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Goucher Vagabonds

Goucher Vagabonds

The 2013 Goucher Vagabonds team just wrapped up their two-week trek along the east coast between Northern Virginia and Maine. Along the way they met with incoming first-year students at send-off parties, interviewed alumnae/i about life post-Goucher, and made stops at several alumnae/i regional events. Read posts from this year’s journey right here and check out more photos and video on the Vagabonds facebook page at www.facebook.com/gouchervagabonds.

vag·a·bond noun
[vag-uh-bond] a person, usually without a permanent home, who wanders from place to place; nomad. vagabond. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vagabond.

Gouch·er vag·a·bond noun
A person, always a Goucher student, who wanders from place to place for two weeks each summer to bring the current Goucher experience to members of our school’s off-campus community while collecting stories of the post-grad experience and tales of Goucher’s history.
A Goucher Vagabond is never ‘settled.’ While on the road, he or she is constantly searching, learning, exploring; having an adventure of excitement and inquiry.

Lisalyn Jacobs ’87

We were lucky enough to spend some time with Lisalyn Jacobs, a Political Science major and member of the Class of 1987. Here, she shares a story about Goucher professor, Dr. Marianne Githens. Lisalyn currently works in Washington D.C. as the Vice President of Government Relations for Legal Momentum (formerly the National Organization of Women’s (NOW) Legal Defense and Education Fund).

About to Hit the Road!

After two Send-Off Parties and one alumna interview, we are about to leave the Baltimore/Washington area.  After we pack the van, we will be hitting the road and heading to Philadelphia where we will interview Goucher Alumnae Carrie Hagen MFA ’09 and Lori Litchman MFA ’09.  Tonight we will be co-hosting a Send-Off Party with the McCawley family P ’15 in their home.  We have had the pleasure of meeting part of what should be an absolutely amazing First-Year class and we can’t wait to meet more in the upcoming week.

Hitting the road shortly,

The 2013 Vagabonds Team,

Dana, Eli, Elizabeth, and Maring

Sneak Peek of the Newly Renovated Julia Rogers Academic Center


Special thanks to Linda Barone, Goucher’s Project Manager of Facilities, for leading us through the nearly finished Julia Rogers Academic Center. The building will open with the fall semester, and will be officially dedicated on campus during Family Weekend on October 5th.

What is a Vagabond?!

vag·a·bond [vag-uh-bond]; noun

Dictionary definition: “wandering from place to place without a settled home; nomadic; leading an unsettled or carefree life”

Eli: “a smiling face and a knowledgeable source of all things Goucher”

Elizabeth: “someone who loves Goucher and spreading that love to community members, new and old”

Dana: “welcoming new family members to Goucher for life”

Maring: “a traveler with the purpose of exploring and meeting new people”


What’s your definition of a Vagabond? Comment below!

Get Excited: The Vagabonds are Coming!

The Vagabonds are in Baltimore!

After a little bit of a bumpy start, with plane and train delays, we arrived at the Goucher House late Sunday evening (Maring didn’t get in until 3am!). Over the last two days, we have undergone more training in Goucher’s history, video editing, and blogging (how are we doing?).  We also test drove the Vagabonds van, and got a head start on meeting with Goucher Alumnae/i. This afternoon, we are excited to have lunch with President Ungar to discuss our upcoming trip.  We are also gearing up for our first Send-Off Party tonight, where we will welcome new students into the Goucher family.  Mike and Patty Batza ’91 will host the event at their home in Baltimore.  Hope to see y’all there!

Gearing up for the road,

Dana, Eli, Elizabeth, and Maring

BLBC: In Conclusion…

Two weeks, six send-offs, 2 alumni events, 2,000 miles, and one tech-filled Gopher Mobile later, we have finally completed our whirlwind adventure tour with Goucher’s Alumni Affairs and Development (and Admissions) Office.  What started off for us as something we jokingly thought about doing (“Hey wouldn’t it be cool to do Vagabonds this summer?”) has turned into a trip that has greatly/monumentally/astoundingly impacted all of us in ways that we are just now starting to better understand one week after the conclusion of the trip.

At every send-off, we would start off with some fun facts about the incoming class and then explain why we decided to apply to be Vagabonds this summer.  At first, our explanations went along the lines of, “We thought this would be really fun and we love Goucher, so we applied and did a couple of interviews.”  As the trip progressed and as we learned and heard more from various alums and First-Years, we realized that we really applied to the Vagabonds program because Goucher is and will be our home.  As soon as we are encircled by the woods around us, as soon as we see the “Goucher College” sign on Dulaney Valley Road, a whooshing feeling overcomes us and something knotted and tight inside us falls away.  For all of us, Goucher is the place where we have grown to become the people that we are today.  It is the place where in 10, 20, 50 years, we will be able to come back to with fond memories and excitement.  Overall, this trip has been about bringing this piece of home with us wherever we have gone and will go, sharing it with other Gophers along the way and ensuring that the “Goucher for Life” philosophy will continue for many generations to come.

Signing out,

Bright Lights, Big Cities 2012 [Kathryn, Joey, and Megan]

South by Southwest: Where Are They Now?

The gang has gotten back into our summertime groove.

Alex is hard at work with The Intersection and will soon start Leadershape! We can’t wait to hear all the developments going on with his internship as well as other Goucher College students getting involved with The Intersection through the Community Based Learning course.

Jenna, post-graduation, landed a job as Assistant Director of Admissions with the St. Paul’s School. Before she left for Vagabonds, she was having the time of her life connecting with the students there! Congratulations Jenna, she’ll be starting her first year on the Board of Trustees at Goucher College as the Recent Graduate Trustee!

As for myself, I’m back to interning with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and making time to connect with some of the alumnae/i, we missed while we made our way through the Southwest. This week, I’ll be touring the offices of Platts, the work place of Heather Moran ’91.

Hope to keep everyone updated while the month of meetings continues!

Preserving the Past: Kathy Jacob ’72

Stepping into the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, you immediately begin immersing yourself in the stories of the past– exhibits hold letters infused with time-worn splatters of ink, ironwork and molding curl overhead, and the smell of books permeates everything.  Women from all walks of life and from all over the globe send everything from their tax statements to society-altering treatises to the Radcliffe Institute to be preserved and cataloged for future generations.  The documents can come neatly organized in acid-free folders or tossed haphazardly into cardboard boxes.  Once at Radcliffe,  Kathryn (Kathy) Allamong Jacob ’72 and her peers sort through the documents and essentially mold history and help determine who and/or what is remembered and forgotten.

Kathy came to Goucher with an interest in history that continues to this day– she received her Masters from Georgetown and her PhD from Johns Hopkins in history.  She has worked as an archivist at the National Archive and as a historian at both Johns Hopkins and the US Senate.  She has published three books about various aspects of American history.  Currently, her title is Curator of Manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library of the History of Women in America.  On paper, she sounds intimidating.  In person, she is a wonderful Goucher Girl who embodies both the academic prowess and the independent spirit that has defined generations of Goucher students.  As soon as I found out that we shared the same first name and both loved books, I knew that my externship with Kathy would be fantastic.  Also,the bibliophile/geek inside of me was overjoyed that I would get to spend my externship in a library nosing around through volumes and databases.

My day started off in classic Cambridge style with a run along the Charles River and a stop at a local cafe in Harvard Square.  I called Kathy and told her I would be there in five minutes.  However, almost half an hour later, I arrived at the Schlesinger dewy and stressed because my mentally-challenged phone was not equipped with a GPS and I had neglected to print out a map. My sense of direction seemed to have lost itself somewhere along Harvard Square.  Luckily, Kathy had not yet called the Alumnae/i House women, otherwise this getting-lost-in-Cambridge event would’ve become slightly worse.

Once at the Schlesinger Library, Kathy took me upstairs to her office and we talked about the influence that Goucher has had on her life.  It turns out, her high school Spanish teacher was a Goucher grad from the 20’s and became Kathy’s mentor throughout both high school and college.  When her teacher passed away, she left Kathy with all of the silver jewelry that she had collected throughout her travels.  Now, whenever she returns to campus or has a Goucher event, Kathy wears a piece of her teacher’s jewelry to honor the woman who led her on the path to Goucher.  Goucher has always been a huge part of Kathy’s life and she now “returns the favor” by serving on the Board of Trustees as an alumnae representative and has been the author/collector of the ’72 Class Notes for a few years.

Throughout the day, there were plenty of Goucher stories and connections:

  • Kathy and her classmates called the Loop Road the “Magic Circle” because of its ability to protect those outside the boundaries of the Circle (in the woods) from prying eyes.
  • Current Goucher professors, Jean Baker and MaryAnn Githens, assisted students in organizing groups to go to protests against the Vietnam War in Washington D.C.
  • Froelicher Hall, where Kathy lived, was guarded by a house mother who ensured that doors were open when men paid a visit and that curfews were obeyed.
  • In the tradition/pattern of many other Goucher gals, Kathy is now married to a Hopkins grad.
  • Jenny, Kathy’s colleague, ran around campus when she was younger because her dad was a dean.

She also took me on a tour of the climate-controlled vaults (home to Amelia Earhardt’s baby book and Julia Child’s recipe files), a tour around Cambridge, and even located a list of interesting biographies of one of my idols, Julia Child.  Throughout the day, we talked about books, academic research, catalogue systems, archival methods, transitions in history, Paris, and what Kathy would describe as the “cool factor” of her job– reading women’s diaries. Over lunch with Kathy and Jenny, conversation flowed easily and I felt like I was back with my friends at Goucher– albeit in a college town a few hundred miles away.  At the end of the day, I even got to get my hands dirty by reading and sifting through Civil War letters and finding sections that highlighted the yearning for home and for loved ones by Union soldiers.

Overall, Kathy showed me how you can turn a passion for writing, reading, and books into a stimulating career rather than a side hobby.  And most importantly, how a Goucher Girl (to borrow Carol’s phrase from a previous blog post) can leave her mark on history.

Merci beaucoup for everything, Kathy, and thanks for pointing out all of the Julia Child tidbits!

The Vermonster in Vermont

Driving through mountains, fog, and lots of pine trees, we arrived in Vermont two nights ago with our thoughts solely on finding our beds and falling into them as soon as humanly possible.  I think this is probably an overarching theme of the trip—going to really cool events and meeting awesome people, and then collapsing into our beds and forgetting that we have to do it all again tomorrow.  I guess that’s also why we’ve become semi-addicted to caffeine.   But the next morning in Vermont, we woke up to the reinvigorating Vermont air and a hearty serving of Vermont maple syrup, which woke up our brains and bodies for the day ahead.  We started off in Waterbury, VT, home of the original Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory.  I was especially excited because I’ve tried for years to convince my parents to stop there on the way home from Maine, but to no avail.  After our tour and free sample (Cherry Garcia), we headed into Burlington, which happens to be the largest city in Vermont but is sososo beautiful that you would never classify it as a large metropolis devoid of nature.

We met up with Steve Perkins ’99 (who is married to a Goucher Edu/Dance grad) and Karen ’06, two Goucher grads that now work at ECHO, an environmental aquatic center that focuses primarily on species native to Vermont.  To make the Goucher world even smaller, their boss is also a Goucher grad, whom we met later that night at a send-off!  We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium center, saw the tanks where they keep the “back-up” specimens, and also learned how two Gophers from seemingly disparate backgrounds (Steve majored in Art History/Historic Preservation, Karen in PoliSci) came to work at an aquarium in Burlington.

The rest of our day in Burlington was spent meandering and munching along Lake Champlain.  We ate locally-produced crepes at the Skinny Pancake, saw a BodyWorks exhibit at ECHO, trekked along the lake-side bike path, and chatted in a local coffee shop while drinking freshly-squeezed ginger lemonade.  Basically, we (Megan and myself because Joey likes New York more) want to move to Burlington.

To cap off this stupendous day, we went to a send-off at the home of Caroline Crawford ’91.   It turns out that Caroline will also be in Paris this fall with her best friend from Goucher, so hopefully a Goucher Girl reunion will take place!  The night started off with looking through Caroline’s yearbooks and learning about the vengeance of the yearbook editors after Goucher went co-ed—the administration asked them to make the cover image “more masculine,” so they in turn made the cover slightly more feminine with the addition of some subtle shading.  From there, we continued to exchange funny Goucher stories, memories, and comparisons. Four other alums from the Burlington area and two incoming students and their parents, who were all delightful, joined us.

The rest of our time since then has been on the road—we drove 3 ½ hours after the send-off to upstate NY, then drove today to the Philly Airport to drop off Joey, and then drove to Goucher to catch the tail end of the AAGC meeting and talk a bit about our Vagabond experience with the alumni board.  Consequently, we are currently recuperating in our hotel while the South by Southwest team is handling the alumnae/i event at Joe Squared in Baltimore.  Tomorrow, we are off to DC early in the morning to interview Tobin Tracy, a graduate of Goucher’s Master in Historic Preservation program.

The Land of Enchantment: Alumna Spotlight: Tiffany Brody Blackbull

The endless highway indicative of travel in the southwest granted me a brand of peace that I haven’t experienced since my childhood. With the landscape dwarfing our van it becomes pathetically clear that no man truly has dominion over the natural world. In fact, there is something sad about the occasional sites of industry that punctuate the vast fields and mountains flanking the road. While my coming of age was set to the s­­­­ounds of spring peepers and bushes of wild blackberries, these wonders had always existed within the skeleton of mild suburbia; nowhere have I seen such sublimity as in the hills and valleys of New Mexico.

My interview begins in the beautiful adobe style home of our host, Lynn Marcus ’66. Tiffany Brody Blackbull is a petite woman with blonde hair reminiscent of sunflowers and a personality equally vibrant and warm. Her husband, Leroy Blackbull, is a large, soft-spoken man, whose patient cadence of speech suggests a quiet wisdom and strength.  Together, the two seem to reach a personal and aesthetic equilibrium, making them a very pleasant pair of passionate and worldly professionals, community leaders, parents, and educators.

Tiffany and her husband live on the Navajo Nation reservation, Blackbull’s lifelong home, where she serves as a Master Teacher for the reservation schools. As she discusses the challenges of reaching out to disaffected and underserved students I can’t help but reminisce on my own experiences within the Baltimore City School system, having spent my last year working in an afterschool program. The psychological, logistic, and resource related problems faced by students of disenfranchised populations is palpable. However, Mrs. Brody Blackbull has dedicated her life to empowering and offering a  “ladder” to students whose prospects for a better life without education are grim.

Having the utmost respect for educators, writing about what a high quality teacher does as a layman is often a difficult process that yields contrived and underwhelming results. With so many schools of education, complex pedagogical techniques and learning tools, how do we determine what combination truly guarantees success? Having tried graduate school and opting instead to “get [her] feet wet” in teaching as soon as possible, Tiffany’s style of instruction emerged after a slash of Ockham’s razor:

Respect your students and always hold them to high expectations-it’s that simple.

Tiffany believes (and rightly so if you investigate her class’s oustanding test scores) that students will rise above their own perceived limits if they are supported and continually challenged. With this in mind, she has an incredible amount of faith in her community and their resilience. Soon after explaining to me her educational philosophy, Tiffany takes a moment to remember former students; her eyes light up at the prospect of success in their futures.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of my interactions with Tiffany- besides news of her success-was our company during the interview. Sitting beside us happily recollecting and discussing their own experiences were three other alumna of Goucher college. While the formal interview was conducted with Tiffany, the dialogue in the room included all visitng parties, and reflected what I view as a uniquely Goucher continuum. Despite our varying class years, ranging as far back as the 1960s, we all reveled in each other’s stories, victories, and opinions. Tiffany presented a familiar laundry list of faculty whose influence she cited to be paramount to her future success, including one of my own favorite instructors.

Mrs. Brody Blackbull to me is the definition of a Goucher student; Tiffany is a passionate, cerebral, professional with a sense of humor and an altruism that comes as second nature. I could not be more honored to meet yet another accomplished alumna of my school and am beyond optimistic towards the future of both Mrs. Brody Blackbull and her students.

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