A Trip Down Memory Lane - 1960s Drexel
May 23, 2017
Freshman Fred Smith stands in front of a fraternity house on Powelton Avenue in October 1959.
Our Alumni Ambassadors are great partners in providing first-hand details about their Drexel experience. As the territory manager for Long Island, NY, I have had the pleasure to get to know one of our Alumni Ambassadors, Fred Smith. Smith graduated from Drexel in 1964 with a BS in Commerce and Engineering (currently known as Business and Engineering) from the LeBow College of Business.
Much has changed over the past 53 years, but his love for Drexel has not. I often enjoy the stories he shares with me about his time on campus. The visual aesthetics and cost may be different but the relevance of experiential learning is not.
In the 1960s Smith, who is from NY, recalls living on campus in a fraternity house where his room and board was only $70 per month! As a senior, he shared an apartment and paid only $40 for his own private room. Now home to the Summit, Smith and his classmates called the trek up Lancaster Avenue “Sophomore Siberia,” as it was difficult to make it to classes in 8 minutes.
"The co-op experience truly helped me to change my focus"
Currently an avid skier, Smith was a part of Drexel’s newly formed ski club as a student and also in ROTC. During that time, freshman and sophomore males had to participate in ROTC. Fred notes that those students were commissioned as second lieutenants for the Army Reserve if they stayed in ROTC as upperclassmen.
Prior to his co-op experiences, he worked in the girls’ dormitory as a waiter for meals. During his last year as a waiter, he earned $1.25 per hour. After Smith’s first two co-op experiences at Domino’s Sugar Refinery in NYC, he realized industrial engineering was not what he wanted to pursue. “The co-op experience truly helped me to change my focus,” Smith stated.
Smith made enough money during his co-op experiences to cover tuition, his living expenses, a nice car and even his auto insurance. He graduated with no debt! His first job out of college was at the NY Phone Company as a commercial salesman.
Currently retired, Smith became an Alumni Ambassador for Drexel University in the Long Island, NY area. “I enjoyed Drexel and I feel I did very well with a Drexel education. I was a public school administrator for 30 years and when I started participating in college fairs - I really enjoyed it - I really enjoyed the work.”
If you’re in the Long Island area, you may notice Smith at the Drexel University table ready to provide great anecdotes about his experience. His advice to prospective and current Drexel students, “Take advantage of all of your courses, because I used many of them. I computerized the telephone bill when I worked at NYU. I took a 1-credit course in computer programming at Drexel, and I would not have been able to computerize those bills without that knowledge. Don’t slough any of the courses off - because you never know when you will need them… In Philadelphia, everything seems to be at your feet.”
Brittney is a self-proclaimed "frugalista fashionista" hailing from the first "Small Wonder." She lives for tax-free shopping, misses having her gas pumped for her in college, and bleeds green on any given Sunday.