From the Alumnae Association President

“Heads High. Hearts Open.”

I write this in mid-April, at a time when there is no clear end to the pandemic in sight and burgeoning uncertainty about the future across so many domains. Some of us are baking for our families, trying to bring comfort and normalcy to a very uncomfortable and abnormal time. Some of us are making masks for health care workers and vulnerable patients. Some are volunteering for crisis phone lines where medical staff, needing to be strong for their patients, can unburden their fears and horror to kind strangers. And still others are on the front line at hospitals and clinics, risking their own health to save as many afflicted by COVID-19 as possible.

Our beloved campus, by all accounts resplendent with blossoming trees, is closed, and perhaps none are affected more profoundly by this closure than our seniors, the graduating class of 2020. In their final weeks of school, instead of enjoying May Day and Step Sing, feeling the elation of ringing Taylor Bell after completing that last exam or assignment, or being celebrated by family and friends at graduation, they instead are looking into an uncertain future besieged by economic and employment uncertainties and fears about what the future may hold. I have no words of reassurance for our seniors, only great empathy and concern.

But what I can tell our graduating seniors is this: Bryn Mawr will find a way to publicly celebrate and recognize your great achievements as you transition from being students to alumnae/i. And we alumnae/i warmly welcome you into our community of 22,000 Mawrters across the globe. We are here to support and scaffold you in these uncertain times. Already we are doing so! Our annual fund donations helped to pay for emergency travel home for some of you at the beginning of the pandemic. The Facebook Thesis Support Group dedicates itself to helping the seniors complete their “big paper.” Many of us are on Mawrter Connect, welcoming the opportunity to mentor and provide information and opportunities to you. Our alumnae/i community is small but mighty, and, now more than ever, we are reaching out to one another, whether through virtual step sings, Zoom book clubs, Facebook special interest groups, or other socially distant endeavors. We were trained by Bryn Mawr to be critical and creative thinkers, exceptional problem solvers—characteristics that serve us and our world well now and when we emerge from this crisis— and you seniors are no exception. You will be fine, and we have got your back.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the members of our Alumnae Association Executive Board have taken to chatting on What’s App daily, sharing quarantine photos, recipes, anxieties, and links to whatever funny stuff we stumble upon while traveling the internet. A group favorite are the videos posted by Pluto, the talking dog, in which s/he offers humorous advice and encouragement during the pandemic. Normally, I probably wouldn’t close by quoting an animated Schnauzer, but this seemed a fitting directive for our seniors, and really for us all, as we navigate the crisis: “Heads high. Hearts open.” I send all of you my very best.

Saskia K. Subramanian ’88, M.A. ’89
President, Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association