Monday, June 4, 2012
Who we (at Wellesley) are becoming
Having just returned from my Wellesley College class reunion, I am energized by the spirit and determination of this group of high-achieving women. Think Hillary Clinton (though she’s two years behind us). And Diane Sawyer, who is in our class but never shows up for reunions. Or Madeline Albright, who is older.
Among the things women in my class are doing: creating an art installation that echoes the water-power of Lowell, Mass (Nancy Selvage); running the neurology division of the National Institutes of Health (Storey Landis; fighting for LGBT rights as an “ally” (Prue Beidler);
Their hair may be graying and their waistlines thickening, but they are vibrant -- lawyers, doctors, financial planners; judges, publishers, and artists. While at Social Security age, 56 percent are still working and a fourth of those say they'll never retire, according to the class survey. They are the backbone of volunteerism in their communities. (After all, Wellesley’s motto is Non Ministrari, sed Ministrare – not to be ministered unto but to minister.) They are politically engaged, even drifting leftward. Eighty-five percent of the 181 women who responded said they will vote (again) for Pres. Obama.
Some of the newer choices they are making emerged at a class meeting to talk about “transition” from work to whatever. Sometimes, the choices are too many. Prue Beidler, for one, advises never to say “yes” to a request on the spot – sleep on it first. (Oh, that I had had that advice six months ago before I overwhelmed myself.) Lolly MacMurray-Cooper , who is among those who has found a late love in life, volunteers at a hospice just two hours a week, but it fulfills her. She's found that the dying often want to make amends, to say sorry to someone. She helps them write such “legacies.” Longtime English teacher, Rhoda Trooboff, got it into her head a few years ago to start a book publishing house, Tenley Circle Press, in her basement and it’s thriving. And Susan Korte is helping to green her home state through her blog, Providential Gardener,, a gathering place for the fruitful earth of Rhode Island.
But among the stories I like most is that of Becky Burckmyer, who has truly turned lemons into lemonade. My next blog will be about her.