A Letter From the President

| December 5, 2013

Dear Friends,

One of the things I frequently say (especially when talking about why we’re so eager to grow enrollment) is that the world would clearly be a better place if there were more Sweet Briar women in it!

It’s a lighthearted remark, certainly, but there’s truth in it. This issue of the magazine will illustrate just a few of the ways Sweet Briar women are making the world a better place. You’ll read about how we’re engaging first-year students in grappling with women’s issues in a global context through interviews with professors Deborah Durham and Padmini Coopamah. You’ll see how their students, along with others in this year’s y:1 program, are participating on Sweet Briar’s Kiva team, making microloans to support the entrepreneurial efforts and aspirations of women in many nations. You’ll learn about the Leadership Certificate Program, in which students acquire the skills they need to translate intellectual understandings into committed actions. And you’ll share in the excitement generated by Dr. Tererai Trent’s visit to campus. Her story both enthralled and inspired the students who filled Memorial Chapel to hear her.

You’ll read about ways alumnae are putting their Sweet Briar educations to work to improve the lot of women in many, many ways. Nicole File ’95 reminds us, for example, that enslavement is still a tragic reality for women, and Victoria Bradley Gentry ’12 tells about her work seeking justice for victims of sexual abuse in Guatemala.

It’s always a great pleasure to watch the list of stories for the magazine take shape. Every issue is full of information about students, faculty and alumnae: every issue celebrates the achievements of Sweet Briar women. But this issue is, if possible, especially gratifying.

Those of us lucky enough to be alumnae of women’s colleges know how that experience transforms the lives and futures of individual students. I have long believed, however, that the real value of women’s education extends far beyond its impact on the lucky individuals who benefit from it directly. It’s what educated women do for others – especially, perhaps, for other women and their children and families – that makes women’s education such a powerful force for development and justice in every corner of the world. For me, educating women means not only educating women students but also educating students FOR women’s empowerment and well-being worldwide.

Enjoy this issue! And best wishes for the coming holiday season.


Jo Ellen Parker signature

Jo Ellen Parker, President

Category: A Letter From the President, Winter 2013