Recruiting For My Alma Mater
As a Barnard alumna, I have fallen in love with this college on a hilltop - and the city in which it’s located - over and over again. When I travel on behalf of The Office of Admissions, I’m able to share what my experience as a student was and help students make informed decisions about their futures.
But admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with travel season. While I love talking to all the students and counselors I meet on the road, there is a particular sadness associated with leaving New York and with being away from Barnard. Each time I fly out, I sit on the left side of the plane so I can get the city views as the plane turns from LaGuardia and heads west. It is in these moments that I remember visiting New York for the first time in 8th grade. We stayed in a hotel in Midtown that was above a jazz club. The music floated up into the room I was sharing with three other girls. Coming from North Carolina, I found the room surprisingly small - the beds were so close together that they almost touched. But even then, staying in that tiny hotel room right off of Times Square, I was touched by the magic that was NYC. I made a vow that I’d live here one day. I got that chance when I enrolled at Barnard and I haven’t looked back since.
Recruiting for Barnard means that I’m actively contributing to the future of the college that has shaped so much of my life. I’m able to provide students with standard admissions knowledge, but I also get to dive below the surface and share personal stories from my time at Barnard. Students in my assigned geographic territory - the midwest and Florida - are constantly pushing me to reflect on all the ways Barnard shaped the way I view the world. When asked what my favorite thing about Barnard is, I usually reply, “the community.” I talk about how excited Barnard students are to connect with one another and to share their interests. I talk about how my current roommate in NYC - also a Barnard alumna - participated in The Mentoring Program and half of our apartment is filled with furniture gifted to her from her mentor. I talk about finals week during my first year, when one of the other women living on my hall knocked on my door at 11pm and insisted that we were done studying and going to see a movie in a half hour. I talk about how this same friend still sends me dog memes whenever we haven’t seen each other in a while.
I intentionally mention that my first-year hall exposed me to incredible diversity: diversity of thought, race, socioeconomic status, and academic interests. And despite these differences, all of us took the time to reconnect at the end of our senior year and catch up on all we’d accomplished over the last three years. We even took a group photo with the President!
This feeling of community extends beyond the students to the faculty and staff as well. When I was a student at Barnard, I always felt supported by everyone I interacted with. I came to Barnard intending to major in math, and my assigned advisor was the head of the math department. When I decided I didn’t want to pursue the math major anymore, she was supportive of my choice (even though it may have been in her best interest to keep students in her major!). She even suggested classes she thought would be of interest to me.
Every interaction I have with prospective students allows me to inject parts of my personal experience into our conversation, making our interactions dynamic and interesting. At the end of a long trip during travel season, or in the midst of lengthy days reading applications, I always think about why I do what I do. The answer is that I love Barnard and I’m invested in her future because she was invested in mine.
- Perri Meeks ‘16, Senior Admissions Officer