Four Joy-Filled Years in Yale's English Department

To arrive at Yale means to already be accomplished, but to be striving for more, for better, for greater. These are admirable traits, and characterised the way I approached extracurriculars, leadership roles, campus jobs and the eventual career search. Outside the classroom, I filled my days to the brim with these commitments, social engagements and trips to Blue State Coffee. But, color-coded Google calendar aside, what will always stay with me were the four years of unquantifiable joy that being an English major brought me. 

The acceptance that I would never be the best in a room full of scholarly students dedicated to academia and research turned out to be a permission slip to embrace the hours of thoughtful discussion in the seminar rooms of LC, to find a comfortable chair in the L&B room and read until closing time, and to enjoy every second of studying English for the blissful sake of it. To allow myself to fall in love with so many textured forms of human expression, in classes ranging from "Love and Desire in the 19th Century" to "The Politics of Emotion", working hard at countless essays, but knowing that the fulfilment these classes brought me and the ways in which they expanded the perimeters of my thinking were more validating than good grades.
How humbling it was to spend four years in the company of inspiring classmates, engaging professors and more brilliant books than my heart could ever desire, and how refreshing it was to finally allow myself to evaluate just one aspect of my life using the metric of joy.
As someone who has not (yet) pursued further education since undergrad, I'll always be grateful that my last academic experience at Yale was fueled by enthusiasm and curiosity - rather than the need to excel for the sake of it. Now, working my first corporate job and writing more emails than essays, I count my Yale degree as an accomplishment, but also a reminder that finding joy in something does not always come from seeking to be the best.
- Veena McCoole, Morse College '19
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YaleWomen Global Newsletter | Winter 2020

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2020 Yale Medal Recipient Judith Ann Schiff, Chief Research Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, the New Haven City Historian, and Unofficial Yale Ambassador

The AYA Board of Governors has the responsibility for selecting Yale Medalists, with over 300 individuals so honored since the award began in 1952. President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD and YAA Board of Governors Chair Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv presided over the celebration honoring the five Medalists, of whom Judith Ann Schiff was one of two women. This year, this special event was held virtually—but no less memorably, with tributes, photos, videos, and Yale-themed music—on December 8, 2020.

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2020 Yale Medal Recipient Alice Young ’71: Trailblazer, Groundbreaker, History-and-Difference-Maker

The tributes were laced throughout the closing segment of the December 8 (Virtual) Yale Medal Celebration, which focused on Alice, resplendent in red, and wearing the silk scarf commemorating the September, 2019 50th Anniversary Celebration of Women in Yale College, as well as a prominent blue “Boola Boola” pin with the symbol for female under the “oo.”

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Meet Teresa Leger Fernandez ’82, The First Latinx Yale Alum Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

In the U.S. elections this past November, four Yale alums were elected to significant governmental positions:

  • Daniella Levine Cava (YC 1977; Berkeley) became mayor of Miami-Dade County—the first woman ever to serve in that capacity.
  • Carolyn Bourdeaux (YC 1992; Morse) flipped Georgia’s 7th District from Republican to Democrat (one of only three red-to-blue flips nationwide) to win her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Teresa Leger Fernandez (YC 1982, Davenport) became the first Latina from her district (and the first Latinx Yale alum) to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives by winning her first term in New Mexico’s 3rd
  • Katie Porter (YC 1996; Grace Hopper) won re-election to her seat representing California’s 45th Congressional District.

Over the next several issues, we’ll be presenting an in-depth look at these women in their own words. First up: Teresa Leger Fernandez.

Teresa Leger Fernandez: “Ahora es cuando” (It’s time now).

Leger Fernandez, a progressive Democrat, is Representative-elect of New Mexico’s 3rd District, which includes Santa Fe and Taos, as well as a significant part of the Navajo Nation’s Tribal Lands. She is an attorney (Stanford Law School) who, prior to running for office for the first time in 2020, had focused her 30-year, New Mexico-based career on community-building and tribal advocacy. Her campaign platform included support for a “New Mexico Green New Deal,” Medicare For All, a transition from fracking to green energy, comprehensive immigration reform, and passing of the DREAM Act. Leger Fernandez was a White House Fellow during the Clinton Administration and later served on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation during the Obama Administration; she has also served as a liaison between the White House Office and United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. This was her first run for elected office.

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Apply for the YaleWomen Council - March 15, 2021 DEADLINE

YaleWomen’s mission is “To create a vibrant, engaged community of alums, drawn together by the common thread of our Yale experiences, that is committed to advancing women's voices and perspectives and to enriching and inspiring one another, Yale, and the world.”

The Council is responsible for advancing this mission. Consider joining us!

Applications are due March 15, 2021.

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Strategic Planning - Community Discussions

Dear Yale Women

It has been 10 years since the formation of YaleWomen. It has been an incredible decade of connecting women alums, sharing in conversation and celebrating women who have made a positive impact. Our last strategic plan was instrumental in guiding YaleWomen’s efforts and growth and was based on the input, feedback, and aspirations of a wide breadth of community members. 

We have launched a strategic planning process this fall that will allow us to build upon the existing strengths of our historic institution and make it an even more extraordinary platform to create positive change in ourselves, our communities, and the world.

Our strategic planning committee includes women across different generations, schools, backgrounds, and geographic locations. We will be reaching out to the wider community through a variety of meetings and interviews. 

The first of these opportunities is a community brainstorming session. We will engage you through some exercises to get your reflections on YaleWomen and your ideas for how we might move forward as a community. Three sessions will be offered to encourage as many community members as possible to participate in the process. We invite you to attend one of the following community brainstorming sessions

  • Thursday, December 3rd, 12 pm EST / 9 am PST - Register here
  • Thursday, December 10th, 6 pm EST / 3 pm PST - Register here.
If you are unable to attend the sessions, we would love to hear your thoughts through this short survey

We would like to hear from women alums who are very involved and also those with a healthy skepticism or feedback. This is your opportunity to speak up and help us figure out how we can use our incredible platform and resources to create programming and initiatives that can uniquely make a positive impact. 

Thank you for joining us in conversation - we are excited to hear from you! 

With gratitude, 

YaleWomen Strategic Planning Committee 

Emily Friedrichs B.A., 2007
Heidi Fung B.A. 2003
Lauren Graham M.E.M. 2013
Jennifer Madar B.A. 1988 
Susan Pepin B.A. 1987
Jane Fincke Orenstein B.A. 1978
Brenda Ventura M.B.A. 2016



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YaleWomen Global Newsletter | Fall 2020

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Women's Health Research at Yale Webinar

Join WHRY on Thursday, 10/1, at 4 pm EDT for "The Way Forward," a lively discussion on how science drives discovery, how studying the biology and social experience of women makes it better, and how better science leads to better lives.  This webinar, co-sponsored by the Yale Alumni Health Network, will include an introduction by Dr. Nancy J. Brown, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Yale School of Medicine, and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Carolyn Mazure, Dr. Megan Smith, and Jocelyn Maminta. 

Click here for panelist profiles and to register. 

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YaleWomen Hosts Zoom Get Togethers

Stephanie Rosenkranz, BA ’02, will host a Zoom get together on 10/5 at 8PM SGT (Singapore). This is a wonderful way for women alums in Asia (8 pm SGT) and Europe (1 pm BST) to chat.  Alums in the Americas who are up for an early morning get-together (8 am EDT) can join the conversation, too.

Emily Friedrichs, BA ’07, will host on Thursdays at 9:00 pm EDT on 10/8 and 10/22.

And Claudia Rosenthal, BA ’08, MMus ’14, will continue to host every Wednesday at 7:30 pm EDT through 11/25.

Register here for these and other YaleWomen events. (You'll receive an email with the login info after you RSVP.)

We're hoping to add more dates and times as more alums volunteer to host. Email [email protected] if you're interested in hosting!

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