When I Was 17: Thornbury Edition


Courtesy of Suzi Thornbury

When Ms. Thornbury graduated high school in 1974, she knew she would be pursuing a career related to science. Thornbury said, “I’ve always loved school; that was so important to me. Even classes that weren’t my thing, I loved being in and getting new information. I’ve always been an ultra nerd.”

She continued, “I never played a sport; I’m not a very sporty person. I was in the theater, went to ball games, and everything that kids do.”

Thornbury found it difficult to socialize and adapt to a new environment. She was constantly moving from city to city because her father was in the military. “I’m not a very social person, so sometimes going to a new school was difficult. I never went to the same school two years in a row once fourth grade was over. It was a new school every year, which was difficult but interesting because I met a lot of new people and went to a lot of different places,” she explained. “I experienced a lot of new things.”

During her childhood, Thornbury remembers being a part of major historical events. “When I was a little girl, we were in Mississippi when the civil rights workers were buried in the gravel pit. They were having their trial when we moved there. We were just outside of Washington D.C. when the Bay of Pigs was going on,” she recalled. “I found myself in places that looking back on had historical significance.”

“I would’ve gotten to go to the same school for my sophomore and junior year but it was when they were busting to end segregation. They were trying to make it more equal in racial distribution so I got bust, which I was very bitter about.”

Thornbury often went to school on military bases where there was no segregation. She said she didn’t care who she went to school with, but she was bitter about it because she wanted to stay at the same school for another year.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of your education, but don’t fail to enjoy every moment of your senior year,” advised Ms. Thornbury.