When she matriculated to Simmons in the 1940s, Jane Bergwall Shattuck did not realize that she initiated a multi-generational presence at the University. Following Jane, her daughter, Susan Shattuck ’70 ’72MSW studied Psychology and Social Work, her granddaughter Laura Moreschi ’95 majored in Political Science, and her great-granddaughter Amelia (Mimi) Pare ’27 just began the accelerated 3+2 program in Engineering. We spoke with the family about their deep connection to Simmons and its enduring values.
Laura Moreschi ’95 recalls that her 96-year-old grandmother Jane Bergwall Shattuck ’48 “always stayed connected to the Simmons community. Even before she officially obtained her diploma in 2012, she served on various boards and was active in the Alumnae/i Association.”
After studying at a junior college, Jane transferred to Simmons as a Business major. “In those days, women went into nursing or secretarial work,” explains Jane’s daughter, Susan Shattuck ’70, ’72MSW. “My mother became pregnant with me while she was at Simmons, so she left the College after her junior year. Back then, women had to choose between having a career and being a mother, and she became a mother.”
After Jane became a widow at age 48, she traveled widely and practiced philanthropy. In 2004, she started a scholarship fund, the Jane Bergwall Shattuck ’48 Endowed Scholarship for Study Abroad, designed for Simmons students who are spending a semester in another country. More recently, Jane’s son (and Susan’s brother), Mayo Shattuck, started another scholarship in her name, the Jane Bergwall Shattuck ’48 Endowed Scholarship. These funds provide support to ALANA (African, Latinx, Asian, and Native American) students who help diversify the student body at Simmons.
Former Simmons President Helen G. Drinan recognized Jane’s contributions to the Simmons community and invited her to walk in the 2012 commencement ceremony. “It warmed my heart, and the whole Simmons community gave my grandmother a standing ovation. She lit up that stage,” recalls Laura. For Laura, her grandmother epitomized the Simmons experience. “Being a part of the Simmons community is not just about sitting in a classroom. It is about all of the things you gain in your experience and the lifelong connections that you make.”
Like her mother, Susan also arrived at Simmons as a transfer student, after studying at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman’s College). “I was attracted to Simmons because I felt more comfortable in a female environment than a co-educational one,” explains Susan, who also attended an all-girls high school. “I felt more nurtured around women — and I did not want to be distracted by a bunch of hunky men!”
Susan found her graduate program at the Simmons School of Social Work to be especially gratifying. “I planned to be a social worker, and Simmons is an excellent place to study social work. [In the master’s program] I worked eight hours a day, but it was an amazing experience and superb training.” Upon completing graduate school, Susan got married and had four children. For a time, Susan was a social worker for special education students. Due to her partner’s military career, the family moved frequently, including international relocations to Germany and Belgium.
Despite her family’s frequent moves, Laura recalls, “my mom [Susan] remained very active in her community. She was president of the Parent-Teacher Association and advocated for healthier school cafeteria food. She always had a positive impact on her community.”
Even as a full-time mother, Susan continued to embody the Simmons mission through her leadership and advocacy. She and Laura both recall the “great condom debate,” when Susan advocated for safe sex education in public schools at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Laura attended Simmons in the 1990s. “Living in Brussels during high school, I was not able to tour many U.S. colleges, but I remember loving Boston when I went to visit Granny [Jane],” she says. “In my Simmons application essay, I wrote about the strength, advocacy, and sense of adventure that my mother and grandmother instilled in me.”
Although Laura did not intend to study at a historically women’s college, she fell in love with the women’s-centered atmosphere at Simmons. “I loved my friends, the community, being in student government, and getting to know my professors. The conversations I had in the dorms exposed me to new ideas. I am not sure if conversations of that depth could transpire at larger, co-educational universities.”
Laura majored in Political Science and participated in student government as well as the National Model United Nations. She relished Simmons’ “global appeal,” and recalls that during the ’90s she met several international students. As a human resources and talent acquisition specialist, Laura is deeply interested in individuality and human motivation — values she feels she learned at Simmons. This fall, Laura’s daughter, Amelia (“Mimi”) Pare ’27, began their Simmons journey. “I always liked the idea of Simmons,” says Mimi. “I grew up in a line of very strong women.”
As a budding scientist, Simmons’ 3+2 dual degree program in Engineering was an ideal fit for Mimi. Due to negative experiences with men in STEM classes during high school, a women-centered institution was an attractive option. Mimi loves the fact that Simmons is “a very progressive school that embraces LGBTQ+ students. Simmons serves people who have been historically oppressed because of their gender.”
In the 3+2 program, Mimi will study at Simmons for three years and then matriculate to Columbia University for an additional two years. Mimi will finish the program with a BS in Physics or Computer Science from Simmons and a BS in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering from Columbia. Like their grandmother Susan, Amelia plans to minor in Spanish at Simmons.
“During the June orientation, I got to see the new science center,” says Mimi. “Professor of Chemistry and Physics Jason White gave me a tour of his lab and discussed his research and his students’ research with me. Simmons professors are excited about students who want to learn.” For Laura, now a Simmons parent, “the orientation was so reassuring. Professor White was extremely generous with his time, and his enthusiasm was infectious. Mom [Susan] and I had these kinds of connections with our Simmons professors, but now I knew that Mimi would have similar experiences, which is thrilling.”
Susan’s step-niece, Catherine Halpin ’13MS, studied at the School of Library and Information Science. “I believe our family’s enthusiasm influenced her decision to attend Simmons,” says Laura. For more than 75 years, the Shattuck family has maintained a matrilineal connection to Simmons. They have observed how the institution has evolved over time while staying true to its founding principles. Specifically, the University’s customized curriculum embodies its founder’s vision to empower individuals to acquire independence and fulfillment. According to Laura, “now there are more practical and accelerated professional programs, which align with John Simmons’ mission.”