2010 Back Roads and Byways


This week, as the Vagabonds wrap up their trip, they collectively shared with us lasting impressions:

We hope our biggest impact was that we showed people the common experiences between every era of Goucher’s history. The people we met, from parents to alums to incoming students, are all part of one large story. We did our best to encourage incoming students and remind them that they will get through hard times. Matt enjoyed talking to alumnae who attended Goucher as an all-women’s school, and he’s hopeful that he was able to dispel any fears they had about the population of Goucher men.

The biggest lesson we learned is that Goucher students never stop learning. We learned just as much from the incoming students as we did from the alums, and I think the alums were equally happy to learn from us as they were to teach us about their lives. The successes of the alumnae/i we met have made us feel ready to take on the world!

We definitely need to bring back Hot Steel. Nearly every alum we spoke to, from 1950s graduates to 1990s graduates, told us stories about the wonderful annual party that used to signal the beginning of every Goucher school year – The fountain in Dorsey would be emptied, steel drums would play, and students would dance and frolic from mid-afternoon to the wee hours of the morning!

This was a wonderful final chapter to our Goucher experience, or at least its first volume. It was wonderful to meet so many members of the Goucher alumnae/i family we have recently become a part of, hear their stories, and be reassured that our love for Goucher will not go away, even as we move on.

~ Maura, Debra, Matt, and Aislyn

We hope you’ve enjoyed following the Vagabonds as much as we have from “home base” at Goucher College. It’s exciting to see unbelievably talented, interesting young alumnae/i representing the college around the country, and we’ve received much positive feedback in the last few weeks. The perfect team was out on the road helping new students feel comfortable about their first days at Goucher, and also reporting back on their warm interactions with some of the amazing alumnae/i that make up our community.

We’d love to hear more from you. Please leave us a comment and help us come up with great ideas for next year’s team! If you’d like to contact the Vagabonds directly, send a message to alumni@goucher.edu.

Thanks for joining us throughout the journey,
Nicole (and, of course, the Vagabonds)

Our Last Day: A Time for Recollection

Waking up Sunday morning without any need for alarm at 8:00 AM despite my life-long inclination to sleep past noon was my biggest telltale sign for how long we’d actually been on this trip: two weeks – exhilarating and exhausting all at once. But our final morning got us up and out of bed and on to a good start at THB (Towson Hot Bagels – famous around Goucher). Upon filling our bellies with egg and cheese bagel sandwiches we drove over to the Black & Decker World Headquarters for our last alum interview with Bill Pugh ’94, B&D’s director of sales and marketing.

Getting there I can’t say we expected much on a Sunday morning but if there’s anything we’ve learned on this trip so far it’s to expect the unexpected. What did we discover you might ask? A bright yellow and simply awesome race car!!!  Not many people larger than a mosquito could fit in it but somehow Maura and Debra managed creating yet another great image for us: the Goucher Vagabond professional racing team. Why stop with the barbershop quartet?

Eventually Bill separated us from our new toy and got to sharing his Goucher experiences. He talked about Goucher’s “interactive expectations” where he was “treated as an adult” and held accountable for his educational pursuits, something that holds his attention and appreciation for Goucher still to this day. He studied Business Management and actually got into the start of his 16 year career at B&D through one of his internships he had while at Goucher.

Since graduating Bill’s kept in great contact with Goucher. He still has lunch and works out with some of his professors and has always participated in the Greater Goucher Fund, a.k.a. Annual Giving Fund (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I know I wouldn’t have been there without financial aid). Bill has also been a part of AAGC (Alumnae and Alumni of Goucher College) since 2005 and is now on the Board of Trustees. Having experienced Goucher as a student and alumnus he enjoys “being involved with Goucher on another level.”

Thank you Bill for sharing your experiences with us and I certainly plan to stay involved. I think you’re onto something with your appreciation for giving back. “Don’t forget where you come from,” Bill advises. “As students and alumnae/i we are stewards of that college…Goucher got you somewhere.”

Looking back across these past two weeks trends show Goucher definitely gets people somewhere. We’ve come across talented writers and dancers, a family therapist, business creators and owners, scientific researchers, a concert pianist, political activists, a school founder, a CBS editor, a friendly and giving dentist, and so many involved in making this world a better place through their extensive social services.

After our interview with Bill we met up with him at his home where we welcomed the newest members of Goucher’s family. Through all we’ve seen and heard from across generations we cannot help but depart from our adventure far more exhilarated than exhausted and so excited for what has yet to come from Goucher. It’s really been such a pleasure and I hope the world’s a little more aware of what Goucher is and what it means to be a part of its community.

Very best,


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The End Has No End: Vagabonds Day 14

Alright, my Gouchers. This is it. Our final night as the 2010 Vagabonds. The road has been long and bendy and sometimes poorly marked, but we have traveled across the land spreading the good word of Goucher, and everywhere we’ve gone people have welcomed us. I can’t even begin to thank all of the people who made this trip happen, but of course I must attempt: Thank you. Everyone at Goucher who planned, researched, advised, introduced, interviewed and supported. Everyone out in the world who hosted, housed, fed, listened, shmoozed, attended, learned and taught. Everyone who is reading this blog or liking us on Facebook or tubing us on YouTube . All of you. Thank you so so much. You’re the secret ingredient in the Goucher casserole, and you make me treasure this place more than I can say.

Today was our crash course in all things Baltimore which must be done before you leave. These included visiting the Waverly Farmer’s Market where we ran into Ron “Res” Saxton ’08, eating at Pete’s Grille alongside Michael “Bliss” Jefferson’12, getting free books at The Book Thing, hanging out with Bryan “Lazer” Steele ’10 and riding the water taxi to Fell’s Point to eat Gelato. We wrapped up the day with a WONDERFUL alum event at Joe Squared with an army of Goucher friends old and new. Now we are gazing out at Goucher from the twelfth floor of the Sheraton wearing cushy hotel bathrobes and ruminating on what the last two weeks have been for us. Here is a rather free form rendition of what that conversation sounds like:

Singing in the car in the middle of the night. Watching the exit go past us on our way out of Boston. Paying more tolls than my parents paid in tuition. Being mistaken for the Reverend’s Vagabonds, a four part Barbershop Quartet. Swimming in the Farmington River. Four course dinner in Chelsea, New York. Our speed boat ride in Maine. The Troy Pork Store. Thinking of boat names (Floater, Backwash, Flounder). Buck wild. Hog wild. Playing ping pong. The Beehive, the Standard, and even Legal Seafood. Bite-size, crustless sandwiches. Meredith Schmidt’s awesome Bowser costume. Our synchronized swimming cinematic masterpiece. “I never want to eat again.” Bizarro Albany. Every time someone honked at our Goucher van while driving down the highway and for just a second feeling connected to a perfect stranger.

I never really know how to end things in my own words, and I don’t think there’s any shame in turning to someone older and wiser than you to put it best. In this case, that person is good old Jhumpa Lahiri, who tells us, “Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”

Peace out, my Gouchers.


Friday the 13th

Oh. My. Blarg. Today has been a pretty sweet day, and despite my mounting fatigue and the comfiness of the Lenik family sofa bed, I must write about it now because things are beginning to run together and congeal like the Hampden Inn omelet I ate for breakfast this morning, and I don’t trust myself to remember the details in even a mere 8 hours. Eeee, getting ahead of myself! Let me start at the beginning, discuss the middle, and finish up at the end. Things generally work out best that way.

We met Teddy Zartler ’92 last night at Legal Seafood, and this morning he was nice enough to meet us again for our first lunch (this trip has been awfully foodful) outside the Merck campus in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Teddy works at Merck doing pharmaceutical research and even helped develop Gardasil, the Human Papillomavirus vaccine which can help prevent cervical cancer. I especially enjoyed asking him about Goucher’s early days of coeducation since Teddy was in the second class at Goucher to admit men. I can’t explain why, but even after a year of research and a 100 page thesis, the stories about Goucher’s move to coeducation continue to capture my imagination. Part of it is the incredible emotion tied up in this transition, and part of it I think is the highly charged atmosphere of campus during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which reminds me a little of the Wild West.

From Lansdale we drove back to Delaware to meet with Laura Webbert ’06 for our second lunch. We’re getting to the point in this trip where we’ve crossed the nexus between New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania so many times that I’m never precisely sure where we are. This is OK though, because everyone else on the trip seems to have a pretty good idea. Laura majored in Biology at Goucher and now works at Du Pont as a Research & Development Chemist. She brought along different types of polymer treated stone and demonstrated how the treated stone repels liquid to prevent staining. Crazy! Good thing Debra, Aislyn, and Matt took charge of interviewing Laura, because I remained absorbed (har har) with dribbling water on the stone for a long time.

Finally we made it to Wilmington for our Alum event at the home of Carol Hirsch Roth ’70 and Jeff Roth. Carol’s sister Tina Hirsch Sheller ’74 now teaches History at Goucher and was my thesis advisor over the last year! We all felt a little pooped when we got to Carol’s house, but our hosts immediately revived us with food, beverage, ping pong, and Beatles records. It was really wonderful having this event in such a warm and welcoming home, and I enjoyed seeing the fellowship between Goucher alums from 1951 to 2010! At some point during introductions, Debra ’10 leaned over to me and whispered, “Can we please do this at our house in Baltimore this fall?” Oh most definitely, Debra. You can depend on that.

Now I am lounging in the living room of Debra ‘10’s house in Woodstown, New Jersey. Jennifer and Frank, Debra’s parents, were kind enough to let us stay here on the last leg of our journey, and it is WONDERFUL to stay in a familiar home. My laundry is laudering. Godzilla the cat is investigating Matt’s suitcase. All is peaceful and well.


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The Vagabonds Come Home! Join us Saturday for a day of fun in Baltimore

Hello, friends and our extended Goucher family!

We are in the final few days of our journey up and down the East Coast right now, and will be heading back to Baltimore tomorrow (Saturday) morning for a day of home-town exploration.

We will hold our official alumnae/i event on Saturday evening at Joe Squared (the best pizza in Baltimore; details below), but before we do we will spend the day checking out some fun activities that we believe every Goucher-ite, graduate or not, should do before they leave Baltimore.

While we do, we would love your company! Whether you are an alumnus, current student, or connected to Goucher in some other way, we invite you to join us for any of the following events:

(if you show up and you can’t find us, or have any questions, give Matt a call at 510-517-7860).

11 AM – Waverly Farmers’ Market

This Saturday morning farmers’ market, located at 33rd, Barclay, and University Parkway in Charles Village, is regularly visited by Goucher students and alumnae/i, especially those who live in the Charles Village neighborhood. The market opens in the morning and closes at noon — we’ll be hunting for snacks and Goucher friends from 11 to 12!

12 PM – Pete’s Grille

This breakfast and lunch shop, located at 3130 Greenmount Ave, is right next to the Waverly market. Open from 7 AM to 1 PM every day, their food is superb and cooked right in front of you as you sit at the bar. We will grab lunch there after we leave the market.

1:30 PM – The Book Thing

Located at 3001 Vineyard Lane, off Greenmount and just a few blocks south of Pete’s and the market, you can find the Book Thing, a warehouse of 100% free books. The website notes, however, that “you can only take 150,000 per day, per person.” We will take a peak in after lunch, and pick up a few good books for our already-overstuffed van.

3:00 PM – Inner Harbor Water Taxi

After we leave Charles Village, we will head downtown and take the Water Taxi around the Inner Harbor. If we have time, we’ll take a boat to Fell’s Point. If not, we’ll do the quick loop around the harbor. We will board at the landing nearest to Pratt and Light Streets, between the pirate ship and Phillips restaurant.

5:30 PM – Joe Squared Alumnae/i Event (+Second Saturdays in Station North)

We will top off the day with our official Alumnae/i event at Joe Squared Pizzeria at 133 W. North Avenue. Come between 5:30 and 7:30 and your first drink is on Goucher, then hang around for music at Joe Squared or any of the other cheap or free Second Saturday events, all within a few blocks of the restaurant. Please RSVP on Facebook for this event.


We hope to see you tomorrow!

~Debra, Maura, Aislyn, and Matt

The Twelve Days of Vagabonds

Hokay, here we are on the twelfth day of Vagabonds. Much like the Twelve Days of Christmas, our Goucher Voyage has been filled with dancing gentry and a host of livestock. Well, not really. But it has been filled with wonderful interviews and conversations between Goucher students past and present. Which is probably better. My cup runneth over from all of the kindness and hospitality we have experienced on this trip.

Yesterday morning we rode the D.C. metro, my most favorite public transit system in the world, to meet with Kim Shaffir ’83 at her CBS Studio office in the city. I know we have seen a lot of sweet Alumnae/i workplaces on this trip, but getting a tour of CBS and seeing the Face The Nation set was definitely a highlight. Kim works as an editor for all of CBS’ White House footage and also creates the intro videos for Face the Nation. Her computer was the largest computer I had ever seen – it looked like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kim, another devoted resident of Connor House during her Goucher days, echoed many of Kaye Williams ‘83’s stories about their house’s legendary parties and pranks. She also told us about the joys and difficulties of being one of the few female video editors at CBS and balancing work with family life in an extremely high pressure environment. Rock on, Kim; your success makes me hopeful for the future of women in the workplace.

Our next stop, after indulging in the pre-packaged delights of the local Trader Joe’s, was Philadelphia (again!) to meet with Linda Himmelberger ’74. Linda is a dentist, but so much more than a dentist. First of all, she is also a collector of exotic salt water fish, who live in a large tank in the lobby of her Devon, Pennsylvania dental practice. Second of all, Linda volunteers as a forensic dentist with the Pennsylvania Dental Association and the Federal Government to help to identify the victims of plane crashes and natural disasters through dental records. To my cowardly way of thinking, this work sounded CRAZY: crazy difficult, crazy interesting, and also crazy generous of her to donate her time to something so important. I asked her how she copes with working at scenes of such immense tragedy, and she told me that her two favorite prayers are “Help me! Help me! Help me!” and “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” These are two things, I definitely need to say more.

After saying, “Goodbye,” to the fish, and “See you later,” to Linda, we headed over to King of Prussia, the Mall of all Malls, for our Philadelphia young alum event. It was great to meet more members of the Goucher family, as well as see old friends (hey Saaj ’10!). And, of course, noshing on seafood is always pretty swell in my book. Tonight we get to do it all again, plus stay with Debra’s family in New Jersey, and finally do some much-needed laundry! Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Vagabonds 2010.


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Vagabond Day 11

So. Seven states. Eight hours in the car. Yesterday was a lengthy day. We bid farewell to Judith Fifield, parent of Ali Philippides’10, Casey the dog, and Bobby the cat in Connecticut early in the AM and trucked on out towards Virginia. It was really not too bad of a drive. We ate snacks. We laughed at goofy place names (Sandwich Mashpee, anyone?). It is a testament to how great this year’s Vagabonds team is that I can sit in the car with them for an eight hour stretch and genuinely enjoy myself.

Before we knew it, we were pulling into the driveway of Kaye Williams ’83 in Alexandria, Virginia. She gave us some much needed refreshment after our day in the car and regaled us with stories of Goucher past. One interesting thing we learned was that in the early 1980s, social life at Goucher revolved around where you lived on campus, and each house had its own distinct personality. Kaye lived in Connor all four years at Goucher and told us about their various parties, pranks, and house culture. It almost sounded as awesome as the Great Year of Hooper, Fall 2009-Spring 2010, which was a joy and delight to be a part of. After graduating from Goucher, Kaye attended Georgetown Law and went on to work as an attorney for the Security and Exchange Commission in the late 1980s and early 1990s busting white collar criminals, which I think is probably one of the most patriotic jobs out there.  Thanks for meeting with us Kaye – it’s always great to meet a fellow Prince lover!

On Wednesday evening we held our second to last first-year sendoff (Ayyy!) at the home of Shelley and John Bond and their daughter Rachel ’12 in Fairfax, Virginia. It was wonderful to meet more parents and members of the 2014 incoming class and consume delicious Goucher cake. After sufficient schmoozing time, we had some short remarks from special guests Margaret-Ann Radford-Wedemeyer and Michael O’Leary, did our usual introductions, and played a game of Goucher trivia for baseball hat prizes.  Let me tell you, these class of ’14-ers really know their Goucher trivia. If you had asked me when I was a humble 18 year old about the name of our beloved Gopher mascot  or the year Goucher was founded, I would have been woefully ignorant. My Goucher baseball hat goes off to you 2014. Vagabonds out!


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A Relaxing Day with the Vagabonds: #10

Alright yo, today was super relaxing, especially after the day of weirdness we experienced in Albany/Troy on Monday. We started off on the right foot, the yoga foot, thanks to Goucher alum Jane Willenbrink ’07 who taught us a private yoga class at West Hartford Yoga (WHY). This was a super delight to me in particular because Jane, in addition to being the founder and president of Goucher Yoga Club, was the first person who encouraged me to teach yoga myself! She taught us a one hour neck and shoulders class (we’ve all developed zombie computer posture on the Vagabonds trip), and it was just as energizing, challenging, and soothing as I remembered her classes at Goucher being. Jane majored in English at Goucher and began teaching at Lifeline Power Yoga in Towson before going on to get her teacher certification from WHY in Connecticut. Jane is an incredibly gifted teacher, and if you ever get the chance to practice with her, consider yourself lucky. I think it was encouraging for all us recent grads on the Vagabonds trip to hear Jane speak about the difficulty of choosing between grad school, a job that pays well, and a job that she loved, and ultimately finding herself in exactly the right place. Thanks again, Jane, and let me know when you want to hire me as a full time yoga teacher at your studio.

After a delicious Whole Foods salad bar lunch with Jane, we hit the windy roads of Connecticut to meet up with Judith Fifield, parent of Ali Philippides ’10, who graciously hosted our first year send off event in Connecticut. Even with an inadvertent detour to the former home of Judith Fifield, we made it to her house with a couple hours to spare before the send off. This was very lucky because Judith  lives next to the beautiful Farmington River where we went for a late afternoon swim with some adorable ducks. I wanted to squeeze them, as I so often want to do with fat, busy animals, but they were wary of us. Rightfully so, ducks.

The first-year send off event that evening went really well, and because of the intimate size, we again got to speak with incoming students and their families one on one quite extensively. My  favorite part of the send off was this conversation, which occurred during introductions:

Student ’14, “So, one thing you don’t know about me is that I’m terrified of pelicans.”

Aislyn ’10, “Why are you afraid of–”

Student ’14, “Because their gullets are child-sized!”

I learned many other interesting things that night, including the fact that Fordham University is one of the most haunted schools in the country, according to an incoming transfer student, and that Goucher has vastly improved its system for assigning first-year advisors. This has been one of the best parts of the Vagabonds trip: I learn just as much from incoming students as I do from accomplished alums. We are a well-informed group, my Gouchers. Good luck to all the class of ’14-ers we met tonight, and watch out for those pelicans. They could eat a child, you know.


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Back in Baltimore – The Vagabonds Come Home

They’re back!  The Vagabonds will gather at Joe Squared Pizza in good ol’ Baltimore just in time for ‘2nd Saturday.’  Come one, come all for a celebration of the 2010 Vagabonds and our local Goucher community.

Joe Squared Pizza, owned by Goucher alum Joe Edwardsen ’03, is located at 133 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201.

*Saturday evening at Joe Squared is part of ‘2nd Saturdays’ in the Station North Arts District. Welcome the Vagabonds home to Baltimore with a slice of pizza, then stick around for a night of 9 free venue offerings around the neighborhood. RSVP via facebook, or email alumni@goucher.edu, 1-800-272-2279.

For more information on 2nd Saturdays in Station North, click here:

So Many States

Sunday’s traipse through Maine was equal parts exhilarating, beautiful, and exhausting. Even after going to bed early, Monday’s 6:00 AM alarm, 7:00 AM breakfast, and 8:00 AM departure from Boothbay passed by in a daze.

Among threats and thoughts of purposely breaking down the van so we could stay longer, I drove the first leg away from Maine. Six and a half hours and a few hundred miles of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts later, we arrived in Troy, New York, a rundown suburb of Albany. We were to meet Paul Powell ’03 at the charter school he founded last year at 4:00, so we had some time to kill. We parked the Goucher-mobile in front of the Alumnae Office of another college (completely accidentally…), and walked towards where we thought we would find a main street for a late lunch. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the immense gravitational pull of a black hole called Footsie Magoo’s sucked us in as we tried to walk by. Some aspects of this particular black hole:

  1. The chalkboard out front advertised mojitos, except they forgot the “i”.

  2. The only man at the bar had a bushy, pure white handlebar mustache with at least an 8” wingspan.

  3. The bar had a functional  25-cent-per-game skee ball machine! (photos below)

  4. Just a few notes about the furniture: there was a table made out of beer cans, a bench made out of those little military figurines, and a couch upholstered with a twister board and poker chips.

  5. Maura found a hair in her salad, the avocado on Debra’s and my sandwiches was hard as a rock (literally), and I found half a malicious toothpick buried in my sandwich.

After a narrow escape, we headed over a few blocks to Troy Prep, a brand new college-preparatory charter middle school founded by one of Goucher’s very own.  Paul Powell, a veteran of Goucher’s lacrosse team and self-ascribed math geek originally from rural Indiana, stepped into his first classroom as a teacher on a study abroad program to South Africa. With limited knowledge of Xhosa  and no teacher training at all, he was asked to teach math to sixty or more South African students. Although he admits that his first students may not have learned much, he definitely did. He threw himself into teaching right after he graduated in 2003 with a two year stint in the Los Angeles Teach for America corps. After a few years teaching and helping new teachers get on their feet, he set off to help fill a need he had witnessed first-hand as a student in Indiana: school reform in rural and semi-urban communities where recruiting large batches of young teachers (like TFA can do in major city centers) is not so easy.

Troy Prep, a free and voluntary charter school that will serve 5th through 8th graders once completely open, is an infusion of energy and creativity into the lives of students disadvantaged by rust-belt depression. The bright classrooms, young teachers, innovative methods, and college-preparatory attitude are a big change for Troy, and have thus far proven quite successful: the school has only been open for a year, but teachers have already seen major jumps in reading and math, and the sixth grade class already has a wait-list.

I have limited personal experience with charter schools, but my academic inquiries over the last few years have made me quite skeptical of them. While I still have many questions, I was very impressed by the good intentions, good practices, and good early results of Troy Prep. They are obviously doing something right, and if it takes a charter to do that, maybe I need to rethink my politics.

A few hours after our awesome conversation with Paul, we met him, his wife Nikki (class of ’01), and their  soon-to-be-PhD philosopher friends for a few drinks in Albany – I saw my first E-cigarette, and learned about political philosophies of justice —  then headed back to the hotel for an unusually full night’s sleep.

Now, we’re off to Connecticut for some yoga with Jane Willenbrink ’07 and another first-year sendoff!  More updates soon.


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