Pine Manor College was once a haven for privileged white women. Now its seeing a surge in low-income and minority students.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Her immigrant parents hadn't gone to college and thought her desire to do so was a bit strange. But as long as it didn't cost them anything, they were fine with it.
That's one reason Dr. Nemerowicz radiates respect for students who must pinch every penny or tread an unfamiliar path as the first in their families to go to college.
The young women at Pine Manor College, located on a bucolic campus on the outskirts of Boston, call Nemerowicz by her first name – something she encourages even though she's president of the college. Long a haven for privileged white women, under her leadership Pine Manor has been transformed into one of the nation's most diverse liberal arts colleges.
But at Pine Manor, and dozens of small colleges like it around the country, students are supported and valued for the life experiences they bring to the classroom.
Now Nemerowicz is drawing on her experience here to answer President Obama's call to restore the United States as a world leader in producing college graduates, particularly by raising the number of degrees earned by underrepresented groups.
"The need for us to find solutions to really grave problems in the world ... means that we can't waste talent," she says. "The work of increasing graduation rates in this country – that's what's burning in my heart."