A President of Stature
I am not in the habit of writing to Wellesley magazine, but your superb article on our new president of the College has moved me to action (“The Whole Woman,” summer ’16). I have often discussed the inadequate medical care for women with my brother, a retired neurosurgeon. It gives me great joy to read of Paula Johnson and her medical standing and interest in the world beyond Wellesley. I believe she can change some attitudes, which will make our education a stronger base for students. Thank you for a beautifully written article which gives us a portrait of a new leader. The photography is outstanding. The “new” magazine is a joy to read.
A wonderful issue, and despite my advanced years, I continue to be astonished and grateful for Wellesley’s continuum of magnificent presidents. Each is unique, and in step with and ahead of her times.
Blue Crew: a Team Effort
Wellesley Crew made history this spring (“Blue Champions,” summer ’16), but to focus on one athlete, calling the 1V “her” boat, belies the beauty of crew: Only when all eight athletes row together as one can a boat win. Eighteen athletes raced at NCAAs. Six other seniors missed graduation: Grace Howland, Sahar Ibrahim, Alessandra Zaldivar-Giuffredi, Syd Dollmeyer, and captains Olivia Thayer and Meg Roberts.
At NCAAs, to win a team championship, two boats must do well. This spring, Coach Hannah Woodruff ’11 coached the 2V, which won every race after NEWMACs. But the 1V struggled, coming in fifth at ECACs. So, Wellesley was ranked sixth before NCAAs, underdogs. Most of the athletes had won fourth and third place in the past two years; most thought that was all they could do. Frankly, Wellesley had never finished higher than third place. A few team leaders believed this was the year to win it all. In the fall, the team didn’t really believe. But something changed, and in the spring the team began to believe they could win it all.
After ECACs, Coach Tessa did a complete lineup change. Many athletes were asked to move spots and boats. Each one did so with grace and grit. The trick: Wellesley needed more power in the 1V without sacrificing the speed of the 2V.
Day one of NCAA racing: Wellesley for the first time advanced both boats to the Grand Finals without repechaging (racing again). Day two was the Grand Finals: While the 2V came in behind Bates, Wellesley and Bates both set an NCAA record. They were the first 2V boats to come in under seven minutes. Very fast. Then the 1V won their race, holding off attempts by Williams to beat them. That’s how the team clinched the championship: Wellesley’s first and first ever by a women’s college.
Janet McCaa ’64
I was so very sad to read of Jan’s death (“In Memoriam,” summer ’16), literally the last day of reunion at Wellesley. I had just had a lovely, long conversation with her the day before atone of our class of ’66 events, where she was attending as a representative of the Alumnae Association. She gave so much to the College, and as an upperclasswoman in McAfee all my years at Wellesley, she was a role model for me and for many of us there. Such a loss for Wellesley and for those close to her.
Remembering a Teacher
Lucetta Sharp Alderfer ’39 (“In Memoriam,” summer ’16) was known to me as Miss Sharp, head of the Agnes Irwin Lower School in Wynnewood, Pa., when I was 8 years old.
About a year ago, I discovered that she lived at the same retirement community where I had just moved at age 72—the Quadrangle in Haverford, Pa. I went to see her twice, taking flowers I found growing wild along the many paths, and chatting with her briefly.
She was an amazing and enchanting woman, and I send on the love to her family and to all those she brought such joy.
Moving Beyond Grief
When writer Elizabeth Lund contacted me about a story for the magazine (“Growing a Community,” spring ’16), I hesitated. My CMadison had only been dead three years and while the [inner-city community] garden our sons, nephews, and I had created in his memory was providing tons of opportunity for free grief therapy cloaked in hard work, I wasn’t certain I was ready to speak coherently about the experience. But Elizabeth gently convinced me to try. And maybe because we’ve never met, or maybe because our exchanges were all virtual and measured, or perhaps it was all due to her kindness and patient understanding, but somehow I was able to share this difficult yet strangely joyful part of my life’s journey.
I met CMadison my first year at Wellesley and married him the August after graduation. I wasn’t certain I’d be attending my 40th reunion but the spring publication of Elizabeth’s article seemed the perfect segue into the festivities and I’m so glad I went. Thank you!