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International Alumnae in History

Since Susanna Major, the first international student to study at Mount Holyoke, arrived in South Hadley from Canada in 1839, the number of international students at the College has grown exponentially.  While their presence contributes substantially to the diversity on campus, it is particularly noteworthy to see how they have made a difference in the world since graduating.  They have truly, as Mary Lyon said, gone "where nobody else is willing to go." 

Jelena Jezdimirovic '15, an economics major from Serbia, conducted the research for this special project on international alumnae, a collaboration between the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Mount Holyoke College Archives.  Throughout the course of her work, Jelena discovered much that surprised and delighted her: One day I even found a picture of Professor Kavita Khory '84 from Pakistan celebrating with her friends on Skinner Green!  As one of the 600+ international students currently at Mount Holyoke, I feel proud to continue the legacy of excellence established by our international alumnae sisters. 

Below are the fruits of Jelena's labor.  We hope that you enjoy these portraits of a few of our stellar international alumnae. 

Toshi Miyagawa 1893
First international student from outside North America

Don't you wish that "the glorious '93" could gather once more in that old lecture hall and fight our battles o'er again?  You do not know how your letters make me wish we were all together again at Mount Holyoke and digging again, though the gold lay deep in the mountain.  (Toshi Miyagawa)

Grace Paul '24
Visionary educator from Sri Lanka

Several times during her life she had bemoaned the fact that all the "high-ups" she had to deal with were men, who could not appreciate the woman's point of view.  Managers of schools, contractors, missionaries, directors of education-they were men born with an inborn conviction that no woman could equal men in any field of endeavor.  (R.H. Paul, Professor of Engineering, University of Sri Lanka)

Halina Deschko Turner '49
Social Worker and Holocaust survivor

During the time I was in the Camp, I could not think about my future, because I didn't know what the next day would bring forth.  For three years, I didn't hear a radio; I didn't see a newspaper; but I had a strong desire to leave Europe some day.  (Halina Deschko Turner)

Bertha Akim Kingori '57
East African educator

I have a very genuine and sincere desire to widen my background and to be given an opportunity for study in order to help the people of my country.  (Bertha Akim Kingori)

Helga Jahncke Hernes '61
Norwegian political figure and diplomat

Your contributions to the interests of Norway and the international community are immeasurable.  Your research in the areas of peacekeeping, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and the status of women is cited worldwide.  Truly, your life and work have embodied the bold, pioneering spirit of Mary Lyon.  (Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association Achievement Award)

Dina Vakil '69
First female editor of the "Times of India"

Never underestimate the power of the press.  The press is an enormously powerful medium.  It can do anything.  (Dina Vakil)

Lina Meruane '92
Chilean author

The jury found that Lina Meruane had written "an overwhelming novel, formally daring [...], while balancing with great talent the search for a personal language and narrative seduction. (Guadalajara International Book Fair)  

Tahmina Anim '97

I was sitting in class one day and started to write.  (Tahmina Amin)