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Small Colleges, Big Impact

By Sherri Kimmel

An avid blogger and biker, Sean Decatur ’90 is a new kind of president for Kenyon College in many ways. While his predecessor, Georgia Nugent, a classicist, broke the gender barrier at the once all-male liberal arts gem of the Buckeye State in 2003, Decatur has registered a couple more firsts at the cornfield-swaddled college. [...]

Big Problems, Small(er) Answers

By Dana Mackenzie ’79

In 1979, a meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pa., turned “nuke” into a four-letter word and forever changed the nuclear energy industry in the United States. From the day of the accident until 2012, not a single new full-sized nuclear power plant started construction (although quite a few plants [...]

Sew Far, Sew Good

By Carrie Compton

Verdi Johnson ’45’s mother used to call her “the cat who walks alone”—perhaps the earliest testament to her resilience and self-sufficiency. At 89, it’s a euphemism she still identifies with—maintaining as many activities as possible: attending Quaker meetings, quilting, researching genealogy, and reading (a lot).
“There are too many things I want to do, so I [...]

A Convergence of Friends

By Elizabeth Vogdes

“It’s very important for me to be a Quaker. I can’t imagine being anything else,” Margery Post Abbott ’67 says quietly but emphatically. She recently returned to Pendle Hill, the tranquil Quaker study center across the Crum Creek from Swarthmore, to lead a course on incorporating faith in social-justice work. Her course addresses an even [...]

Parsing the ‘I’ Word

By Heidi Hormel

When Jonathan Rosa ’03 and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst talk about the “i-word,” it has nothing to do with first-person singular and everything to do with the heated debate about immigration reform.
“Language has to be seen as a profound and powerful form of social action,” says Rosa, an assistant professor of linguistic [...]

Game Changer

By Carrie Compton

When Sonny Sidhu ’09 was 5, he successfully pitched the merits of a Nintendo gaming system to his parents—so successfully, his argument still resonates. Now a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student, Sidhu made the case for video-game development as a natural fit within the liberal arts as a featured speaker at the College’s Visualizing [...]

It’s a ‘HOOT’

By Sherri Kimmel

Though Swarthmore is remarkable for its blossom-bedecked grounds, poems sprouting from the fertile soilare a sight seldom seen. But poetry indeed was popping up amongst the flowers last fall, when Amanda Vacharat ’06 and her partner Dorian Geisler staged a stealth operation-cum-poetry invasion of campus.
The couple are co-founders of HOOT, a literary magazine in postcard [...]

An Arresting Development

By Carrie Compton

It was cold, and her dissertation beckoned, but Khadijah White ’04 was determined as she made her way through the heavily policed throng outside of Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building to stand alongside her “Occupy” friends on the night of March 15, 2012. Camps of the Philadelphia affiliate of Occupy Wall Street were long gone, but [...]

A Life in Verse

By Elizabeth Vogdes

Poet John Oliver Simon ’64 discovered a happy alternative to his original plan to be an English professor when, seven years after leaving Swarthmore, he joined California Poets in the Schools, a large writers-in-residence program for elementary through high-school students.
Now, more than 40 years after making that shift, Simon has been recognized with a major [...]

Citizen Scientist

By Elizabeth Vogdes

“If you’d asked me when I was in grad school if I wanted to do citizen science, I wouldn’t even have known what you were talking about,” declares Alison Young ’00.
The term citizen science, she explains, means public participation in collecting or analyzing scientific research data. She describes it as “a wonderful combination of education [...]