It all started in Barnard Hall. She sat facing Broadway and I sat beside her, facing the registration table. Admittedly, I jumped into a conversation she was having when I overheard her talking to another admitted student about dance. There was no awkward introduction, no biographical questions to fill the silence, no meeting-a-person-for-the-first-time jitters. It wasn’t until at least 10 minutes into our conversation that we realized we hadn’t even exchanged names. A decade later, Vanity David continues to be one of those few people I can talk to for hours on end. This weekend, I will be on the other side of the registration table, welcoming students for the same Open House where we met over 10 years ago.
My friendship with Vanity is very similar to the relationship I have with Barnard. It is this certainty, this unspoken and irrevocable sense of knowing that this person, this institution is part of your identity, part of your story. I actually didn’t see Vanity very much after our initial meeting. We had a fun-filled agenda for that open house weekend where as a New Yorker, I had the opportunity to see NYC in a different light. I spent quality time with my hostess, who was part of a dance troupe and treated me to my first Tom’s vanilla milkshake. It was at the end of our summer in HEOP (when we had a talent show and Vanity set out to teach me some of her flamenco moves) that our friendship really began to take shape. The stars also aligned when we were both placed in the 2nd floor for our first year. The rest was history.
I had to walk by Vanity’s room on the way to mine, so I knocked on her door at least once a day. Slowly but surely, she became my dinner buddy. Thursday night dinners were our favorite because neither of us had class on Friday, so that quickly became a tradition we both looked forward to. We also went down to Late Night at Hewitt Hall for hot chocolate when we knew we’d be staying up late completing assignments. We camped out in the study lounge until the wee hours of the morning, listening to our favorite songs during study breaks. The next year, I was placed in a single in Hewitt Hall, one floor above her. About halfway through the year, I realized that she oftentimes already had our favorite snack, Ritz crackers topped off with cream cheese, out and ready to prepare by the time I was knocking on her door. When I asked her about this, she said that she knew every time I was heading down to her room—she would hear my flip flops echoing through the staircase.
When Vanity and I talk about choosing Barnard, she tells me that her choice was a lot more difficult than mine was. She was choosing between Barnard and another selective private college in a suburban setting, but they both offered the academic programs she was looking for. She was so torn that the dilemma even brought her to tears. She decided on Barnard after attending Open House, meeting Barnard women and learning about all they have accomplished, the unending resources in NYC, and the powerful all-women’s environment. If you ask me, that sounds like quite the trifecta.
Today, I’m glad she chose Barnard. In her, I have found a young woman who isn’t afraid to be herself, who is confident yet compassionate, talented yet humble, hard-working yet balanced. Through this friendship and our conversations, I have been able to grow and analyze myself deeply. Ms.David, as the girls in her Chapin Kindergarten classroom know her, has been a sounding board for me in all matters of life, and even when we get busy or (as the opinionated Barnard women we are) we don’t see eye-to-eye, we always find our way back to our friendship. Such are the connections that you will find at Barnard. Meaningful, motivating, timeless friendships that will challenge you to grow, push you beyond your comfort zone, and help you flourish.