Of all the memories I have of Barnard, the day that stands out is my graduation. As class president, I stood next to the SGA president at the head of our entire class, lined up in the LeFrak gymnasium. With my speech in my hand and a knot in my stomach, I had no idea what might lie ahead. I had no idea that on the other side of the gym doors, the faculty, whom I revered (and who still sit on a high pedestal in my mind), stood ready to cheer for us, perhaps as loudly and as proudly as our parents, for they too had been part of shaping us over the past four years. I had no idea that four months after graduation, the Twin Towers would not stand tall. I had no idea that I would return to Barnard four years later and work here for nine years more.
I thought at that moment that I had made all of my Barnard friendships, and that I would be saying goodbye to dear friends. I would soon learn that I had a lifetime ahead of me of meeting Barnard alumnae on airplanes and train platforms, at work and school, and at the playground and in my child’s music class. I have not only met inspiring Barnard alumnae from the Classes of 1926 to the present, but have made friendships with women in every decade. I had no idea that my graduation day was not my last day at Barnard, but the start of a whole new chapter in my relationship with my alma mater.
As I stood there, excited and perhaps the definition of anxious, I looked to the faculty one more time for guidance. Our faculty marshals were familiar faces. Professor Dennis Dalton had been my adviser for one year and taught Political Theory, my first course at college and one which proved to be life-changing. Professor Rosalind Rosenberg taught American Women in the 20th Century, a quintessential Barnard class with a well-deserved cult following. I had learned to write in her First-Year Seminar and she was the first professor to break through the walls of intimidation I had built up around that faculty pedestal. She showed me what it meant to be a faculty member at a small, liberal arts college, truly dedicated to teaching and advising. And here I was, once again looking to her, unsure of how to proceed. Sure enough, Professor Rosenberg turned around, looked me in the eye and smiled. My fears melted away. Lightheartedly, she flopped her head to the side and said, “And a-one, and a-two, and a-three…”
The doors flung open and off we went.
- Erin Fredrick ’01, Director of Alumnae Affairs (2009-2014)