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Fay Stevenson-Smith '64

We Are Knox...

Fay Stevenson-Smith '64

Doctor, Sculptor, Knox Trustee

Major: Chemistry

My 40-year relationship with Knox exemplifies many of the College's mission-
driven qualities. I adore Knox's mission and practice of providing access
to any qualified student, regardless of financial means. You see, I grew up in
poverty as an African-American in the segregated South and Midwest and was the first person in my family to attend college. Of all the colleges I applied to, Knox alone provided me with full financial aid. The opportunity to study and learn at Knox opened up worlds that I continue to explore.

Being a child of the Sputnik age, I completed a major in chemistry at Knox in a department that enjoyed a national reputation. But it was the required courses in the humanities (101 and 102) and an English literature course with Doug Wilson that added new dimensions to my life and career path.

While being different at Knox wasn't always easy, especially socially, I had come to college to learn -- and that was foremost in my mind. The close relationship between the students, faculty and administration made me feel like a part of a community, though different from the one in which I had grown up. During my four years at Knox, I served as president of the College Women's Council and participated in many club and campus activities.

When I graduated, Knox again provided me with a unique opportunity through a program sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest -- I was selected to teach for two years at Cuttington College in Liberia, West Africa. This unique cultural experience connected me to my ethnic past and gave me the opportunity to travel in Europe. The wonderful variety of art and cultural wonders that I experienced bore out the value of the humanities courses that I thought were purely academic exercises.

On returning from Africa, I spent the next several years teaching, completing a master's degree in psychology and working in television. In 1974, I entered medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia. I completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology and practiced in Connecticut for 17 years. During this time I was married, divorced and had a wonderful son and daughter.

In 1979, I attended my 15th Knox reunion, needing to reconnect to my past and to put my life in perspective. Returning to Knox, I realized how central the College was to whom I had become -- I felt like the wanderer had finally returned home. After several trips back to speak with students and at Knox’s Sesquicentennial celebration in 1987, I was hooked.

I was invited to serve on the College's Board of Trustees in 1992. In this role, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to give back to a wonderful institution that has given so much to me and to so many young men and women. Today, I continue to utilize the liberal arts education Knox provided me -- after retiring from medical practice, I now enjoy a new career as a sculptor.

Hail Knox all glorious!