Every year, Barnard alumnae gather for Reunion to reminisce, catch up with classmates, and reconnect with the place in Morningside Heights that they once called home. For many, it is also a chance to revisit their Barnard roots alongside their loved ones. Over the years, countless family members have converged on campus to enjoy lunches, seminars, and speaker panels side by side.
This year, the College will host a weeklong virtual event series called Reunion Reimagined (June 1-5), strengthening bonds and preserving a much-treasured tradition, despite COVID-19. Alumnae may be separated by class years and the pandemic, but their common connection to Barnard unites them. And at Reunion Reimagined, most mainstays remain intact, including the State of the College Address with President Sian Leah Beilock, faculty lectures, the alumnae awards ceremony, and more.
Below, five Barnard alumnae reflect on their most cherished memories of past Reunions with their loved ones. Read their firsthand accounts:
Janet Alperstein ’92
“This is a picture of my grandmother Ruth Saberski Goldenheim and me at her 75th and last attended (as she always went annually) Reunion, in June 2010. She was Class of 1935. From 1989 to 2010, I only missed one Reunion with her, the year that I was in Guatemala finalizing the adoption of my son Max. Jennifer Fondiller ’88 graciously covered for me and sat with my grandmother at the Friday Reunion lunch in 2008. This photo creates a swirl of emotions, and it makes me think of the Hebrew phrase ‘L’Dor V’Dor,’ ‘from generation to generation.’”
Tirza Wahrman ’78
“I’m the proud mom of three spirited Barnard graduates. Hannah Mitlak, Class of 2020, just graduated, albeit remotely. For my 40th Reunion back in 2018, I convinced my other two daughters, Deena, Class of 2012, and Molly, Class of 2015, to join me. They watched me participate in the panel, ‘Barnard: The Generations Speak Out,’ where alumnae from different generations, dating back to 1963, spoke about their college experiences. The room was full. Every seat was taken. Deena and Molly sat with my classmates.
I cannot adequately describe the feeling of pride I had to introduce my grown-up Barnard graduates to my classmates. My daughters felt immediately embraced and welcomed. That feeling of warmth and achievement has stayed with me. Barnard will always be my home.”
Sarah Samis ’03
“In 2013, my grandma Shirley Samis ’43, who passed this past February, was celebrating her 60th Barnard Reunion, while I was only on my 10th. I loved that our Reunion years matched so we could go back to Barnard together, the place that has been so influential in launching female professionals across the generations in our family. Shirley, who graduated at the height of the war, joined the U.S. Department of Justice as an intelligence researcher, and ever since leaving Barnard, I’ve carried on her commitment to public service by working primarily in city government and nonprofits. Our 2013 Reunion was unique, because Grandma Shirley, a commuter student in her day, finally got to experience living in a college dorm when we shared a room in Sulzberger. At least she waited until there was air conditioning!”
Linda Sweet ’63
“My sister Joan Jankell ’58 and I are five years apart, so we never overlapped at Barnard. But she did encourage me to apply and then filled me in on the best professors and courses to take. I went my own way and majored in art history, in part because I accompanied Joan on a visit to the Frick Museum when I was 15 and she was writing a paper for Julius Held on The Education of the Virgin by Georges de La Tour. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in a museum. And it was Joan who encouraged me to attend my 20th, her 25th, Reunion. From then on, I knew I wanted, in one way or another, to stay connected to Barnard. I’ve been an active volunteer ever since.”
Nancy Pierson Christatos ’74
“Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two! That’s what happened to me. Through both my daughters’ experiences as Barnard students and alumnae, I have cherished and shared in their joy of Barnard as a whole and all of the campus events. I had not attended my own Reunion, but going to campus with them has shown me the lifelong connection Barnard has given them. My girls are the best, even more so because of Barnard, and our bonds are enhanced because we share not only the excellence of our alma mater but also the spirit and character of our college years.”