Smithie of the Month: Mary Guinn

Mary Guinn

Mary Guinn, Class of 2015

How long have you lived in Philadelphia?  I have lived in Philadelphia for over a year now. I love Philadelphia– it’s a large city but can feel very much like a small town depending on the neighborhood. Plus, it has great food and parks!

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?  It would be a tie between Bar Bombón (18th and Moravian) and White Dog Cafe (34th and Sansom). Bar Bombón is a short stroll from Rittenhouse Square and is a small corner bar that has amazing vegan Puerto Rican food. I try to go there as often as I can make an excuse. White Dog Cafe is near Penn in University City and has delicious appetizers and desserts, but the best part is literally everything is dog themed. From the door handles to the stairs to the bathrooms, it’s dogs galore. It’s ridiculous and I love it.

What are you up to now?  I do conflicts research for a Am Law 100 firm. I love research–it’s like pulling on a thread on a piece of fabric. You keep pulling at strings until something gives and then you can do something new with the material you pulled! I also keep myself busy with volunteering, language study, and other hobbies.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?  I lived in Gillett all three years I was on campus. I had the same lovely senior single the entire time I lived in Gillett! It had two huge windows that let me see everything happening on Elm Street, which was fantastic during big storms or events on campus. Being able to check the weather before heading out was a huge plus!

Why did you choose Smith?  It had all the classes I ever wanted to take, it was in an adorable New England town, and was a Seven Sisters school! I was sold as soon as I visited campus! After submitting my application and meeting Smithies in my hometown, I knew I made the right decision.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?  My favorite classes were all taught by Dennis Yasutomo in the Government and East Asian Studies departments. They were fascinating, fun and I learned a lot of new skills I still use in my day-to-day job–I was very lucky to take so many of his courses while I was at Smith!

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?  My favorite moment would probably be returning to Smith for my senior year after studying abroad for the previous 14 months. Felt like I was home. A bittersweet moment because I knew I’d have to leave again in the spring, but it felt great being back on campus, ready to start a new year. Every Smithie I’ve talked to seems to have had a similar experience– there’s something about the campus and Noho!

How did your Smith experience shape your life?  Smith gave me a lot of tools to make more of a difference, allowing me to put my own talents and skills to better use. It also opened my eyes to parts of the world I never knew about and gave me my “Smith family”– I’m very lucky to have very close friends from all parts of the globe. While they’re all now scattered again all over the world after graduation, we still are able to support and encourage each other from afar. Smithie friendships are so strong and it’s one of the most important parts of my Smith experience!

What makes a Smithie unique?  That indelible quality all Smithies have is hard to describe… probably a mixture of wit and drive. Smithies have a fantastic sense of humor, a quick mind, and a palpable drive to do whatever they’re passionate about. Smithies go hard or they go home!

 

Smithie of the Month: Julie Slavet

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Julie Slavet, Class of 1979 (With daughter, Elizabeth Walber, Class of 2016)

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? I’ve lived in Philadelphia since 1995.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? My favorite restaurant is Tinto.

What are you up to now?  I’ve had some really interesting jobs here since I went back to work after being at home with my children for 7 years. I was the Executive Vice President of the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce for 5 years and then District Director for Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz for 6 years. I’m currently Executive Director of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF), one of our region’s leading community-based clean water organizations.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it?  I lived in Sessions and Park houses. My favorite thing about Session was (of course) the secret staircase — my favorite thing about Park was the view of Paradise Pond.

Why did you choose Smith?  I chose Smith because it was the best women’s college to which I applied!

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class?  An Economics class with Bob Buchele made an incredible impression on me because it was a totally different perspective on the world and how the economy impacts people. We spent one fascinating class talking about why it was not a good idea that New York City declare bankruptcy.

What makes a Smithie unique? I think that what makes Smithies unique is our commitment to supporting other women and our belief that women can pursue any goals they choose. I hope that we all share the responsibility that we will use the incredible skills, knowledge, and understanding we have been provided with to make the world a better place for women and other humans!

Do you have a defining Smith moment?  I was so proud that Elizabeth, my daughter, decided to go to Smith too! It’s a very different place than it was when I was there and she loved it for lots of the same and different reasons than I did. When she graduated in May, it was a wonderful moment to walk with the Class of 1776 group thru hollering and whooping seniors on each side — and to see my daughter enjoying this so much with her friends. I’ll never forget it. We’re both so proud to be Smithies!

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Smithie of the Month: Amanda Mott

Amanda Mott

Amanda Mott, Class of 1985

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? Since 1991.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? Do I have to pick one? Love the choices we have a great restaurant scene – love oysters at Pennsylvania 6, Tria and Mr. Martino’s Trattoria to name a few.

What are you up to now? I work at the University of Pennsylvania as the Associate Director for News. I have just started working on a master’s part time and I enjoy reading and spending time gardening in Waverly Community Garden.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it? Morris House – the friends I made there are life long. It was great being on Green Street and close to Paradise Pond. The fact that it was a medium in size meant we had a nice mix of students from all years.

Why did you choose Smith?  A family friend Nancy Leslie recommended it she taught at Spellman College in Georgia where I lived and her daughter was a freshman at Mount Holyoke. My parents were British and had not gone through the U.S. college search process. I loved the idea of college in New England.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why?  Loved Friday teas and Art History 100. That routine of taking time to gather in that slightly formal, informal way and sit and talk was kind of funny but also wonderful. A year of art history and looking at art and architecture from all over the world was like a grand tour. On those occasions when I am fortunate to see the works we studied in person – brings those lessons to life.

Who was your favorite professor/what was your best class? I took Letterpress with Elliot Offner in my junior year – love of it has stayed with me. The satisfaction of working to set moveable type, watch as the words take shape on the page and feel the impression the type has made on the paper is amazing.

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment? I think it was when I finally realized there were no requirements and signed up for Dance History. It was freeing. My first semester I basically created requirements for myself English 101, History 101, Calculus . . .what was I thinking? When I began to explore what I wanted, it opened up a new world of possibilities.

What makes a Smithie unique? She is empowered to be outspoken and a good listener.

How did your Smith experience shape your life? Hard to sum up. I could not have gone to Smith without the financial aid I received and I’m forever grateful for the experiences, discoveries and doors opened as a result. I reconnected with Smith in a meaningful way six years ago when I joined the Smith Alumnae Chorus. Since then I have traveled with them in concert to Sicily and to the Baltic. It has been a true gift to be able to connect to generations of Smith singers, make new friends and to experience the astonishing
talent of Jonathan Hirsh, senior lecturer and director of choral and orchestral activities at Smith.

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November 2016 Smithie of the Month: Glenna Hazeltine

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Glenna (Susie) Hazeltine, Class of 1966

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN PHILADELPHIA?  I have had two sojourns in Philadelphia.  Right after graduation, my newly minted husband and I moved onto UPenn’s campus while he went to Wharton and I taught at the Frankford Friends School. I was – and am – impressed by the Quaker approach to education: academically challenging in an ethical context and culturally rich. We followed his career to Chicago and Houston, and I returned to Philadelphia with my two sons in 1980 so that they could go to Germantown Friends School and I could go to law school.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY?  During my first experience of Philadelphia, the restaurant revolution hadn’t yet begun, and our favorite then was mom’s home cooking in Lancaster, which was home for us both and to which we returned on weekends.  When I came back in 1980, Commissary Market had just opened and from Commissary many wonderful restaurants emerged.  Today, my absolute favorite is Fiorino’s, an exquisite Italian restaurant in East Falls, to which I can – and do – walk.

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW?  Now, I am multi-tasking.  I continue to work as an attorney, specializing in the civil rights laws applicable to disabled students, representing school districts. Otherwise, I spend as much time as possible visiting my far-flung children and grandchildren.  My older son and daughter-in-law are Foreign Service Officers and have been stationed so far in Serbia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Zambia and France.  I have spent Christmas in most, including one memorable New Year’s on safari along the mighty Zambezi. I will spend this Christmas in Paris.  My younger son and daughter-in-law are both lawyers in Houston, my son the appellate lawyer for Children and Youth while my daughter-in-law represents unaccompanied illegal immigrant children.  They are the parents of my extraordinary (of course!) grandchildren, Oliver, at 7 a thoughtful, insightful dynamo of energy, and Clara, at 4, she who must be obeyed.  I commute to Houston as often as my – and their – schedules permit.  A highlight of my calendar each year is Grandparents’ Day at their school.

WHAT HOUSE DID YOU LIVE IN ON CAMPUS AND WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT?   I knew when I toured the College that I wanted to live on the old campus.  My roommate and friend from school days’ mother went to Smith and in support of our preference suggested that we ask for Wesley, which was not listed as a choice at that time and so would likely ensure our placement – and so we did.  As a result, we lived for one year in Wesley and for three years in Haven.  About both and especially Haven, I loved their old world gracious charm and grande dame beauty.  But most of all over the years, I deeply value my talented and seriously wonderful class-and-house mates. A large representation from Haven-Wesley ’66 comes back every five years, and our friendships and support for each other have grown over more than fifty years, a great gift from Smith.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SMITH?  I wish I could say it was for high purpose and holy, but it was because my Princeton uncle told me to.  And he was right.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SMITH TRADITION AND WHY?  Well of course, it is Smith’s history of graduating out-spoken and unafraid, high achieving women.  Once one has had “the Smith experience,” one is no longer “girl,” “woman” “chick” or other, some vulgar, descriptor:  one is a combination of talents and gifts not to be locked within someone else’s gender box.   It makes us annoying in all the right ways.  

Otherwise, my favorite Smith tradition is our life-long friendships, and the reunions and our connections that we pick up again just as if five years had not intervened – never mind 50!  

WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE PROFESSOR/WHAT WAS YOUR BEST CLASS?  I came to Smith, sure there’d been a mistake, and if they found out I was there, they’d send me home.  I was an English major but never dared approach any one of such venerable and revered personages – until I went back to Smith for an alum event sponsored by government Professor J. Patrick Coby, an enactment (not re-enactment) of Henry VIII’s Reformation Parliament.  It was an exciting and engaging long weekend, most of all for the opportunity to engage with him.  It was a lot of fun.  So much so that an alum’s young daughter who participated applied to Smith early decision.  And went.

As for my best class, I still feel the riveting terror I felt then when Professor Young, a war-injured vet, limped into my first Shakespeare class quietly murmuring, “Now is the winter of our discontent….”

DO YOU HAVE A DEFINING/FAVORITE/MOST MEMORABLE TRANSFORMATIVE SMITH MOMENT?  We came to Smith trailing expectations for women from the’50s and were on campus for the revolutionary ‘60s:  the Vietnam War, draft card and bra-burning, the assasination of JFK, the Civil Rights marches, the murders of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, the Black Panthers, the SDS, and the second women’s movement: we experienced a whirlwind of change and emerged into a world that ultimately, finally, learned not to ask us how many words we could type. Smith was a transformative agent for us at a transformative time for the country.

WHAT MAKE A SMITHIE UNIQUE?  Hmmmm:  I think the answer is the Supreme Court’s for pornography:  not sure, but I know it when I see it.  Openness? Authenticity? Intelligent interest and engagement?  …. I remember being on campus as an undergraduate for the return of reunion classes.  Because Haven is close to John M., we had some of the oldest returning women.  While they entertained with stories of what Smith was like at the turn of the century, what they were most interested in was what they were doing now, the book they were reading, their travels, their next adventure….And in us:  what books we were reading, what we were going to do, what our next adventure was to be….

HOW DID YOUR SMITH EXPERIENCE SHAPE YOUR LIFE?  There is little in my life that was not shaped by Smith.  It gave me, to quote Garrison Keillor, the strength to get up and do what needed to be done.  And the confidence that surely a Smith woman could do it.   

I was called this year by an undergraduate to thank me for my donation to Smith, for ensuring Smith’s future.  I told her that I gave, not so much to ensure Smith’s future as to thank Smith for ensuring mine.

October 2016 Smithie of the Month: Jennifer Walters

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Jennifer Walters, Class of 2005*

*Class Year: I began at Smith as dean of religious life in 2001 and “graduated” in 2016.  It was the best 15 years of college anyone could have.  But I identify with the class of 2005; we went through a lot together.

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? I moved to Ardmore this summer to begin my new position as Dean of the Undergraduate College at Bryn Mawr.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? Last month I enjoyed dinner at White Dog Café with my Smith colleague, Jessica Bacal, director of the Wurtele Center for Work and Life.  I am still exploring – and looking forward to dining my way through the city.

What are you up to now? I am developing relationships at Bryn Mawr, and learning how these two important women’s colleges, Bryn Mawr and Smith, while having similar missions have very different campus cultures, assets, and challenges.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it? I “lived” in the Helen Hills Chapel.  My favorite thing about it is how students came to see it as their sanctuary for conversation, home-cooked meals, and companionship.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why? My favorite traditions are Otelia Cromwell Day and Julia Child Day – both named after distinguished alumnae.  I love that they capture two spirits of the college, striving for social justice and delighting in the things of ordinary life.

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?  My entire Smith education, all 15 years of it, was transformative.  There were many defining moments, starting with the attack on 9/11 just a few weeks after I arrived. Over the years, we had numerous all-college meetings about difficult and vital issues facing the Smith community and the broader world. I value how we — students, faculty, and staff — grappled with wicked problems and our own messy reactions to them.  This is a real strength of Smith.

How did your Smith experience shape your life?  Nearly all students upon graduation from Smith say that they leave more confident about who they are and what they are capable of.  This is true of me as well.