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Commencement 2013: Rocking Radio City

Barnard’s Class of 2013 graduated in true New York style on May 19, with Commencement taking place at Radio City Music Hall. In her remarks, President Spar gave a nod to the venue’s most famed act, acknowledging (and resisting) the impulse to “indulge in just the briefest, the smallest, hint of a high kick.”

Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, delivered the keynote address, urging the graduates to “step out of the shadows” and make their voices heard. Gbowee also received the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the College’s highest honor, together with three other pathmakers in their fields: Jimmie Briggs, journalist, human rights advocate, and founder of the Man Up Campaign; architect Elizabeth Diller, founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, whose projects include the High Line and the redesign of Lincoln Center; and Lena Dunham, award-winning creator and star of the acclaimed HBO series GIRLS.

The Class of 2013 heard from several classmates. Senior Class President Linda Zhang recalled the shared experience of arriving at Barnard as foreigners who “rapidly formed our own little families.” Student Government Association President Jung Hee Hyun invoked political scientist Kim Nan-Do’s metaphor, “If birth is metaphorically at midnight, by the time we are 20 years old, it is now just 6 a.m. …We all have so many hours to make our day fulfilling.” In her Academic Reflections, Natalia Quintero compared her education to the mathematical expression of an inflection point: “In the moments where my intellectual path could have plateaued, Barnard always exalted it.”

The Senior Fund co-chairs, Lauren Hancock and Jennie Ostendorf, announced that almost 70 percent of the class had contributed to the senior class gift, raising $27,000 toward an initiative to reduce the College’s impact on the environment. They noted that an anonymous donor had given $5,000 in honor of her 50th reunion, and that the class had received generous donations from the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, President of the Alumnae Association Mary Ann Lo Frumento ’77, Dean of the College Avis Hinkson ’84, and President Spar. Said Ostendorf: “...[T]hrough our gift, we have also inspired a spirit of giving, setting a new precedent for the College community. We hope to carry on this spirit of giving as Barnard graduates.”
 

—By Alyssa Vine
—Photographs by Dorothy Hong and Asiya Khaki '09