Le Fer Hall in the summer
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‘Marilyn’ and the SMWC gate have history

Blog | 05.20.2020

By SMWC Alumna Catherine Schueth Thomas ’88

Catherine Schueth Thomas
SMWC Alumna Catherine Schueth Thomas ’88 reflects on her time at The Woods and the front gate of campus.

Well, those gates have seen some movie stars for sure! You know, back in the day, the iron gates would close at 11 p.m., and one year it was moved to midnight. Gracious curfew! When we would return to campus after attending a party at Rose-Hulman (Institute of Technology), the guard would greet you at your car and oh gosh, here we go…roll down that window. Yes, roll…not push a button. He would make small talk, ask why you are late to curfew, write down your license plate and have you sign in. My most famous signature was Marilyn Monroe! My favorite quote from Miss Marilyn was “fear is stupid and so are regrets!”

So, sure, Marilyn was a frequent guest at The Woods!

Obviously, the guard either read the name scribbled on the clip board and laughed inside to himself, or he was too sleepy to really care what name you wrote down! In the fall of my senior year, I did feel a little funny one day as the guard drove past me while I was walking down the sidewalk to a class. He slowed down and said, “Hello, Marilyn.”

YIKES!!! I needed to go to confession! 

SMWC front gate closed

On a more serious note, I remember bringing my daughter, Jennifer, to campus for a tour as she was considering SMWC for her college experience. The question that kept coming to mind was, “Mom, how did you know The Woods was the right school?”

My reply? There is not one thing, my dear. You see, it is a feeling. Jenn looked at me, and I assured her, it is a feeling. The feelings began as we entered the gorgeous iron gates. The welcome of all welcomes. Ornate, intricate in design, with a touch of formality – the welcome home that is life changing.

We passed through the iron gates and drove down The Avenue. We parked and walked to the lake next to the guest house. There, I spread out a blanket, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch to chat and absorb the beauty and stillness, the Holy Spirit and the grace that encompasses the campus.

SMWC front gate

The rest is history as Jenn graduated in 2014 with an exceptional education and now works for Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis. It all started with the grand welcome at the glorious gates.

I am fortunate to serve on the SMWC Alumni Board and pass through those gates often. They are a treasured gift that keeps giving. They are the “welcome home dear daughter” that you miss, that you need and that you are always grateful for. Mother Theodore Guerin wrote, “We cannot do our work if we all stay in the nest.” So, we go, we go in all directions, all over the world and do our work, and know that she will always be there to welcome us back home, to our nest, our beloved campus.

Read the full blog about SMWC’s gate restoration.

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