The Lives We Lead: Lisa Slavid ’90

Every alumna who comes back to Smith for Reunion has a story to tell. In this series alumnae reflect on the experiences that have shaped their lives since graduation.

Lisa Slavid ’90Major: Art and psychology

House: Morrow and Talbot

Hometown then: Needham, Massachusetts

Now: Santa Barbara, California

Career: Coordinator, strategic initiatives at UC Santa Barbara; cartoonist and photographer

How I came to Smith: Initially, I had some hesitation about coming to a women’s college. Although I might have known at the time I was gay, I wasn’t sure, and I thought, where am I supposed to meet guys? Plus, I come from three generations of Mount Holyoke grads. But within the first twelve hours of being here I met so many interesting people, I felt completely comfortable.

My favorite place on campus: The willow tree by Paradise Pond near the Japanese pavilion. It had branches that formed a canopy, and when you were inside, it felt like you were in an outdoor chapel. With friends, I hung out in the alcove on the fourth floor or in the dining commons of Morrow House. There was a jukebox there—the only one on campus as far as I know.

Career path: I was head resident my senior year at Talbot, and I stayed on after graduation to work for two years as head resident at Cutter. I knew I wanted to do something in the field of counseling or student affairs as a career. Majoring in both art and psychology was a good balance for me, because it allowed me to pursue my other interests, which are photography and creating cartoons.

Life after Smith: I’ve worked in student affairs and resident life, first at Santa Clara University, then at UC Santa Barbara. I also create irreverent cartoons about fruits and veggies, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the World Food Programme.

Friends forever: I met such bright, inquisitive women and learned so much from them. We are all on different journeys now, but we keep in touch, and it’s sweet to see where life is taking them. I can’t imagine a better place to have discovered my sexual identity. My classmates, both gay and straight, were so supportive.

Lessons I learned: Smith gave me an anchor, a foundation to explore what it means to be a woman. It gave me the self-confidence to know who I am as opposed to what a magazine says I should be. Living and interacting with such a diverse group of women, I learned a lot about the complexities of multiculturalism, about the value of dialogue rather than debate. Smith awakened my sense of adventure, too. J-term of my junior year I went kayaking in the Everglades with psychology professor Eric Carlson. After graduation, I traveled around the world as resident director and dean of students with Semester at Sea out of the University of Virginia.

My life today is: Happy and in transition.

Fall ’10 SAQ