Meryl Smith, class of 1966


In this interview, Meryl Smith remembers life as an Orthodox Jewish Pembroker. She recounts how, even before she attended Pembroke, her mother would welcome to dinner any Pembroke or Brown students who were trying to keep kosher. She fondly remembers the friendships formed around playing bridge and smoking cigarettes, and participating in Question Club, Answer Club, and acting as Class Marshal. Raskin specifically mentions interactions with Dean Rosemary Pierrel, Dean of Students Anne Dewart, Assistant Dean Gretchen Tonks, Chaplain Charlie Baldwin, Director of Physical Education Arlene Gorton, Director of Residence Sally McPherson, and Professors Henry Kucera and John Rowe Workman. She shares some general memories of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the blackout of 1965. She also explains how her linguistics education at Pembroke allowed her to become a computer programmer after graduation.


Recorded on September 8, 2016 in Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Whitney Pape

Suggested Chicago style citation: Smith, Meryl. Interview. By Whitney Pape. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. September 8, 2016.


Meryl Smith was born and raised Orthodox Jewish in Providence, Rhode Island with her three brothers. Many of her family members attended Brown University and Pembroke College so when she graduated from Classical High School in 1962, she too attended Pembroke. She graduated from Pembroke in 1966 with an A.B in linguistics. She moved to Philadelphia to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania but dropped out after one semester in favor of a job as a computer programmer trainee. Smith worked as a computer programmer until she retired in 2007.