She Founds Colleges

May 1 is the decision deadline by which many high school seniors need to select their colleges. Some of these choices will be institutions founded by women! As stated in the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments (the document issued at the first women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York), women were denied an education and it was up to the women to establish institutions where they would be welcome and receive an education comparable to that available to men. Match the woman (all of whom have been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame) with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Her school, established in 1904 in Daytona Beach, Florida with $1.50 is today a coeducational university that carries her name.
____ 2. The founder of Mount Holyoke College. Famous for her saying "Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do."
____ 3. She established what became Xavier University, the only black and Catholic university in the U.S.
____ 4. Her bequest established a college that today is her namesake.

A. Mary Lyon
B. Sophia Smith
C. Mary McLeod Bethune
D. Saint Katharine Drexel

At a time when women did not speak in public, Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke, did something even more daring - she asked for money so that she could start a school to educate girls. In the middle of a severe economic depression, Lyon was successful and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened in the fall of 1837. At that time, there were 120 colleges for men and 0 for women. Demand for the limited spots at Mount Holyoke far outstripped the supply. An educational pioneer, Lyon had proven that women were deserving of and capable of an education equal to that offered to men. The first of the Seven Sisters to exist as an educational institution, Mount Holyoke (which is located in Massachusetts) received its collegiate charter in 1888 and became Mount Holyoke College in 1893. Mount Holyoke students still live by Mary Lyon's mantra "Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do."

One of seven siblings, Sophia Smith became very wealthy when the last of her siblings died. Having lost her hearing by the time she was 40, Smith considered establishing a school for the deaf with her inheritance. However, a school for the deaf was endowed upon the death of someone else and she viewed that need as taken care of. Aware that Mount Holyoke Seminary (not yet a college) was in operation neaerby and that educational opportunities for women at the collegiate level were non-existent, Smith decided to leave her funds for "the establishment and maintenance of an Institution for the higher education of young women, with the design to furnish for my own sex means and facilities for education equal to those which are afforded now in our Colleges to young men." She died in 1870. Smith College, one of the Seven Sisters, was chartered in 1871 (in Massachusetts) and the first students entered in 1875.

Considered the most influential black woman in the U.S. for more than thirty years, Mary McLeod Bethune was determined to provide educational opportunities for all blacks, especially women. Born of freed slaves, Bethune attended Scotia Seminary (today Barber-Scotia College) and began teaching. She moved to Daytona Beach, Florida and established her school in 1904 with $1.50. Her initial student population was six students - five girls and her son. By 1923, the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute had grown to 300 female students and 25 faculty. In 1929, it became Bethune-Cookman College when it merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, becoming coeducational in the process. Today, Bethune-Cookman University is a tribute to the dedication of Mary McLeod Bethune.

Born in the Philadelphia area, Saint Katharine Drexel learned about philanthropy at an early age. After a meeting in Rome with the Pope, she decided to establish a missionary order that could staff educational institutions that she was funding, primarily for Native Americans and African Americans. In 1891, she founded an order that today is known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1894, she headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico to establish a school for Native Americans. The secondary school that she established in New Orleans in 1915 would become Xavier University. By the time of her death, the Sisters had established 49 elementary schools and 12 high schools. Xavier University is the only historical black college or university that is also Catholic.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women all understood the importance of education and are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am grateful for their efforts and proud to stand on their shoulders.

(Answers 1-C, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B)