President’s Perspective: A Campaign to Change Lives

Faith Khumalo
On Saturday, October 13, 2012, we launched the public phase of Women for the World, the most ambitious campaign in Smith’s history. We celebrated with toasts, speeches, drums, and song. But for me the most moving moment of the evening—the symbol of what this campaign is about—was the speech by Faith Khumalo ’15. Born to a 17-year-old mother in Zimbabwe, orphaned at 12, and raised by relatives, she did so well in school she was offered the opportunity to spend a preparatory school year in the United Kingdom; she then came to Smith. Although she was frightened to go so far from home alone, she told us, “My dreams were bigger than my fears.” As a sophomore at Smith, she is beginning to realize those dreams. In thanking the alumnae for their support of financial aid, she said, “What you are doing is changing lives.”

Again and again that weekend, we saw evidence of how Smith changes lives. On Friday, we watched Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary, Saving Face, about helping victims of acid burning in Pakistan. Sharmeen, a graduate of the class of 2002, made her first film at Smith as a senior under the auspices of the Kahn Institute. After we watched the film, two courageous alumnae journalists, who graduated forty-five years apart—Trudy Rubin ’65 and Shehrbano Taseer ’10—took the stage to talk about their work in the Middle East, work pursued often at great personal risk. Vivid in all of our minds was the news that week of Malala Yousefzai, the 15-year-old girl shot by the Taliban because she advocated for girls’ education. Sharmeen, Trudy, and Shehrbano are all in different ways involved in the struggle to help girls like Malala realize their dreams.

Women for the World is a campaign about changing lives. The largest portion of our $450 million goal—$200 million—is for financial aid. We are not raising money for a building, often the traditional focus of a capital campaign. We are raising money for human capital. Only 44 percent of Smith’s financial aid budget is endowed. We want to increase that percentage, building the foundation critical to recruiting the best students from around the world, regardless of their means—students like Faith, or students like Shishona Jones ’12, who spoke at Ivy Day in May about coming to Smith from the Bronx with the ambition of becoming a doctor.

When Sophia Smith gave her fortune to establish a college for women in every way equivalent to the best colleges for men, she wanted to change lives. She believed that through education, women’s wrongs would be redressed, their wages adjusted, and their power for good incalculably enlarged. At the Women’s Global Leadership Celebration, we repeatedly saw alumnae manifest the power for good that was shaped at Smith. We heard ambassadors, legislators, educators, businesswomen, doctors, and philanthropists talk about their passions, commitments, and achievements, and we heard many stories of the role Smith played in developing their capacity for leadership.

Carol Christ
Today we have the opportunity and, I believe, the responsibility to extend the reach and power of Sophia Smith’s dream. She gave her fortune to achieve it, and we have the chance to give of our fortune to continue her vision. We choose to do this work not for ourselves, nor even solely for Smith’s greater good. We choose to do it for women around the world so that they, like you, can experience the transformative impact of a Smith education. We choose to do it because the world needs women to be the leaders they are meant to be. We accept our responsibility with courage and conviction to continue Sophia’s legacy—educating women for the world, making Smith a perennial blessing to it. Aar from home alone, she told us, “My dreams were bigger than my fears.” As a sophomore at Smith, she is beginning to realize those dreams. In thanking the alumnae for their support of financial aid, she said, “What you are doing is changing lives.”

Again and again that weekend, we saw evidence of how Smith changes lives. On Friday, we watched Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary, Saving Face, about helping victims of acid burning in Pakistan. Sharmeen, a graduate of the class of 2002, made her first film at Smith as a senior under the auspices of the Kahn Institute. After we watched the film, two courageous alumnae journalists, who graduated forty-five years apart—Trudy Rubin ’65 and Shehrbano Taseer ’10—took the stage to talk about their work in the Middle East, work pursued often at great personal risk. Vivid in all of our minds was the news that week of Malala Yousefzai, the 15-year-old girl shot by the Taliban because she advocated for girls’ education. Sharmeen, Trudy, and Shehrbano are all in different ways involved in the struggle to help girls like Malala realize their dreams.

Women for the World is a campaign about changing lives. The largest portion of our $450 million goal—$200 million—is for financial aid. We are not raising money for a building, often the traditional focus of a capital campaign. We are raising money for human capital. Only 44 percent of Smith’s financial aid budget is endowed. We want to increase that percentage, building the foundation critical to recruiting the best students from around the world, regardless of their means—students like Faith, or students like Shishona Jones ’12, who spoke at Ivy Day in May about coming to Smith from the Bronx with the ambition of becoming a doctor.

When Sophia Smith gave her fortune to establish a college for women in every way equivalent to the best colleges for men, she wanted to change lives. She believed that through education, women’s wrongs would be redressed, their wages adjusted, and their power for good incalculably enlarged. At the Women’s Global Leadership Celebration, we repeatedly saw alumnae manifest the power for good that was shaped at Smith. We heard ambassadors, legislators, educators, businesswomen, doctors, and philanthropists talk about their passions, commitments, and achievements, and we heard many stories of the role Smith played in developing their capacity for leadership.

Today we have the opportunity and, I believe, the responsibility to extend the reach and power of Sophia Smith’s dream. She gave her fortune to achieve it, and we have the chance to give of our fortune to continue her vision. We choose to do this work not for ourselves, nor even solely for Smith’s greater good. We choose to do it for women around the world so that they, like you, can experience the transformative impact of a Smith education. We choose to do it because the world needs women to be the leaders they are meant to be. We accept our responsibility with courage and conviction to continue Sophia’s legacy—educating women for the world, making Smith a perennial blessing to it.

SAQ Winter 2012-13