On May 17th, Barnard celebrated Commencement at Radio City Music Hall at Rockefeller Center. Hours before it was time to head downtown, families and graduates celebrated all around campus. I personally got to enjoy lunch with my family, since my cousin, who also attended (past tense!) Barnard, was graduating. After eager waiting and mingling, the ceremony began with the graduates walking down the aisles of the theater in their Columbia blue robes to Pomp and Circumstance.
After warm welcomes, Barnard Medals of Distinction were presented to incredible, well-deserving women who were influential pioneers in their fields. These women included author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose TED Talks and books have offered insight into feminism and civil war in Nigeria, Sister Simone Campbell, whose work as a lawyer, author, and lobbyist has promoted immigration, economic, and health reforms, Shafi Goldwasser, whose computer science research led to her development of her own mathematical theories and earned her the Alan M. Turing Award, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, who addressed the entire class as the Commencement speaker.
Dr. Slaughter’s speech drew from her experience becoming the Director of Policy Planning under the Obama Administration (the first woman to ever hold the position) and consequently leaving the position to focus on and be with her family. Thus, she addressed issues surrounding shared parenting, being in a relationship as a feminist, and balancing work and family. This theme was intertwined with her addressing the controversy that ensued upon her appointment as commencement speaker. In regards to this controversy, she preached that women of all colors, classes, and sexualities must come together in support rather than competition.
And, finally, President Spar sent off the senior class with a wonderful, thoughtful speech that quoted “Hamilton” (trust me, DSpar reading Hamilton lyrics was a sight to behold) and reminded me of how lucky I am to go to a college small enough for the president to really get to know every class. Overall, commencement was wonderful and inspiring and made me very glad that I still have more years at Barnard! You can watch commencement and read everyone’s speeches here: http://barnard.edu/commencement/archives/2016
As always, feel free to e-mail with any questions!
Deena Cohen ‘18