Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 30
Mary Ping '00 is the 2017 recipient of the
National Design Award in Fashion Design
organized by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian
Design Museum. The New York-based designer
founded her studio Slow and Steady Wins the
Race, a conceptual clothing and accessory line,
in 2002 to "reinterpret the classical everyday
wardrobe." Ping was inducted into the
Council of Fashion Designers of America
(CFDA) in 2007, and is a winner of the Ecco
Domani Award and UPS Future of Fashion.
For more than a decade, Elizabeth Corbett '88, above, center, has worked to help
the ESL (English as a second language) students in her Lenoir, TN, classroom build
better lives for themselves. Until now, a lack of time and funding always seemed at
odds with her intention to do more.
As the winner of the 2017 Time-Out Grant, Corbett will take the next year off
from her teaching job to focus solely on providing one-on-one guidance to the
growing number of Hispanic students at Lenoir City Schools. Her goal is to provide
ESL students the tools and knowledge to attend college-many will be the first in
their families to do so.
Created for Vassar alumnae/i age 40 and older, the grant supports those who
wish to make a career change or take time out to pursue a passion. The Time-Out
Grant, endowed by an anonymous donor, provides up to $45,000 to those who have
the desire but lack the financial resources to make a professional leap of faith.
Children in Corbett's district have only a 50/50 chance of going to college, Corbett
says. With ESL students, the chances are slimmer. Many come from tight-knit
families, with children providing translations for parents unable to speak English,
and driving family members to run errands.
"It's a real struggle," she says.
Parents of ESL students often don't see higher education as important or obtainable, and many lack knowledge about the programs and resources to help children
get into college, she said; so it's important to bring the parents along in the process.
"It's really scary to be the first one in your family to move, even an hour away, to
go to a community college," Corbett says.
Her plan works alongside a Tennessee statewide initiative, Drive to 55, which
gives state graduates the ability to attend state school free for two years. She'll help
the students navigate the scholarship and college application process, provide
transportation for college tours, and help with ACT test prep, and more.
Corbett hopes that successful students will become mentors and role models for
younger students in the district, giving this one-year program a wider reach.
Stephen Reilly '09 was a finalist for the 2017
Pulitzer Prize after writing a series of investigative
stories examining a system that left thousands
of teachers with past disciplinary offenses free
to find jobs in other states. While working at an
upstate New York newspaper in 2014, he came
across settlement agreements between school
districts and teachers who were leaving their jobs.
As a reporter at USA Today, in Tysons Corner,
VA, he continued his exploration, requesting
data and thousands of pages of documents from
all 50 states. It took nearly two years for the
series to appear, but its impact has resonated
around the country; several states have enacted
reforms to keep such teachers from finding
employment in their schools.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Corbett / Joyce Ravid
Time-Out Awardee Elizabeth Corbett '88:
Helping ESL Students Get to College