Anna C. Renzi, class of 1947

Anna C. Renzi, class of 1947

Anna C. Renzi was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, to Italian-immigrant parents.

In her interview, Anna C. Renzi, Pembroke College class of 1947, discusses her path to becoming the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Civil Engineering from Brown University, her career in Washington, DC, highway planning, and her personal family life.

She begins her interview by recounting how her family emigrated from Italy, through Ellis Island, and to Rhode Island in 1910. She fondly remembers her time in Providence elementary and high schools, and the many academic successes she had there, including her acceptance of the Andrew Medal in 9th grade. She explains that it was a drafting class in high school that piqued her interest in engineering. Renzi recalls her interview with Pembroke Dean, Margaret Shove Morriss, where Renzi asked to enter the engineering program. She describes some of the courses she took, what it was like to be one of the few women in those courses, and briefly mentions World War II’s influence on the campus.  

Renzi goes on to explain how a fellow Rhode Islander helped her get a job in Washington, DC, and describes her first assignment to help plan a way to connect Virginia and Maryland highways to DC. She also details how she moved up to Chief of the District Highways and Traffic Department’s programming division where she supervised the department of three men.

Renzi also captures her life after she left the Highways and Traffic Department in 1963. She discusses how her marriage to a Naval captain necessitated her leave as they moved to Hawaii where she had her first daughter. She talks about her husband’s work and duties as well as the many other moves they endured throughout his career. Though she never went back to working outside the home, she explains that the birth of her second daughter in 1972 kept her quite busy. She concludes her interview by mentioning her continued involvement with Pembroke alumnae groups, and commenting on Brown University’s work today.  

Part 1

Part 2
Recorded on May 23, 2018

Wakefield, Rhode Island

Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Archives Assistant