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From a Family of Educated Women


Jan Cassells Sweet A’65 (HCW) and her two sponsored LEAD students talking in her garden.

As Jan Cassells Sweet A’65 (HCW) sits in the gardens outside her revolutionary era home, she talks about her long–time involvement with the Haddam Historical Society and the Thankful Arnold House, and its generations of Arnold women.

This story, however, is not about Haddam’s history. “It is generational,” Jan says. “It is about the women in my family and their education.” This is where the story connects to Hartford College for Women (HCW) and The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD program.

Jan’s mother, Violet Cassells, an advocate for women’s education, encouraged her oldest daughter, Joan, to go to college. Joan was the first–generation in the family to attend college and the first to graduate from HCW.

Her second daughter, Barbara, went to a teacher’s college, followed by Jan, who graduated from HCW in 1965, and then a niece, Donna Legner, a 1970 graduate of HCW. This is a family of educated women, including a long line of HCW graduates.

Jan Cassells Sweet A’65 at her HCW Class of 1965 50th Reunion.

Over the years, Jan lost touch with HCW. Then, she began receiving news about her Class of 1965 50th reunion. Letters from her classmates convinced her to go. And, it was one of the best decisions she could have made. It not only reconnected her to her alma mater and classmates, it connected her to The Women’s Advancement Initiative and the students in its LEAD program.

“I am very impressed by these young women,” said Jan, “I don’t have children and thought what more could I do to make a difference in someone’s life than to sponsor the education of women? Sponsoring LEAD students is an easy way to sponsor women’s education,” continues Jan.

In 2016, Jan made a generous donation to underwrite the cost of two students participating in LEAD—Katie Bosetti ’17, who is now pursuing her master’s degree in education and Teresa Cardona ’19, who is majoring in art history. This fall, Katie and Teresa enjoyed a beautiful day in Jan’s garden, and the three are making plans to go kayaking (one of Jan’s favorite pastimes). They will continue their relationship, as Jan supports another generation of women’s education through her support of the LEAD program. 

Hartford College for Women Class of 1968 50th Reunion For information, please contact or 860.768.5471