Student Speak

Meet some of Barnard's exceptional young women and hear about their academics, aspirations, and lives in New York City.

Growing up, Rachel Kastner '19 heard about "the barn"—a hole in the ground—where a Polish farmer hid her grandfather Karl and his family during the Holocaust. Prior to her enrollment at Barnard, Kastner and her team shot the film The Barn to document the journey that she and her grandfather took to reunite with the woman who helped keep his family alive. With the support of Barnard faculty and her classmates, she completed the film while at Barnard as a double-major in film studies and political science. The Barn will be released in the coming year. Kastner says, "I chose Barnard because I knew I wanted to be in a liberal arts college and because I wanted to learn about the world. I was also really attracted to the idea of being at a women's college, a place in which women are supported and guided to chase their dreams and passions."

To view more Student Speak stories, please visit the series archive




Akshaya Nataraj ’17 is a modern renaissance woman. Her dedication, ambition, and love for math and statistics opened doors for her at the Columbia University Medical Center, where she assisted leading researchers in answering important medical questions by independently developing statistical formulas and using self-taught coding skills. Outside of the lab, Akshaya found camaraderie and artistic expression through Columbia University Bhangra, the University dance team that celebrates a style of movement originating in the Punjab region of India.

Explore Akshaya’s journey in this video: from uncertain first-year student to successful STEM researcher and University arts leader with an exciting job offer on the horizon. For more student profile videos, visit the Student Speak archive.


Nika Sabasteanski '17, a Barnard transfer student, previously studied abroad at St. Ann’s College, Oxford University.  She volunteered with Oxford Aid to the Balkans, a student-run non-profit organization that supports underprivileged children across the Balkans.  For two summers, Nika worked with Syrian refugees in Bulgaria.  Her collection of poetry, Bearing Witness, is based primarily on this experience. 

This video details Nika’s journey of humanitarianism and self-discovery from Oxford to Eastern Europe to Barnard. For more student profile videos, visit the Student Speak archive.

Economics major Grace Shadid '16 fell in love with pole vaulting at a young age. After being recruited by Columbia University's track and field team, Grace chose to attend Barnard because of the flexibility of the College's curriculum and the access to University athletics.

Grace has not only shown tremendous dedication to her sport, but also to her goal of one day becoming a pediatric oncologist. As a pre-med student, Grace worked closely with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and founded Columbia's chapter of "Up 'til Dawn," a student organization which raises money to pay the medical bills for children who receive care at St. Jude.

Grace was recently named the 2016 Karen Blank Award Winner, "as the senior female student-athlete enrolled in Barnard College who exemplifies the qualities of academic success, athletic achievement, strong sporting behavior and commitment to the community."

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive.

Rachel Herzog '15 came to Barnard for the opportunity not only to study ancient theatre, but also to perform it in the original language. Herzog spent the past few years choreographing and translating for the Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group. This year, she takes the reins as the director of Euripides' Ion.

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive.

A swimmer whose specialty stroke is the butterfly, Trudi Patrick is a member of the Columbia Lions Women’s Swimming/Diving team. A citizen of both the U.S. and Jamaica, she is also a member of the Jamaican National Swim Team and attended the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland last summer.

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive.

Tech Entrepreneur Jada Hawkins ‘16 is a co-founder of Athena Digital Design, a Barnard-based agency that teaches students how to code (from HTML to Wordpress, and more!) and connects members with paid web design jobs. A computer science major, Jada is determined to help break the glass ceiling for women coders, and encourage the study of this valuable market skill. Passionate about female entrepreneurship, Hawkins is a program coordinator of Entrepreneurs-in-Training Camp at Barnard, as well as an Athena Scholar and a member of the Athena Center’s Student Advisory Board.

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive

Writer and activist Julie Zeilinger '15 is the founder and editor of the feminist blog The FBombNewsweek named her among "150 Women Who Shake the World" and she's one of the "eight most influential bloggers under 21" according to Women's Day Magazine. During her time at Barnard, Zeilinger has published two books, A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word and College 101: A Girl's Guide to Freshman Year. She has blogged about her life at a women's college on the website The Frisky. 

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive

Ariane recently played Liesl in NBC's production of "The Sound of Music Live!" She also plays Eve in Darren Aronofsky's film Noah

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive

Keyanna works in Barnard College's Arthur Ross Greenhouse. Her goal is to make urban spaces greener. 

Check out more student profile videos in the Student Speak archive

Cinneah is a peer educator at the Barnard-Columbia Rape Crisis Anti-Violence Support Center. She was involved in the FORCE's 2013 Playboy prank

Gabby creates content for teen girls at Rookie Magazine and worked as a DIY blogger at Buzzfeed