Last summer, nearly 50 years after she graduated from Barnard and launched her career as a distinguished cancer researcher, Julie Yin Djeu ’67 returned to campus to hear students present their work from the Summer Research Institute. She was so inspired by the visit that she created a scholarship fund for Barnard science majors, hoping to propel promising young minds into groundbreaking careers in research.
“I was truly impressed with the caliber of the students and their work—they were quite creative and mature in their thinking,” she recalls.
The Julie Yin Djeu ’67 Science Scholarship Fund is also a testament to Djeu’s appreciation for the financial support she received as a Barnard student. In 1962, she was a first-year student at Rangoon University in Myanmar (then called Burma) when a military coup upended her home country and left her with nowhere to study. Djeu had a friend who left Burma to attend Finch College in New York, so she decided to follow suit and come to the United States. She applied sight unseen to Barnard—the first New York college listed in a guidebook she obtained at the U.S. Embassy in Burma.
“My career could not have happened without Barnard,” says Djeu, a researcher with the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and an endowed professor at the University of South Florida who has made significant contributions to the field of cancer immunology. “They were willing to take a chance on a young Burmese girl they’d never seen. The foreign student advisers really took care of me—I’m grateful to them for giving me mentorship and independence. Since Barnard gave me such a great start, I thought it was time to pay Barnard back.”
Djeu, who had made modest donations to the College over the years before endowing the scholarship fund, is among a growing number of alumnae who have enhanced their support by making six-figure gifts and commitments as part of Barnard’s $400 million fundraising campaign, The Bold Standard.
“The Bold Standard campaign is inspiring many alumnae to look for ways to increase their impact with multi-year gifts that reflect their personal values,” says Beth Mauro, executive director of principal giving. “The campaign provides an opportunity to participate in a larger effort to build the endowment and support students and faculty. There’s a sense that this is Barnard’s moment, and that makes this an especially exciting time for alumnae to strengthen their ties with the College through philanthropy.”
Like Djeu, Ann-Marie Halsted ’89 recently established a scholarship fund to provide financial aid, reflecting her gratitude for the support she received at Barnard. A first-generation college student from the small mill town of Windham, Conn., she thrived in the College’s metropolitan, multicultural environment.
“It was an amazing experience,” Halsted says. “Barnard creates a student body that represents all walks of life—a diverse group of women in terms of their background, but not in terms of their desire to learn and to give back to the world into which they graduate.”
Halsted majored in economics and spent more than a decade in the financial services industry in New York and Boston before moving to London, where she has interviewed prospective students as part of her Barnard volunteer activities. “I can almost always tell who will be successful at Barnard—young adults who are really intent on forging their own way in the world and who are not afraid to use their voices to effect change,” she says. “It’s so important to provide opportunities for these young people to be educated.”
Halsted has contributed consistently to Barnard’s financial aid program by making annual gifts since graduation. Creating the Halsted Family Memorial Scholarship was not only an opportunity to increase her giving as part of The Bold Standard campaign, it also allowed her to honor the memory of her mother-in-law, Crystie Halsted ’58. A chemistry major at Barnard, Crystie Halsted died in 2008 after a long career as a physician and a pioneer in treating AIDS and other infectious diseases in children.
“I would hate for anyone not to be able to receive an education—not just in academic subjects, but in life—because they couldn’t afford to go to college,” she says. “My mother-in-law and I would have both been left out of that equation if not for the financial aid we received from Barnard.”
Marley Blue Lewis ’05 was also motivated by her Barnard experience and her family in deciding to increase her support during The Bold Standard campaign.
Lewis entered Barnard thinking she would major in psychology, but after taking a history of photography course that “blew me away,” she wound up majoring in both political science and art history, with a visual arts concentration. Since graduation, she has remained in New York, where she has worked in a variety of roles in the art world. She is currently the research associate of the Agnes Martin catalogue raisonné project for Artifex Press after having held positions at the Museum of Modern Art and Christie’s.
In creating the Marley Blue Lewis ’05 Scholarship Fund, she wanted to facilitate opportunities for students admitted to Barnard to freely pursue their academic passions. “I received a tremendous education, and I want to help women who have been accepted to Barnard to be able to go and pursue their dreams,” she says.
Lewis’ family has a long history of philanthropy at Barnard and beyond, including funding the Jan R. and Marley Blue Lewis ’05 Parlor in Brooks Hall. Heeding her parents’ encouragement “to always give back to my communities,” she began giving to Barnard as a student and has been active as a donor and a volunteer since graduation. Her volunteer activities have included serving as co-chair of the Barnard Reunion Gift Committee, a member of the President’s Advisory Council, and a member of the Leadership Council for the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, as well as organizing alumnae and student art exhibitions at the Diana Center.
“This school has been in my life for almost two decades, and I’ve been so impressed by and proud of Barnard’s trajectory,” she says. “I also feel like my horizon with the school is a long one, so The Bold Standard campaign was particularly inspiring for me, because I like the idea of supporting the endowment as the backbone of the institution.” •