Fearlessly Figuring It Out

By Amy Veltman ’89

Photograph of Amy Veltman

We are deep into the Barnard Year of Science. As I read about the impressive data supporting Barnard’s eminence in the sciences, I was floored to learn that 10% of Barnard grads attend medical school. As the daughter of a doctor, I can think of few higher callings than caring for others in their times of great need. And as someone married to a CC ’94 religion major who took many of his classes at Barnard and then, like me, went on to get a master’s in filmmaking, and only then went on to medical school, I know something about the sustained dedication and planning it takes to pursue this path and also that one can get there without a science major.

While said-husband returned to school for the post-baccalaureate work needed for medical school, I had to make my own pivot to new and more steady work to support our family. I credit my Barnard education for giving me the critical thinking skills and confidence to jump into a completely new field with the belief that I could “figure it out.” Fresh challenges have continued to pile up: Consult for Fortune 100 companies? Yes. Start a podcast (including composing the theme song and doing the recording)? Got it. Stand-up comedy? Sure. I credit the portion of my husband’s education that took place at Barnard for his similar ability to make great leaps. (He’s mentioned another institution where he took some of his classes, but it keeps slipping my mind….)

In the previous issue of Barnard Magazine, I wrote about the numerous careers many of us experience in a lifetime. As I wonder what makes Barnard so uniquely capable of shaping alumnae who can embrace diverse challenges, it’s hard not to give some of the credit to our “other campus,” New York City. As a student, I held internships in book and magazine publishing, the nonprofit sector, and animation — and I worked at Steve’s Ice Cream and in the Barnard Store when it was but a kiosk in McIntosh. Through these opportunities, I was able to find what I liked in the world of work and, almost more importantly, what I didn’t like. With the support of Beyond Barnard (then known as Career Services), I gradually gained experience “figuring it out,” no matter what “it” was.

Before long, my two kids will be out of the house and the contours of my life will shift yet again. It may be time for another visit to Beyond Barnard for something new to figure out.

Latest IssueWinter 2023