Joan (Reiss) Wry ’79 P’10

Alumna; Parent of Alumna; Faculty

English Literature and French

Saint Michael’s College

Professor of English; Director of the Honors Program; former Associate Dean of the College

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have three wonderful daughters (one is a Saint Michael’s graduate, class of 2010), and I live up in Franklin County on Lake Champlain with my husband, Steve. I love to ski and snowshoe, and for many years I did a lot of competitive running. I’m not able to race anymore, but I enjoy working with the SMC Varsity Cross Country Team as a mentor and faculty affiliate–those young women inspire me daily.

Tell us about your Saint Michael’s College experience.
I had small, memorable classes here, and excellent teachers. My father John Reiss was a long-time professor at Saint Michael’s, and I was one of only a few faculty dependents in the class of 1979; the college was smaller then, and there were not many Vermonters in my graduating class. I have great friends from my years at Saint Michael’s, and 40 years later I am still regularly in touch with a number of them–especially my college roommate, Carol Dolan, a professor at Boston University. I never realized how wonderful a small liberal arts college could be until I enrolled in very large graduate programs at the University of Virginia and McGill. I had many opportunities here as a student, and I am very grateful. I have been teaching at Saint Michael’s since 1988, and I love my job!

What advice would you give to female students?
Work hard and follow your heart.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Be a good listener!

What keeps you motivated and driven on a daily basis?
I love teaching and I love the students I work with.

What woman most inspires you and why?
I’ve had many women mentors over the years, and I count on that inspiration. At this very moment in time, I am probably most inspired by two women who are really part of my life on a daily basis: my sister Chris Reiss–Vermont’s first female federal judge, and a role model to me in so many ways–and my dearest, most long-standing friend at this college, Toni Messuri, who is the most caring and compassionate person I know.