By its very founding, Mount Holyoke College forever altered the landscape of higher education. And Mount Holyoke is taking another bold step by increasing its affordability and accessibility.
All new Frances Perkins (FP) Scholars—students of nontraditional age—admitted to the College will be awarded full tuition scholarships. They are available to both full- and part-time FP students.
“Eliminating financial barriers to higher education is a commitment to right action,” says Carolyn Dietel, director of the Frances Perkins Program. “Funding FPs means educating women who will contribute to the future of this country and the world. By opening our doors to the broadest possible range of smart women, we transform individual lives so that, in turn, they can change the greater society.”
Carol Chandler’s life is among those changed by the FP Program. Before coming to MHC, the senior philosophy major raised a family and worked as a tradesperson for 27 years, during which “higher education was not considered an option.” When her children became college students, Chandler reconsidered her own choices. Funding from MHC “has given me the opportunity to continue my education, which otherwise might not have been continued,” she says. “I can’t even begin to describe the many ways in which academic thought has enriched my life.”
Anne V. Piazza FP’14 says she found Mount Holyoke appealing because of its small classes and academic rigor, but it was the tuition assistance that made it possible for her to attend. “When I read that MHC’s mission is to provide a rigorous education to the most qualified women in the world based on who they were and what they might contribute to the school and the world, I felt that I owed it to myself to apply,” she says. “I am so grateful that they looked at me for who I am as a student, a woman, and a citizen of the world before they looked at my income.” Being an FP “allowed me an opportunity to live on campus and get to know some of the most brilliant and motivated women in the world.”
Piazza, who started MHC at age 48, majored in psychology and now works as an alcohol and drug counselor in New Jersey. “I want people to understand that the commitment to making a Mount Holyoke education accessible begins with making it affordable, but includes so much more. When I think about accessibility, I also think about the warm and supportive reception I received any time I had a question for any department at the College.”
MHC’s commitment to making higher education affordable was one reason Shirley Doty-Lewis FP’14 chose to enroll. “Because of MHC's dedication to making a quality education affordable to students in need, I was able to complete my degree. I received financial aid and scholarships; if I had not, I would never have been able to earn a degree from a top-ranked college,” she says.
Armed with her religion major and minor in Africana studies, Doty-Lewis has her sights set on becoming a pastor. “Attending MHC allowed me the opportunity to find my own voice and gain the confidence to change the world,” she says.
The new full tuition policy for FPs supports the aspirations of women like Chandler, Doty-Lewis, and Piazza, who are among the nation’s most accomplished and promising undergraduates. For the past 30 years, the College has been enriched by its Frances Perkins Scholars and seen them achieve remarkable goals. Now, MHC is investing even more fully in their ambitions and potential.
To date, more than 1,000 women have enrolled in the Frances Perkins Program. They are veterans, mothers, innovators, and volunteers who seek to make meaningful contributions both locally and globally. Mount Holyoke’s new initiative recognizes the particular financial concerns facing these women and seeks to expand access to a highly selective liberal arts education.
—By Michelle Ducharme and Emily Weir