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christa wusinich's picture

Bryn Mawr Readings...

The Bryn Mawr story begins "In 1877 when Joseph Wright Taylor decided to found a Quaker college for women"(Horowitz 105). The story gets better with M. Carey Thomas, a captivating woman full of idealism and committed to the ardent application of her dreams for Bryn Mawr College. It's a shame M. Carey Thomas had a bribe attached to her aquisition of Bryn Mawr's presidency(Mary Garrett promised the school $10, 000 a year ,a hearty promise in 1893). The bribe suggests the falsehood that M. Carey Thomas was in some manner unworthy for the position. Her success leaves little room for doubt! Though enamored by Thomas, her dream, her world seemed very exclusionary to me...it said to me: Only some of us get to live in castles or tucked away in cottages...

I was formerly unaware that Bryn Mawr had a summer program for nearly two decades, a program for working women usually forcibly driven by necessity over any passionate pursuit. And it all began with Thomas ruminating in the Sahara desert.

Particularly fantastic was Louise Brownell Saunders's account of re-entry into academia after years led her to say her "Bryn Mawr dream died away"(13). She met women who were starving for education and how wonderful it felt for her to be feeding the hungry. These non-traditional students, in fact, compelled the faculty to work harder. I thought of a room filling with water pressuring the doors to burst forth and release a repressed consciousness to these thirsty workers who had missed opportunities, perhaps, until now.

L.B. Saunders had this to say of her students, "Their class consciousness, the religion of the unions, makes them impatient of anything narrowly individual"(15). This brings to the fore, my question(s) Why am I doing this...this college thing that can be very isolating,that makes me account for myself singularly amongst others? As a returning student (and maybe myself a Bryn Mawr experiment?),it has been difficult to adjust to the lesser degree of human interaction in my life. I see it as a sacrifice that will reap rewards and I hope I am right in seeing it this way. I see my ambition (though sometimes wavering) as a necessary evil in a way. I crave the broader context, the open world beyond the groves.

 

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