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A Liberal Arts Legacy

I am Mary “Molly” Whitford Streit ’39. I am in “assisted living.” I don’t have a computer or even a typewriter so apologize in advance for my handwriting.

Having just gone through the spring Bulletin, I am reminded of some of my experiences at Swarthmore.

I especially want to speak in favor of a liberal arts (not science-based) education. I graduated at 20 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, but not with honors. Instead of the specialized honors program, I preferred the wider choice of courses. I have never regretted this.

Some subjects were required. For my science, I chose botany rather than chemistry or physics. For a sport I tried archery, but when the modern dance group formed I was happy to be in it.

With three younger sisters headed for college (including Ann ’42) I could not have gone without a scholarship. I missed a lot of Saturday afternoon football games because I was keeping the dean’s office open. In my senior year I was privileged to work in the new audio-lingual system; we had a special machine to record the students’ use of a foreign language at the beginning and end of the year.

In order to get a teaching certificate, I had to go to a summer program at another college to do my practice teaching. I made a career of teaching high school French and Spanish for 20 years. When I retired, my husband and I set up a school (Wesley College) in Grenada under the auspices of the Board of Global Ministries of the Methodist Church.

Swarthmore’s reputation was widespread. I applied only to Columbia University for my M.A., and was quickly accepted. After that I replaced a Swarthmore alum at UCLA as a teaching assistant while I did further graduate work.

Perhaps the most important change I have noticed on the campus is the new diversity. I am especially happy to welcome Valerie Smith.

Another change is valuable for the “Quaker matchbox”; privacy is no longer available only in the fraternities. (Years ago I used to “listen to the news” in a day student’s car. Another possibility was to “take a walk” ending up in the press box on the athletics field.)

I could ramble on, but all the best to today’s Swarthmore students (and faculty).

—Mary “Molly” Whitford Streit ’39, Jupiter, Fla.