An Alumnae to Know: Fay Stevenson-Smith

Fay Stevenson-Smith is the BAN 1960s alumni feature. Many of us recognize her from the frequent visits she makes to campus and from her work with the college’s Board of Trustees. Others of us are familiar with the portrait bust housed in Seymour library of Roger Taylor, the 18th president of Knox College, which she sculpted. Some of us have received the prestigious Lincoln-Douglas bookends that the college gives to qualifying donors —these are works that she created and donated to the college.  

 

Fay has a remarkable professional profile, and she has cultivated an indelible relationship with Knox College. Without question, Fay is part of the college landscape, and her life experiences make her an alumnae worth knowing.

 

Science and Education Launches Careers

Fay first came to campus after graduating as the 1960 salutatorian of Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, IN.  Fay believes the academic support and encouragement she received while a high school student and the success she experienced at Knox were instrumental in guiding her career choices.  

 

“I look back at my Knox experience as having influenced my career in medicine by providing a quality education from a well-recognized science department.  While I did not get support from the Chemistry department  I felt I should have to help me to focus my career choices, I recognized its value in qualifying me for admission to medical school,”  Fay reflects on receiving a Knox education. “The rest of my career path was actually initiated by my high school experience at a really  great all-Black high school, Crispus Attucks, during a time when I was encouraged by the faculty to become a scientist.”

 

Fay majored in chemistry and earned a teaching certificate while a Knox student.  She was a member of the Mortar Board, President of the College Women's Council, member of the German Club, the Military Ball Queen, and she had a jazz show on the Knox radio station. 

 

The year after graduating Fay taught chemistry and physics at Cuttington College in Liberia, West Africa. She returned to the states and taught for another year before working as a counselor at Macalester College and Temple University. In 1968 she earned a Master's Degree in Psychology, and in 1978 she was awarded a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine.

 

Between Master’s and medical degrees, Fay worked on the PBS series Black Journal, which later became the Tony Brown's Journal syndicated television show. She then became the Associate Producer for the prime time talk-entertainment show Black Book on ABC in Philadelphia. In the early ‘80s she began a private OB/GYN practice and served as a contributing editor for Parent's Magazine, consulting on women’s health, and parenting topics.

 

“I was motivated by a history of being an African -American woman with my own challenges in my personal and professional lives.  I had been involved in social activism in Philadelphia and understood the challenges faced by the African-American woman” Fay shares about her time providing medical care.  “What I liked most about my career as a physician was the broad-spectrum nature of the practice that included office patient care, gynecologic surgery, prenatal care and delivery,  as well as a way to use my experience as a trained psychologist in treating the female patient in all aspects and periods of her life.”

 

Artistic Interests Lead to a New Career

Fay had many chance encounters with artists and sculptors in art venues across Europe and the United States while pursuing her medical practice. Eventually, she joined a studio in Connecticut where she learned to sculpt and was mentored by established artists.  Fay retired from private practice in 2000, and she has used the ensuing time to explore her artistic interests. 

 

“Frankly, my career as an artist began at Knox when, in our freshman year, we were all required to take a year-long course in the humanities.” Fay explains how Knox contributed to her development as an artist:  “It was a team-taught course that required us to become familiar with European literary, musical, and artistic cultural achievements.  I thoroughly enjoyed it! After completing all of my "serious" work as a student, in my senior year I took a painting course with Professor Goudie and modeled for Professor Peterson’s life drawing course.” 

 

In addition to the pieces she made for Knox, Fay has been commissioned by the Harvard Medical School and several private clients and collectors.  She has shown her work in regional shows in Connecticut and New York. Fay is completing a portrait bust of retired Knox College athletic direct Harley Knosher that will be exhibited on campus in the Memorial Gym.

 

Fay remains certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a member of the Fairfield County Medical Association, the Connecticut Medical Society, and a Knox