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.