It’s Been a Dream

By Amy Veltman ’89, AABC President, Alumnae Trustee

Amy Veltman Head Shot (1)

Serving as president of the AABC has been a dream come true for me. Before you dismiss this reflection as a mere cliché tossed out at the end of my three-year term, allow me to share some context.

In junior high school and high school, I ran for student council president six times.

I met with crushing defeat. All. Six. Times.

Why did I keep running? It was simple. I had a deep desire to serve and lead.

Maddeningly, my losses were usually to a boy whose “speech,” unlike mine, had not been wordsmithed and rehearsed deep into the previous night. Rather, he would approach the mic to the whooping of his teammates and mutter something about making lunch period twice as long. At the end of his gaffe-filled sentences, he would leave the stage to more whoops, backslaps, and a wall of applause delivered with the full upper-body strength of a football team in peak condition and the sharp precision of a cheer squad whose very job description included effective clapping.

The first few times I ran, these intense displays of enthusiasm for my challengers didn’t worry me a bit. Everyone knows student council has no jurisdiction over the length of lunch! I was certain that even the most gullible of my classmates would see through my opponents’ untruths and fantasies. I had bottomless faith that, in the sacred privacy of the ballot box, a majority would choose the most devoted candidate who cared about the actual work of running the student council: me.

Perhaps the 14-year-olds in Beaverton, Oregon, in 1981 were not quite ready for my Mr. Smith Goes to Washington vibes.

In the end, the pursuit of office itself gave me plenty; it provided the subject matter for my personal statement for my early-decision application to Barnard College. About 30 years before failure became fashionable in business circles, before a top ad agency had “FAIL HARDER” enshrined in 100,000 pushpins in their entryway, I wrote about the lessons of failure. The attempts and the losses did not make me a “loser” but rather one who learned and was willing to face anything, even self-inflicted middle-school humiliation, for a cause I believed in.

Now you understand why serving as the president of the AABC has truly been the culmination of a lifelong dream. (Please do me the courtesy of keeping to yourself any reminders that I ran unopposed. Let me have this!)

The service itself has been a deeper and more humbling honor than I could have imagined. I continue to be astounded by the diverse intelligences, experiences, passions, and talents in our community. I remain impressed with how much Barnard does with coffers that are dwarfed by those of our peer institutions. I hope you’ll join me this summer in welcoming new presidents of both the College and the Alumnae Association, not by taking a “wait and see” approach but by diving into your support of Barnard and its magnificent students with your full heart and soul.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

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Gratefully,

Amy Veltman ’89 AABC President

Alumnae Trustee

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