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Sarah Soule ’77 Establishes the “Sallie Gardner Endowed Scholarship Fund” with Campaign Gift

Sarah Goodwin Soule ’77 has made a generous contribution to the Infinite Horizon campaign to fund an endowed scholarship for students with demonstrated financial need. A former Alumnae Association Council member, Class Bulletin Reporter, two-time reunion chair, and 2022 recipient of the Service to Emma Willard Award, Sarah credits the inspiration for her philanthropy to her parents and her close friend Linda Gill Anderson ’77, co-chair of the Infinite Horizon campaign.

The endowed scholarship made possible by Sarah’s support and marking her 45th reunion will forever carry the memory of her parents, Sarah “Sallie” Thompson Soule and Gardner Northup Soule. Sallie and Gardner were actively engaged in numerous non-profit organizations and encouraged their children to do the same. Sallie was a founding director of the Vermont Community Foundation in 1986, whose approach to funding mirrored Sallie and Gardner’s vision of respect, integrity, equity, diversity, collaboration, and inclusion.

“My support of the school is intended to honor my parents for what they made possible for me and extend that opportunity to others in the future,” notes Sarah. “Just as I was invited by my classmate and friend Linda Gill Anderson to make a campaign gift, I hope others will be inspired to further the mission of Emma Willard School and access to education overall through their support.”

A passionate advocate for education, Sarah has dedicated her entire career to working as a college and post-secondary counselor. Currently, Sarah works for the Middlebury Union High School in Middlebury, Vermont—a location well-known among generations of Emma Willard alumnae as the birthplace of our school and the women’s education movement in the United States.

“In the fall of 1974, I began working as an admissions tour guide at Emma Willard, and here I am now, working exactly half a mile from Madame Willard’s home in the village of Middlebury,” exclaims Sarah. “To say my life has come full circle would be an understatement: I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the way this school has shaped my life and continues to do so.”

Sarah recounts highlights of her time at Emma Willard, including her role as head tour guide during her senior year and an experimental exchange program with the Thacher School for Boys in California that she took part in the spring of her junior year. The Thacher School would go on to accept its first co-education class the following year in 1977, a credit to the success of the student envoys sent to the West Coast from Emma Willard.

“Apparently the Thacher head of school called our principal (Frances Roland O’Connor) and they made an agreement to try exchanging a class of 30 students for the semester—30 girls to California at Thacher, 30 boys to New York at Emma Willard. So, there I was, having been in an all-girls school for the last three years sitting in a classroom with 10 boys. It was wild! That program is responsible for at least five marriages and I am still friends with many of those ‘Thacher boys’ to this day!”

Sarah’s penchant for making layered connections in life reached a new level when she was engaged to marry her fiance, Leigh, a long-time acquaintance and a graduate of Trinity-Pawling School. Leigh, a former employee of Orvis in Manchester, Vermont, shares Sarah’s love of the outdoors, travel, and Labrador Retrievers. In turn, Leigh has shared his passion for fly-fishing with Sarah, and their wedding in June of 2024 will be fly-fishing themed.

woman in sunglasses fly fishing

Sarah enjoying some time outside fly-fishing.

“We are tying the knot, pardon the pun,” quips Sarah. “Several of my Emma Willard classmates will attend the wedding and the date will also mark what would have been the 100th anniversary of my grandparents’ wedding; they were great champions of education as well. It will be a very special day.”

Sarah and Leigh are asking guests to support the Curtis Fund of Vermont, a scholarship fund for first-generation college-bound students in Vermont, in lieu of gifts.

This piece was written for the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Signature Magazine.

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