When Mount Holyoke talks about making a college education accessible to smart women everywhere, we’re referring to people like Anne V. Piazza FP’14.
By the time Piazza enrolled at Mount Holyoke, she’d already supported herself as an office manager while raising three sons, all the while dreaming of a college degree. Her first step was to enroll at Raritan Valley Community College, where she excelled academically. Piazza thought top-tier schools were out of her price range, and her decision about where to transfer hinged significantly on cost.
“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 are 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.” As it turned out, Mount Holyoke’s funding meant Piazza paid less than she would have at her home-state school, Rutgers.
“I found Mount Holyoke appealing because of the small class size and the academic rigor, but the tuition assistance made it possible for me to live on campus,” she says. “Being a Frances Perkins Scholar added another layer of support, and gave me a place in a group of the most determined and capable adult students anywhere.”
“At 48 years young, I had plenty of time to earn a degree, but I never imagined finding myself immersed in a world of learning,” Piazza says. “I think the most important thing attending MHC did was help me to understand that I am capable of more than I ever dreamed.”
But that would not have happened without College support. “The commitment to making a Mount Holyoke education accessible begins with making it affordable, but it includes so much more. When I think about accessibility, I also think about the warm and supportive reception I received whenever I had a question for any department. The financial aid office, the kitchen staff, professors, librarians, deans, and even President Pasquerella—all were personally accessible to me.”
“I left MHC feeling that I had a whole new family that resides all around the world. The Frances Perkins Program gave me so many sisters working shoulder to shoulder to change the world that I feel confident going anywhere, anytime.”
Today, Piazza uses her training in psychology and gender studies as an alcohol and drug counselor at Sunrise Detox Center in Stirling, New Jersey. She’s considering graduate school options for next year—a master’s of social work, or further study in psychology.
“Being a Frances Perkins Scholar and a Mount Holyoke woman is the greatest accomplishment in my life thus far and gives me the confidence to continue to dream big, work hard, and know that the sky is limitless,” she says.
—By Emily Harrison Weir