One of the many things students value about their Barnard experience is the opportunity to compete in NCAA Division I Athletics through the Columbia/Barnard Athletic Consortium. Barnard is the only women's college—and one of only a few liberal arts colleges—to offer Division I athletics. This is the second profile in our scholar-athlete series. (Our first profile was of Adele Bernhard ‘18, women’s squash.)
In this edition, we feature Shalon Conley '18, a track star and Ohio native majoring in computer science. She is a key contributor to the Columbia Women’s Track & Field team and competes in short sprints, 100M, 200M, and 4x100M relays.
Why did you choose Barnard?
I chose Barnard because I felt that I could experience the best of both worlds. I am able to engage in the small, intimate campus life that Barnard offers, but I also have the luxury of being a part of a bigger institution and student body on Columbia’s campus.
What are you studying and why?
I am a computer science major. I chose this major because we as a society have entered a very innovative time and I wanted to, in some way, contribute to the new, upcoming technology that will help in further advancing our world. My specific track is intelligent systems, which consists of machine learning, robotics, and systems exhibiting “human-like” behavior.
Aside from athletics and academics, what else do you do for fun?
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, watching endless YouTube videos, and on occasion, I like to make my own skin and hair products.
Is making skin and hair products a hobby, or do you anticipate that you will want to do this professionally as a career post-Barnard?
Making my own hair care products is a hobby for me; however, during my sophomore year, I utilized my hobby for the greater good. I joined two other extraordinary Columbia women, Akua Obeng-Akrofi, CC '18 and Chelsea Miller, CC '18, in their organization WEBelieve to start their first initiative, Dare to Dream. We each constructed our own eight-week curriculum for an underprivileged, underfunded middle school, Democracy Prep in Harlem, for girls ages 10-14.
My curriculum was called STEM to Beauty. I focused on using chemistry and other key components of STEM to care for ethnic hair. After learning for eight weeks, with objectives that sequentially built upon each other, the students were able to create their own leave-in conditioner that contained essential ingredients. Through this experience, I was able to share my hobby with strong, charismatic young girls.
With regard to track and field, what are you most proud of and why?
I think I am most proud of being a part of something that is bigger than myself. When I put on my jersey, I am not only representing myself; I am representing Columbia Athletics and the strong, fearless female community at Barnard. I feel honored to be able to compete at a Division I institution and represent an all-women's college in the process.