Good afternoon. My name is Angela Beam and I am the President of Barnard's Student Government Association. I am here today to welcome President Beilock on behalf of the student body.
As I think about the new Presidential era our college is entering, I've found myself reflecting on my personal favorite of Barnard's founders-Annie Nathan Meyer. By many historical accounts, it is Meyer to whom we owe thanks for her formidable on-the-ground work of constructing the vision of Barnard, and initiating the process of creating the college. What Meyer signifies to me is inspirational leadership-the ability to lead by example, and to positively impact those around you.
So much of my experience at Barnard has been defined by this conception of leadership. Notably, a lot of my role models have been peers-it's no secret that Barnard students are unquestionably and consistently phenomenal. I also find inspiration and guidance in professors, alums, and Barnard's leadership-both past and present-whose drive and energy are often mirrored by that of the student body.
Although our school does not bear Annie Nathan Meyer's name, we are certainly marked with her spirit-her tenacity, dedication, and passion. Following a rough childhood, she jumped at the opportunity to attend Columbia's Collegiate Course for Women, which, starting in 1883, was a program at Columbia that allowed women to take exams, but not classes with men. When it turned out to be an unfulfilling experience, she withdrew from the course. Shortly after, at age 20, in the year 1888, she began lobbying for the creation of what would ultimately become Barnard.
In her book, Barnard Beginnings, she writes of coming up with the idea for Barnard, exclaiming, "Of course there should be a college for women in New York; there must be! We must obtain one! ... But what could I do about it? Why, start a college for women myself. That was all." Just a quick reminder, she was TWENTY! Two decades old, not yet a legal adult, approximately the age of a sophomore or junior in college. This is what we call foreshadowing…only at Barnard could such a phenomenon occur. As I read these lines in her book, I felt like I was reading about a classmate in Barnard Magazine, or in a Spec article. So much about Barnard makes sense after hearing Annie's story. It is from her resilience that we grew to become what we are today.
Flash forward to 2018, 128 years since Barnard's humble beginning. After a series of women at the helm of the college, we now have the distinct opportunity to be led by Barnard's latest trailblazer: President Sian Beilock. An esteemed athlete, scholar, mother, author, and educator-the scope and degree of her many accomplishments are truly inspirational. She has written two books-which were published in over a dozen languages-as well as more than 100 papers. Her research has helped children overcome anxiety and pressure in school, and people of all ages perform at their best under stress.
Just as Annie Nathan Meyer encapsulated the Barnard spirit in her quest to create premier educational opportunities for women in New York City, the President of Barnard should be emblematic of the student body, and should strive to inspire. Admittedly, it's no easy task considering the scope and diversity of Barnard students here. However, I have no doubt President Beilock will accomplish this and so much more.
At this critical moment in our history-both on campus and in the world-Barnard is in great hands. When I come back to visit Barnard as an alum-you know, mostly because I've forgotten what campus looks like with the library–I can't even imagine what good I'll find here. President Beilock: we're with you, and we wish you all the best!