For Starters: Winter 2017

Giving back. Growing connections. Catching those moments.
Students Knitting

1. Doing for Others

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

In January, Bryn Mawr responded to that question with a week of service activities—a knitting project for local hospitals and wildlife rescue efforts (pictured above), an outreach campaign to writing to Pennsylvania’s elected officials, information sessions about human trafficking and refugee support, and a Practicing Democracy teach-in. And on January 21, LILAC’s Civic Engagement Office, along with Student Activities and the Dean’s Office, sponsored a bus for Mawrters heading to the Washington, D.C. Women’s March.

2. An Open Letter

Post-election, President Kim Cassidy joined with leaders of the other Seven Sisters in a letter to Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief White House strategist. In light of past remarks in which Bannon “disparaged lesbians, feminists, and alumnae of the historic Seven Sisters Colleges,” the group asks that he “take a more expansive, informed, and tolerant world view in your leadership role.”

“Our alumnae are accomplished leaders in all spheres of public and professional life; they are committed to their work, their families, and their countries,” the letter continues. “Now more than ever, we look to those who would lead the United States of America for a message of inclusion, respect, and unity.”

Cassidy was also a cosignatory to a letter calling on the president-elect to take a more forceful stand against “harassment, hate, and acts of violence” and to a statement in support of the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Post-inauguration, Cassidy asked on her Huffington Post blog, “When the marches are over, what will you do?” There, she discussed what young people can do to rebuild, protect, and extend gender equity in the months and years ahead.

3. A Garden Grows

A new garden is taking root on the Bryn Mawr campus. Located on the site of the former Perry House, Perry Garden is the brainchild of a student group seeking to honor the important story of Perry House and its significance to the Bryn Mawr College community. A new welcoming tradition will be introduced as well. As the McBrides use the Labyrinth to welcome new McBride students, so will students from Africa and the African diaspora use Perry Garden to welcome First-Years through the Sister Circle tradition.


4. Net Gains

The Owls marked a basketball milestone in November with their 1,001st game, the season opener against Cedar Crest. The record books show that Bryn Mawr played its first varsity game on Jan. 13, 1950, against Beaver College (now Arcadia University). It was a 12-32 loss, but the team did go 3-7 in that first year. The decades-old record book is tough to read but did provide a partial roster, including Louise Kimball ’53, Betsy Parker ’51, Laurie Perkins ’52, Emily Townsend ’50, and Ellen Wadsworth ’52. Today’s roster includes last year’s leading scorer Erica Dwyer ’19, veteran Adriana Castilla-Hernandez ’17, and six newcomers.


5. STEM + ART = STEAM

Bryn Mawr’s first-ever STEM & the Arts Intensive brought students into Philly to visit WHYY public radio, where they met up with Molly Seavy-Nesper ’12, Fresh Air’s associate producer of online media, and Tiny WPA, a nonprofit that engages youth in community-based design projects.

On campus, they experimented with the audio-editing software Audacity, tried their hand at science cartooning, and test drove some HoloLenses, which allow students to interact with three-dimensional objects in real space (pictured). And they heard from alumnae working at the intersection of art and science: Becky Thompson ’01, head of public outreach at APS Physics and the creative force behind the Spectra comic book series; Lauren Friedman ’05, Business Insider senior editor; Kate Cuffari ’99, Philadelphia Museum of Art conservator; Daniella Forstater ’04, Philadelphia public school music teacher; Catherine Matsen ’97, Winterthur Museum scientist; and Kathryn Reber ’05, Temple University horticulturalist.

Designed to give students a taste of what life after Bryn Mawr might mean, intensives are short noncredit seminars offered by Leadership, Innovation, and the Liberal Arts Center (LILAC) and funded through a Sherman Fairchild Foundation grant.

6. How Hogwarts!

Bryn Mawr’s castle-like architecture has landed it on BuzzFeed’s list of colleges that “straight-up look like Hogwarts.” Our affinity for lanterns and owls definitely adds to the magical ambiance of campus.

7.  The Child Is the Father to the Man

Since 1938, the Study of Adult Development has been following two cohorts of men from adolescence into old age. One of the longest-running longitudinal studies ever undertaken, it is a treasure trove of data about the lives of more than 700 men and what makes for a happy life.

And for more than 15 years, Psychology Professor Marc Schulz has been mining the data to understand how emotion and stress affect, and are affected by, our relationships. His most recent finding? Children who grew up in a warm family environment are more likely to enjoy a secure marriage late in life. “With all the things that happen to human beings and influence them between adolescence and the ninth decade of life, 
it’s remarkable that the influence of childhood on late-life marriage can still be seen,” says Schulz.

Photo of Edwidge Danticat in Bryn Mawr Classroom

8. Seize the Day

Last October, Haitian-American writer and MacArthur Genius Edwidge Danticat gave students a peek into her writing process. As an undergrad at Barnard, she often wrote to put off studying for finals. “But you need to catch those moments, whether or not they come at inconvenient times,” said Danticat. A prolific author with more than a dozen books to her name, Danticat was on campus as part of Bryn Mawr’s Reading Series.