Opinion | Op-eds

Building Barnard with Giving Day

I'll never forget arriving to Barnard's campus as a prospective student. I truly "fell in love" —that's what I tell anyone who asks me why I picked Barnard. It offers the best of both (well, many) worlds, as a women’s liberal arts college in New York City, with all of the resources of a major university. I'll be honest in admitting that I didn’t initially consider Barnard amongst my choices. I found out about Barnard late in my college application process and figured I would check it out.

Once at Barnard, however, I knew that I had made the right choice. I formed incredible lifelong relationships which helped me grow as a person. I met students, alumnae, faculty, and administrators from completely different parts of the country and world. There was nurturing, competition, and community building. I felt like I had as much to give as I did to gain.

And so, for the past few years, I have been excited to see Columbia University Giving Day come around, as it’s yet another way for me to give back to Barnard. I’ve always found it to be a wonderful way to bring the university community together through fundraising, events, and even some competition. It allows each school, and their respective programs, to discuss what makes them unique and encourage unity to support their individual growth. Columbia Giving Day connects Columbia students, alumni, faculty, and administration globally through events, social media, and much more.

On Giving Day, my Barnard pride shines through—I’m known to wear Barnard apparel, blue glasses, and take lots of photos with Millie the Bear. I support Barnard not only for what it gave me, but also for what I know it will give students for years to come. I am fortunate to have the privilege of getting to know many Barnard students through my work with the Barnard Student to Alumnae Mentorship program and through the Athena Center. Each year, I am more and more impressed with the students whom I meet. I have seen students transform tremendously, from the day that they first walk through the gates to the day that they walk across the Radio City Hall stage at commencement—and, I know it is, in large part, thanks to their Barnard experience.

Barnard provides students a world-class education, and as alumnae we need to make sure that it can continue to do so for years to come. Giving back to Barnard means that we give young students an opportunity to grow and develop their skills, hopes, and dreams. It is crucial to help shape the future of global leaders—particularly women leaders—for the generations to follow.

Giving back to Barnard also allows it to continue improving our facilities and services to stay advanced and contemporary, especially as the role of technology in education rapidly develops. We are giving young students the opportunity to take advantage of and learn from all that New York City has to offer. We are giving students the opportunity to learn within a large research institution and to be able to work with leading researchers in their field of interest. It means that we are enabling young students, young women in particular, to build bonds with each other which will last a lifetime.

As alumnae, we have the formidable privilege of being able to make Barnard even better than it was during our time as students. I take much pride in saying that I don’t think I would be accepted, if I were to apply today. While I was attending the kick-off of the mentoring program, I heard alumnae speak about how nice it was to return to the community, to see the amazing transformation that the Barnard campus was undergoing, and to hear about the new programs and opportunities that were readily available to students. And so, fellow Barnard alumnae, I invite all of you to join me on Columbia Giving Day to support Barnard College and all it has given us.

The author is a member of the Barnard College class of 2001.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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