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Mary Jenkins ’70

Mary Jenkins

Donor Q&A

Tell me about your Dickinson experience.

My time in Bologna in 1968-69 was the highlight of my Dickinson experience. During that year, I encountered many unexpected events, places and people and found out that I enjoyed this. Learning to react positively to the unexpected is a valuable life skill.  

The unexpected started with discovering that our Italian language teacher was a young, singer-songwriter named Francesco Guccini. I can still picture him in class, chain smoking and teaching us the language and the culture (imagine a teacher chain smoking in class now).  

I was a terrible Italian language student but loved everything about Italy and the Bologna program. I had planned for a career in the foreign service, but unexpectedly ended up in the National Park Service in Philadelphia. After 35 rewarding years as an educator at such historic sites as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, I retired.  

What inspired your gift to Dickinson?

I gave money for a scholarship for a student to use while studying abroad because my time in Bologna was the highlight of my Dickinson experience.  

One of the organizations I support is called Philadelphia Futures which helps Philadelphia students to successfully graduate high school and college. Dickinson is a partner college. Recently, they reported that having a study-abroad experience was one of the five important factors in graduating college. A very unexpected finding for me.

Why do you feel that it is important to give back to Dickinson?

This year is my 50th reunion year, and the Bologna alumni were planning a special dinner in Carlisle. One of the members of our group, Tony Elms, visited Guccini and told us he still remembers teaching us. 

The scholarship seems like a great way to honor and remember him and help current students.


Published July 1, 2020