Once again revealing her enthusiasm for life and keen perception of her natural human environment, Conway opens with her assessment of her life, passions, possibilities and the making of her decision to leave Canada and return to the United States to become Smith College's first woman president.
Settling into her new environment, she is at once struck by the beauty of the Connecticut Valley and the Olmstead-designed Smith campus - but also by the College's financial problems and a quarrelsome and complaining faculty engaged in disputes and trivial lawsuits.
The jolt of energy she gets from being in the presence of several thousand young women enables her to take on the various Smith constituencies. We see her harnessing the negative energies in more positive directions, redefining and redesigning parts of the institution, strategising, positioning herself and building a political base, adding fields of study and athletic programs, and much more. Conway also mobilised the institution to share the urgency she felt for shaping the kind of women's institution that would attract students of the '90s and beyond.
Through it all we see her continuing to cope with her husband John's ill health and learning to protect and sustain her inner self in the quiet solitude of gardening at their country home - a North American variant of the solitude of her native Australian plains.
As the end of the Smith decade approaches she reviews what she has learned and decides that she has had her education and that it is time "to graduate".