Listening to [distinguished alumna Evelyn Rich ’54]’s interview provided a great place to begin my research for the summer. Since she graduated in 1954 she had a different experience compared to the black students who succeeded her, providing a context to the era in which my research would begin. I reflected on how much adversity she faced because of the racial tension on campus, while still having to manage her studies. When she explained she felt she was graded unfairly because her race, and felt isolated in other settings it made me admire her perseverance. She endured many tribulations because of her socioeconomic status, and ethnicity, but she remained focused and accomplished her personal agenda.
When listening to her reason for attending Bryn Mawr which was to change her life, I was impressed with her understanding of societal power structures and her place in relation to them. When she identified Bryn Mawr as a portal to power structures it made me reflect on the “tools” the College provides to its students. Even though she was bitter after graduation, it was great to hear how she thinks that attending Bryn Mawr explains her future success. She was able to provide a retrospective glimpse in her experience and is able to accept and understand how the adversity she faced in college help prepare her for life post-graduation.
It was interesting to note that her experiences are similar to those of students that have succeeded her here at Bryn Mawr. Certain feelings of not belonging linger, and it is my hope with this summer research, the College can find more methods to help remedy this feeling. After listening to her interview I am interested in looking through her papers once they arrive. I think it will provide more insight to her life at Bryn Mawr, and how her time here has impacted her life.
Throughout the summer, Lauren Footman ’15 and Alexis De La Rosa ’14, the inaugural Pensby Center interns, will blog about their research projects. The Pensby Center (formerly The Office of Intercultural Affairs) implements programs and activities that address issues of diversity, power and privilege, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and disability, with a goal of improving the campus climate and enhancing community life at Bryn Mawr College.