"Mount Holyoke Forever Shall Be"

By Hannah Leffingwell '15 on February 14, 2016 at 2:00 PM

A love letter to Mount Holyoke

Yesterday morning, after receiving news that I had been accepted into the PhD program of my dreams, I sat down to write a love letter to Mount Holyoke. I wrote it in a state of raw emotion, overwhelmed by the memories of a place that had given me so much. I wrote it because I knew I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Mount Holyoke. I wouldn’t be in New York City, surrounded by the love of friends old and new, learning about language and history and art and feminism, spending every day face-to-face with the raw and often overwhelming vicissitudes of the human heart.

I chose to write to Mount Holyoke, rather than about Mount Holyoke, because my alma mater has always been so much more than a college, or an institution, or even a place. Mount Holyoke has been, and continues to be, a series of encounters, what performance art curator Dan Fishback defines as “who I am because of who you are, and who you are because of who I am.” Every one of us who has walked through Mount Holyoke’s gates has learned who we are because of what Mount Holyoke is. But I too often forget that the opposite is also true—that Mount Holyoke is what it is because of who we are—that we are just as much a part of this encounter as the beautiful place we called our home.

The reality of this truth hit home for me today, as I was walking through the streets of my neighborhood. I looked down at my phone, surprised to see a message from a name I didn’t recognize. Reading it, I learned that Margaret Bishop Brehmer, a Mount Holyoke alum from the class of 48’, had recently passed away. I wept as I walked, remembering her story, overwhelmed by the long legacy of Mount Holyoke women who have lived impactful, generous and uncompromising lives.

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Professor Hartley, because we met...

By MHC Development on October 15, 2015 at 3:45 PM


Professor James Hartley and Mallory Cohn '08

"When I signed up for Professor Hartley's first-year seminar, I expected to learn a thing or two about great books. I didn't expect to gain a mentor and friend that would be my mainstay throughout my college years, whose door would always be available for intellectual conversation, goofy chats, and (most important of all) deeply felt encouragement and support. I'm 7 years out of college, and yet on a recent trip back to campus, I found that nothing had changed. At a time of deep personal doubt, I was given the gift of his abiding faith in my abilities as a scholar and teacher.

Jim, thank you for being the kind of support that never falters. Because we met, I have the confidence to soldier on." —Mallory Cohn '08

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Holly Regan, because we met...

By MHC Development on October 14, 2015 at 9:00 AM


Holly Regan '15 (left) and Hannah Leffingwell '15 (right) on Mountain Day. 

"If I have one regret about my time at Mount Holyoke, it is that I didn't meet you sooner.  Do you remember that day, one year ago, when we first sat down for lunch at Blanchard?  So much has changed since then, for better or for worse, but through it all I have found a true friend in you.  Your kindness, loyalty and integrity have helped me to face the uncertain future with courage.

Holly Regan, because we met, I am a stronger, truer person more capable of loving myself and the world." —Hannah Leffingwell '15

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Women's education can change the world. 10,000 strong and growing.

By Mount Holyoke College on July 23, 2015 at 11:45 AM

What an incredible year it's been! Over 10,000 in the MHC community have joined our movement, strengthening the global impact of an MHC education. Throughout the year, we've celebrated those who are making change in their communities and beyond, sharing stories of the power of women (and one chicken) here on campus and around the world.

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Who's Your Mary?

By Hannah Leffingwell '15 on February 3, 2015 at 11:30 AM

"No More Need for Flowers"
Hannah Leffingwell '15 tells us about her "Mary"

When I was a child, my grandmother liked to sit me down and tell me her favorite joke. “Have you heard of the Great Depression?” she would ask. I would nod my head. “Well,” she would say, “there was nothing great about it!”

Indeed, for my grandmother and her family, the Great Depression was a time of extreme hardship. At the age of seven, my grandmother’s family abandoned their farm in Oregon, unable to stay afloat in the wake of the economic crash of 1929. Unlike most farmers, who fled west to California, my grandmother’s family fled east, eventually landing in the small town of Brighton, Colorado.

Along the way, my grandmother and her sisters scavenged for tissue paper in the trashcans of the towns they passed through, using what they could find to make paper flowers, which they sold along the way to pay for food. It was autumn when my grandmother’s family embarked on their journey, a time when the children would usually be starting school. While my grandmother’s siblings accepted the impossibility of continuing their education on the road, my grandmother refused. In every town where the family stayed, she would find the nearest school house, and ask the teacher if she could attend classes. If the teacher said no, my grandmother would stubbornly sit in the back of the room, a silent but attentive participant in that day’s lesson.

For my grandmother, education was never a given. She fought just as hard for her education at the age of seven as she did at the age of sixty when, after raising four children, she pursued a college education. After receiving her degree in political science, she sold her house and ran for governor of Colorado. At the family cabin where she lived during her campaign, I can still find pencils in the old desk, reading “Anna May Leffingwell for governor 1978.”

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