Past Women's Network Events

Book Club Events | NYC & Charlotte | Spring 2016

This spring, the St. Andrew's Women's Network hosted two Book Club Discussions for alumnae and parents of the School, one in Charlotte, North Carolina, the other in New York City. The Charlotte event, where guests discussed Toni Morrison's Beloved, was held in the home of Sarah Belk P'06,'09,'12,'16 in late February, while Mary Malhotra P'17 hosted in New York this past Tuesday; women gathered in Mary's Manhattan apartment to discuss Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Both discussions were led by St. Andrew's faculty members and by Women's Network co-chair Elizabeth Roach.

"The Women's Network holds these book discussions not just to enjoy an evening of great food and great conversation with alums and parents (although that's certainly part of it)," Roach said. "We want to give our alumnae and current and past parents the opportunity to connect or reconnect with St. Andrew's—with our teachers, with each other, but also with the kind of intellectual exploration that occurs on campus. In essence, we're trying to recreate the Harkness table discussions we have in our classrooms, in the living rooms of our Book Club hosts. I particularly love these discussions because adults—with their varied life experiences—have a different perspective than teenagers on the issues in the novels we explore. It's enriching for me as a teacher."

Book Club attendees are "assigned" a text—always one that St. Andrew's English students are also reading—some months in advance. In the week leading up to the event, Roach sends out a list of questions and, in some cases, primary and secondary sources about the text, so that attendees can mull over the various issues within the text and angles of analysis in advance of the actual discussion. Roach and an additional St. Andrew's faculty member then travel to the host's home to lead the book discussion.

"I've loved doing these events over the years," said History Department Chair Emily Pressman, who helped lead the Beloved discussion in North Carolina. "Our group in Charlotte was terrific: they had wonderful insights into the novel, putting it into conversation with questions of historical memory that are, perhaps, more acutely present in the South. To have a group of such smart and engaged readers working through questions at the heart of Beloved was particularly powerful for me, as both a teacher and an historian."

"I attended the Charlotte meeting with Elizabeth and Emily," noted Cynthia Oates P'13. "It was great to be able to envision the two of them conducting their class, reading their favorite passages to us, asking us the same questions they ask their students. It reminded me of the great teaching that goes on at St. Andrew's."

"I often hear alums wistfully say how much they wish they could get back to the seminar table at St. Andrew's," Pressman added, "and parents visiting campus will often describe their envy at the work we get to do with their children in our courses on a daily basis. These events are a way of bringing a little bit of that classroom experience that is at the heart of St. Andrew's, to them, where they live."

"I loved the Wuthering Heights book discussion," said Liz Manocha P'18, who attended the New York gathering. "It was an evening of great conversation in a lovely setting with interesting women. Wuthering Heights is a strange and dark story, and Elizabeth Roach lead a discussion that helped me better understand the unique aspects of the novel and why it has earned a prominent spot in the canon of English literature. It was great to experience first hand some of the St. Andrew's magic. My inner English major was reawakened!"

New York host Mary Malhotra P'17 noted that her son just finished reading Wuthering Heights in his V Form English class, and that the Book Club was a great window into his classroom experiences at St. Andrew's. "I was able to ask Elizabeth, 'How did this book work in a V Form classroom?'" Malhotra recalled. "She explained some of the roadblocks students face while reading it, and how they work through that. I think we were all blown away that our kids have access to these kinds of minds, and scholarship, and talent, within their classrooms."

"Elizabeth was so great," agreed English teacher Katherine Crowley, who helped lead the New York discussion. "She really helped us to think critically about Wuthering Heights, about the characters and their development. She brought the book to life for the women, and helped a lot of us to understand the text in a whole new way."

"We talked a lot about what we think Emily Bronte is trying to say about love and eternity and the transcending of time," Crowley continued. "Our own life experiences often so influence our reading of a text. So considering that we were twenty women of all different ages and backgrounds, it was a pretty incredible conversation."

"It was also such a great opportunity to connect with other people who are part of St. Andrew's," Malhotra said. "We had women of all different ages attend, and we each got to meet current parents, alums, or past parents we didn't know. One woman who came was an old friend of mine I hadn't seen in ages, and I had completely forgotten that her son went to St. Andrew's. She was actually the person who told me about St. Andrew's in the first place!"

"I truly don't think any other school is doing something like this," Malhotra concluded. "These Women's Network book discussions are unique—and fabulous. I think everybody was wishing we could do these once a month!"

*****

The St. Andrew's Women's Network was founded in 2010 with a goal of connecting, celebrating, and harnessing the power of the School's alumnae through events held both on and off campus. When alumnae gather for Women's Network events, they share their experiences and insights with students and faculty, and reconnect with each other and with the School. Since its inception, Women's Network events have expanded in size and scope, and have become central to our mission to provide community, inspiration, and mentorship for all members of our community.

The Art of Healing: A Symposium on Medicine | Women's Network Weekend 2015

During the weekend of November 14, more than 100 alumni, parents, and friends of St. Andrew's joined our current students on campus to participate in our 2015 Women's Network weekend. The weekend's theme was The Art of Healing: A Symposium on Medicine, and we celebrated—and learned from—our alumni working in medicine.

Events included two keynote talks, one on Friday night from Dr. Janice Nevin '77 P'13, the CEO of Christiana Health Care, a network of nonprofit hospitals spanning the mid-Atlantic, and the other on Saturday morning from Dr. Kyla Terhune, a former faculty member of the School, currently an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Director of Vanderbilt's General Surgery Residency Program. Both women expanded our thinking about the definition of healing and shared insights into their work as both leaders and healers.

"The word healing really is all about becoming whole," Nevin said during the course of her talk. "It's repairing, it's regenerating, and not just physically but spiritually and mentally. It's about the elimination of suffering. And it's really ultimately about what makes us human. It's a very powerful concept."

"Dr. Nevin and Dr. Terhune both spoke about the power of human connection and empathy in the notion of healing," said Bernadette Devine, Co-Director of the Women's Network. "This was the essence of what occurred here this weekend."

The St. Andrew's Women's Network was founded in 2010 with a goal of connecting, celebrating, and harnessing the power of the School's alumnae through events both on and off campus. When alumnae return to campus for Women's Network events, they share their experiences and insights with current students, as well as reconnect with each other and with the School. Since its inception, Women's Network events have expanded in size and scope, and have become central to our mission to provide community, inspiration, and mentorship for all members of our community.

Panelists and workshop leaders who came to campus for The Art of Healing weekend shared strategies for engaging in physical, mental, and spiritual regeneration, and also spoke candidly about the challenges and joys of working in medicine. Beyond the keynotes, events included a discussion panel led by alumnae working in a wide variety of medical fields—from orthopedic surgery to midwifery, from family medicine to pediatric cardiac surgery—and 40 workshops led by individual alumni and parents which took place across campus on Saturday morning.

"One of the hallmarks of being a successful leader is that you surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you," Nevin said, "and when you do that, it's because you want to listen and learn from them. So I have to say, I am a little intimidated and certainly humbled at the opportunity to share some thoughts with you. I am definitely in the presence of people who are much smarter than I am!"

"I was overwhelmed by and appreciative of everyone who came back to participate as leaders of this event," said Elizabeth Roach, Co-Director of the Women's Network. "What they did in their lives to make this happen—I think it shows a pretty extraordinary commitment to the School. I'm grateful to them; they invested so beautifully in the whole process and the whole weekend."

"There is something to St. Andrew's—the magnetic pull of this place—that draws so many of us back time and time again," said Natalie Reese '97, who came back to lead a workshop on self-care strategies. "Though no longer students, many of us still wish to be part of St. Andrew's, and to learn, collaborate and contribute in a way that serves the whole community. The Art of Healing weekend was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect, share, and confirm that while many of us may no longer be on campus, we are still part of the larger St. Andrew's organism."

"The work we choose to do beyond St. Andrew's is not separate from the work we began as students," continued Reese. "It's an extension of that work. This community has such a wealth of resources in terms of the minds, hearts, and work of its people."

Workshop topics were wide-ranging; a number focused on personal strategies for mental and physical well-being, while others gave insight into specific medical fields and even medical techniques. For example, Annette Rickolt '87 P'14,'16 led a workshop on how to place an endotracheal tube in a newborn. In the next room, Jose Antonio Pando P'14,'17 led a discussion of traditional Incan health modalities which can be applied to our everyday lives.

"I have to admit, I was a little nervous," said Carolyn Matthews '77 P'17. "This was my first time teaching high school students, and there was the added pressure of having my former classmates Steve Salter '77 and Janice Nevin '77 in the room! But the Harkness table was full, and we had fun talking about how food can affect genetic expression, and how genetically modified foods can affect our health. I love that the workshop led to some provocative questions. Truthfully, I think about the questions the students asked that day frequently."

Dr. Michael Atalay, who gave a demonstration of cutting-edge cardiac imaging techniques, also cited the excellent discussions that took place within his workshop. "Throughout the weekend, I savored my time with faculty, students, fellow parents, and several former SAS classmates," he said, "but especially during an energetic and engaging small-group workshop. Of course, I was already familiar with the material in my talk, so my only regret was not being able to partake in any of a number of other wonderful presentations."

"My daughter [Marion Humphreys '17] attended the 'How to Tie Your Shoes Like a Surgeon' workshop [led by Chris Turner '97]," Matthews said. "She was utterly breathless with excitement about the knots she had learned to tie, and the gruesome film they'd watched of repairing a chest gunshot wound. I think she may want to be a surgeon now!"

"I loved seeing our alumni as teachers," Roach noted. "They had a great presence and connection with the students in the room. It is always powerful for our students to hear about the extraordinary lives our alumni are leading. In turn, our alumni are inspired by the engagement and curiosity of our current students. There's this kind of magic that happens in these workshops."

Devine agreed. "It was magical to see old friends reconnecting after 20 years, faculty and advisors reconnecting with their former students, and, best of all, to see our alumni and parents in the classroom leading workshops for our students— teaching, inspiring, learning together," she said. "This collaboration, this kind of connection, is what the St. Andrew's spirit is all about."

Select 2015 Women's Network events can be viewed on our Livestream channel at standrews-de.org/livestream; photos are available on our Flickr page.

Keynote Speeches

Event Photos

Women's Network Weekend 2015

Celebrating 30 Years of Co-Education | Women's Network Weekend 2014

Featuring Monica Matouk ’84 P’18. You can watch her keynote speech below.

Alumni Arts Festival | Women's Network Weekend 2013

The world's most memorable works of art all begin with a willingness to simply try something new and see what happens. What ultimately defines a masterpiece is that "what happens" is groundbreaking, inspiring, and awe-inducing. Logic would then require the School's first Alumni Arts Festival held over Homecoming weekend to be considered a masterpiece of the highest order. The ambitious course of the weekend was unprecedented and the execution collided head-on with the excited generosity of returning alumni artists and the unbridled enthusiasm of students, parents, and faculty.

Cora Currier '05 kicked off the weekend with a noonday Chapel talk encouraging students to find art in their daily lives wherever life may take them. Currier, who writes for the independent news agency ProPublica, is considered one of the brightest young investigative journalists on national security issues in America. Still, she finds time to work on her poetry and hopes to one day soon publish a collection of poems.

That evening, the Warner Gallery hosted an opening of Alumni paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, and even costume design delivered from around the world. The unique event included introductions from each artist before the floor was opened to student questions. "Each piece was different from the next, but they all worked in harmony with each other," said Arts Department Co-Chair John McGiff who curated the exhibit.

Students and guests were then treated to the Haroldson Concert featuring the Cypress String Quartet. The quartet spent most of the day teaching master classes to members of the St. Andrew's Orchestra before treating the community to two of Beethoven's quartets. (You can watch the quartet's performance on our Livestream page.)

Filmmaker Eva Sayre '97 provided the weekend's keynote address the next morning where she detailed the evolution of her career in international consulting and working on the United Arab Emirates real estate investment team to building Veritas films with her husband, Mahmoud Kaabour. Their first documentary, Grandma, A Thousand Times, screened in over 55 cities worldwide, winning seven major Audience awards and Best Film awards in London, Mumbai, Mexico City, Qatar, China, and Syria. It achieved the broadest distribution ever by a documentary from the Arab world, and made history by completing the first Academy Awards qualification campaign for a film produced in the UAE. Sayre shared her excitement for their current film, Champ of the Camp, which offers an unprecedented look into the lives of the millions of Indian and Pakistani laborers living in camps on the outskirts of Dubai.

More than 30 alumni then offered workshops for students, faculty, parents, and fellow alumni in the creative and visual arts. LA Times entertainment writer Meredith Blake '97 led a group in analyzing scenes from some of the best television shows of the past decade, Georgie Devereaux '01, who recently won the Academy of American Poetry prize, taught poetry, Kathy DeMarco van Cleve '84 took time off from her writing and teaching creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania to lead a writing workshop. Recent Alfred P. Sloan Award winner Dan Hasse '10 taught Shakespearean stage fighting and Tony Award-winning actor Phil Smith '83 taught acting lessons. Another workshop leader, Paul Bramble '95, is a construction executive by day, but pursues his interest in wildlife photography and just had a photograph published in National Geographic.

Some two-hour workshops continued well into a third hour with students working to take full advantage of the opportunities to learn from alumni who traveled to campus from around the world and were happy to oblige.

"I think it may have been the best weekend I have ever spent at St. Andrew's," proclaimed Jamie O'Leary '14. "I loved hearing Cora Currier and Eva Sayre and learning about the incredible things they've done with their lives. I especially loved my workshop with Peter Salett. We wrote lyrics and then he helped us transform them into songs playing on our strengths finding a way to involve everyone in it. I felt so lucky to work with him during a weekend that was more incredible than I could have ever imagined."

The weekend was presented by the St. Andrew's Women's Network and led by the tireless work of Bernadette Devine '99, Elizabeth Roach, John McGiff and Amy Kending.

Keynote Speech by Eva Sayre ’97

Chapel Talk by Cora Currier ’05

Event Photos

Alumni Arts Festival

Women & Business | Women's Network Weekend 2012

Halimah Delaine Prado '93 entertained an audience of students, faculty and St. Andrew's alumnae during the 2012 Women's Network Weekend keynote address. Halimah built her beautiful talk on a quotation from Maya Angelou: "My mission in life is not to merely to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style." Her journey to wife, mother of two girls and Director of Legal at Google had more than a few twists, including an initial rejection of admission to St. Andrew's (she reapplied the following year). A must-listen.

You can also read more about the 2012 Women's Network weekend in the Fall 2012 issue of the St. Andrew's Magazine.

Educating Girls & Boys in the 21st Century | Women's Network Weekend 2010

Featuring keynote speakers Dr. Gail Warner ’84 and Dr. Meredith Warner ’91. You can read more about this event (including the text of Dr. Warner's keynote speech) in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the St. Andrew's Magazine.

Washington, DC Launch | Home of Claire (Foster) Avett ’99 | February 2010

On February 26th, more than thirty alumnae, current mothers and alumni mothers gathered for the first St. Andrew’s Women’s Network event in Washington D.C. Claire (Foster) Avett ’99, Morgan Foster ’97 and their mother Ellen Foster graciously hosted the evening; Claire's house provided a comfortable environment, the perfect setting for stimulating conversation. Before the event, everyone was asked to reflect on their experience at St. Andrew’s: What did they learn from their time at School? What still resonates today? What cherished aspects of this experience have been difficult to find or replicate after leaving St. Andrew’s? Everyone volunteered memories and shared their experiences with the four sixth form girls that accompanied Tad and Elizabeth to the event. The girls were eager to connect with alumnae and mothers who generously bestowed wisdom and advice. It was a memorable and warm evening that demonstrated love, support and passion for the St. Andrew’s experience.

The Women’s Network from St. Andrew’s School (SAS) was one of the most invigorating SAS functions I have ever attended. The energy was high and everyone was anxious to discuss how SAS prepared them for college and beyond. This network was an opportunity to reconnect with SAS alumnae, faculty and mothers of SAS graduates. In an instant, so many of us felt relieved to hear stories similar to our own. This Network is important and valuable for all the women who are dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls of SAS.
I did not go to school with many of the women who attended the first meeting in Washington, DC, but I was able to relate to all of them. We all shared the same educational experience from our surrogate parents at SAS. In this event, you immediately felt excited to exchange experiences that have helped you become the strong woman you are today. It was a fun event and a rewarding experience to become a mentor to the young girls at SAS.
-Viviana (Rodriguez) Davila ‘85

"I was so impressed with women I met at the St. Andrews women to women network event. The St. Andrews experience is so unique, so I immediately felt like I had substantial common ground with the remarkable women I met. What astounded me the most was the diversity of career paths the women had taken. I left the event with the strong feeling that our St. Andrews education prepares us to be writers, politicians, producers, teachers, environmentalists and business professionals. Their insight, advice, and encouragement is invaluable as I prepare to enter college next fall!”
- Louise Dufresne ‘09

NYC Event | Kate Werble Gallery | January 2010

On Thursday, January 7, 2009, three generations of St. Andrew's women gathered in New York City for an evening at the Kate Werble Gallery. Alumnae from the 80s, 90s and 00s, past and current mothers, and a current grandmother attended the tenth Women's Network event, which Werble '98 hosted in her Manhattan gallery.

Werble opened the space in August of 2008 and has since shown over a dozen exhibitions. Her current exhibition, My Gay Uncle, is a group show featuring eight artists’ interpretations of self-portraiture. The eclectic artwork and the beautiful rooms of the gallery framed an evening of art, conversation and connection.

Elizabeth Roach, Werble’s former advisor and tennis coach, introduced the event and spoke about Werble’s commitment to the arts. She reflected, ”When Kate was at St. Andrew’s, she explored and excelled in many areas, particularly in the arts. She was one of only a few violinists and Art Majors at St. Andrew’s at that time. John McGiff described Kate as someone who loved being part of the scene in the art studio. She loved creating, but she also simply loved being amongst artists. He even remembers Kate saying that she planned to own her own gallery someday.”

Following this introduction, Werble impressed everyone with her poise, knowledge and love of art as she gave us insight into the artists and their inspired self-portraits based broadly on familial relationships.

Because of her remarkable focus and passion, Werble’s talents and vision have been realized, both at St. Andrew’s and in her New York gallery. Bridging these two thriving artistic communities, the Women’s Network embodies past and current St. Andreans’ appreciation for the arts and the communities they generate. Elizabeth Roach alluded to Arts Department Co-Chair John McGiff’s recent chapel talk as she articulated the mission of the Women’s Network: “We want to bring people together to both reflect on and support the ‘measured spaces’ of our lives.” Werble allowed these women to do just that.

NYC Launch | Brasserie 8 1/2 | January 2010

On January 15, 2010, generations of St. Andrew's women gathered at Brasserie 8 ½ in New York City for the launch of the St. Andrew’s Women’s Network, a global association whose mission is to deepen the bonds of alumnae, mothers and friends with the School and with each other.

Over 60 women were present, including alumni as well as former and current parents. One alumna said that this was the first St. Andrew’s event she had ever attended. "I was intrigued by the idea of a network focused on women,” she said.

Indeed, the idea of creating a network of reconnection and support among this group of strong and wise women was exciting to all. Through much of the meeting, these women of St. Andrew’s offered insight and advice about the most effective ways to initiate the network. They reflected together on their time at the School and shared some of their experiences in the paths they had taken since. The room came alive with laughter and exchange, assuming the atmosphere of a St. Andrew’s discussion class. Even across many generations and many different experiences, it was clear that these women shared something vital; they shared St. Andrew’s, and the values instilled in them by their life and education there.

This bond, this sense of shared experience and values, is the foundation from which the St. Andrew’s Women’s Network hopes to build, creating opportunities for supportive and mentoring relationships.

Headmaster Tad Roach and Elizabeth Roach both spoke of areas in which today’s female students need guidance from strong, intelligent women working and living in the world. Girls need examples of women who bring St. Andrew’s culture of kindness with them when they leave the School, women who keep their integrity even in the face of life’s challenges and commit to service even in a culture of consumerism.

Girls need examples of women with healthy self-images, women who respect and celebrate themselves for being who they are, even in a culture of unrealistic ideals of beauty. And girls need guidance through the cult of perfection created by competitive college admissions.

One young alumna spoke of the difficulty of transitioning from the secure and nurturing "bubble” of St. Andrew’s into the "real world,” where, she noted, kindness and integrity – values that are fundamental to the culture of St. Andrew’s - are not always honored or prized. Young women, she pointed out, need mentors who can coach them through difficult transitions - to college, to adult life, to life in the working world.

And the women of St. Andrew’s can serve as mentors to each other, helping each other to navigate tough personal challenges: the challenge of balancing work and motherhood, of changing careers, of losing a loved one. In an eloquent talk at the start of the meeting, English Department Chair Elizabeth Roach spoke of the recent loss of her mother, an experience she could not have gotten through, she said, without the support of an alumna and a former St. Andrew’s mother. Her story attested to the power of sustaining bonds within St. Andrew’s community of women.

This first meeting marks the beginning of this exciting network of women. Focusing on face-to-face connection rather than mass communications, the network will start small and develop over time. In the near future, St. Andrew’s hopes to initiate launches of the Women’s Network in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco, building a national forum for reconnection and communication.

Washington, DC Meeting | Home of Sally Pingree P’01 | September 2009

In mid-September 2009 on a chilly afternoon, seven St. Andrew's women met outside Founders Hall, climbed into a School van, and headed for Washington, D.C. Dean of Students Ana Ramírez courageously took the wheel, while Director of Admission Louisa Zendt '78 P'03,'05,'09 sat shotgun. The rest—English Department Chair Elizabeth Roach P'04,'07,'13, Math teacher and lacrosse coach Jen McGowan, Major Gifts Officer and Coordinator of the Women's Network Bernadette Devine '99, Director of Student Activities Jolene Hyde, and me, English teacher Jean Garnett—piled into the back for the two-hour trek. We were headed to a meeting of the St. Andrew's Women's Network at the home of Sally Pingree P'01, a philanthropist who has been a friend and advisor to Tad and Elizabeth Roach for years.

It's not every day that seven women of all different ages, backgrounds and talents, come together for a road-trip. And it's fitting that the occasion for this convergence was the St. Andrew's Women's Network, which, since its launch less than a year ago, has brought together more than 100 women of all walks of life for discussion in four cities. The Network was created by Bernadette Devine and her friend and former advisor Elizabeth Roach as a way to deepen the bonds of alumnae, mothers and friends with the School and with each other, and to create opportunities for St. Andrew's women to share their ideas and experiences, learn from one another, and connect personally with the St. Andrew's community.

Meetings over the past year have taken different forms: Elizabeth Roach met with 10 women in New York last spring to discuss Virginia Woolf 's To the Lighthouse over a meal that host Laurel Durst P'07,'10 fashioned after the novel's famous dinner party scene. In January of this year, Kate Werble '98 hosted a reception at her New York City gallery, where she gave a private tour and talk on a group exhibition exploring self-portraiture. At Sally's house, more than 30 women (and Headmaster Tad Roach) gathered in the candle-lit backyard, and talked about how St. Andrew's prepared them for the challenges of college, work, life. They talked about what they wished they had known as high school students and shared ideas for how to teach today's young women strength and self-knowledge.

The meeting at Sally Pingree's was, like every other meeting of the Women's Network so far, an affirmation of the essential need for this association, for these unique opportunities for conversation, learning and mutual support. But even before we arrived at Sally's house, the meeting was already underway.

Soon after our departure from campus, Elizabeth Roach pulled the latest New York Times magazine from her bag and turned to Maureen Dowd's piece. "Women are getting unhappier," Dowd wrote. "In the early '70s, breaking out of the domestic cocoon, leaving their mothers' circumscribed lives behind, young women felt exhilarated and bold. But the more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved... women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier."

This seems at first like a paradox. In an article for Time Magazine, "What Women Want Now," Nancy Gibbs reminds us just how far women have come since those "early 70s": In 1972 only seven percent of students playing high school sports were girls; now the number is six times as high.... College campuses used to be almost 60-40 male; now the ratio has reversed, and close to half of law and medical degrees go to women, up from fewer than 10 percent in 1970.... For the first time, five women have won Nobel Prizes in the same year (for medicine, chemistry, economics and literature).

Despite a staggering expansion of opportunities for women since the early seventies, Dowd still wonders about the repercussions. A committed feminist, Dowd acknowledges that feminism has increased the burden on women, even as it has freed them from many constraints: "When women stepped into male-dominated realms, they put more demands—and stress—on themselves." And the demands that modern life makes on women are accompanied by lingering pre-feminist prescriptions. "[W]e've internalized the good mommy, happy homemaker ideal," writes columnist Shannon Kelley. "The socialization that succeeded in keeping us in the home for centuries was potent: the hangover lingers, and we continue to measure ourselves, in some part, against that feminine ideal—even while we say we don't."

Part of aspiring to this ideal still means feeling pressure to look a certain way. Desperation to be thin contributes to low self-esteem, obsessive dieting and eating disorders in high school and beyond, and grown women are stranded in a youth-obsessed culture. Thanks to a media barrage of impossible ideals of beauty, these pressures not only set in early and hang on, they also conflict with cultural expectations about motherhood and professional success. Should we strive to fulfill ourselves or to impress others? Is it more important to be smart or beautiful? Honest or likeable? Ambitious or nurturing? For girls and women in America, this chorus of demands can be a confusing soundtrack for self-discovery.

As Ána heroically weaved through rush-hour traffic, we discussed Dowd's essay, trying to make sense of the problem she articulated, trying to weave our own experiences into this abstract narrative of "American Women". Four of us were seasoned working mothers; three were recent college graduates. Together we represented a kind of history of feminism, a reflection of its evolutions, its achievements and perhaps some of its digressions. We talked about a time when women were entering schools and workplaces that were still oriented towards men and male concerns. When Louisa Zendt came to the newly co-ed St. Andrew's in 1974, the School was still struggling to evolve out of an exclusively male culture. A few years after Louisa's graduation, Elizabeth became one of the first female teachers at the School, juggling a full schedule of teaching, coaching and mothering before there was a day care at St. Andrew's. While teachers and students today have their pick of inspiring female mentors, pioneers like Louisa and Elizabeth managed without a fountain of precedents, advice and support from and for women.

Even in the 21st century, when our culture is much more aware and accommodating of the double lives women often lead, all of us in the van were familiar with the imperative to compartmentalize ourselves, to divide our lives into a series of separate roles ("work" mode, "mother" mode, "friend" mode), and then struggle to prioritize them. Yet as Elizabeth recalled the challenge and exhilaration of balancing work and family in those early years, I was struck by how interconnected the two roles were for her. "Being a teacher made me a better mother," she said simply, "and being a mother made me a better teacher." I remembered these words because they inspired me; they gave me something to aspire to.

Even though we had not yet reached Sally's house, I realized something in the van that informed my vision of the evening, and helped me to see, in a kind of flash, the mission of the Women's Network. If many women today are feeling less happy and more stressed, the culprit is not the increase of choices and responsibilities afforded by the feminist movement, but a lack of open channels of communication. Women need to hear from women—from their elders, from their peers, from members of younger generations—in order to learn about life and to share what we have learned. It is precisely this kind of continuity that the Women's Network is making possible for St. Andrew's women.

The switch to co-education revolutionized St. Andrew's, and now, over 30 years after the first female students entered Founders Hall, more than a thousand women often lead, all of us in the van were familiar with the imperative to compartmentalize ourselves, to divide our lives into a series of separate roles ("work" mode, "mother" mode, "friend" mode), and then struggle to prioritize them. Yet as Elizabeth recalled the challenge and exhilaration of balancing work and family in those early years, I was struck by how interconnected the two roles were for her. "Being a teacher made me a better mother," she said simply, "and being a mother made me a better teacher." I remembered these words because they inspired me; they gave me something to aspire to.

Even though we had not yet reached Sally's house, I realized something in the van that informed my vision of the evening, and helped me to see, in a kind of flash, the mission of the Women's Network. If many women today are feeling less happy and more stressed, the culprit is not the increase of choices and responsibilities afforded by the feminist movement, but a lack of open channels of communication. Women need to hear from women—from their elders, from their peers, from members of younger generations—in order to learn about life and to share what we have learned. It is precisely this kind of continuity that the Women's Network is making possible for St. Andrew's women.

The switch to co-education revolutionized St. Andrew's, and now, over 30 years after the first female students entered Founders Hall, more than a thousand that the St. Andrew's culture is not confined to campus; it is an internalized ethic carried by many people in many places. Listening to fellow alumnae talk about tough transitions, Kate (Harrington) Dickie '96, who was hosting the Boston meeting, had an idea: "I would love to meet St. Andrew's kids who are in college in Boston," she said. "They could have me as a touch point."

Out of this discussion between 14 women in Kate's living room, the St. Andrew's College Network was born, a new initiative to match graduating seniors with alumni at or near the college or university they attend. These mentors can help incoming St. Andreans navigate their new environment by recommending professors, courses, extracurricular activities, and community service opportunities. They can help new students identify areas of the school they want to get involved in, making their college experience richer and more connected. This year, the Network aims to match every senior with a mentor before graduation.

In the creation of the College Network, and in the intergenerational exchange that happens naturally at meetings, the Women's Network is helping to ensure that current students are prepared for the transitions to college and to "the real world" of professional and family life that lie ahead. "Our girls now are hungry and eager to connect with older girls and women," says Elizabeth. "They have a lot of questions for them. That came out last year when we took four senior girls down to a Washington, D.C., meeting. They are thinking about their futures and wondering, 'how?'"

Louise Dufresne '09, one of the seniors who attended this meeting, reflected on the experience afterwards. Her words affirm the power of the Network to create meaningful connections across generations of St. Andrew's women: "I was so impressed with women I met at the event. The St. Andrew's experience is so unique, so I immediately felt like I had substantial common ground with the remarkable women I met. What astounded me the most was the diversity of career paths the women had taken. I left the event with the strong feeling that our St. Andrew's education prepares us to be writers, politicians, producers, teachers, environmentalists and business professionals. Their insight, advice and encouragement are invaluable as I prepare to enter college next fall."

To the Lighthouse Book Discussion | Home of Laurel Durst P’07, ’10 | Spring 2009

In spring 2009, eleven St. Andrew's women (alumnae, mothers, and a former faculty member) came together in New York City to discuss Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Having taught the novel for many years to teenage girls and boys, English Department Chair Elizabeth Roach was eager to explore the complexities of the novel with women who brought a myriad of life experiences to the discussion.

Roach began the discussion by introducing the novel, but the group quickly moved into a rigorous and collaborative exchange about Woolf’s innovative narrative and her depiction of the two main characters in the novel. Both Mrs. Ramsay, a traditional wife and mother, and Lily Briscoe, an unmarried artist, wrestle with finding meaning in their lives. Mrs. Ramsay, at times, doubts herself yet has an unusual ability to create moments of harmony for others. Lily fights to maintain a sense of self and to express her vision in a traditional and intimidating maternal and masculine world. Through an examination of the intricacies of Woolf’s stream of consciousness, the group of women explored the psychological layers of Woolf’s characters and vision in the novel.

The highlight of the evening, however, occurred when Laurel Durst (hostess of the evening and mother to Owen ’07 and Leda ’10) recreated the dinner party scene in the novel by placing a beautifully arranged bowl of fruit on the table, lighting candles and serving Mrs. Ramsay’s triumphant dish of Boeuf en Daube. Just like Mrs. Ramsay, Laurel made "life stand still.” The women experienced the brilliance of Woolf in a tangible way, for as she writes in the novel, "there is a coherence in things, a stability; something, she meant, is immune from change, and shines out in the face of the flowing, the fleeting, the spectral, like a ruby. . .of such moments, the thing is made that endures.” Through their shared intellectual endeavor and their little feast, the women also shared a moment of unity and coherence, a moment that will endure.

Elizabeth Socolow, a former SAS faculty member, was so moved that she immediately wrote a poem about the evening:

Dance Around the Lighthouse: The Occasion of the Book

At the center a woman binding
other women by generations in one place,
a room, and before that, a school,
they have attended, or their children have,
or are attending, or where they taught
in tandem, and learned the depth and light
and eye glint of the woman at the center.
At the center another woman, hostess,
mother of two graduates of the school,
chef bearing the name of grace and praise
for books, their authors wreathed in Laurel.

She prepares the signal meal of the book:
Boeuf en Daube, has it served on small plates
to fit on laps, manageable while we talk,
unobtrusive as her assisting husband,
a perfect triumph, she knew and did not need
to hear us say, though we did. To the light
of To the Lighthouse we came, from
Maryland, and New Jersey, Massachusetts
and Delaware, the City itself well represented.
We turned up and out for a kind of talk that probes
truth, lets experience revolve in the air like
a living sculpture of words, asks what we mean

and what we value and moves on. How can we say
how we laughed at the fruit platter lifted
from the book, how time wove a fabric
of attentiveness in the room, how the room
itself welcomed with ease, comfort, real plants,
without display, and the sunset cooperated
with our taking in the light. And how,
as with all occasions of love, we wanted
more, and again, and others to join in.
It was no accident that our leader
had been given the book by the man
(we also all know and love) she married
as a thing that had transformed him

before he turned 21, and how we read it
ourselves, and reread it, changing, changed,
circling in delight. Next time come to us,
enter the dance, and you, and you, and you!

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