When the Class of 2019 arrived for the brick unveiling at Alumni Green this spring, Doug Smith ’19 looked for more than his name engraved at the site.
Smith also searched below for the two bricks he purchased in honor of his great aunts, Emma Edith and Mary Ethel Smith. One hundred years ago, the two women earned their degrees from PC, each finishing with a Bachelor of Arts in 1919.
“I never got the chance to meet my great-aunts,” Smith said, “but I remember often hearing about Edith and Ethel, the twins of the family that seemed to have the best times and amazing personalities.
“Family history has always been an interest of mine, trying to figure out where my family has come from and led to where we are today. Being named after two of my great-grandfathers myself is a testament to the importance of family and its impact on my life. One of those great-grandfathers was Edith and Ethel’s brother, aptly named Douglas A. Smith.”
Smith knew he wanted to purchase a brick after the years of walking past Alumni Green, a landmark on campus that invites passersby to stop and take in campus from another view and likely read the names that line the pathway.
As part of tradition, graduating seniors purchase bricks and engrave them with their names and class years. They are laid at Alumni Green as a way for them to give back to the College and strengthen their ties here.
Smith decided to also honor his great-aunts with bricks of their own when talking with Brenna Ashe, one of the co-chairs for the Senior Campaign.
Ashe was considering getting a brick to honor a family member, which he said inspired him to do the same. Smith connected with his parents to start looking for more information on his great-aunts. He reached out to surviving family members to talk to them about honoring their family connection.
Edith and Ethel were “shining students” at PC, according to entries in the 1919 edition of the PaC SaC. A sketch of the two sisters mirroring one another introduces the paragraphs below Edith’s entry, which details the twins' PC journey that began in 1915.
“Miss Edith is one member of an organization consisting of two which came to us four years ago; the other is Miss Ethel of whom I shall speak presently,” the writer penned.
“Their courses and records in college to a large extent have been parallel,” Edith’s entry goes on to say on the following page. Both women pursued education and were lauded for their academic work and respect among their professors and peers in the yearbook.
Smith remembers reading the PaC SaC in the Office of Admission when he toured the school. He said had decided to enroll at PC before he realized his family had roots at the campus.
Discovering his family ties at PC, however, confirmed he would call the school home for the next four years and, that, “I could be just as successful as they were,” he said.
In the near 40 years before the Smith sisters graduating and in the 100 years since generations of Blue Hose success stories have started on the same grounds. Smith said giving back was a way to honor his family and contribute to the college experience for others.
“I decided to give back to PC as a way to ensure that the amazing experience I had at
PC, and that my great-aunts had here 100 years ago, lasts for future generations,” he said.
“The liberal arts education I have received at PC has led to experiences in scientific research, musical performance, and student life and leadership that helped me grow to better understand the world around me. I want future generations to be able to experience the same.”