Elsa Freiman Angrist (NC'66), second from left, in her role as team captain of the Newcomb College Bowl Team
Up To The Challenge
The year was 1966. The nationally televised quiz show College Bowl had captured the attention of the Tulane-Newcomb community and held it for weeks. The Tulanian reported:
"If performance under pressure is the criterion of success, four Newcomb College seniors have passed their preliminary examinations with exceptional scores. They were on the firing line four times for Newcomb on the NBC-TV General Electric College Bowl quiz program—demonstrating their competence as scholars. [T]he Newcomb team. . . has been the talk of the campus—and probably of alumni throughout the nation."
Captain of that team, Elsa Freiman Angrist, remembers the experience well.
"It was great fun," she says. "We were especially pleased when we beat all-male teams. In those days, women, especially Southern women, were not expected to be all that bright. But, of course, we were.
The team outscored others from St. Bonaventure University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Tulsa, eventually ending their run with a defeat to Reed College.
Still Championing Tulane
Angrist is still a champion for Tulane University, though in a much different way. In 2005, she made a gift to the university that established the Elsa Freiman Angrist Scholarship Endowed Fund. The scholarship fund supports female undergraduates based on need and promise in their chosen field, with preference given to students studying math or science.
"For me, Newcomb College primarily meant a good education," says Angrist. "My husband and I felt that we had a good life together, and that life was made possible by our college educations—at Amherst College for him, at Newcomb for me. We wanted to enable other young people to have that same opportunity."
Angrist graduated cum laude from Newcomb in 1966 with a bachelor of sciences degree in mathematics. A member of the honors program, she also completed a major in French. While you might expect her time in the national spotlight to have been the highlight of her Newcomb days, Angrist points to something else.
"The best experience was undoubtedly my Junior Year Abroad," she says. "It seems such a cliché to say that it changed my life, but it really did."
Angrist studied at L'Université de Paris – Sorbonne. (As it happened, all of the Newcomb College Bowl Team members were Junior Year Abroad participants.) She says her experience studying abroad left her with a lifelong addiction to traveling—and a more relaxed attitude toward both travel and life.
She later received a master of science in mathematics from Northwestern University and a master of arts in history from George Mason University. She works as an independent computer consultant.
Touching the Future
Sara Demers is a junior at Tulane majoring in both cell and molecular biology and French. One of two recipients of the Elsa Freiman Angrist Endowed Scholarship for 2009, she says she would not have been able to attend Tulane without scholarship support.
"I'm very grateful to Ms. Angrist for making it possible," Demers says, "not just for me, but for generations of students."
"It's really exciting to think about the scholarship serving students in perpetuity," says Angrist. "These women will be studying subjects and living in a world that we cannot even imagine today. I feel as though, in a small way, I'm able to touch the future."