While head scratching and anguished late-night conversations about majors, graduate schools, and future careers are generally the norm among undergraduates, these jittery economic times have no doubt created even more anxiety for today’s college students. The alumnae that fill the pages of this issue should strike reassuring notes. Some arrived as Barnard first-years relatively secure in their knowledge about their future goals; for example, the art-gallery director who arrived to major in art history, found work in a downtown gallery, then set up her own business. Or the young film actress who was intent on professional studies at a conservatory to advance her career objective, but whose mother insisted on a more thorough grounding in the liberal arts. Barnard satisfied both of them.
Many times, the course of a career is serendipitous. Consider the would-be dance major, now a PhD candidate in physics, or the law student who worked for a fashion manufacturer one summer and decided not to return to law school in the fall. Another alumna, now a marketing powerhouse for a well-known group of department stores, opted to major in sociology and piano performance, but still felt the pull, and loved the pace, of the business world.
What these women have in common is not only their Barnard educations. They share a commitment to finding and fueling their own dreams—with study, research, experimentation, persistence, hard work, and a willingness to start small and think big. Many of these alumnae attribute their independent outlook and feelings of empowerment to their four years at the College, and the added jumpstart of spending those years in a global capital like New York City.
In this issue, we share news about the new Vera Joseph Scholarship Program, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, named for a 1932 graduate and chemistry major who was one of the first African-American women toattend Barnard, and designed to facilitate the often financially challenging paths of majors in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics. Newsworthy, too, is the acquisition of some major new laboratory equipment, thanks to a second NSF grant, that will enable both faculty and students to pursue advanced research.
Support comes in many guises... We also look at educators, from those teaching middle-school children to professors at the college level. Through encouragement, mentoring, personal experiences, and expertise, these instructors provide the unquantifiable stimulus that challenges students to think for themselves and find their own pathways to success, however these young people may define it.