POULTNEY - You've come a long way, baby. In an age when women took a back seat to men, female students at the Troy Conference Academy - a precursor to Green Mountain College - made history.
The academy's first graduate was a woman named Marion Hooker, and in 1860, the Vermont legislature granted TCA the right to award baccalaureate degrees to women. Sarah Cutler Mason became the first woman to receive a B.A. degree from a Vermont college when she graduated in 1867.
Troy Conference Academy, founded in 1834, was unusual for its time in that it welcomed both male and female students and educated them together in the same classrooms, and advanced subjects were taught at the college level.
Women are still making history at Green Mountain College. To celebrate the woman's era at GMC, the College is holding a one-day Women in Leadership seminar Jan. 29 as part of the ongoing 175th anniversary celebration. The program features writer Brunonia Barry '70, whose novel "The Lace Reader" spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 2008. Barry's keynote address "Creativity and a Sense of Place" will be held at 2 p.m. at Withey Hall.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Barry studied literature and creative writing at Green Mountain College and later at the University of New Hampshire. Her love of theater led her to Chicago where she ran promotional campaigns for Second City, Ivanhoe, and Studebaker theaters. After a brief stint in Manhattan, she relocated to California where she worked on a variety of projects for several studios and studied screenwriting with Hollywood icon Robert McKee.
"The Lace Reader" has been translated into 25 languages and was chosen as one of six nominees in the fiction category for its 2008 Original Voices Award.
Participants in the 3 p.m. panel discussion include New York State Treasurer Aida Brewer '74 of Mechanicsville, N.Y.; Pamela Chatterton-Purdy '61 of Harwichport, Mass.; Nancy L. Dickgiesser '70 of Woodbridge, Conn.; Anne R. Tansantisuk '72 of Boston; and businesswoman Barbara Wellnitz '61 of Foxboro, Mass.
All events are free and open to the public.