Last night was an evening of celebration at Barnard, with students, families and friends crowding in the Diana Event Oval and LeFrak Gymnasium for the Academic Honors and Student Leadership Awards ceremonies. As I settled in with my mother and my good friends to honor some of the outstanding Barnard women that I know, I realized once again what a special place Barnard is and how much I’ve enjoyed my time here.
In both ceremonies, as we clapped and cheered and snapped photographs of our friends, I was struck, of course, by Barnard women’s accomplishments. Many of the women who received prizes for physics or poetry or journalism were recognized, an hour later, for their extracurricular contributions to the Barnard community. I was struck, too, by how many friends I have made at Barnard, how many names I knew and how many faces I recognized in the big, echoing gym where, four years ago, I sat among five hundred strangers during Convocation and wondered if or how I would ever get to know any of them.
But mostly, I was struck by how supportive and proud Barnard is of its community members and their accomplishments. President Spar, deans, faculty, and administrators peppered the audience, scattered among students and supporters. Awards went out to departments like Well-Woman and administrators like Joyce Lewandowski in addition to the Leadership Awards, Millicent McIntosh Awards, and Bear Pins that were given to students. And the whole time, the gym rang with shouts, clapping and the whispered sounds of Barnard women congratulating one another – despite the request that the audience please hold its applause until the end.
I’m not sure how many places can boast that their students are so proud of one another. I talked to the sophomore class president after the Leadership Dinner. As I opened my mouth to congratulate her on her awards at both the Honors and the Leadership ceremonies, she stepped in with congratulations of her own. We stumbled over ourselves to explain how proud we were of one another. It was a true Barnard moment.
After the ceremony, two of my best friends – one Barnard, one Columbia – and I went out with our parents to enjoy the night. I had a twinge of sadness for the fact that my senior year is ending (I turned in my last paper this afternoon). But then I turned back to celebrating, confident that the community I have built at Barnard will continue beyond its gates.