Black Alumnae Conference
On January 20, people across the country and around the world gathered to watch the promise of education and opportunity fulfilled as Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. Last October,many of our Black alumnae with roots across the country and around the world gathered on campus grateful for the opportunity provided by our Bryn Mawr education. We reconnected with old friends and made new friends.Most importantly we committed, in this new era of responsibility, to do our part in advancing our alma mater by providing opportunities for our current students of color.We decided to establish five summer internships open to undergraduate members of the Sisterhood and BACaSO. Through these internships, we hope to afford students with valuable work and research experiences in preparation for their post Bryn Mawr careers.We also hope that these internships will allow for intergenerational connection as Black alumnae serve as mentors in some instances. To date we have raised $13K, enough for two summer internships. Additional support is needed to fully fund the Bryn Mawr Black Alumnae Summer Internship Fund at $25K as well as to provide summer positions. Those interested in helping either through a donation to the Fund or serving as a mentor should contact Cynthia Washington at the Alumnae Association (firstname.lastname@example.org 610.526.5233). Now that we have witnessed that all things are indeed possible in America, let us insure that our Black students are prepared.
—Karen Kerr ’89
At the Bryn Mawr College Black Alumnae/i Conference (October 24–26, 2008), participants were excited about reconnecting with friends, inspired by new alliances, awed by their collective strength, and empowered by a renewed relationship with the college. Events at the conference compelled us to both reflect on the past and look forward. The lobbying workshop, seminars, student panel discussion, faculty diversity panel discussion, and the awards ceremony for Black faculty and staff who provided exceptional support to Black students all contributed to the success. Building on the enthusiasm generated at the conference, we are planning “Homecoming: Renew and Commit.” This gathering is scheduled for Saturday, February 28, 2009, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. The program will focus on how Black alumnae/i can support current Black students through mentoring, career development, financial assistance, advice on balancing work/school/family, and for graduates, networking. A morning panel will address one of the Homecoming’s objectives, to help revive the school’s National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) chapter. Former GSSWSR Dean Ruth Mayden will be the keynote speaker. In the afternoon, work groups will break out by areas of concentration: clinical, management, and policy. A panel will consider practical steps for establishing and maintaining a mentoring program. There will be opportunities to reconnect, network, and engage GSSWSR Black alumnae/i.We hope to use this as a model to encourage re-engagement for the larger community of GSSWSR alumnae/i.
—Yvette Savwoir Bradford,M.S.S., M.L.S.P. ’90
Bryn Mawr at Obama inauguration I didn’t have a ticket, but I went anyway, striding into the cold Mall at 6:30 a.m. under a setting crescent moon, just one of a happy crowd already staking out a place in view of the Capitol steps, or at least a Jumbotron screen. Staking out a place to watch history being made, not only the peaceful transfer of great power in a divided and shaken country, but also a giant step toward healing one of those most painful and unhappy divisions. I am teary-eyed and lump-throated even as I type this letter. I didn’t know it would mean this much to me, so deep and so intense. Everything I saw was wonderful, as if pixie dust had been scattered over us all. Everyone was beautiful, everyone was friendly. So many families, adults giving their children memories and stories and pictures. A man with a cane, hopping by, chortling happily “My president is Black! My president is Black!”Women in fur coats, couples wrapped in blankets, every-one polite and helpful. Cameras every-where, Obama buttons and scarves and hats, the Boy Scouts handing out half a million American flags on 3-foot wooden sticks. There were fences and police and National Guard, but no rifles or fixed bayonets as in other mass gatherings I’ve attended in Washington, D.C. It was the most celebratory of ground zeros. Despite all the official notices about security and not bringing in backpacks or thermoses or strollers, I didn’t see or go through a single checkpoint. It was definitely the people’s party. A political Woodstock, someone of my generation said. I’m glad I was there, a Caucasian minority in a sea of two million, as safe and happy as everyone else.
—Kit Bakke ’68
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