FP Focus: Penni Martorell FP’05

April 9, 2019 at 8:10 AM

Penni Martorell FP’05

Meet Penni Martorell FP’05, who found a lifelong community of friends when she began at Mount Holyoke as a Frances Perkins Scholar. An art history major, Penni’s education gave her the opportunity to work in libraries and museums, opening up doors to a profession with which she fell in love. She still calls the Pioneer Valley home and is grateful for the confidence that her time at Mount Holyoke instilled in her.



Name: Penni Martorell FP’05
Hometown: Granby, MA
Major: Art History
Advanced Degree: MLIS, Simmons University
Current Profession: Curator & City Historian, Wistariahurst Museum

What drew you to the Frances Perkins program?
It was my community college's connection with the FP program that opened up the door to the non-traditional programs at Mount Holyoke and Smith College. Carolyn Dietel made time for me, followed up with me, and during my interview was sure to introduce me to current students in the program. I knew then MHC was where I was meant to be.

What was your favorite part of the FP program?
Oh, my FP colleagues were the best. I made and have kept so many friends that I treasure, and who are my source of reinvigoration and refreshment. I follow so many on Facebook — they are so inspiring in their achievements and the challenges they face. So many of them don't even know how inspiring they are.

How did being an FP shape your Mount Holyoke experience?
I was never in a traditional college setting before, so this experience was everything to me. As an older student, I was ripe for learning — not just the classroom content, but social interactions with people of very different economic and cultural backgrounds. I learned how to stylistically gauge the department where I felt most at home (I started as a computer science major and ended up majoring in art history) and I surprised myself educationally, discovering that my work was of Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude caliber. I loved every one of my professors and learned so much from them about how to think. Oh, and through the Five College Consortium, I got to take some awesome classes at Smith as well.

What is one thing you would want to say to an alum who has donated to MHC?
Thank you. The funds you donated provided me with an opportunity to improve my life in so many ways and gave me a career that I love.

What has your path been since graduating from Mount Holyoke, and how do you think your MHC education has served you in this pursuit?
After MHC I pursued my graduate degree at the Simmons University School of Library and Information Science, where I majored in archives management. I finished that program just as the recession of 2008 hit and, while I began to question my choice of careers, I stuck with it and had the opportunity to work at the American Antiquarian Society. I decided to stick closer to home in the Pioneer Valley, first taking a job at the Holyoke Public Library and then moved to my present position as Holyoke's City Historian and Curator at Wistariahurst Museum. I love my work. My education at Mount Holyoke opened my eyes to so many opportunities and showed me that I am capable, and that I just had to pick something and go for it and that I could do it.

Rachel Nix ’20

Written by Rachel Nix ’20

Rachel, a politics major and sociology minor, is a marketing assistant in the Office of Advancement and a contributor to the MHC Forever blog. Hailing from West Virginia, she serves on MHC’s Admissions and Financial Aid Advisory Committee, is deeply involved with social justice initiatives and loves spending her free time with friends, reading on the green or trying to pet Jorge, the goose.