An Open Letter to my Alma Mater

I’m recycling this post in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and the  Breastfeeding Blog Carnival “Perspectives: Breastfeeding from Every Angle,” hosted by The Leaky B@@b.  Visit for more perspectives on breastfeeding.

This is a letter that I sent to Dr. Stanley F. Battle, Interim President of Southern Connecticut State University. 

Dr. Battle,

I graduated from SCSU in 2003 with a degree in Biology and Secondary Education, and then obtained my Masters in Science Education with a concentration in Biology in 2007.  Since then, I have been working towards a second Masters in Environmental Education.  I have taught science at the high school level for the past seven years.  Recently, I have discovered that my education in Biology was incomplete, and I’m writing to voice my concerns and ask you to make adjustments to the curriculum.

When my son was born, I realized that I knew nothing of the biology of breastfeeding, a basic biological function of mammals.  Why was mammary gland structure or milk’s chemical composition not studied in Vertebrate Zoology or Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy? Why did we not look at mammary tissue under the microscope in Histology? Why didn’t we learn about hormones as related to milk production in Animal Physiology? Why were genes and biological pathways for milk production not explored in Genetics? Why did we study breast cancer genes and environmental factors in Human Medical Genetics, but ignore the data that suggests breastfeeding helps to reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer?

As a breastfeeding mother, I would have enjoyed knowing more about my body’s own biological function.  As an SCSU alumnus, I feel that my education was incomplete and I should have learned more about this most fundamental of functions for our species’ survival.  As a breastfeeding advocate, I’m disappointed that the classes I took, which were the same classes as the Pre-Med students, did not cover breastfeeding.  If future doctors learn nothing of breastfeeding as related to anatomy, physiology, biochemistry or genetics, it’s no wonder that only 14% of American mothers continue to breastfeed their children exclusively to six months of age, as recommended by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics.

All students need to learn about the health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, either in the required Health course or in general Biology.  Students pursuing degrees in Biology, Nursing, or Pre-Med need to learn about breastfeeding from a biological perspective.  Breastfeeding is an evolutionary adaptation that belongs in a Biology curriculum.  Leaving breastfeeding out of the curriculum is a disservice to all SCSU students.

Thank You For Your Time,




Filed under Sustainable Living

5 responses to “An Open Letter to my Alma Mater

  1. I really like this letter. I especially appreciate the pre-med angle, because it really disturbs me that so few physicians know about breastfeeding, when they’re the ones handing out the advice and being trusted by parents as experts. What did you hear back from the university?

  2. This is awesome – did you ever receive a response? I would love to see more breastfeeding education at all levels.

  3. Amy

    Awesome letter. I’m curious as well about whether you ever received a response. As a breastfeeding counselor, I constantly struggle with how to explain to moms whose doctors give them advice that is in discord with my suggestions that doctors don’t get much (if any) education on human lactation in pre-med or medical schooling. They simply don’t believe me. But it’s absolutely true, and something needs to be done about it. Breastfeeding is vital to the health of our future generations, and I agree – if our doctors have to pursue lactation education on their own, after they graduate, I don’t think that’s quite right at all.

  4. The president basically thanked me and said he’d forward it to someone who was in charge of curriculum. It was nice to get a response, but it didn’t seem like they were going to change anything.

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