Katherine Rogers Lavery

Why did you decide do go to college? Was it difficult financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college?) What did you want to get out of it?

  •    My family always expected me to go to college since practically all of my elders were college educated.  The three aunts that I lived with (born in the late 1800’s)were educators, unmarried and all had Masters’ degrees.  It was not difficult financially for me because I received some scholarships, including Virginia State Teachers’ Scholarships, which paid over half of my tuition.  I lived only 45 minutes away (in Herndon, VA) and was able to return home frequently to be with my aunts, who were living alone on the farm near what was soon to be Dulles Airport.  Consequently, my college social life was quite different from most other residential students.  I went to college with the intent of receiving a good liberal arts education and becoming a teacher either of English or mathematics.

What kind of career options were available for someone who went to college vs. someone who did not.

  • Women in the 6o’s didn’t have many career options, generally teaching, nursing or secretary positions.  However, at MWC we were trained in academic fields such as science, medical technology, computer science, abstract mathematics, foreign language, English, history, political science, music, art and there became many “new” job possibilities for us.  Many math majors, for instance, went to work for the government or AT&T in addition to the usual math jobs in insurance, accounting, actuarial work, etc.

What was the classroom like? Was the mood serious? What was the teaching style(was it mostly lectures, group work, or something else?)

  • Yes, MWC was a very serious academic scene.  In math classes we were seated alphabetically, but that was not the case in my other classes.  We were always addresses as Miss (maiden name), never by our first names.  Teaching styles varied from class to class – I don’t think there was any one style that predominated.  Since our classes were small the professors knew us pretty well and treated us well.  I can’t think of any class where I didn’t feel like a “person” rather than a “number” as is the case in many universitues today.

What was the dress code like? Was it strictly enforced? Did girls wear pants to class? Did people dress up for class?

  • The dress code was strict: young women wore dresses or skirts at all times.  The only exceptions were PE classes or sports or the occasional fire drill when everyone trouped outside with shoes and long coats covering their casual dorm clothing.  The most prevalent outfit for class was skirts, sweaters and knee socks! Each class had a class blazer (purchased individually) and we still had a May court full of beautiful young ladies in formal gowns every spring.

What was dating like? How did you ladies meet guys? Were you allowed to have guys on campus and of not, did students do it anyway? When you did go on dates where did you go and what did you do?

  • Many of my classmates dated Marines from Quantico.  Some of us also traveled up to Annapolis to go to tea dances at Annapolis.  Since I was in the band, I met some nice young men at joint concerts and dated a UVA French horn player for about a year and a half.  Junior year I lived in the Spanish house (Marye) and for a year and a half I dated the cousin of one of my classmates.  He was a young history teacher in Baltimore and he drove down to F’burg on weekends and holidays. We went to local restaurants occasionally, but more often than not we went to DC for performances, movies or museums, went to Herndon to my family’s farm, or went to Baltimore for events there. One weekend we attended the Army-Navy game in Philadephia with tickets from my Navy uncle.
  •   Guys were allowed on campus but not upstairs in any of the dorms. They had to check in with the front desk and be announced before we could meet them in the lobby (oops- parlor) to go out. We had to sign in and out every time we left the grounds.

What was the atmosphere if campus, did it stress academics or more of the social life? What did you do for fun? Was there a lot of partying on campus? What did you do when you went out?  (see above)

  • While on campus I mostly ate, slept and studied!  I played in the band all four years (solo cornet), played some intramural sports my sophomore year, played field hockey one season (at Miss Arnold’s insistance!), played lacrosse all four years (goalie).  I sporadically attended Trinity Episcopal Church (I went home many weekends) and played my cornet there also – Dr. Shaw, the minister, was also a math professor who composed descants for me to play at special occasions.  Freshman year I participated in a church program there where I was “adopted” by a local family, spent time with them on occasion, but stopped that because I was away from MWC a lot.  I also tutored the children of professors from time to time and spent some time at home with Dr. Farrar, our band director, and his family. On weekends when nothing else was happening I would attend the “campus movie” in GW Hall on Saturday evening.