• College/Year: RC '76
  • Links to Oral History Sessions: Rickards, Deborah (March 26, 2022)


Deborah Rickards was born in 1955 in New York City. In the interview, she discusses her family's Eastern European and English Jewish roots. She grew up in an observant Jewish family, living in Roosevelt, New York until 1968 and then in Ridgewood, New Jersey. From 1972 to 1976, she attended Rutgers College and majored in history. She served as a student representative in the University Senate as a sophomore and was appointed to the President's Advisory Council as a senior by President Edward Bloustein. She examines the challenges of being in the first coed class at the college and describes living in Tinsley and Demarest dorms, working part time all through college, and student life on campus in general. In the oral history, she recalls the changing curriculum requirements and being one of the first women in student government along with her classmate Melanie Willoughby. During the first portion of her career, she worked in bank marketing for banks and advertising agencies and explores the treatment of women in the banking industry at the time. She then shifted to a career in education, working as a teacher from 1992 to 2020.

This interview is a part of the Pioneering Women of Rutgers College Project, an oral history project documenting the experiences of the first women to attend Rutgers College after it became coeducational in 1972. The project is a collaboration between the Rutgers Oral History Archives, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, and Institute for Women's Leadership.

The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2022-2023 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.