Interviews by Topic: Minority Students

In Part 1, Elizabeth begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Harvard Dental School, her father was one of only two black dentists in Providence at that time. He was additionally active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Elizabeth discusses the inevitability of pursuing a PhD; her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke; and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

In part 1 of this interview, Alison discusses her childhood, her decision to attend Pembroke, and the Pembroke experience. In part 2 she discusses hazing at Pembroke, her summers while at college, working in New York City, her original interest in the State Department, and her time in Ghana. In part 3, Alison talks about her time in the Belgian Congo. In part 4, she discusses her deployment to British Guyana, gender discrimination, and her decision to volunteer for Vietnam. In part 5, she talks about her opposition to some of the tactics used in Vietnam.

Speaking 61 years after graduating from Pembroke College, Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956, shares an exceptionally rich account of her experience as an American student and woman of Japanese and Czechoslovakian descent in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

25th Reunion, class of 1984

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1984 captures the experiences of Jean Eastman, Kristen Duckett, Amy Hayes Davidsen, Marcia May Brown, Patti Schallman, Maria Denise Mileno, Surrenthia Renee Parker, Barbara Reid Norris, Karla Elrod, Pamela Arya, and Joy Brownstein, at their 25th reunion.

25th Reunion, class of 1985

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1985 summarizes the economically, socially, and racially diverse undergraduate experiences of Frances S. Lee, Suzanne Beth Goldberg, Margaret E. Rosen, Karen Smith, Allyson Tucker, Katherine Sabin Melchoir, and Jill Anne Hereford, at their 25th reunion.

First, the interviewees are asked why they chose to attend Brown and what their thoughts and experiences were concerning the “new curriculum” that abolished course requirements and allowed for a more open exploration of subjects.

25th Reunion, class of 1992

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1992, captures the diverse undergraduate experiences of Aelish Marie Joyce, Rhonda Cherie Boyd, Resa Ellen Lewiss, Cristina Marie Lopez, Deborah Jane Pearlman, Samantha Lauren Fine Schreiber, Linda Jill Siegel, Jessika Sorrosa, and Karen Young, at their 25th reunion.

Alison Palmer, class of 1953

In part 1 of this interview, Alison Palmer discusses her childhood, her decision to attend Pembroke College, and the Pembroke experience.

In part 2 she discusses hazing at Pembroke, her summers while at college, working in New York City, her original interest in the State Department, and her time in Ghana.

In part 3, Palmer talks about her time in the Belgian Congo.

In part 4, she discusses her deployment to British Guyana, gender discrimination, and her decision to volunteer for Vietnam.

Anna Rena Hass, class of 1917

In the first part of the interview, Anna Rena Hass discusses early life on her family’s farm and the decision to attend Pembroke despite wanting to get married and become a nurse. Hass describes the courses she took in her two years at Pembroke and some of the formative people she met during that time. In the second part of the interview, Hass elucidates the Brown dress code and describes political events, life in Cuba, and her arrest. 

Bernicestine E. McLeod, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of the Pembroke College class of 1968: Bernicestine E. McLeod, an information management consultant; Sandra L. Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University; and Marcia D. Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art. 

Charlotte Nell Cook, class of 1964

In Part 1 of this interview, Charlotte Nell Cook discusses her upbringing, her decision to attend Pembroke College with the help of scholarship aid, and her general academic experience during her college years. She then recalls an anecdote about dating, describes the dynamics between male and female students, and touches on the near-total lack of black and other minority students. She thoroughly discusses the strict parietal laws that came about during the office of Dean Rosemary Pierrel.

Deborah J. Greenberg, class of 1979

Deborah J. Greenberg begins her interview by sharing some family background information including her childhood in Chicago, her mother’s position as a therapist, and the world travels that were funded by her father’s position as a professor at the University of Illinois.

Eleanor Mary Addison, class of 1938

In this interview, Eleanor Mary Addison begins by considering the difficulties of being a commuter student, not being able to build a community on campus, and the financial strain of living in a dormitory. She recalls participating in choir, correcting math papers, and tutoring, all for money, in order to continue studying at Pembroke College through the Great Depression, and she explains that this was not unusual at the time.

Elizabeth Branch Jackson, class of 1945

In Part 1 of this interview, Elizabeth Branch Jackson begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Harvard Dental School, her father was one of only two black dentists in Providence at that time. He was also active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Jackson discusses the inevitability of pursuing a Ph.D., her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke, and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

Ferelene Bailey, class of 1974

Ferelene "Nan" Bailey begins by discussing her childhood, the benefits of living overseas during her childhood, her experience applying to Brown University, and her expectations of her experience. She spends a significant amount of time discussing the various and bountiful activist groups she participated in, and more broadly, social turmoil during the seventies surrounding issues such as the Vietnam War and birth control.

Gloria E. Del Papa, class of 1946

In Part 1 of this interview, Gloria E. Del Papa begins by describing her relationship to her father, an immigrant cement business owner, her role as a “typical Italian daughter,” and how her father insisted she go to Pembroke College.  When discussing her life at Pembroke, she speaks about her academic record, the discovery of her passion for English after an initial focus on biology, her dedication to her studies and the many student activities in which she was involved.

Grace Amelia McAuslan, class of 1928

In this interview, Grace Amelia McAuslan begins by explaining why she decided to attend Pembroke College and what her first impressions were. She notes some of the courses she took as a sociology concentrator and momentarily remembers participating in the Pembroke orchestra. She shares brief memories of Dean Margaret Shove Morriss and Dean Anne Crosby Emery Allinson.

Hilary Berger Ross, class of 1963

Hilary Berger Ross begins Part 1 of her 1988 interview by discussing her search for community at Pembroke College, and speaks about her experience as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus. She remembers Pembroke rules and studying women in Shakespeare. She explains that the birth of her first child galvanized her to feminism and specifically women’s health issues. For her, childbirth should be entirely in the hands of the woman who gives birth and her loved one.

Javette D. Pinkney, class of 1980

In this interview, Javette D. Pinkney begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. She fondly remembers a “feeling of community,” and campus dating, in spite of instances of racism. She describes her involvement in a number of campus activities and social groups and recalls spearheading the College Venture Program - a pilot program financed by the Braitmayer Foundation to help students who needed or wanted to drop out of college temporarily.

Jeree Palmer-Bechkham, class of 1983

In this interview, Jeree Palmer-Beckham begins by discussing her time in Providence, where she lived with her first husband, and explaining her completion of a Brown University degree in theatre arts through the Resumed Education Program (RUE).  Palmer explains how attending Brown impacted her life in theatre, particularly the production “Shades of Brown,” which led her back to the New York theatre scene. She discusses various productions she has worked on in New York.  

Johanna Fernandez, class of 1993

In this interview, Johanna Fernandez highlights her undergraduate experience as an activist at Brown University. She spends the first fifty minutes discussing her parents’ backgrounds as immigrants from the Dominican Republic and the effect that had on her childhood growing up in the Bronx, New York.

Julie Uhm, class of 1993

Julie Uhm participated in this interview in her first semester at Brown University in 1989. She discusses her Korean heritage and her high school experience as an Asian American in New Jersey. She explains her encounters with racism throughout her life and broadly describes her observations of race relations in the United States and on the Brown campus. Uhm notes that Brown was not her first choice school but the homogeneity of other campuses influenced her decision.

Karen E. McLaurin, class of 1973

In Part 1 of this interview, Karen E. McLaurin begins by discussing her decision to attend Brown University, and her determination to succeed. She talks about a summer program she attended that was specifically for students who were deemed less likely to succeed at Brown. McLaurin also recalls minority students at Brown, their importance to the community and the college, as well as her experiences as an African-American woman at Brown. She discusses the various faculty members who she knew as a student and shares some of the difficulties she had with them.

Katharine Curtis Pierce, class of 1962

On the occasion of her 50th Reunion, Katharine Curtis Pierce looks back on the highlights of her time at Pembroke College. She begins by explaining her expectations for Pembroke and the “finishing school for Episcopal girls” that she found in its stead. Pierce talks about dorm life, her dissatisfaction with that atmosphere, her time pursuing social work, as well as her work resettling refugees in Vietnam at the National Council of Churches.

Katherine May Hazard, class of 1933

In Part 1 of this interview, Katherine May Hazard begins by discussing daily life at Pembroke College. For her, this meant commuting to campus and becoming used to the regimented life at Pembroke. She explains some of the requirements, what it was like to date mathematicians, and her involvement on campus. Outside of class, there were a variety of activities and, oftentimes, formal dances. She remembere Dean Margaret Shove Morris telling them that Pembrokers were not preparing for a specific career, but for life.

Lillian S. Berberian, class of 1957

This interview concentrates on Lillian S. Berberian's family life and her experiences as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke College but did not live on campus, and she reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus  as “an outsider.” 

Lydia L. English, class of 1985

Lydia L. English came to Brown in 1981 as a resumed undergraduate education student, after having worked in banking in the U.S. Virgin Islands for eight years. In this interview, English states that her initial motivation to receive a liberal arts education was her newfound interest “in how cultures interact,” gathered from her extensive work in the Caribbean. English talks extensively on the challenge of juggling an adult, professional, career life with an undergraduate education, particularly with regards to managing finances, as she supported herself throughout.

Marcia D. Lloyd, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of the Pembroke College class of 1968: Marcia D. Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art; Bernicestine E. McLeod, an information management consultant; and Sandra L. Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University.

Marjorie Whitcomb Sallie, class of 1927

In Part 1 of this interview, Marjorie Whitcomb Sallie explains why she decided to attend Pembroke College. She says that Dean Margaret Shove Morriss was the most influential faculty member on campus and she shares some memories of their interactions. Sallie goes on to describe how she decided to concentrate in biology and also details the commute she had to make from Foxboro, Massachusetts to Providence.

Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956

Speaking 61 years after graduating from Pembroke College, Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956, shares an exceptionally rich account of her experience as an American student and woman of Japanese and Austro-Hungarian descent in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Meera Viswanathan, class of Faculty

In this interview, Meera Viswanathan, then-Professor of comparative literature at Brown University, discusses emigrating from India to Los Angeles in 1961. She describes the language barrier she experienced and her process of assimilating to American life through using the English language. She explains being unable to identify with classmates in elementary school or holidays such as Christmas or Halloween, and regrets losing much of her native language.

Penelope A. Baskerville, class of 1968

Penelope “Penny” A. Baskerville begins Part 1 of this interview by recounting her family life and early education in New Jersey. She discusses the experience of being a racial minority at Pembroke (Baskerville was one of six African-American women in her class) as well as the general novelty of the college social experience, stressing the strength of the friendships she developed. Baskerville recounts her extracurricular involvement, the founding of the Afro-American Society, and the unique nature of college in the 1960s.

Rita A. Campbell, class of 1975

In Part 1 of this interview, Rita A. Campbell discusses her upbringing, how she decided to attend Brown University, and the racial dynamics she experienced as an African American student in overwhelmingly white educational environments. She then speaks about negative perceptions of interracial dating and about her academic pursuits at Brown.

Rosemary Pierrel, class of 1953

In this interview, Dr. Rosemary Pierrel Sorrentino describes her leadership as Dean of Pembroke from 1961 through 1972. Dr. Sorrentino, or Dean Pierrel as she was known to Pembrokers, reviews the rapidly changing societal norms, her perceptions of the demands upon Pembroke and upon her role as Dean, and the failure of leadership that led to the abrupt end of Pembroke College as an administrative unit within Brown University. She is quite candid about her opinions and her colleagues. She notes that shared values began to erode after 1966-67.

Sandra L. Richards, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of the Pembroke College class of 1968: Sandra L. Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University; Bernicestine E. McLeod, an information management consultant; and Marcia D. Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art.

Stavroula James Balomenos, class of 1953

In this interview, Stavroula James Balomenos begins by describing her childhood in Portland, Maine, which consisted of “home, school, and church.” She tells of her father’s strong belief in the value of a good education—something he didn’t have the opportunity to receive—instilling the message with all his children that “education was the doorway to a good life.” He refused to give his daughters a dowry but rather chose to pay for their educations.

Sylvia Rosen, class of 1955

In Part 1 of this interview, Sylvia Rosen reflects on her freshman year at Pembroke College, the dormitories, dating, and meeting her husband.

In Part 2, she expands on the “thrilling” academic atmosphere at Pembroke, as well as her experience as one of the few Jewish students on campus.