Laura Palucki Blake, Class of 1994.
Psychology Major, Economics minor. Head resident. social chair. WOZQ DJ. Accepted to every college I applied to, chose Smith. I showed up at Smith a white, middle class Midwesterner (so I took the ACT) from a large public high school. I needed scholarships, grants, work study, summer jobs, and loans to pay for Smith. I felt like I was the only perfectly ordinary girl dropped into a world full of amazing and special women.
It is because of the women I met while at Smith—White and Black and Latina and mixed race and lesbian and straight and bi and rich and poor and Jewish and debutante and Republican and feminist and “other”—who were also smart and passionate and warm and funny and proud and ambitious and powerful and honest and hopeful and daring and awesome that I am who I am today. Those affiliated with Smith (my friends, faculty, staff, colleagues, and peers) push me, support me, help me, and guide me to this day.
After I left Smith (it has never really left me), I completed my Ph.D in psychology. I now work in higher education, where I frequently find myself giving talks about what research tells us is the positive impact of diversity in undergraduate education, and how positive impact translates into skills valued in the workplace and beyond. Specifically, contact with diversity in college contributes to skills like the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective; tolerance with others whose beliefs are different than yours; an openness to having your views challenged; the ability to discuss and negotiate controversial issues; and the ability to work cooperatively with diverse people, among others. I know Smith helped me develop those skills and abilities, and I need and use them every day.
I wear pearls because I think they are pretty; and cashmere because it’s warm.