During the 2017-18 school year, 59 percent of Indiana Tech’s students were female. But, it has not always been that way.
Sixty years ago, in 1958, Anna Reid walked across the stage and became Indiana Tech’s first female graduate. Not only did she earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, but she earned a distinct spot in Indiana Tech’s history.
Every female graduate has followed in the footsteps of Anna Reid. She was a pioneer and her accomplishments paved the way for all the women who came to Indiana Tech after her. Generations of women have graduated from Indiana Tech, and it all began with Anna.
The pursuit of an Indiana Tech degree is what brought Anna to Fort Wayne, but it was not her own pursuit. It was her husband’s. The couple moved from Niagara Falls, New York, so Leland Reid could pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. As they settled into life in Fort Wayne, Anna began working at Rea Magnet Wire as a technician in the control lab. She had previously earned her associate degree in industrial chemistry from the New York Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences—one of the country’s first community colleges. After some time passed, Anna decided to pursue her next degree. She applied to Indiana Tech to pursue her bachelor’s in chemistry. She was eager to achieve the next level of education, stating, “any education would be better than no education.”
Indiana Tech made her feel welcome and the enrollment process was easy. At the time, there were a handful of other female students on campus, but she was the only female student enrolled in her curriculum. While Anna was very aware that she was the only woman in a class full of men, she says her classmates always treated her like “one of the guys.” Her classes were small, only about four or five people in each, and they all treated each other equally. Anna continued her studies and completed her degree without giving much thought to the fact that she would be the school’s first female graduate. She was unaware of the significance until the news reporters showed up on graduation day looking to interview her, Indiana Tech’s first female graduate.
After leaving Indiana Tech, her husband secured a job in midwestern New York, so they headed back east and Anna began working as a lab technician in the biomedical field at the University of Rochester. While there, she went back to school for a third time and earned a master’s in science education. She went on to teach high school chemistry and math.
Wherever Anna was in her life, she was never too far from education. In her early career, she devoted herself to pursuing her own education, always eager to expand her knowledge. Later in her career, she devoted herself to educating high schoolers about chemistry and math, molding them to be lifelong learners and instilling in them the drive and desire to continue their education.
Anna Reid had no way of knowing in 1958 how monumental her graduation from Indiana Tech would be. Not only did it change the course of her life, it changed the course of Indiana Tech history. Without even knowing she was doing it, she was paving the way for the countless female students who came after her. However, to her, she was simply doing what she wanted to do. When asked if she had any advice she would like to share today, her advice was simple:
“If you want to do something, just do it,” Anna said. And that’s exactly what she did when she came to Indiana Tech. She was doing what she wanted to do. To her, she was just a student pursuing a degree. To the rest of us, she was a trailblazer.
Thank you, Anna, for the history you made 60 years ago, and congratulations to the female graduates who have followed in her footsteps.
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