Left to right: Ruth Kremen ’76, Dorothy Schatzkin-Higgins ’76 and Wendy Mantel ’76.

Three of the first nine women to graduate from Amherst—Ruth Kremen ’76, Wendy Mantel ’76 and Dorothy Schatzkin-Higgins ’76—returned in May to talk about their lives on campus and how lessons from Amherst carry over today.

The reunion-weekend panel touched on such topics as social life on campus (Kremen befriended young female professors), to male classmates  who “thought all women woke up looking like Smithies,” Schatzkin-Higgins said, to the intellectual inquisitiveness they found in class. 

Being Unafraid

They talked about sexism they faced or saw others face, and on feminism then and now. Schatzkin-Higgins expressed dismay, for example, that mothers today are “fighting the same mommy wars that I fought. I never thought we would have turned that over to the next generation.” 

Mantel said she learned at Amherst “not only how to think analytically but how to not be afraid,” which helped her as an advertising executive and, later, in her new career as a certified professional coach.

“It was astonishing,” Kremen noted, “how open the conversation was in seminars and how deep people were willing to probe into theories and texts. I credit Amherst with what I see in myself today, which is great intellectual curiosity. I did not come from a family like that. Amherst brought me there and it’s a huge part of my life.”