Today, April 10, marks the 139th birthday anniversary of Frances Perkins, class of 1902. Long before women's liberation was a part of our vocabulary, Frances was a trailblazer for generations of women who would follow her. As the first female Cabinet member in the nation's history, this remarkable woman tussled with politicians, industrial management and labor leaders in her capacity as Secretary of Labor, fighting for the rights of working people everywhere.
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.
Meet Julie Ogg FP’22, who lives with her family in Belchertown, Massachusetts. An anthropology major, Julie has worked at Mount Holyoke for more than 15 years - first in the Alumnae Association and now in the Office of Advancement. She calls her experience as a Frances Perkins Scholar "transformative" and draws inspiration not just from her professors, but also from the strength and intellect of her fellow classmates. Through her coursework, she has discovered a passion for women's health and looks forward to completing her training as a certified doula this summer.
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The Frances Perkins Scholars Association (FPSA) is an organization committed to providing opportunities for Frances Perkins (FP) Scholars. Since its founding in 1980, the Frances Perkins Program for students of non-traditional age has graduated more than a thousand highly accomplished women. By preserving traditions and encouraging interaction, the FPSA strives to forge and deepen close relationships between students, as well as provide leadership and professionalism to all FPs. The org also provides support to FPs in balancing their studies and interests at the College with their non-academic lives, articulating and representing matters pertinent to them, and maintaining communication channels among the Student Government Association, student body, faculty, administrators, and alumnae.
Stacey Ridel ’15 (pictured left), recent graduate and former Vice President of the group, speaks on what she enjoyed most during her time in the FPSA and the lessons she learned that carry through to her life today: “My time as VP in the FPSA definitely illuminated what I really wanted to do with my life, which is to support students. I never knew I was a leader until given the opportunity to be one. I utilize the skills I developed in the FPSA every day in my current job as a Career Services Manager for a trucking school, helping non-traditional students seize the most from their education.”
Since its renaming in 1931, Dickinson House has been the focus of one of Mount Holyoke’s most common misconceptions. Students, family, alumnae, and visitors to the College all assume the same thing: that Dickinson House, located at the south end of campus and just across College Street, was named after poet Emily Dickinson, one of the College’s most famous alumnae.