Suzanne Smith Saulniers, Class of 1962 

Outstanding Achievement in International Rural Development


Picture a high school girl, president of National Honor Society, lighting the "unknown" candle at the F-M N.H.S. Induction Ceremony in 1962. While doing so, she challenges her fellow students to decrease inequalities, to love and to dream a better world. For her entire life, including that moment, Suzanne Smith Saulniers has lived the pillars of scholarship, leadership, character and service, serving as a role model to women around the world.

Suzanne would spend most of her adult life abroad, migrating between countries like Kenya, Pakistan and Morocco for 36 years. Still, she cites F-M teacher Mr. Warren Petty, her Biology and Earth Science teacher, as her initial inspiration for doing the remarkable things for which she is known. 

"Mr. Petty opened up the world of biology, geology and ecology; he challenged us to scientific thinking." Running with the curiosity he instilled in her, Suzanne went on to major in biology and then switch majors to rural sociology. This grounding eventually led her to do technical work in rural development and human physiology, helping her set up programs for women and girls in health care, family planning and science education for youth.

Originally, Suzanne dreamed of being a high school teacher, taking much interest in school and community service by involving herself in yearbook, carnivals, dances, elections and other class activities. That changed after an F-M sophomore biology field trip to Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine. Her time at Cornell opened her eyes wide to international development, meeting global friends, taking internationally-focused classes and engaging in civil rights activities concerning the Mississippi black voter rights and Vietnam War.

After graduating from Cornell in 1966 with a B.S. in Rural Sociology, Suzanne furthered her educational foundation, going on to be the first U.S. woman and second woman ever to earn a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1974. She taught rural sociology for a bit before turning to international development work, principally in Pakistan.

Suzanne has lent her knowledge and compassion to helping people escape poverty and improve their lives. As a rural sociologist, she has dedicated her life to designing and managing programs that solve local problems, reduce community conflicts and set up economic activities to generate income for the disadvantaged in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Furthermore, these projects empower youth and young women to speak out and take on leadership roles. One of the many projects of which she is proudest involved creating and managing a Pakistani post-earthquake rehabilitation program while securing sustainable Prime Minister and senior government relationships.

To sum up a vast list of remarkable achievements, Suzanne has been awarded numerous honors: listed in World's Who's Who Among Women in 1981, the Quaid-e-Azam Award and Pakistan S.S.A. Social Services Shield (one of the Pakistani government's highest honors) and the Community Development Award for significant contribution to strengthening N.G.O. capacities from the Lyari Community Development Project. All while publishing her research.

 Suzanne is semi-retired, working as a foreign student exchange program community coordinator, co-manager of a bed-and-breakfast with her husband Alfred and chairing a city block historic revitalization project in New Bedford, M.A.

Of all her accomplishments, family ranks high to Suzanne. Despite having lived half of her 42-year marriage to Alfred apart, the two have successfully raised daughter Catherine. "I am proud of being a role model for many young women by showing how one can carve out a professional rewarding career, raise a family and stay married."

Now Suzanne gets to "sit back" and help raise granddaughter Ruth Ann and engage in hobbies like collecting African fertility figures and working on political campaigns. She hopes to relearn golf and rekindle her love of the U.S. by hiking through national parks in the West.

F-M has remained in her heart this entire time, especially with the close networking of the F-M Class of '62. 

"It has given me roots, fond remembrances and has helped me return to the U.S.A."








The links in the area will let you leave the Fayetteville-Manlius School District site. The linked sites are not under control of the District and the District is not responsible for the contents of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site, or any changes or updates to such sites. The District is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement nor responsibility by the District of the content of the site.