(Bi-Co) Family Ties

These two alums share a legacy of sorts.

Mary Elizabeth Cooper '19

I grew up hearing stories about Bryn Mawr and Haverford from my father and “aunt” Nancy. As I began my college search, I was strongly encouraged to apply to both colleges. I was not interested in a single-sex institution but felt that the Bi-Co provided a nice balance.

I vividly remember visiting both campuses and being attracted to the light at Bryn Mawr. The atmosphere felt brighter. Nancy was “over the moon” the day I chose Bryn Mawr and I loved sharing the experience with her.

Like most students, my first year was an adjustment. With every challenge, I had three cheerleaders at home: my parents and Nancy. Whether it was through owl-themed care packages or tall tales from her time on campus, it was incredibly helpful to have a fellow Mawrter in my corner. She just got it.

A purple-haired Nancy joined my parents at Family Weekend my first year. We spent the weekend talking about Bryn Mawr traditions, particularly Lantern Night (which was coming up in a few weeks) and Hell Week. Without disclosing secrets, Nancy shared her story: she had to serve as an “airline attendant” for the Blue Bus, passing out snacks and water bottles to her passengers. In each of these stories, she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and continue making friends.

Fast forward to graduation: Nancy attended my Garden Party where she met my friends—many of whom continue to challenge me to be the best version of myself.

My four years at Bryn Mawr were incredibly challenging but rewarding. I was able to find my passion through exploring different interests. All along the way, I felt supported by the people around me who taught me the value of learning from failure, resilience, and, in Nancy’s case, to be present and enjoy the moment.

Anne "Nancy" Fisher '81

As a high school student in Colorado, I craved a college environment filled with smart women who did not feel the need to defer to men. Betty Vermey introduced me to Bryn Mawr at a college fair and provided a personal touch that was unmatched by other institutions. She made my decision easy.

I came with a clear path: geology all the way. But my focus was short lived, and the deviation caused a bit of panic. Luckily, I fell in love with economics during my sophomore year. Looking back, I’m grateful that my mother encouraged me to attend a liberal arts college. It gave me the freedom to explore a variety of academic interests rather than be stuck with one.

I met Pratap Mukharji (HC ’81) through my Bi-Co economics courses. To this day, we remain close friends and have been there for each other in times of sorrow and celebration.

I’ve known his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, since she was eight hours old. Pratap and his wife Carolynn were supportive during her college search, but it was my job to push Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

When she was accepted to Bryn Mawr and weighing her options, I reinforced Bryn Mawr’s academic rigor, supportive community, and lifelong friendships like the one I have with her dad. College can be challenging, so it is important to find an environment that surrounds you with other brilliant, accepting individuals.

In her first year, Mary Elizabeth invited me to join her parents at Family Weekend. I had not been on campus since graduation and felt a rush of memories, like I was home. I was thrilled that she would get a similar experience and her time at Bryn Mawr allowed me to see the College in a new way.

Though challenging, Bryn Mawr had a positive impact on my life in both subtle and not so subtle ways. I’m glad I made the decision to attend back in 1977 and that Mary Elizabeth followed 37 years later.