By Suzy Bedford Leif ’63

Back in the early 1960s, Scripps did not offer courses in science and math.

The concentration at the College was the humanities and arts. I was somewhat of a renegade and chose a math major, which I was able to pursue because of the collaboration of The Claremont Colleges. Save for one class, a tutorial at Scripps, all of the coursework for my major took place at Pomona and Harvey Mudd Colleges. Scripps served me well for life by teaching me how to learn, write, and research.

Way back in those “prehistoric” times, the only computer class available at The Claremont Colleges was the lab associated with a numerical analysis class. The computer was a Bendix G-15 and filled the classroom. The only language the computer understood was machine code.

Shortly after graduation, I married and soon had two children. After the birth of my second daughter, we moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where my husband, a biochemist, had a position in the chemistry department at Florida State University. He would do an experiment one day and spend the rest of the week on a calculator evaluating the results. He convinced me to write a program to codify his experiments and run it on the big university computer.

By the time I was ready to join the workforce, we had moved to Coral Gables, Florida. I realized that a computer programmer made much more money than a math teacher, so my direction was set. My first job was at the Papanicolaou Cancer Research Center. The upside of working at the “Pap” was that I could have 20-hour weeks and could take time off for teacher workdays and sick children.

When the children hit junior-high age, I moved jobs to a medical device firm. Being in on the beginning of the computer revolution had many advantages, the main one being there were no glass ceilings in the field. I kept to the scientific side and had a successful career.

No matter what field young scholars wish to pursue, I would strongly recommend that they get their feet wet in the computer field. Authors will need word- processing skills, lawyers will need the skills to research and write cases, and artists will benefit from knowing how to inventory their work, set up invoicing, and develop promotional websites.

My daughters both had good jobs working in the computer field, and I am now retired and enjoy teaching my grandchildren the fundamentals behind their digital devices.


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