Alumni Spotlight: Milan Knight
Milan Knight—Class of 1949, P’75—is NEC’s oldest living alumni. He was featured in the fall 2020 issue of the New England College Magazine celebrating NEC’s 75th anniversary.
What led you to choose New England College?
“After World War II, where I served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy, I returned home to Peterborough, New Hampshire. NEC was recruiting students from New Hampshire, and I was able to attend with the GI Bill. While I attended NEC, I lived in Hillsborough and hitchhiked to and from campus every day. Hitchhiking wasn’t frowned upon back then.”
What did you study?
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I earned a BA in Liberal Studies/History.”
How were you involved in campus life?
“Campus life kept me busy. I played baseball, soccer, and basketball and was a member of the cross-country team. I was captain of the 1947–1948 basketball team. I served as president of the Student Council and on the NEC Service Organization. I was a founding member of Lambda Epsilon Delta fraternity, the first fraternity at NEC. I was inducted into NEC’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.”
How did NEC prepare you for life after college?
“After graduating, my first job was principal of the elementary school in Warner, New Hampshire, where I met my wife. I went from a college student to principal. That doesn’t happen every day. Later, I taught fifth and sixth grade math and reading. In 1956, we moved to Connecticut to be near the hospital at Yale University because our daughter Joy Knight-Hale (’75, Biology) had a heart defect and possibly needed open-heart surgery. At the time, the closest hospitals for that surgery were in Boston and at Yale, and I didn’t want to teach in Boston. I piloted a program to take sixth graders to the Cape Cod National Seashore for a week. In the summers, I ran academic camps for students. I always thought of myself as a “C” student, but NEC gave me that leg up to get to the next level and make something of myself.”
How have you been involved with NEC since graduating?
“Over the years, I have served on the Alumni Board and the Board of Trustees. I became friends with President Danforth and attended the Danforth Library’s dedication in 1976. Every time we visited family in New Hampshire, we always stopped to visit the College and Henniker, even if it was out of the way. I formed lifetime friendships with business owners in Henniker and visited them for decades. Joy and I have been frequent attendees at Fall Festival. She and I always marvel at what NEC has become after its humble beginnings.”
What do you think makes New England College a special place?
“NEC was special because the whole town was involved. Families rented out rooms to students. The town was small enough so that all the store owners knew all the students. It wasn’t a college campus; it was a community. NEC is part of the fabric of my life and my daughter’s life.”
Above: Milan and his daughter, Joy, have returned to NEC often to attend events like Fall Festival.
JOY KNIGHT-HALE ’75, Biology
Joy, Milan’s proud daughter, transferred to NEC after completing her freshman year at Wake-Forest University. She was not sure of her career path, but she knew she wanted to work in the medical field. She joined the pioneering echocardiography field and was one of the first echocardiographers to become nationally registered. She continues to work in echocardiography today.
“I’m so glad I transferred to NEC. Everyone liked everyone else and blended. Classes were scattered around campus, so there was a lot of interaction. I had my science classes, but I was able to take an art course. NEC offered the right juxtaposition of being progressive with co-ed dorms and having the facilities and wherewithal to draw high-caliber professors. It was amazing.”