Photographs by Samuel Stuart
More than 1,500 alumnae and guests gathered on campus for Reunion, where they shared reflections on the diverse paths their lives have taken, dove into participatory forums with professors, and discussed pathways for political activism, among other subjects.
At “Still We Rise: A Panel of Barnard Activists,” moderated by CNN national correspondent Deborah Feyerick ’87, alumnae shared stories of social justice work. Mila Jasey ’72, who is in her tenth year as an assemblywoman in the New Jersey State Legislature, discussed the fact that women are still underrepresented in government. “My main message to women is we need to be intentional about getting involved,” she said.
Verna Myers ’82, a Harvard-trained lawyer, describes herself as a cultural innovator whose mission is to disrupt the status quo. “We have got to expand our comfort zones,” she said. “If we as women can do our work across identities and biases, we can change the world.” The panel also included Erika Bernabei ’02, a leader in achieving equity for low-income families and children, and Amee Wurzburg ’12, an LGBTQ and anti-violence activist with a focus on gender justice and sexual health and rights.
Reunion also offered the opportunity to step back into the classroom. History professor Mark Carnes oversaw the interactive experience “Reacting to the Past—The Real Hunger Games: Athens in 405 BCE,” a participatory look at a Barnard-initiated innovation. Carnes utilizes role-immersion games that tap into students’ competitive nature and improve critical thinking. In an abbreviated version of what goes on in Carnes’ courses, alumnae read a brief history and debated whether Athens should surrender to the Spartan army. The participants reached a resolution that was similar to what actually happened in the historical period.
Leora Falk ’07, who served as Carnes’ teaching assistant, was glad alumnae got a taste of his work. “People were engaged and interested,” she said.
A packed house in the Event Oval of The Diana Center—as well as an overflow group watching a livestream in a nearby room—enjoyed “It All Comes Back to Barnard: A Special Event with The Moth,” hosted by comedian, writer, and NPR host Ophira Eisenberg. Sarab Kaur Zavaleta ’67, Katherine Stern ’82, and Dylan Kapit ’16 shared personal tales about how Barnard impacted their lives.
Alumnae shared life stories with each other throughout Reunion. Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson ’77 said being back on campus deepened her understanding of how her college experience helped propel her on a career trajectory relatively unexplored by women at that time. “Living immersed in an environment that offered me the possibility for activism and leadership paved the way for my life’s work: advocacy for women within the rabbinate,” said Koch Ellenson, the former director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network. “I feel very fortunate that I’m part of this amazing club of women who graduated from this incredible school, each of us with our story.” •
See more photos from the weekend on the Barnard Alumnae Flickr page
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