and as we studied our china and silver patterns, we thought Camelot was ahead for us!

You know, in spite of our seemingly starry-eyed naiveté, the class of 1960 has turned out to be a very creative class of “doers.” We gave Mount Holyoke its first real and enduring Grandmother Program for the class of 2010!

1965

By Martha Dolkart Bernstein

Perhaps the fact that we blew in on Hurricane Betsy was an indication of our energy. Our time at MHC and the years since have been marked by enthusiasm and participation. Our production of Junior Show involved the first live band and more than 218 members of our class in various roles. There were probably more than one hundred of us out on the lawn weaving our own laurel chain when the order somehow got mixed up. There are more of us than I have been able to count who have served as club presidents, on Association committees and as alumnae trustees. Two of us have served as board of trustees chairmen. I am the tenth different classmate to serve as class president, and there will be an eleventh elected tomorrow. More than fifty of us have been involved in the planning and/or fundraising for this reunion.

Fifty is a very big number! When we are here it seems as if we are the same as we were when we were students, but when we think about the changes in almost every aspect of life since 1965 it is a long time. We were here during the civil rights movement and on the cusp of the second women’s movement. We heard Martin Luther King Jr. and Betty Friedan speak on campus. No one discussed technology. It has all gone very quickly. We have lived full lives with most of us challenged, as women are, to find balance and to sometimes put ourselves first.

I will never forget our “Let’s Twist” event during our first year. It was overwhelming to see how many members of 1965 took the time out of their schedules to come to that event. Your energy was contagious, and your dance skills superb. I have immensely enjoyed watching the relationship between 1965 and 2015 evolve over the past four years. As first years, our relationship was mostly focused on social events with 1965, then in sophomore year we began thinking about networking and learning about the diverse and inspiring careers of 1965. Finally, working with the class of 1965 this year has showed me that your class is defined by their commitment to give back to Mount Holyoke and her community. 1965 is a class that fosters leadership—as seen through the Changemakers Award Ceremony yesterday and the record-breaking contributions of your class that will ensure future changemakers are made at this college.

1970

By Sharon Murray Lorenzo

In 1970, Richard Nixon was the thirty-seventh president of the USA and ordered troops to cross into neutral Cambodia, which escalated the war in the Vietnam region. Four students were killed and nine wounded at Kent State by National Guardsmen in protest to this expansion of the war. Some of us marched in Washington that spring with 100,000 others to protest the war in Vietnam. We remember the Earth Day celebrations in 1970 with some anti-pollution protests and many children walking to school instead of taking the bus, and the great fanfare of the first 747 flight on Boeing over the Atlantic. We also remember the live TV coverage of the Apollo 13 mission, where all aboard survived after the oxygen tanks exploded and the mission was aborted.

Our senior year, gas was only thirty-six cents a gallon and stamps cost six cents! The top movie of the year was Airport, and we lost Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to drug overdoses in the same year. We can still remember some of the words to the top Grammy winner of 1970—Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel, as well as the launch of New Coke.

The first day on campus I showed up in the same Peck and Peck navy blue coat as my roommate- we were wearing our skirts and sweater sets to tea and gracious living events! I remember inviting David Truman, our campus president for tea at Safford Dorm with his lovely wife as our 15th President. My grandchildren are still collecting and playing with Barbie Dolls- the first was launched in 1970!

1975

By Judy Karlen Stein

We arrived in the fall of 1971 with more anticipation than Carly Simon would sing about a few months later. She wrote, “We can never know about the days to come but we think about them anyway.” Twenty of our classmates came from countries outside the United States, while others arrived from states scattered across the US. None of us knew about the days to come!

Although from diverse backgrounds, we sought the same goals of learning all that Mount Holyoke could offer us while establishing friendships that would last longer than our time on campus. South Hadley was an oasis from the horrors of the Vietnam War. Elves and Big Sisters, riding the Five-College bus to classes at Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and U-Mass and to parties there, mixers, Gracious Living nights, Friday teas, theater productions, concerts, participation in abroad study and the twelve-college exchange and lectures on campus supplemented hours in the library and labs.

We frequently heard the term “Uncommon Women” as describing us. Buried with work, at times we might not have felt uncommon but rather very tired and perhaps overwhelmed; however, we knew that we had the support of classmates and faculty. We also knew that we planned to do something meaningful with our lives.

In May of 1975, 469 of us graduated with 2.7% students receiving summa cum laude, 16.9% students receiving magna cum laude and 29% students receiving cum laude. The most popular majors were biology (11.6%), English (10.1%), history 10.9%), political science (10.1%) and psychology 9.5%). Urban studies, environmental studies, international relations, Asian studies, and Latin American studies were just beginning to attract a few students as majors—glimmers of a changing world that would see significant interest from classes following us.

Today we are here to look back at an experience that changed all of us. Mount Holyoke did not promise success, but it helped us find tools to work toward our own definition of a successful and satisfying life. Alumnae records show 338 of us have reported receiving a graduate degree. Others have earned their “graduate degree” by living their lives to the fullest. As we leave this reunion, we still have anticipation “about the days to come”!

1980

By Joan Ford Mongeau

We, the members of the Class of 1980, received our acceptance letters soon after NBC premiered the iconic television show, Saturday Night Live. A reflection of life in the late 1970s, SNL was our barometer, our lens to the world, and, most importantly, a reason to gather. We gathered on Saturday Night to laugh at two wild and crazy guys, Todd and Lisa Loopner, the Coneheads, Land Shark, and, of course, Jane the ignorant slut.

Our acceptance letters were the first way Mount Holyoke “gathered” us. Because of Mount Holyoke we still gather but not around the dorm television sets. We gather to welcome MHC students to our homes through the Thanksgiving program; we gather at mini-reunions, at places like Tanglewood and New York City; we “gather” via phone, email, Facebook, and Twitter. We gathered once because of Mount Holyoke, and we continue to gather because of the lasting bonds—of caring, laughter, and friendship—and I invite you all to look around and remember why we gather today. Let’s make this moment part of our class history.

1985

By Carol Odette Josefek

In 1985, Ronald Reagan was the 40th president. We remember the New York Stock Exchange and work closing because Hurricane Gloria was headed up the East Coast. We remember the coverage and excitement from the joint American-French expedition locating the wreck of the RMS Titanic as well as the coverage of the first artificial heart patient to leave the hospital.

Gas had peaked over the unbelievable $1 mark at $1.09 per gallon. Stamps had gone to twenty-two cents during  senior year. Tickets to the top movie of 1985, Code of Silence, were only $2.75! We can still remember the words to the 1985 Grammy winner Tina Turner’s  “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” Our soda of preference was Tab.

I remember wearing my navy blue Levi corduroys and my white and green isle sweater.  Being the green griffin class, this was the only green article of clothing I had, although I would rectify that over the next 4 years. My grandchildren still enjoy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Issue #2 of the comic series was introduced in 1985! Computers were only introduced on campus during my senior year which coincided with Microsoft’s release of the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0. 

We all had one common thing – the unparalleled education received at Mount Holyoke – and unhampered enthusiasm for where our lives would take us. My favorite spot on campus was the carrel in Williston that was like a badge of honor senior year.  I could look out the window over our beautiful campus as I pondered my future. I’m grateful for my wonderful classmates, many with whom I have reconnected during reunions and all the other wonderful alums like yourself that I have the opportunity to get to know.  It’s amazing what a connection there is automatically with Mount Holyoke alums.  We truly are uncommon women!

1990

By Wendy A. Ritch

In 1989 we threw “One Hell of a (Junior) Show,” and in 2015 we’re back for “One Hell of a (25th) Reunion”

In 1990 we graduated into a world where:

In the USA:

  • The country entered a major recession
  • Average cost of new house: $123,000.00
  • Average monthly rent $465.00
  • Average income per year: $28,960.00
  • Cost of a gallon of gas: $1.34
  • Price for an IBMPS1 computer topped $2,000
  • GM launched Saturn, the first non-negotiably-priced line of cars (cuz we’re suckers)
  • The most complete skeleton of a T-Rex, Sue, was found in South Dakota
  • Thieves stole twelve works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston
  • The Space Shuttle Discovery placed the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, revolutionizing astronomy
  • Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for the World Wide Web, and the first web page was written
  • The first in-car GPS system was sold by Pioneer

Internationally:

  • President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a historic agreement to end production of chemical weapons; Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • East and West Germany reunited (and it felt so good)
  • Channel Tunnel workers from the United Kingdom and France met forty meters beneath the English Channel seabed, establishing the first ground connection between the UK and the mainland of Europe since the last ice age
  • Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the US and UK responded with Operation Desert Shield
  • Nelson Mandela was freed from prison after twenty-eight years and became the leader of the African National Congress
  • Depletion of the ozone layer was discovered above the North Pole
  • Industrialized countries agreed to stop dumping waste into the oceans of the world, and a ban on the trade of ivory was instituted

In pop culture:

  • Milli Vanilli were revealed to have lip-synched the songs on their Grammy-winning album
  • The Simpsons was aired on FOX for the first time, and Twin Peaks premiered on ABC
  • Popular films included Home Alone, Ghost, Dances with Wolves, Pretty Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Total Recall, Edward Scissorhands, and The Godfather III 
  • And we got the beat from musicians and groups including Tears For Fears, Janet Jackson, Jon Bon Jovi, Erasure, Rod Stewart, Depeche Mode, Garth Brooks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Vanilla Ice, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith, Cher, Mariah Carey, and The B-52’s (in fact no MHC dance was complete without the obligatory “down, down” of Rock Lobster!)

25 years later:

  • 88% of us have/had a spouse or partner
  • 80% of us have at least one child and 1% have grandchildren
  • Only 3% of our children are/were homeschooled, but 22% attend or plan to attend MHC
  • 76% have at least one pet
  • 1% of us have not relocated since graduation, and 1% have moved twenty-four times
  • 1% have had no jobs since graduation, while 1% have had one-hundred jobs (and probably moved twenty-four times)
  • More than 60% of us own at least one Apple mobile device, and more than half own more than one
  • A quarter of us embrace our gray hair while the rest dye or deny it
  • We are environmentally conscious, with 95% recycling and 80% shopping with our own bags, but we’re still attached to fossil fuels, as only 13% drive a hybrid or electric vehicle
  • Only 11% of us do not participate in any form of social media. Among those who do, Facebook is the go-to time-waster for nearly 70% of us
  • When asked about our favorite MHC professors, we chose fifty-five different ones; and for favorite books we have sixty-eight, with very few in common—we were always independently-minded and still are
  • We live and/or have traveled all over the world

Our greatest memories from MHC overwhelmingly include friends, Mountain Day, a beautiful campus, and M & Cs—“classes” were, apparently, just a good excuse for experiencing the rest!

We ARE the class of 1990.

1995

By Kate Burke Laird

Twenty years. We graduated twenty years ago on a gorgeous, bright day amidst our classmates, our friends, our families. The professors who gave us so much were there. Our president, Liz Kennan, was there! The Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, was there. The taste of opportunity was on our lips. The excitement of what was to come was fluttering in our bellies. The heaviness of all the good-byes was gripping the base of our necks.

While on campus, tucked away in the ivy and comforted by M & Cs, the world spun around us. Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. The Jerry Springer Show premiered. Riots broke out in LA after the beating of Rodney King, and Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas for sexual harassment. There was the raiding of the cult in Waco, the bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing in Oklahoma City, and the attack on Nancy Kerrigan with the cry of “WHY” heard across the world. OJ went for a spin in a white Bronco. Major League Baseball went on strike. Perhaps we learned of Lisa Marie Presley marrying Michael Jackson whilst browsing our Netscape Navigator in the computer lab. Disorientation fizzled out. We did sit-ins to stave off going co-ed. Liz Kennan graduated with us into a new beginning after seventeen years as the sixteenth president of Mount Holyoke College.

There have been changes since our graduation twenty years ago. Reality TV no longer means the nightly news or a documentary. We hold computers in our hands and in our back pockets. They fall in toilets! We have new verbs to work with: We Netflix, and we Google. We tweet and retweet and Instagram a moment. We make friends by clicking a button and end relationships the same way.

What has remained a constant is the badge we have worn in our hearts since the day Liz told us that our passing through the gates of Mount Holyoke made us “Empowered Women.” As well, Mary Lyon’s words, “Go forward, attempt great things, accomplish great things,” ring in our ears. We did. We all did. We all still do. Those great things don’t just come in the form of a paycheck or a write-up in a magazine. They aren’t always history-making, like the innovation of this machine or the isolation of that gene. Of course, they can be those types of achievements. They don’t have to be published or recognized or known. Our achievements are in our everything and everyday—cooking dinner, grading a test, giving a speech, re-setting a stage, listening to a friend, building a house, marrying our best friend, coping with the loss of a loved one. Knowing when to grab a book and a blanket, and knowing when to head outside and help out. Our years here at Mount Holyoke set the bar of who we are at a nice height. Whatever we do—as simple or as grand as it may be—is the accomplishment of a great thing.

2000

By Trisha Tanner

“We believe that some of the many reforms seen by us only in the hazy future of the world, and longed for with the force of a somewhat impatient optimism, will be records of history to you.”

MHC class of 1900 letter to the class of 2000

In September 1996, not long after the class of 2000 arrived on campus, Bosnia elected its first post-war president; Kabul fell to the Taliban; and South Hadley saw the season’s first snowflakes. We had entered a privileged moment, with the time and space to refine our understanding of the world and shape our place in it. By spring, Madeleine Albright was confirmed as the first female US Secretary of State; a sheep named Dolly was cloned in Scotland; the Russian-Chechen peace agreement was signed; and the April Fools’ Day blizzard of 1997 hit the East Coast. We’ve since seen two more women serve in America’s top diplomatic post, and yet the class of 1900’s “somewhat impatient optimism” for further progress remains.

As first-years from across the globe, with diverse talents and interests, we were ready to learn from our professors and each other. We did. And we had fun. Introduced to Mount Holyoke traditions like elfing, Mountain Day, Pangynaskeia, and magic cookie bars; playing sports or instruments or making art; in class and out, we built lifelong friendships. We explored the Pioneer Valley in group outings by taking advantage of Five College course offerings and libraries—or for some, a thing called TAP, which may or may not have prompted a few bawdy definitions for the PVTA acronym.

Actual keys, then later “OneCards,” allowed us entry to our residence halls, which all had full kitchens serving M & Cs seven nights a week. (Some even offered pancakes by request before 8:00 a.m.) Almost as amazing as Chef Jeff cookies. Metal wastebaskets were required, as smoking was still allowed indoors, and hoarding enough quarters to pay for our laundry was a real issue. So were long distance bills, as cell phones had not arrived. Many of us received our very first email addresses at MHC, accessed through a platform called Telnet. Although we predated Facebook and most forms of social media, one of Telnet’s early-IM functionalities enabled many a Mount Holyoke cyber-stalking pioneer to “finger” anyone with a mtholyoke.edu account. This feature let us see where other users had last logged in and start a “conversation” if they happened to be online.

Dialogues of all kinds were encouraged, and we did not shy from difficult discussions. During our first year, much debate surrounded a new plan for the College that spurred protests and building takeovers, but ultimately birthed two new cultural centers—the Asian Center for Empowerment and Jeanette Marks house. By sophomore year, most of us had carved out our niches, whether through work study, supporting faculty research, writing for the Mount Holyoke News, endless hours in the lab, evenings of a cappella or with the Lunar Howling Society, lounging on the Green, feeding a caffeine habit at the Dirty Mind, devouring noodles at Main Moon, or all of the above. Junior year, we imbued the WWJD tagline with new meaning, asking: “What Would Juniors Do?” Some studied abroad, and most of us managed to declare (or design) our majors.

Senior year, after surviving Y2K and the much-hyped Millennium Bug, we were honored to open a time capsule left to us by the class of 1900 in the care of the class of 1950. Within it, we found—among other treasures—a century-old letter trusting that our lives would be filled with more opportunities than theirs and brimming with the hope that Mount Holyoke would have endured over the years. It has, and we have followed in their visionary footsteps, leaving our own capsule for the class of 2100, with the hope that our everyday accomplishments will mean ever more opportunities for them.

Adapted from the brilliant prose of Cynthia Krohn’s class history for the 2010 reunion.

2005

By Erica Berman

When we arrived in fall of 2001, we were the most diverse class in Mount Holyoke’s history, and the first class that didn’t have to submit SAT scores as part of our application. We didn’t have smart phones, YouTube, or Twitter during our time at MHC. However, we made mix CDs for one another and sported early 2000s fashion around campus.

Our first year marked the last year that every dorm on campus had a kitchen and the last year of the “Old Blanchard.” The class of 1980 warmly welcomed us to MHC by leaving cookies on our doors and became our mentor class. On September 11, 2001, only days after we arrived on campus, we leaned on our new community as we gathered around common-room televisions, frantically reached out to family and friends, and processed the magnitude of our nation’s loss. We all remember “where we were” on that day, and for the class of 2005 we were surrounded by faculty who fostered discussions and an international community of students who brought a variety of perspectives.

Sophomore year brought about change to the campus and to the world. At MHC, Blanchard was under construction the entire year. (Remember getting mail in Wilder’s basement?) This was also the year of the “housing crunch.” The class of 2006 was the largest incoming class in MHC’s history: single rooms became doubles, and double rooms became triples. We all were definitely brought closer to our roommates! On a global scale, our sophomore year marked the beginning of the Iraq War, which once again brought about heated and thought-provoking discourse in and out of the classroom.

Our theme for Junior Show was f juniors | more, a nod to Telnet, a (let’s say) “vintage” MHC server where students could receive emails or post quotes, musings, and more on their own page. Junior Show also featured a video message from President Joanne Creighton, who was a good sport and proved to be hilariously funny! We participated in a successful campaign to keep M & Cs a part of Mount Holyoke tradition, stating, “It’s not about the cookies, it’s about the community.”

Our senior year began with rain and ended with rain! Both our convocation in the fall and commencement ceremony in May were held indoors; however, our spirits and camaraderie remained sunny! This was the year a little known website called “Facebook” came to Mount Holyoke, and we began connecting in new ways than ever before.

It’s hard to believe two other classes of Green Griffins have graduated since we carried the laurel ten years ago. We have since become artists, educators, mothers, world explorers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and so much more. Our lives have pulled us in a myriad of directions, but Mount Holyoke is the one place that we all can return to and call home.

2010

By Lauren Darby

We carried around cell phones (but few were “smart,” as iPhones didn’t exist yet), and our brand-new pink OneCards, which preserved our eager, sweaty, move-in day faces for everyone to see for the next four years. We completed most work on laptops and dorm computers, downloading articles from Ella and totally not getting distracted by Facebook. We were the last class to learn the creeping potential of Telnet.

We memorized the vertical-horizontal rule—guests could move freely on our floor, but not go to other floors unchaperoned—and had to learn all the right rules about hosting SPEs, chalking sidewalks, and cleaning Golden Pears, but we also learned all kinds of ways to evade the rules (sometimes with success, other times, not so much).

Many of us volunteered during our sophomore and junior years for the 2008 campaign that saw the election of Barack Obama. And who could forget the streaking that followed?

We’ve only just begun.

2013

By Keshia Pendigrast

The class of 2013 graduated on the 20th of May 2013. Unlike the hot and humid day that we were expecting (we snuck Gatorade and sun block under our graduation robes), we graduated on a comfortably cool and breezy Sunday. Our commencement was the first in Mount Holyoke’s history where all our graduation speakers were alums of the College. They weren’t just wonderfully qualified and powerful global professionals who were asked to deliver an impressive speech—they were connected to us. They were our mentors, our alumnae, they had walked through this place. Their speeches weren’t removed or simply impressive—their words were for us—from people that had gone through exactly what we were going through. They grasped the light and the power of transformation that this place has always held.

Since that semi-gloomy afternoon 2013 has embodied that spirit of transformation.

Fourteen percent of our class (one-hundred-seven of us) live outside the United States—Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka are among our far-flung homes—while the rest of us span forty-four states across America. Twenty-two of our classmates are now officially partnered or married. Almost 10 percent of us are currently enrolled in graduate school.

Two years might not seem like an exceptional amount of time for most folks. However, the first two years after graduating Mount Holyoke was certainly a roller coaster for us. From re-discovering that no, in fact, the real world does not operate on the same terms as an all women’s college, that our empowerment would be tested by the men in suits at our workplaces, and in realizing that the honor code did not extend its bounds to our New York City apartment buildings. (Yes, we had to learn to remember to lock our doors). Our learning and resilience has continued. And we have continued to grow, forever grateful to this place.

2015

By Gabriella Crimi

The winds of Hurricane Irene ushered in the class of 2015, and no amount of rain dampened our spirits. Our passion and strength in overcoming obstacles—within our personal lives and within our communities—has defined our four years on campus, and I can only hope that we continue leading our lives with such purpose and engagement with those around us. I am certain we will take the voices that we found in this space and use them to create meaningful change. I hope we are kind and gentle with ourselves and that we allow ourselves to grow from the mistakes that we will naturally make as we leave the “bubble” that is MoHome. I hope that we will giddily wake up to Mountain Day emails and eat ice cream with alumnae in our communities. I hope that we never forget the ways MHC transformed our lives and that we remember to give back—whether it be by organizing a meeting with newly admitted students in our towns, opening our homes to an interning student, or providing a listening ear and a helping hand to a fellow Sphinx. Finally, I hope we learn from our Mount Holyoke grandmothers and make sure that we bring our spirit, passion and strength to organizing our fifty-year reunion!

Some of our favorite memories include doing 1960’s dances in Blanchard and participating in your orientation and class ring ceremonies. The class of 2015 is full of smart, amazing women. Changemakers in the spirit of Mary Lyon and Frances Perkins and thousands of other alums. David Brooks recently spoke of Mount Holyoke fostering a spirit of inquiry, virtue, and social commitment.  That spirit is alive and well in the Class of 2015. I hope it continues to be.

This article appeared in the summer 2015 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

Text adapted from histories submitted by each reunion class.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.