I had never planned to attend a women’s college. Far from it. I wanted to join the big boys at Georgetown and pursue a diplomatic career getting my bass-ackwards country back into shape. I never realized that women’s colleges existed until I approached my AP English teacher Mrs. Timoney for recommendation letters. “I am extremely disappointed that you have not considered Smith College,” she said in her most dignified and disappointed voice. “Huh? Where is that?” I asked. [Look of utter shock from my most respected teacher!] Ooops. Wrong response. “Please, tell me more, I’m interested!” I said.
“It is a most impressive academic institution, and you would be doing yourself a disservice not to consider it,” she told me. She told me of her own daughter who had graduated Smith and more recently, Harvard Law School. She raved about the class size, the focus on academics and teaching over publishing, and the women who were “simply brilliant”. She talked about the amazing network of successful women who would act as lifelong mentors and advocates for my professional success. Who were these magical women and how could I be like them? It all sounded so amazing. I applied that same week and was accepted a few months later, in no small thanks to the glowing recommendation Mrs. Timoney wrote me (I saved it for sentimental reasons, and it still makes me tear up more than 20 years later).
After spending a weekend on campus during my round of college visits, I realized that I owed Mrs. Timoney a great deal of gratitude for pointing me down a path I never would have considered otherwise. For many reasons, Smith was the right choice for me. I probably wouldn’t have pursued economics or graduated early or entered the mostly male-dominated field of technology and startups, had it not been for my Smith education.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I thought I would take a moment to thank my first true mentor Mrs. Rosemary Timoney. She helped shape my life in the most meaningful way, she’s the reason I went to Smith College and why I’m so passionate about supporting women on their journey to success.