"We were fortunate to be able to attend a women’s college that had great professors, wonderful traditions and provided a terrific education. I want other women to be able to experience the same." — Joan Winkel Ripley ’55
The Laurel Chain Society honors the generosity of all alumnae, family members and friends who support the College consistently each year. Their steadfast support of — and unwavering belief in — the College advances the mission of Mount Holyoke and empowers our students to change the world. Lifetime Laurel Chain Society Member Joan Winkel Ripley ’55 tells us why she supports Mount Holyoke:
Tell me a little about yourself. While at Mount Holyoke, what was your major? What are you doing now? I married in 1956 and had five children. I now have 17 grandchildren and one great grandson. I majored in Chemistry, and only worked one year as a chemist before my husband was transferred to Georgia where there were no chemistry jobs. I became a statistician for George Washington University which was doing a project for the army. In 1972, after five children, I opened a bookstore in Chappaqua, New York. I finally closed it 37 years later in 2009. During that time I became the first woman president of the American Booksellers Association and traveled all over the U.S. I am now retired.
Why did you choose Mount Holyoke? I chose Mount Holyoke because back in the 1950s, if you did well in high school you were expected to attend a Seven Sisters school. I had never seen a college before entering the gates freshman year at Mount Holyoke in 1951.
How has being an alumna of MHC impacted your life? I have made many good friends of all ages through various alumnae events, Alumnae Association committees and workshops, etc. MHC women all have quite similar interests and a love of learning. You can count on them.
Why do you prioritize consistent giving to the College? We were fortunate to be able to attend a women’s college that had great professors, wonderful traditions and provided a terrific education. I want other women to be able to experience the same. If all alums remember Mount Holyoke every year, it will help our college live into the future for many other women.
What does volunteerism mean to you? Volunteerism is extremely important. Everyone should do their share. When we graduated from college, no one left Mount Holyoke without knowing that we were expected to contribute and give back to our community. It was impressed upon us again and again.
Describe a quintessential Mount Holyoke moment. I guess a quintessential MHC moment would have to be at our 50th Reunion when our class presented a morning symposium reporting on a two-year project of working with students in Sociology 224. The students studied us from the archives and then interviewed us in person. It was all videotaped and we wrote a book about the project called “Uncommon Women Together – Generations Apart.” It was very unifying for our class and really connected us with the students and the college even fifty years out.
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