Grace Paul '24
(visionary educator from Sri Lanka)
Grace Paul, a native of Sri Lanka, described her first day at Mount Holyoke in 1920, as an "extraordinarily busy one." Choosing her classes was very hard, since there were so many courses that she wanted to take. Grace found winter sports "fascinating" and thought that the work-study program included "some of the nicest types of girls."
Grace’s dream was to further the cause of women’s education at home, and upon graduating from Mount Holyoke, she entered Teacher’s College at Columbia University. If winter sports at Mount Holyoke proved not to be a challenge for Grace, neither was the "dodging of taxis on Broadway" or "scrambling for standing room in subway cars in New York." Upon returning to Sri Lanka, Grace became the science teacher at Uduwil’s Girls School. When the school was reorganized, she led the bilingual section as its principal. Challenging the school’s authorities led to her forced resignation, but she was not to be deterred on her path. She became a science teacher and principal at another school, worked on resolving the school’s financial issues and, for the first time, required that students conduct laboratory work. She, as Mary Lyon, considered work in the lab a necessary component of women’s education in science.
Grace Paul’s pioneering educational vision, numerous accomplishments, and tireless spirit earned her accolades and established her as one of Sri Lanka’s greatest educators.