March 24, 2020
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To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling 50 Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These 50 women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The 26th alumna in our series is writer and journalist Brooke Hauser ’01, editor in chief of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a newspaper in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has also published two books, “The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens” and “Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman,” and has written for many publications, including Allure magazine, where she was a contributing editor. Originally from Miami, Hauser designed a synoptic major in American studies and creative writing while at Kenyon, and now teaches nonfiction writing at Smith College.
How do you prioritize your life and get things done?
Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. My current job as editor in chief of the Daily Hampshire Gazette is a good match for this stage in my life, with two young children — they and my husband are my priorities. I also love my work. It’s rewarding to come into the newsroom, work hard, and put out a paper every day — and then come home to be with my family. What’s nice about working at a newspaper is that, as Scarlett O’Hara says, tomorrow is another day. It’s great to be able to start fresh every day — that’s a good mentality to have at both work and home.
Where did you first discover your power?
I can’t shoot webs out of my wrist or anything, but I can spot a typo from a mile away. I’ve always loved writing — or hated it, depending on the day. More recently, I’ve been honing my skills as an editor. I enjoy shaping stories and working with young writers. Kenyon has such a rich literary history — a big part of its appeal to me. I would like to see the College — and other liberal arts schools — offer more in the way of journalism classes.
Who at Kenyon inspired you?
I had wonderful teachers at Kenyon, including history professors Peter Rutkoff and Will Scott and writing professors Wendy MacLeod [’81] and P.F. Kluge [’64]. I’m also inspired by my husband, Addie MacDonald [’01]; former roommates, Hannah Burroughs [’01] and Taryn (Drongowski) Sacramone [’01]; and my longtime friend Ransom Riggs [’01]. Addie has found his groove as general manager of performing arts at the modern art museum MASS MoCA; Hannah is a lifelong learner, high school English teacher and elegant writer; Taryn is dominating the theater scene in New York City, particularly and with great purpose in Queens; and Ransom has found a way to combine his love of photography, film and the written word to entertain legions of fans. It’s cool to see your friends find their callings.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Swoop and scoop.” A bra-fitter at Saks told me that, and it changed everything.
How has your worldview evolved since leaving Kenyon?
I’ve always believed that people are more alike than they are different, but my experience writing about a Brooklyn high school for new immigrants and refugees really solidified that belief. The book that resulted, “The New Kids,” chronicles the stories of a select few students at the school, which at the time drew students from over 45 different countries speaking at least 28 languages. I met kids who had walked across deserts and mountains on their journeys to the United States, and one who arrived after escaping in a suitcase. Those same kids also worried about what to wear on the first day of school, where to eat in the cafeteria, and who to take to prom — and despite their different backgrounds and beliefs, many of them developed deep friendships that bridged cultures. I don’t know if that describes a worldview per se, but it’s a view of the world I appreciate and cling to, especially in the current political climate.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the previous woman in our series: Vicki Barker ’78
Read about the next woman in our series: Alexandra White ’09