Smith’s success rate in Fulbright Fellowships continues, with this year’s group of 17 fellows representing 53 percent of Smith applicants. That’s a 1 in 2 success rate, more than double the national average. In all, Smith graduates received 63 fellowship honors. One alumna, Aria Cabot ’06 (pictured), recently finished her Fulbright Fellowship in Cagliari, the capital of the island of Sardinia in Italy. Cabot was an English teaching assistant in two different high schools, planning activities and debates on American history and culture for close to 200 students. When she wasn’t in the classroom, she was working on her own research on American and British travel writers. A full summary, together with the names and destinations of Smith’s fellows, appears at

Incoming students have received their first reading assignment: Native Guard, Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize–winning volume of poetry that explores the complex memory of the history of the American South. Trethewey’s book, published in 2006, seeks to create a lyrical memorial to the often overlooked Native Guard, one of the first black regiments assembled in the Civil War. Interwoven in the volume, her third collection, are poems honoring Trethewey’s late mother and recalling her parents’ interracial marriage, which was illegal when Trethewey was born in 1966 in Mississippi. As part of their orientation to Smith, first-year students will gather with their new housemates on campus September 2, in groups led by faculty members and administrators, to discuss the summer reading assignment. That evening, Trethewey will read from her volume. For details, visit

Lauded landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander ’44 can add two more accolades to her long list of honors. During one week in May, Oberlander received two honorary degrees. The first was a doctor of laws from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; the second was a doctor of science from McGill University in Montreal. Both degrees were given in recognition of Oberlander’s pioneering and inspirational work in the field of landscape architecture. A new book about Oberlander’s life and work, titled Love Every Leaf, by Kathy Stinson, was recently published by Tundra Press. To read an interview with Oberlander that appeared in the Fall 2004 issue of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly, click here.

Cecilia Villarruel ’04 was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in January 2007. Since then, she’s been teaching students in grades 9 and 10 in the village of Oshekasheka in Northern Namibia, Africa. The students, she says, are enthusiastic, but classrooms are crumbling: ceiling frames have fallen, windows are broken, holes in the walls force teachers to talk over each other, and electricity is sporadic at best. To improve conditions, Villarruel has spearheaded a project to renovate four classrooms, fixing ceilings and windows and improving equipment. The repairs, she says, will benefit current and future learners for years to come. Click here for more information.

In her Commencement address on May 18, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and kindergarten teacher Margaret Edson ’83 delivered an elegant, unscripted tribute to classroom teaching, calling it an act of love and reminding the 710 graduates of the importance of education. “Classroom teaching is a physical, breath-based, eye-to-eye event,” she said. “It is not built on equipment or the past. It is not concerned about the future. It is in existence to go out of existence. It happens and then it vanishes. Classroom teaching is our gift. It’s us; it’s this.” In addition to delivering the keynote address, Edson received an honorary degree. For more coverage of Commencement, click here. To watch Edson deliver her speech, click here.

Cecily Hines ’73 has long been an advocate for the environment. Now she’ll be leading an organization dedicated to preserving local parks and landscapes and strengthening communities in the Minneapolis area. In June, Hines was named president of The Foundation for Minneapolis Parks. Hines has spent 20 years as a legal adviser for public and private institutions and has been an active volunteer, having served on the boards of various arts organizations, the Minnesota Center of Environmental Advocacy, the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund, and the Alumnae Association of Smith College. For more information, visit  

Incoming students will have a new option on their orientation schedule. The new pre‑orientation program, open to about 30 students and titled “Sustainability and Ecological Literacy,” will run from August 28 to 30. “One of the most important questions facing humanity is how can we live in an environmentally sustainable fashion,” said Professor L. David Smith, director of Smith’s Environmental Science and Policy Program. “According to one calculation, the average U.S. citizen has an ecological footprint that is five times greater than what the planet can support. We can do better than that and it starts with education.” Professor Smith plans to explore a range of topics, including where the water and food at Smith comes from; where waste goes; what system powers campus; and how students can save kilowatts and BTUs. More information about the course appears at

A new affinity group is being formed to connect Asian alumnae. Co‑founded by Jisun Han Conn ’02, Jenny Bornholdt Hammond ’90, Anna Ing ’95, Mary Kim ’04, and Audrey Paek ’92, the Smith Asian Alumnae Connection (SAAC) will provide opportunities for professional networking and mentoring relationships with students and alumnae, and assist with the recruitment of students in the United States and abroad. To join the listserv or to volunteer, send an e-mail to (include name, contact info, and class). Stay tuned for a new Web site, and also save Friday, November 14, at 4 p.m. for a reception with the artist Yong Soon Min. Come celebrate the acquisition/installation of her contemporary piece, “Movement,” and the efforts of Sohl Lee ’06 and the Korean-American Students of Smith (KASS) organization, which established the Korean Arts Foundation.

Close to 2,000 alumnae, their friends and family converged on campus during two weekends in May to celebrate Reunion. Click here for slide shows of both Reunion weekends.
This could be the year that more alumnae make gifts to Smith in one year than ever before. Thus far, The Smith Fund has received more than $11.5 million in cash and pledges from 16,502 donors. If you haven’t yet made a gift, there’s still time to give before the fiscal year ends on June 30. Much of the money raised helps support financial aid. Make your gift here.
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