December 2015 Smithie of the Month: Karoline Adler

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The Adler sisters pictured above L to R: Dorothy Adler (’90), Karoline Adler (’81), and Connie Adler (’84)
Name: Karoline Adler
Class Year: 1981
How long have you lived in Philadelphia?
We just moved back to the city two years ago after almost twenty years in the suburbs.  We love it!
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
There are so many great restaurants here I can’t just pick one.  I like High Street and Bistro 7, both in Old City and Ela, in Queen Village.
What are you up to now?
I just retired from my position (after 15 years) as a Mental Health Review Officer for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and now I am trying to finish learning how to paint.  Watercolor is my current struggle.
What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?
I lived in Emerson my first two years and in Scales my junior and senior years.  Both houses were big but had comfortable, cozy spots you could curl up in and call your own.
Why did you choose Smith?
I fell in love with the beautiful campus.  It looked like everything I had dreamed a college should be.  Lucky for me it was more than just beautiful, it was an excellent academic institution.
What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?
I enjoy going to Reunion every five years, I always feel rejuvenated by the experience.  I also liked Convocation.  Jill Kerr Conway was “my” president and I loved listening to her speak. She was mesmerizing.
Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?
I was a double major at Smith: English and Studio Art.  I took one Anthropology/Literature class that counted towards my English major.  The professor, who was terrific, made me appreciate the relationship between plain, simple, language and beauty and power in literature.  This changed how I read, spoke, wrote and painted.
How did your Smith experience shape your life?
Attending Smith gave me confidence.  I have self assurance because I know I am well educated.  I made great friends at Smith, and now, in the city, the Smith College Alumnae programs are enriching my life.  I am meeting wonderful women and making new friends.

September (Redux) 2015 Smithie of the Month: Liz Balcom

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(Liz with her wife Nora and all of their Smith friends at their wedding)

Name: Liz Balcom

Class Year: 2010

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

I moved to Philadelphia right after graduating from Smith in 2010 and fall in love with this place more every day.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

My favorite restaurant in the city is Parc, right at the corner of Rittenhouse Square. My wife Nora and I love to sit at one of the outdoor tables, share some French fries and a glass of wine, and watch the city stroll by.

What are you up to now?

I am a Development Officer at Bryn Mawr College- and am thrilled to be back in a women’s centric space, supporting women’s education.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

I lived in Cutter House my first two years on campus, was abroad in Florence my Junior year, and lived in Duckett House my senior year. My favorite thing about housing at Smith was being just doors away from all of my closest friends. I still wish I could run down the hall to tell my best friends all about my day and binge watch bad TV shows together.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Mountain Day is, without question, my favorite Smith tradition. I can still remember the feeling of pure joy that would flood over me when I learned we were free to enjoy a (hopefully) beautiful fall day. Who doesn’t love a good reason to eat cider donuts, pick apples, and go hiking with friends? My Cutter house friends and I once crammed 10 people in a tiny car just to make it over to Atkins Farm all together. It was a day always so full of laughter.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?

My favorite course would have to be from my very first semester of freshman year. It was a course called “History and Memory” taught by Professor Darcy Buerkle. The course opened my eyes and inspired me to see history through a completely different lens. Darcy eventually became my advisor and was an incredible support and resource throughout my four years at Smith. She challenged me to think more critically and to make stronger arguments in my writing, and inspired my academic growth throughout my four years. Darcy was a wonderful and supportive resource to her advisees and was deeply invested in each of our intellectual and personal growth at Smith.

 

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

Smith provided me a safe space to learn and grow both intellectually and personally. Being at Smith taught me to think harder and speak louder about the many issues our society is facing today. It taught me what it means to be a strong woman and stand up for what you believe in without apology. I also met my wife at Smith, and in the safety of Smith’s campus, learned to fully trust and love. And I think it’s only because I was surrounded by other incredibly smart and strong women who always pushed me to be better, while also supporting me, that I can say any of this. At the end of the day, being at Smith helped me find myself and better prepared me to be a confident and independent women in the world today.

(Can you tell I feel ALL the feelings about women’s education?!)

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November 2015 Smithie of the Month: Taraneh Thompson

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Name: Taraneh Thompson

Class Year: 2002

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

I have lived in Philadelphia for 11 years.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

My favorite restaurant is Mustard Greens in Queen Village.

What are you up to now?

I work as an attorney in Center City and live in Bella Vista with my husband and son.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

I lived in Scales House. One of my favorite thing about Scales was our wonderful RADS staff who were like our family (Thank you, Cathy, Joanne, Glenn and Tina!).

Why did you choose Smith?

I chose Smith because the director of my high school was a Smithie and was a wonderful leader, incredible public speaker and inspirational mentor. I also fell in love with the campus when I visited.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Friday Tea is such a great Smith tradition that I hope will last forever. It is a great way to catch up with everyone in the house, unwind from the week and make plans for the weekend. It was also fun to see what treats came out of the kitchen every week!

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?

My favorite professor was Marc Lendler in the Government Department. He is so knowledgeable and passionate about government that it made his classes really stand out. My favorite class though was probably Natural Disasters in the Geology Department. It was outside of my comfort zone but was so interesting and unlike any other class that I took. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to take a few classes like that!

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?

One of my most memorable moments at Smith was Illumination Night on the eve of Graduation. The campus was so beautiful and it was such an exciting time coupled with some fear and sadness too. It was wonderful to have my family and friends together to share memories and celebrate our accomplishments.

October 2015 Smithie of the Month: Anne Iskrant

Anne and John with cherries
Anne and John with cherries

Name:  Anne Sonnekalb Iskrant

Class Year:  1964

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? 

Since 1976

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

It used to be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I like the area around Passyunk.

What are you up to now?

Retired from Cabrini College where I taught comparative literature and film and Main Line School Night, where I was a Program Director.  I still give them ideas and sometimes teachers, and take courses.  This fall I am taking Spanish and Chinese.

 What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

Cutter, which was new then.  I had lived in a colonial house, and wanted to live in a modern building.

Why did you choose Smith? 

I liked the people, still do. Met a woman when I lived in Bogota, Colombia, who had married a Colombian and owned a farm.  From Smith!

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Reunions every 5 years!  Great to reconnect, and to find support and stimulation from people I did not know well during my four years as a student.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class? 

Many good ones, Phyllis Lehman, art history (she found the index finger of the Winged Victory of Samothrace!). Mrs. Kaffka who had lived through the Weimar Republic and made history come alive, Mr. Peterson, who loved Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, Leo Weinstein who made government, political philosophy, and constitutional law exciting  parts of a liberal education.

August 2015 Smithie of the Month: Liz Borland

IMG_1018Liz Borland ’97

This month, we honor Liz Borland ’97 as our Smithie of the Month! As she steps down from her marvelous years of leadership as our Club President, we appreciate all the ways Liz has made the Philly Smith community what it is.

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

Nearly 9 years.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

I am a fan of Jose Garces–my favorite is Distrito because it is delicious and so much fun.

What are you up to now?

I am a professor of Sociology at The College of New Jersey. I am chair of my department and teach classes and/or do research on gender, social movements, organizations, theory and applied sociology.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

I lived in Cushing and loved candlelight dinners on Thursday nights–back then we all our meals in the house and I loved the family atmosphere.

Why did you choose Smith?

I was in one of the inaugural years of the Smith Summer Science Program as a high school student. My mom went to Smith (Caren Byrd ’68) and I was not sure I wanted a women’s college, but after a great summer there, I made Smith my own. I also got invited to be in the STRIDE program, and that sealed the deal.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

I am into our traditions–I did Sophomore Push and Junior Ushers, etc. Of course, everyone loves Mountain Day, but I think I would have to say Rally Day is my favorite event with the inspiring speakers and all the wonderful hats….and the floor-splitting sound of Smithies stomping their feet to the alma mater!

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

Smith challenged me and made me confident I could hold my own–I was given support and room to explore by my professors, who in turn have been role models for me in my own work as a teacher. And the lifelong learning and community that comes from being a Smithie among Smithies is a gift that keeps giving!

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Liz in 1997, looking glamorous as a model for “October” in Smith’s calendar!

July 2015, Smithie of the Month – Anne Standish

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Name: Anne Standish

Class Year: 1979

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

I have lived in Philadelphia since 1989.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

So many favorites! The Spring Mill Café in Conshohocken and in the city, The White Dog Café.

What are you up to now?

I live in Wyndmoor with my family and am the Director of Major Gifts at AIM Academy.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

Chapin and its architecture, central location with views of the greenhouse and Paradise Pond as well as the Margaret Mitchell connection!

Why did you choose Smith?

Excellent academics, with a strong art history department; 5 College Consortium; the House system & the encouragement of the headmistress of my school, Eleanor Tucker ’34.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Friday afternoon tea- it was a wonderful way to connect with friends and unwind at the end of the week. I also love Mountain Day and happily watch for its announcement every year.

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

Smith was a wonderful academic and social experience for me. I am grateful for the outstanding faculty and great friendships with fascinating women and now the community of amazing alumnae.

June 2015, Smithie of the Month – Peicha Chang

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Name: Peicha Chang

Class Year: 2003

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? 

6 ½ years.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Zahav!  OMG have you tried their hummus?  It’s life-altering.  And a shout-out to Pure Sweets in Rittenhouse, run by fellow alum Andrea Kyan.  Her food is so good, you don’t care that it’s vegan & gluten-free (but you do care, because that’s why you go there!).

What are you up to now?

I opened Falls Flowers in 2009 – we’re a retail & event florist, and the first flower shop to become a certified B Corp!

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

Duckett.  It was just the best!  But really, I loved how intimate it was with just 34 residents.

Why did you choose Smith?

Honestly, I still have no idea.  It just clicked when I visited – the campus felt like home & I immediately felt like I belonged.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Primal Yell.  And Mountain Day.  Can I do that?  Primal Yell because where else do you get to just scream at the top of your lungs until you lose your voice?  It’s an amazing release.  Mountain Day because it has carried over even since I’ve graduated – every year I’m guaranteed to receive a text from fellow Smithies announcing it!

What makes a Smithie unique?

These questions are really hard.  It’s another one that I don’t have the answer to, but just know.  Every Smithie I’ve met outside of Smith, we’ve somehow just known that we share the same alma mater.  Must be some weird pheromone thing!

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

My time at Smith taught me to always question the norm, push boundaries, and that it’s really ok (and necessary) to fail before achieving success – all crucial life skills!

May 2015, Smithie of the Month – Barbara Pilvin

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Name: Barbara Pilvin

Class Year:1973

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

I’ve been here since Sunday, October 10, 1982…drove up into a huge traffic jam and learned the next day that it was caused by Super Sunday, with lots of local organizations having their booths with goodies to eat and information and other stuff that I’ve forgotten or mercifully blocked out.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

As for my favorite restaurant, I have several: the City Tavern (at 2nd and Walnut), Charles Plaza (at 10th and Vine), two Vietnamese places run by the same family (Vietnam Café at 47th  and Baltimore Ave. and Vietnam Restaurant in Chinatown, around 11th), and a very informal Vietnamese place near me called Pho and Café Saigon.  Do I like Asian cuisine or what?!

What are you up to now?

I’ve been a reference librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia since August 4, 1986. Most of my work (and fun!) at and outside FLP involves history, genealogy and consumer-health information and advocacy. I also write, travel,  am devoted human to three spoiled cats, love to walk everywhere I can, sing in the University of PA Choral Society since January 1983 (yes, 1983!), and am as active as my time permits in a variety of organizations…including the Smith Club!

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

I was in Dawes House—the real one, which the College foolishly razed to erect the Friedman Apartments. What I loved about Dawes were several things: it looked like a real home, albeit a larger one than I’d ever lived in; its exterior was a warm lemon yellow that was very inviting, and I loved the large front porch; it was on the small side, so there were no more than 30 of us living there. We spoke French much of the time…and let’s face it, first and foremost, it was my home for four years, even though I spent my magical junior year in France!

Why did you choose Smith?

I chose Smith for the simplest reason imaginable: of the four colleges I applied to—in 1969 computers were primitive and we could only apply to four; if none of them accepted us, we could go for a fifth afterwards—Smith was the only one that accepted me outright.  Two wait-listed me and one rejected me, but by that April I had decided Smith was my first choice anyway.  No idea what I’d have done if Radcliffe (i.e. Harvard) had accepted me or Bryn Mawr or Brandeis hadn’t wait-listed me…probably gone to Harvard and been miserable at such a big place!  I loved the idea that Smith had a teaching faculty, not one that focused on publishing or perishing, and that I’d be able to spend a year studying abroad (once I’d been at Smith for a little while I knew I wanted to go either to Paris as a French major or Geneva as a history major; I ended up majoring in both, but just taking comps in French because my mother died senior year and I had enough going on then with one official major); I also loved the uniformly high caliber of the course offerings and the faculty’s credentials (and the way Smith students I met spoke of them), since when I started I had no idea what I’d major in although I did want a humanities major.  The fact that it was a women’s college had literally nothing to do with my decision to apply there, but the fact that everyone I met there was so warm and welcoming when my family and I went on the typical college tour of New England (and elsewhere) in my junior year of high school was a huge factor, as was the beauty of the campus…which to this day I consider home.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Where do I begin?  Let’s start with Friday afternoon  tea, a time when the temptations of tea and baked goods compelled me to put down the books for a little while and just relax with friends and housemates.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?

I had several favorites, and I wish they were all still alive to hear me say so.  One was Patricia Weed (Trish to friends), whose boundless energy, humor and common sense helped me get  through some rough times and inspired me to put a lot of my own energy into studying French.  Another favorite was her friend and fellow French Department professor, Josephine (Jo) Ott, who’s still going strong or was the last time I saw her at Smith two years ago, just before her 88th birthday; she was our advisor in France, and in my senior year I took her translation course…lots of work, very hard (translating is not easy!!) and loads of fun.  A third was Nelly Hoyt. I took her seminar on the French Revolution and remember it to this day. Smith has many remarkable faculty members, always has and always will!

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?

My year in France.  That year opened my mind to the fact that the world outside my own country was in no way inferior to it; every country is home to many people, and the vast majority of them will go to great lengths to improve it in those areas that they believe need improvement, rather than leave it forever.  As kids we were taught to worship America, and it was a bit of a surprise to me to actually understand that most people have much the same view of their home countries!!

What makes a Smithie unique?

Are we?  I like to think that most young women, and even some young men, are bright enough, strong enough and bold enough to be Smith material!

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

By opening my mind to the rest of the world; see above.

April 2015, Smithie of the Month – Andrea Pilling

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Name: Andrea Nadel Pilling

Class Year: 1976

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

I moved to Philadelphia 28 years ago after marrying my husband, a native of the area.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Vedge, a vegan restaurant in the city, is my absolute favorite. I love the atmosphere and especially the food, which is creative, healthy and beautifully presented.

What are you up to now?

Now that my three children are out of college and gainfully employed, I have been taking painting classes at my local art center where I also volunteer. In addition, I am on the Boards of the Radnor Historical Society and the Radnor Historic Architectural Review Board.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

I lived in Tyler House where I had a wonderful group of friends that I still see, even though they’re living in various parts of the world. I also loved the architecture and my sunny room at Tyler.

Why did you choose Smith?

I loved the idea of becoming a “Smithie,” whom I thought of as independent, fun and smart. The campus was beautiful and I liked the idea of the Five College Exchange program. Smith was one of the few colleges to which I applied that had an architecture program. Although Smith did not offer a BS in Architecture, the program prepared me for a Masters of Architecture which I later pursued.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

I loved Friday Tea in the Tyler living room. It signified that the work week was over and that the weekend was about to begin. It was also a chance to get together with friends and to continue a tradition that had been a basic part of Smith.

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?

There’s not one particular moment that was transformative, although when I attended my last reunion, there was a seminar discussing “What to do with the rest of your life.” After attending the seminar, I decided to learn to paint and to follow my passion for creating art. Over the years, I have met many Smithies who have become lifelong friends. In addition, Smith has opened the door to many job opportunities through networking and/or because of Smith’s high academic reputation.

March 2015, Smithie of the Month – Andrea Kyan

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Name: Andrea Kyan

Class Year: 2000

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?

12 years (since 2002).

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Chabaa Thai for their Garden Pad Thai and deliciously peppery fried rice.

What are you up to now?

I opened P.S. & Co. last May in Rittenhouse. We’re showing the city how satisfying 100% organic, gluten-free, plant-based food tastes and feels.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?

Emerson. We had an eclectic group of housemates. I liked that there was no main “type”. We were all extremely different and enjoyed each others’ company!

Why did you choose Smith?

I wanted to attend a college with no core requirements, no Greek system and Smith’s formidable alumni network.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?

Afternoon Tea. No matter how busy we all were, our house always came together to chat and catch up over afternoon tea – which were on Saturdays at Emerson due to all the athletes.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?

Professor Chris Lupke (East Asian Languages and Literature) taught a class on modern Chinese literature and the Chinese diaspora. I recently reconnected with Prof. Lupke on Facebook! He was an unforgettable teacher.

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?

I remember arriving as a freshman and feeling like I finally arrived. Growing up in a small town with little diversity, I always

felt out of place. Smith was a community I had been yearning to be a part of for so long.

What makes a Smithie unique?

We care about leaving the world a better place. Smithies are compassionate and altruistic foremost.

How did your Smith experience shape your life?

Smith further instilled the belief in myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. College made me more confident and more empowered to enter the real world.