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Rene Vath Smythe ’48

Rene Vath Smithe '48 with her husband, Dick Smythe.

Rene Vath Smithe '48 with her husband, Dick Smythe.

Donor Profile

Tell us about your Dickinson experience.

I was fortunate to have gone to Dickinson. I had friends that told me about Dickinson, so I decided to go. My father felt that I should learn all sorts of things, so I did. I majored in biology and minored in psychology.

I think Dickinson was wonderful. It was my home. After I graduated, I went to New York to work in a lab. I’m 93 now, and I’ve had the chance to see a lot, do a lot and travel a lot. The opportunities I’ve had in life would not have been possible without Dickinson.

What inspired your gift to Dickinson?

There are a lot of college graduates who don’t know what it’s like for people who can’t go to college. My husband was from a small town in Indiana, and he never would have had the chance to go to Harvard and Harvard Medical School without scholarships. Likewise for me—I  know that, thanks to scholarships, I had opportunities at Dickinson that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I support scholarships, and I like to do anything I can do to help. I’m giving because I want to make sure someone else gets the same type of education that I had.

What is your favorite memory from your time at Dickinson?

The one-on-one attention that Dickinson offered was incredibly helpful. One of my biology professors, Dr. Eddie, would go around the class to talk with the students individually. Coach McAndrews got me interested in swimming. He would also get groups of us together to play basketball. He was like a father to me.

I also really enjoyed my psychology classes. We had the chance to work with local schools and test students who were having trouble in the classroom. It was a written test. Through our work, we found out that many of the students were having trouble because their IQs were so high. Having the results from the tests helped the teachers better support their students.

What advice would you would give to today’s students?

Make the most of your Dickinson experience. You will have opportunities at Dickinson that you won’t find in other places. Meet as many people as you can, and learn as much as you can.


Published December 31, 2021