Katharine Knowlton McLane ’23
“I remember my mother taking me to Troy in September 1921. ... I remember the Emma Willard campus, a triangle of three buildings – Sage, Slocum and the gym with the playhouse off to one side. ... I remember the thrill of discovering a framed plaque outside the library on which were listed the names of Madam Emma Willard’s first 12 pupils. Among them was the name of Evelina Foster, my great-grandmother. … I remember Miss Kellas’ occasional talks to us at study hall, in particular one on tolerance. After stressing the vital importance of tolerance as to individuals and ideas, she warned against the danger of too great tolerance where standards and values are involved. I have often thought of her words of wisdom as our culture has undergone such enormous change in recent years. … What we came to Emma Willard for was an education. And what an education we got, not only in facts and figures but in work study habits, so much so that we sailed through freshman year of college with the greatest of ease.”
Sarah Schemm McDermott ’52
After Emma, Sarah went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Smith College, graduating magna cum laude. With a master’s in philosophy from the University of Michigan, she could have easily become a physician and professor like her husband. Instead, she chose a different path. Moving the family to Hawaii in 1969. Becoming active in the Junior League and the auxiliaries of both the Honolulu Medical Society and Hawaii State Medical Association. Carving out a new community leadership role in the health care field in the state. Changing legislation. Pioneering programs with the Salvation Army and hospice. And defining what it means to be a community leader.
Emira “Florence” Habiby Browne ’58
Following the 9/11 attacks, the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) in New York City received many death threats. As AAFSC’s founder and executive director, Florence now finds herself at the forefront of a critical effort: helping Arab-American and Muslim communities present themselves and their views to mainstream American society. But her work began long before the events of 2001. When she arrived at Emma in 1956, Florence was committed to changing the traditional cultural norms for Arab women. In 1993 she realized her vision with AAFSC – an agency assisting new immigrants from the Arab world in adjusting and adapting to life in the U.S. With a staff of 25 bilingual women – social workers, psychologists, legal experts and educators – it is the only social service organization of its kind in the New York metropolitan area.
“This is where my life in the United States began. Emma Willard got me started on the road to where I am now.”
Ruth A. Scovill ’68
In her college recommendation, Ruth’s advisor at Emma noted her “considerable intellectual ability and interest, a reliable imagination and a responsive sense of humor.”
Ruth went on from here to earn a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute and a master’s from California State University before launching her career in entertainment media. A job at Nickelodeon Studios grew into positions at Viacom and MTV Networks, and Ruth later applied her growing skills to movie productions including Titanic and several animated films. Buoyed by her innovative thinking and vision, today Ruth is president and chief operating officer of Cinesite Hollywood, a pioneer in the evolution of digital mastering technology.
“I found a profession where I was able to take the traits that Emma Willard found in me more than 35 years ago – that I didn’t know I had – and allowed me to expand on them.”
Ronna Cohen ’73
Following graduation from Emma, Ronna attended Syracuse University’s New York State College of Forestry. Degree in hand, she became director of education for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and headed up the AMC Mountain Leadership School, Winter Mountaineering School, Search and Rescue Workshops, Mountain Medicine Workshops and other wilderness leadership training programs. Later, armed with both an M.B.A. and law degree from Syracuse University, she added a briefcase to her backpack and entered the world of banking and finance. Today, as an independent investment adviser, Ronna manages more than $80 million for families and individuals, and though a departure from the mountain life she loves, her early training helps her “to see the forest for the trees.” A few years ago, Ronna returned to Emma to participate in a program entitled Values & Vision: The Leadership Venture, leading a think-tank topic “Mothers as Mentors: Leading Through Parenting,” informed by personal experience.
“I’m grateful for the incredible amount of support I received at Emma Willard. … It never occurred to me that I couldn’t try something.”
Roseanne Margaret Bell ’82
Roseanne’s love for the skies began at an early age, when her mother, a pilot and plane owner, took her on a flight at just 7 days old. At Emma Willard, Roseanne trained for her pilot’s license as part of her independent study curriculum. After attending Ohio State University, she began her career as a commercial jet pilot, flying corporate jets for companies such as Fleet Bank, Eli Lilly and Executive Jet International. Her clientele occasionally have included Emma alumnae. Currently she attends Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as she pursues a degree in aviation with minors in safety/human factors and security/intelligence. In 1998, her desire to help the community led her to the Adirondack Rescue Dog Association, the oldest all-volunteer nonprofit search-and-rescue team in the U.S. After completing a rigorous three-year training program, Roseanne and her rescue partner, a German shepherd named Jack, have participated in numerous rescues. In addition to her aviation career and her rescue and fund-raising efforts for ARDA, Roseanne also raises and shows purebred dogs.
Amy Chiaro ’92
Like most Emma students, Amy was involved in many activities: from volleyball and softball to choir and trumpet lessons. But it was her work on the school newspaper that made her realize her professional passion was journalism. Her Practicum at radio station WAMC led to another stint with local TV. And Amy says it was her hands-on experience at Emma that yielded a job at NBC following her graduation from Cornell University. Amy worked as a researcher and assignments editor for the network. And as an associate producer in the New York bureau she covered the Northeast for Nightly News, the Today Show and MSNBC.
“At Emma, you really find out what you’re good at. And you’re surrounded by people who say you can do it.”
Alicia Claire Hafner ’93
Alicia has proudly put to work the education, skills and desire to help others honed at Emma. Upon graduating, she traveled to Nicaragua to feed the hungry and care for the sick, helping residents grow self-sustaining crops, and establishing a health care program. A witness to unimaginable poverty and profoundly inadequate medical resources, she has worked to remedy both. A registered nurse, Alicia works in the ER, takes master’s classes toward becoming a nurse practitioner and volunteers for a program that sends used bikes, computers, school and office supplies, medical equipment and other humanitarian aid items to Central America. Her compassion and commitment is seemingly endless: Alicia recently raised more than $13,000 for the AIDS Foundation by gathering donations and running a marathon in Hawaii.