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The Barnard Legacy

Every year, in our Fall issue, the alumnae association, with the help of the Registrar’s office, publishes a list of new students and their familial connections to other Barnard women— mothers, sisters, grandmothers, great-grandmothers. While it’s always gratifying to see how many alumnae have inspired their descendants to attend their alma mater, the editors thought to match some names with faces. We present the following portfolio of portraits with an admittedly geographical bias, due less in part to the desire to concentrate on the campus environs than to the peripatetic and/or impossible schedules of some very busy alumnae. Page through the profiles, take note of the diversity of career choices and family traditions that mark these “strong, beautiful” Barnard women, and marvel over their commitment to the College.

LORCH

Three Generations, Six Women

“Barnard was an integral part of my life. I grew up on its campus, in the offices of my parents where I spent many an afternoon drawing on their blackboards during office hours,” writes journalist Donatella Lorch ’83 from Nairobi. She was also influenced to attend the College by her sister Lavinia Lorch ’77 (second from right), assistant dean for the Scholars Program at Columbia College, who used to talk about how much she loved her challenging classes. The family legacy also includes Lavinia’s and Donatella’s sisters Madeleine Lorch Tramm ’68 (second from left), director of business development at Caron Foundation, and Claudia Bove Valeani ’68, professor of English at Lycée Français in France, as well as their aunt, Madeleine D. Lorch ’26. For the photo shoot, pictures of the absent alumnae family members were specially placed on the bookshelves.

Attending Barnard was the natural thing to do for most of these alumnae, whose parents, professor of Italian Maristella Lorch (far right) and professor of math Edgar Lorch, Lavinia says, “met in the elevator of Barnard Hall and immediately fell in love.” Madeleine Tramm first tried a year at a big university and then traveled before finding her way to Barnard. Lavinia’s daughter, Fiamma Van Biema ’13 (far left), embraces the school as an extension of her family. And Donatella, who won a Distinguished Alumna Award at Reunion 2008, is promoting the Barnard experience: “With a 17-year-old step-daughter, I am now surrounded by young women preparing to apply to college and I don’t miss a chance to talk about Barnard and how it made me who I am today.”

RUBIN

Two generations, Six Women

Mishaela Rubin ’91 (standing, second from right), the oldest of five daughters of Evelyn Rubin-Houpt ’69, can claim to have been in two Barnard commencement processions. The married Evelyn (seated, right) was pregnant at her commencement; President Ellen Futter reminded Mishaela of her “second commencement” walk when she received her diploma. “My daughters all wanted to go to Barnard,” says Evelyn. “They appreciated a life of the mind.” While the group includes psychologists Evelyn and Shulamit ’93 (seated); Talia ’02 (right), a dentist; Mishaela, an MD; Rena ’00 (second from left), an MBA; and Sarah ’07 (left), pursuing a degree in social work—all were humanities majors in English, religion, or American studies. Not including their undergraduate degrees— all five sisters graduating summa, magna, or cum laude—Evelyn and her daughters tally 14 advanced degrees, obtained mostly from Columbia University. Originally from New York, the clan remains in the area. Divorced from her daughters’ father, Evelyn is remarried to Dr. Milton Houpt, a dentist. She and two of her daughters have added Englewood, N.J., where this portrait was taken, to the family’s address book.

YAP & WU

Two Generations, Four Women

Margaret Wu did not go to Barnard but certainly has been a strong advocate. When her youngest sister, Angelina Yap ’86, decided to leave Singapore to continue her education in the United States, Margaret urged her to consider Barnard, reasoning that Angelina would receive an excellent education while still residing in an urban environment close to Margaret and her family in Queens. Margaret’s daughters, Meghan ’08 (center), and fraternal twins, Claire (right) and Julia ’13 (left), needed less convincing. An international, yet close family, the Wus try to get together once a year, usually in the summer, but not necessarily in Singapore, New York, or Hong Kong, from where their father, William, hails. Yap is now a banker in London and travels the world extensively; a photo shoot in New York had to be replaced by a business trip to Switzerland. All three of Margaret’s daughters play the piano and fence; Meghan, who currently works as a coordinator for the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia, started fencing with Barnard coach Sharon Everson. As for the first-years, Claire is thinking about a major in architecture while Julia is considering urban studies.

SAHLMAN & STOFFEL

Three Generations, Four Women

Barbara Glaser Sahlman ’53 (left) and her daughter Emily Sahlman Karaszewski ’85 (facing page) both use the word “thrilled” when talking about their reaction to being a Barnard legacy family. Granddaughters to Barbara and nieces to Emily, Amanda Stoffel ’10 (right) and Laura Stoffel ’08 (center) each had their own reasons for attending the College.

“A strong sense of community and an emphasis on extracurricular activities were very important factors,” says Laura, who confesses that she was also impressed with her grandmother’s close ties to her 1953 classmates, “which are just as strong today as they were when they were initially forged (if not stronger).” Now a project analyst at the firm of Mintz Levin, Laura says although she and her grandmother have very different interests, “whenever there is a Barnard event we both get equally excited and are sure to attend together.”

Amanda on the other hand was “reluctant to consider Barnard at first.” While aware of the quality of an education at the College, she says, “I wanted to choose my own path. [But] after seeing my older sister evolve into such an incredibly intelligent and assured woman within her first semester, I was instantly given the proof that I was in fact lucky to have signs pointing me in this direction.”

Barbara, a native New Yorker who initially went to the University of Virginia, transferred to Barnard in her sophomore year and was immediately impressed with the art-history professors. Now a sculptor, she recalls that she encouraged Emily to be independent and pick a school that suited her.

But, her daughter reveals that, like her mom, she started off at a different college, and after two years she moved to Barnard. Did her mom’s alumna status influence her? “She is an inspiring person,” observes Emily, a yoga instructor in California. She continues, “I have a 16-year-old daughter and she’s grown up knowing her grandma and mom and two of her cousins ... went to Barnard so she’s got a watchful eye and she’s intrigued.”

-Photographs by Noah Sheldon