46 Haverford alumni are currently working in the Bi-Co community. They can be found working in the College Advancement offices, in the Athletic Center, and as professors or lecturers. One such alumna is Heather Curl, a lecturer in the Bi-Co Education program.
Curl teaches full time in Haverford’s education department, though she is based at Bryn Mawr, teaching between four and six classes a year. Not only did she instruct at Haverford for the past six years, but she was also in the graduating class of 2003 as a history major, and became certified to teach social studies her senior year.
In her time as a student and as a lecturer, Curl has been witness to several different periods of the Bi-co. She recently sat down with The Clerk to reflect on the Haverford of past and present.
On Being a Haverford Student
Socially, Heather was incredibly grateful for the people she met as a student, beginning with her freshman year on floor 3/2 of Gummere Hall.
“The women that I lived with in my suite, I had a lovely time with them,” Curl reflected. “I’m still really close to two of them.”
In her time as a student, Curl worked at the Coop and the Dining Center. She was also a student athletic trainer for the women’s basketball, volleyball, and lacrosse teams. Heather was a school secretary her sophomore year, and was appointed to head the committee that planned Snowball and Sundance.
Her passion for education was with her even as a student. For all four years, she was a tutor at the ABC House, a program that supports students from low-income neighborhoods that attend wealthier schools in the area.
“I really enjoyed my academic work my senior year when I got to student teach,” Curl said, explaining that student teaching helped prepare her for the transition from college to the professional world.
Thoughts on the Honor Code
Being both a student and alumna of Haverford, the Honor Code has followed Curl well after graduation. But in her teaching, she finds that she does not need to depend on the Honor Code in her teaching.
“I don’t use the Honor Code a lot,” she says, because it is not relevant to the way she teaches and assesses her students. “It doesn’t influence my pedagogy as it might for other professors.”
Though the Honor Code is not as prevalent in her life now, she admits that she was not the biggest fan of it as a student. Curl explained that her Customs team introduced it as a set of rules, which lead to several negative interactions.
“I thought it was a little policing… Who I was was being constrained,” said Curl. However, she adds, “Those things don’t matter to me anymore. I can be myself as a professor.”
Campus Concerns in the New Millennium
Ferguson, race, and police brutality are some of the largest social justice issues present on Haverford’s campus today. But in her years here, Heather recalls that one of the biggest issues on campus was the 2000 election, when Al Gore was running against George W. Bush. The race, neck and neck, all came down to Florida, Curl recalled. Students were enraged by the election result.
Another large event that shook Haverford’s campus at the time was the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There were a number of vigils. Curl says that the memory of hearing about the attack in her junior year has stuck with her – she was in the training center, learning skills for her new position, and had been living in the Haverford College apartments.
With much of the student body coming from New York, she felt the impact it had on campus.
“It hit me much harder than it did my family,” Curl said, since she grew up in Oregon. “My close friend, being from there, [it] hit her much harder.”
However, Curl mentioned that 9/11 did not necessarily bring out the social justice side of Haverford.
“There wasn’t a ‘social-justicey’ mindset, there was a ‘protect ourselves’ mindset,” Curl explained.
Heather says that despite everything that was happening on campus, it was not until after college that she would take a serious interest in political and social issues.
“I wasn’t a political person yet… I didn’t learn about my social justice issues here,” said Curl. “That learning came a little through my experience here, but mostly after.”
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