Name: Caroline Winschel
Class Year: 2009
How long have you lived in Philadelphia? I moved to Philly in 2009, just a few weeks after graduating from Smith. I came for a job and literally didn’t know anyone in the city, so I spent several months being really lonely—that was a surprisingly good experience to have right after college.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? My husband spent a decade in the food industry, so we maintain an ever-evolving list of restaurants to try and restaurants worth multiple visits. Picking a favorite is hard! Lately I’ve been craving a return visit to Khmer Kitchen in South Philly—they have a caramelized pork dish (yes, really) that I love.
What are you up to now? I like to say that I spend the bulk of my time asking people for things and then thanking people for things. I manage development at Bartram’s Garden, which is America’s first garden—it was founded in 1728 along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philly. This summer I’m also in pretty intense volunteer mode: I serve as the vice president of the Smith College Alumnae Chorus, which means that I’m overseeing our tour to Cuba this July. (And if you’ve never heard of the Alumnae Chorus, check us out at smithalumchorus.org to learn more and to get on our email list for future concert tours.) I’m in my second year as president of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, which also has a large Smithie contingent. Oh, and sometimes I go home to my lovely husband in our lovely West Philly house with a lovely garden and three lovely cats. Those are good times.
What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it? I lived in Lawrence House for my first two years and then lived in Dawes House as a senior after returning from JYA Paris. Easily the best thing about living in Lawrence was—and still is—the people I lived with, many of whom I’m still close with today. (The best thing about Dawes was my huge room with a fireplace and a private bathroom.)
What is your favorite Smith tradition and why? This is more a Smith experience than a Smith tradition, but I love the Olmsted campus with its wandering pathways. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about Smithies getting used to taking the long way ‘round or finding alternate routes, but I just like how pretty it is. (Also, given that there’s no efficient way to get anywhere, it makes one very attentive to being on time!)
Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class? When we graduated, a dear friend and I made certificates of appreciation for Dana Leibsohn and Janie Vanpée: both brilliant professors who made class joyous as well as deeply thought-provoking. They also were both very indulgent with our in-class silliness, like a seminar presentation delivered largely in mime and French-accented gibberish. (It was about subversive 18 th -century street theater, and we got an A.)
Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment? Because of various other roles and involvement, my friends and I had access to a lot of spaces that weren’t open for regular or private use. So we threw elaborate clandestine dinner parties (by candlelight and with borrowed crystal and silver, of course). The administration eventually found out after one of our guests was indiscreet on Facebook—I remember being called into a dean’s office and thinking that she seemed more amused than genuinely upset with us. The real takeaway was to stop lighting candles if no one knew we were in the building.
How did your Smith experience shape your life? Have you noticed that I have a habit of inserting myself into leadership or decision-making? I give Smith a lot of credit for that—not only for providing space in which I could carve out those opportunities but also for offering a good (and ongoing!) grounding in not being a jerk. Assertiveness is good; balance is better.