A woman among men: Margery's story

Margery McKnight Carr was the only woman and the third in history to have graduated from the Mackay School of Mines in 1951.

Margery McKnight Carr sits in front of the Mackay Mines building wearing her Distinguished Alumna medal awarded to her by the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering in 2017.

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3/25/2019 | By: Lauren Bain | Jennifer Sande |

When Margery McKnight Carr was a student at the Mackay School of Mines, she was not permitted to go down into an actual mine. When she needed to use the bathroom, she would have to leave the Mackay Mines building in search of a women's restroom. This past Spring of 2018, 15 women graduated with degrees from the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. But in 1951, Carr was the only woman and the third in its history to accept a diploma from the School.

Throughout her time at the University, Carr maintained amiable relationships with her all-male classmates. At times, some students would try their best to bother her, like when a classmate lit a "stinky cigar" while she worked in the optics lab. But despite their efforts, she continued to persevere and keeps in contact with several of her classmates to this day.

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Each year she coordinates alumni from the class of 1951 to put money into an endowed scholarship fund. As their representative, Carr attends the scholarship luncheon and meets some of the women pursuing degrees from the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. 

"To see how the women have been able to progress in the 60 some years that I've been watching, this means a whole lot to me," she said. "I was barely accepted when I came up in 1947 and now, the woman comes in, she majors in a remarkable field and they say go for it. I think that's a wonderful thing."

Carr graduated from the University with a dual major in geology and education. Her career path led her to teaching and becoming the principal of an elementary school for 27 years, always encouraging students to check out rock collections and pursue interests in geology. 

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