Amherst Magazine

Lives of Consequence: Emily Todd '89

imageBy Sue Dickman '89

In college, as far as I could tell, Emily’s worst fault was accumulating mugs half-filled with cold tea in her room. Now, her husband says she never closes anything that she’s opened. He may be talking about drawers and doors and cabinets, but on a larger scale, it seems fitting. Emily is not someone who wants doors closed, in her life or in the lives of those around her. She works to keep them open. 

One of the pleasures of a long friendship is seeing the person you knew at 20 in the person you know at 40. When I think of Emily at 20, I think of her kind heart, nervous energy and excellent cooking skills. I remember her thoughtfulness as she tried to juggle being a Resident Counselor at the Zu with an honors thesis on Sarah Orne Jewett and running on the cross-country team. 

In her current life, Emily is the same in many ways—she’s still kind, nervous, a wonderful cook and one of the most thoughtful people I know. But the juggling she does now is much more complicated. There are her commitments to her husband and two young sons and her job as an English professor at Westfield State College, not to mention her duties as president of the board of her boys’ preschool. Along the way, she got an M. Phil in Scotland and a Ph.D. in Minnesota,   and she’s written magazine articles about cooking with kids and co-edited a book of essays on Harriet Beecher Stowe. She bakes birthday cakes in the shape of trains and Egyptian pyramids. She even, occasionally, sleeps.  

On turning 40, at a party filled with Amherst women, Emily said that she felt most herself with her college friends. We saw her in her slightly unformed state then, and we’ve seen her essential self continue to clarify and strengthen over the years, as she became a graduate student, a wife, a professor, a mother, a leader in her community, a person who, all along, has never been anything less than a fabulous friend. What we saw in Emily in college was someone who, above all, wanted to live a meaningful life. And what we see in her now is someone who, in countless ways, named and not, does just that.

To learn more about Amherst’s campaign, Lives of Consequence, to nominate a friend or classmate whom you admire and would like to honor, or to read about other lives of consequence, please visit www.amherst.edu/campaign.