Lyon went on to attend two secondary schools, Sanderson Academy in Ashfield and Byfield Seminary in eastern Massachusetts. After her graduation she taught at several academies, including Sanderson, a small school of her own in Buckland, Adams Female Academy and the Ipswich Female Seminary. She worked hard to create a vision and later a place that would provide women the opportunity to obtain a higher education. Despite the many obstacles that were placed in her path, including a country that was in financial devastation, Lyon was able to push ahead and raise enough capital on her own to open her new school. In 1837, the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened in South Hadley, Massachusetts, with 80 students. In keeping true to her social vision she set tuition costs to an unheard of $60/yr and didn’t allow anyone under the age of 16 years old to be admitted. Although some of her policies were controversial, that didn’t seem to matter much as the seminary quickly gained its target student body of 200. Lyon introduced her students to a “new and unusual” way of learning. This included incorporating a mandatory daily exercise routine and required all students to perform domestic tasks.
Mary Lyon passed away on March 05, 1849 of Erysipelas possibly contracted from an ill student in her care. Her presence will forever bless the Mount Holyoke College and all who enter the grounds as she was buried on the campus. Lyon’s work is still being carried on by the students and faculty of her school, which now has more than 2,000 students enrolled. The Mary Lyon dormitories at Miami University, Swarthmore College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Plymouth State University are named in her memory. In 1905, Lyon was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in Bronx, New York. Furthermore, she has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 2¢ Great American Series postage stamp. She was an educational pioneer, a woman who followed her bliss and created a legacy and example for women all over the world to follow. One of her most profound quotes was, “When you choose your fields of labor go where nobody else is willing to go”.