By Katie Hanson ’25
Although Lynne Thompson ’72 and Rachel Fidler ’14 graduated more than 40 years apart, the two alumnae have long worked together to use their knowledge, enthusiasm, and experience to serve the greater Los Angeles community. Their collaboration began more than a decade ago with an academic project and continues today through Fidler’s ongoing work for local museums and Thompson’s dedication to poetry.
The pair first met in 2011, when Fidler was pursuing psychology and anthropology majors. As an assignment for her Core III class on oral history, Fidler interviewed Scripps alumnae from the ’70s. Thompson, a social psychology major, was eager to participate in the project and share her nuanced Scripps experience during the height of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the women’s movement. Fidler translated Thompson’s oral history into a video, which is still available through the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.
“Anytime something pops up on the screen associated with Scripps, my answer is almost always yes,” Thompson says. “I was very excited. Scripps women are well-rounded, curious, intelligent people who never disappoint.”
The duo connected over their extensive involvement across The Claremont Colleges. Fidler played trombone in several campus orchestral groups, served as team captain of the Claremont Colleges Equestrian Team, worked as a peer mentor, led campus tours, archived historical documents at Pomona College, and was a member of Hillel. Thompson had served as the first-year class representative and eventually as Scripps Associated Students president, joined the Alumnae Leadership Council, and chaired the College’s Board of Trustees, of which she remains a member today.
Beyond their joint dedication to Scripps, the two share a passion for promoting community learning and creativity. Last spring, Fidler was developing educational curriculum related to a temporary exhibition focused on Dr. Jane Goodall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where she works as the senior manager of school and teacher programs under former Scripps College president Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga.
Fidler and her team hoped to find writers to judge an essay contest that would be part of a promotional event for the exhibition’s opening. She knew that Thompson, a retired lawyer, Los Angeles Poet Laureate, and board member of several literary organizations, would be the perfect fit. She reached out, the pair instantly reconnected, and Thompson agreed to be involved.
“It was really lovely to connect 10 years later, and that really speaks to the Scripps experience,” Fidler says. “I feel grateful for my Scripps College education, not only because of my on-campus involvement, but also because of the network of folks who have attended Scripps and The Claremont Colleges in general. Specifically at Scripps, there is a deep bond and connection, one that is steeped in supporting one another and lifting up other women in the workplace.”
As a judge in the writing competition, Thompson worked alongside another poet involved with WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization that provides and promotes creative writing opportunities for teen girls, and the national director of Dr. Goodall’s social action nonprofit, Roots & Shoots. In each submission, they looked for messages that touched on the idea of “becoming,” a theme that mirrored the topic and name of the museum’s exhibition, Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall. Thompson says that she felt honored to read the variety of thoughtful essays, and eventually award scholarships to three recipients. The contest’s culminating event, the Good for All Action Fair in April 2022, was also Goodall’s first public appearance in two years.
Fidler and Thompson have continued to cross paths through Thompson’s local poetry readings and her participation in the Natural History Museum’s “The Art of Storytelling,” a professional development series held in May for museum staff. They both attribute these collaborative opportunities to their Scripps education, which encouraged community building and a continual pursuit of learning.
“It was an opportunity to understand what a sisterhood could be, and the interdisciplinary experience brought me lifetime friends,” Thompson says. “It also gave me a lifelong love of learning, a curiosity, and a confidence that I almost take for granted. On the personal, professional, and intellectual levels, it’s made all the difference in my life.”
Fidler echoes Thompson’s sentiments. “My Scripps College education encouraged me to approach the world with curiosity and responsibility,” she says. “I think we all have embraced that idea of living confidently, courageously, and hopefully. That has resonated with me in both my professional and personal life ever since I walked through Honnold Gate.”