Susie Neuberger Wilson '47

May 2018
At Brearley, asking questions without fear or favor is tantamount to breathing. All my teachers from grades two through 12 worked on this skill; they gave me confidence to raise my hand and ask questions for information or clarification that served me well in later life.
I was in midlife when I asked the question that changed the direction of my professional life. I was at a public meeting, sitting at a large oval table with thirteen other people, all members of the New Jersey State Board of Education. We were listening to the Commissioner of Health give her annual report about the state of adolescent health. When she finished, I raised my hand. “At what age,” I asked, “should young people have information that will help protect them from getting pregnant?“

I was the only person of the thirteen to ask a question at that meeting. It led directly to my becoming a supporter for sex education programs in the public schools, and a leader in the national fight for policies and programs.
Subsequently, whenever I made a speech about the effort in New Jersey to young people, especially young women, I always included the lesson I learned at Brearley: “Do not be afraid to ask a tough question. It can change your life.”