by Natasha Josefowitz '48
I had graduated from Beverly Hills High School. A movie director at one of my parents’ parties, Gregory Ratoff, a friend of the family, saw me perform a Russian dance, which I often did to entertain the guests.
He offered to arrange a screen test at Fox Studios. I was thrilled. The test went well, and I was offered a seven-year contract, the standard for upcoming starlets. My parents said no, I was going to college—that is how I never became a famous movie star.
And so it was that my mother and I drove from our home in Beverly Hills to my new dorm room at Scripps College. We were sitting on the bed, crying, surrounded by suitcases and boxes. I was leaving home for good. A student walked in and told us that she had been assigned to be my big sister to help me adjust. We couldn’t stop crying. She left, and I never saw her again. We eventually pulled ourselves together, unpacked, and made my bed. It was time for my mother to leave.
I went down for dinner, a 17-year-old redhead with pigtails. In the dining hall, I met my new fellow students, some as bereft as I, others happy to start this new life. I felt much better. From Paris, I was one of only three international students at the time, and each of us was assigned to a different dorm; I was in Browning Hall.
We were not allowed to go home the first semester, to assure integration into college life. By the time I could go home on weekends, I had become a new, independent person. We had a curfew: 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. We had dating rooms, where we would meet with boys, but the door had to stay open. It was wartime, so we were often bused to USO dances. I remember dancing with a soldier who asked about where I came from. He told me he flew over Paris every day. I was surprised, but it turned out to be Paris, Texas—not France.
Scripps in the 1940s had a four-year humanities program requirement, which included history and geography, English and foreign languages, science and art, religion and philosophy. There is little that I come across today that doesn’t trigger a memory of something I learned at Scripps. One of my most life-changing classes was comparative religion with Dr. Merlin—it opened my eyes to other belief systems. I also took dance and art classes, and I still have the oil painting I did of one of the Scripps gardens.
When I turned 21, I was finally able to obtain my American citizenship. I had to pass an exam in American history and government in front of three judges. Since I had just taken such a course at Scripps, I was able to answer all the questions; for fun, the judges kept asking me harder and harder questions, which I kept answering correctly—one of the proudest moments of my life!
Scripps gave me an amazing education. I went on to get a master’s degree in social work at age 40 and my PhD in social psychology at 50. I have written 20 books. I taught the first course for women in management in the country at the University of New Hampshire—followed by San Diego State University, where I also taught in the MBA program. In these times of specialization, I am a strong advocate of knowing the basics of not only our culture but the histories and cultures of other countries. Scripps not only taught me subject matter, it imbued me with a love of learning, which I still pursue today.
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