The Circle of Bay Path
When Bay Path relocated to Longmeadow from downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, Ruth (Howard) Dodge '47 was one of the first students to enroll at the College. Bay Path had purchased the estate from the Wallace family, owners of the legendary Forbes & Wallace department store. Like many students who had to find their own transportation to classes, she gamely rode her bike to campus.
At the time, many classes were held in what is now Leary Hall. The popular typing and stenography classes were located in the building the students called “The Garage,” now D’Amour Hall, and the third floor of Leary Hall was home to the theater. A popular feature of the campus was the spring-fed pool in the backyard. Ruth remembers sunbathing by the pool with other students between classes, but they didn’t often swim because frogs were in the pool!
When Ruth graduated from high school at the age of sixteen, she wanted to go to nursing school. Back then, you couldn’t enroll until you reached age eighteen. So, her family decided she should attend Bay Path. “My father was friends with then-Bay Path President Tom Carr. They thought the College would be good for me because I could use the medical secretarial experience from Bay Path when I became a nurse in the future. My father also knew Frank Hatch, and the others who had invested in the school at the time. They were working on making it a junior college,” Ruth recalls.
After graduation, Ruth’s education at Bay Path led her to her first job. She started at MassMutual, working in the doctors and the underwriting department. Ruth left MassMutual for a position in a private doctor’s office.
“At sixteen, you don’t have direction, but coming to Bay Path not only gave me direction, it provided me with skills and confidence that have helped me throughout my life and my career,” says Ruth.
Ruth was not the only member of her family to attend Bay Path. In fact, there is a circle of Dodge family members who attended and graduated from Bay Path over the years. “My husband, Edwin Dodge, shared that both his mother, Gladys Dow Dodge, and stepmother, Virginia Brown Dodge, attended Bay Path Institute in Springfield. Fast forward, our niece, Nicole Dodge-Tjimis '09, and my granddaughter, Lindsay Dodge '15, graduated within the last decade,” Ruth notes.
Lindsay says, “When I heard Grandma’s story of going to college so young, and knowing the successful career and life she went on to lead, I knew when I was transferring. I had to look at Bay Path.”
Lindsay came to Bay Path and selected accounting as her major. While a commuter student—like her grandmother—she got a jumpstart in her field by working as a part-time teller. Lindsay also had the opportunity to gain valuable work experience through two internships: one for the town of Longmeadow and the other for a private accounting firm, which was paid. She credits Dr. Kara Stevens, director of graduate accounting, for her success. “Dr. Stevens went above and beyond, challenging us to learn and understand all of the details needed for a successful accounting career,” says Lindsay. “Dr. Stevens also started the Accounting Associates Club so that we could hone our accounting skills and connections even further.”
Lindsay recently accepted a promotion offered by her chief financial officer at Western Mass News. She relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, to work as a staff accountant for station WSMV. She believes her resume stood out because of her internships at Bay Path. In addition to her accounting courses, Lindsay really appreciated the Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) curriculum. She felt the program helped her build confidence, as well as connect, support, and empower other women.
As for Ruth, her connection with Bay Path didn’t stop after graduation. Ruth and her husband, Edwin, an elementary school principal, lived in Longmeadow with their four boys. When a student housing request went out to alumni and the Longmeadow community, Ruth jumped at the opportunity. They had a third floor with two bedrooms and a bath and agreed to open their home and their hearts to host four girls from the University while dormitories were being built. “It was a wonderful experience, not just for the girls, but for us. The girls became part of our family. We baked and cooked together, learned from one another, and became one big happy family. We had a blast during the four years we hosted students, and it was a positive experience for all,” says Ruth.
Ruth and Edwin made such an impression on them as a family almost fifty years ago and they are happy to have remained in touch over the years. “We have always stayed connected. We have visited Ruth and she, in turn, has come to Florida to stay, too. Thanks to social media, we are all able to stay connected and updated. She is such a positive and strong woman, and we are grateful to know her,” shares Wendy. And Suzie adds, “Ruth is like another mother to me and I talk with her weekly; she has always been such an influence in my life.”
Ruth knew the importance of education, and she was happy to provide accommodations for the students at Bay Path back in the day. It was also important she went on to further her own education. Ruth graduated from Our Lady of the Elms College’s Leaf Program as an adult woman in her fifties with a bachelor’s degree in business. With her degree, she became a law firm manager, eventually working in a doctor’s office as a manager. She also encouraged two of her daughters-in-law to continue their education as adults.
One daughter-in-law, Lindsay’s mother, also went to the Elms. “I remember being a little girl and mom bringing me to school with her,” says Lindsay. Ruth believes if you want it and put your mind to it, you will find a way to manage it together with work and family. And she believes she paved the way for her children and grandchildren’s commitment to education by setting an example. “Attending college gives you a background you can’t get anywhere else. The experiences, classes, choices, and opportunities all contribute to your future and build confidence. You should never stop learning,” notes Ruth. “I stay current on technology and take classes in the community I live in. We must continue to grow with the times."
And just as Ruth continues to evolve and adapt to the times, she is excited about Bay Path University and its future. “To see the original secretarial school vision with maybe fifty students transformed to a University with thousands of students is just amazing,” says Ruth.
Her advice to current students is,