Patricia Howard Ambrose ’55

Confidence gained at NSFG paves the way for world travel and studies in history. Photo courtesy of Tim Mackay.
Confidence gained at NSFG paves the way for world travel and studies in history. Photo courtesy of Tim Mackay.

Pat Ambrose attended Northamp­ton School for Girls for only one year, but she found it to be an experience that changed her life. She attributes the confidence she gained while at NSFG to leading her to travel all over the world and complete her college degree at the age of 43. Ms. Ambrose studied English history and notes that one of her favorite trips was to visit historic battle sites from the 1400s and 1500s in England. Ms. Ambrose lives in rural New Hampshire, is the recording secretary for three school boards, and reads “as much as I can fit in.”

Who had a big impact on you at NSFG?

I was homesick. It took me a little while to get used to being at NSFG. There was one person that helped me. Mrs. Duncan. I’m not sure what her role was at the school, but I remember that we dedicated our senior yearbook to her. There was just something about her. She was always very reassuring. She was calm. Just seeing her around campus made me think everything was going to be ok. I can’t explain it, really. In our yearbook, we said, ‘She made our stay at NSFG a bit of our lives that will always be outstanding in our memories.’ So apparently a lot of people felt the same way I did about her.

What was your favorite spot on campus?

My room. My roommate and I had a very small room. It was almost claustrophobic, with two small twin beds and our desks side by side. Anne Babcock was my roommate, and she was quite a character. Anne was the opposite of me. I was very quiet and very studious. When we roomed together, everyone was waiting for fireworks to begin. But we got along fine. She was very funny. She would make up little silly poems and she’d write them in my notebook when I wasn’t there. Then I’d open it up to study and there would be a funny poem or picture. She was always making me laugh. She was a very unique kind of person.

What were you like back then?

I was studious and very quiet. Look­ing through my yearbook, I can see why a lot of people wrote about how I had this concerned look on my face all the time. When I first got to Northampton School for Girls, I was awed by the place. I was intimidated by it. And yet, one of the first things that happened was that my fellow students elected me president of Hathaway House. I was amazed by that. Between that and having Anne Babcock as my roommate, it helped my self-confidence.

What were some of NSFG’s rules?

They were very strict about the rules at NSFG. For example, we couldn’t chew gum. We were supposed to dress up nicely for dinner. We couldn’t wear pants. There could not be any swearing, smoking, or drinking. I believe we had to go to church or some kind of religious service every Sunday. If we went anywhere at all off campus, we had to check in and out with somebody.

What was the biggest impact of NSFG on your life?

The most important things that NSFG provided to me were stabil­ity, security, and support. I needed those most at that point in my life. That’s what gave me the basis for trying new things, even if you’re intimidated by them. At least try them and try your best. That was a crossroads year. Your whole future life depended on what you did. That’s how I felt about it. It was just the right time for me. I don’t know what I would have done without it. Later on in my 40s, this confidence pushed me to get my college degree. I felt so bad that I hadn’t gotten it, and it was bothering me. My kids were in school or some of them had graduated, and I had the time. I dedicated two years to it. I just loved it. I had good teachers, and I loved it.

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