Goal #3: Go to an East-coast liberal arts womens’ (sic) college.
FIRST CHOICE: **Smith**
DATE (S) COMPLETED: 1997, 2007
In 1989 I was obsessed with THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, and by extension its creator Ann M. Martin. I read Ann M.’s bio at the end of every book, even though I already knew it by heart: She did a lot of baby-sitting when she was growing up in Princeton, New Jersey. She had two cats. She graduated from Smith College.
P.S many notable writers went to Smith, not limited to Madeline L’Engle, Julia Child, and Piper Kerman, author of the memoir ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (which turned into the TV show that became my new obsession to replace the BSC. I responsibly binge-watched until Netflix decided they’d add a new season whenever they dang well pleased. So here we are). (Adding to this P.S side note, a bunch of politician’s wives went to Smith, and Google lists them before Ann M., which I think is an outrage because, hello, which do children of the 80’s remember more fondly, Ann M.’s books or Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign??)
Anyway, I wanted to be just like Ann M. (still do!). As it was too late to grow up in Princeton, New Jersey, and I was allergic to cats, I instead focused on going to Smith College.
Smith College was the school of my elitist dreams. I could only imagine it was full of ivy-covered red brick buildings and intelligent, studious women and old libraries filled with floor-to-ceiling books. Where professors nurtured their students and no one had to take P.E.
Where I could become a writer. Because always, I’ve wanted to be a writer.
Enter, Hollins University, with a creative writing program called “the most productive writing program in America” by Creative Writing in America. I was sixteen when I read about Hollins, and I’d never stopped dreaming of an East-coast (Roanoke, VA: check) liberal arts (check) women’s college (check). I found out about a summer writing program for high school students and begged to go. And life was never worse but never better.
(I am the one in the gigantic polo, because I obviously still had a thing or two to learn about style).
Even then part of me knew I’d never be able to afford the East-coast liberal arts women’s college I craved. I resigned myself to this fact, and attended a large, highly ranked, co-ed university an hour’s drive from my home.
That university is where I first heard about a program in Vermont offering a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children and Adolescents. At Vermont College of Fine Arts, students lived in the small, East-coast town of Montpelier for two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter, where they had an intensive schedule of lectures and workshops. Then they returned home, to work one-on-one and be nurtured by faculty members. Who were all notable authors for young people! And while none of them were Ann M., some of them were authors whose work I’d loved since childhood. The campus was comprised of aristocratic red brick buildings. There were books everywhere. I was hooked.
And while it wasn’t QUITE a women’s college, it was close enough for me.