I grew up in Hollidaysburg, PA, in the “foothills of the Alleghenies.” Altoona was our “city,” with Pittsburgh two hours to the West, Harrisburg two hours to the East.
My parents’ families had lived in the area for generations – but where we went to school was another matter. Following family traditions, I went to prep school (the Baldwin School outside Philadelphia in Bryn Mawr, PA) and on to Princeton, in the early days of co-education, where I majored in English. I then headed to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school, thinking I might be a scholar of medieval English.
I am a classic example of the ABD graduate student: All But Dissertation. Two years after receiving my MA, I left Penn when I realized that as much as I enjoyed my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, jobs for the likes of us were truly few and far between. Where I lived meant more to me than did Wulfstan and Beowulf. And Philadelphia is where I wanted to live.
Next was the unlikely transition from medieval studies to money matters: I was hired as a trainee at one of Philadelphia’s commercial banks. I ended up a bank vice president before I once again shifted gears and returned to academics – this time as an English teacher and eventual department chair back at the Baldwin School. After 12 years my other alma mater, Princeton, lured me away. I have been at Princeton since 1999 and continue as Director, Alumni Affairs and Communications (now semi-retired).
Over the course of this irregular career path I have continued to pursue my real loves: reading and writing. I have been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine, the Princeton Alumni Weekly and WHYY’s website NewsWorks. I am also a guest lecturer at Quest For Learning in Lancaster, PA.
My husband and I still live outside Philadelphia. Our two children, who have made regular appearances in my essays, are all grown up now. All three of them provide material.