Tree is Me: Self-Portrait

Trees are symbols of knowledge, strength, and endurance.

The self-portrait that merges my identity with that of a tree reminds me of my undergrad years at Bryn Mawr (and life at Perry House) for several reasons. Trees are symbols of knowledge, strength, and endurance. At Bryn Mawr, I “learned how to learn,” as BMC President McPherson once said. Knowledge acquired at Bryn Mawr became the cornerstone of my education and career as a medical doctor. My knowledge of medicine and history (my major) gave me a broad intellectual palette that made it possible for me to pivot from medicine into life as a caregiver and visual artist. The supportive community of the Sisterhood* [the asterisk denotes that Sisterhood* is open to all genders and gender expressions] at Perry House made me inwardly strong and confident. At Perry House, I also learned how to be joyful while connecting with others in community building. Now that I am a senior citizen, my “knowledge tree” serves as a safe place where others can not only learn but also rest.

This issue of the Alumnae Bulletin presents reflections from Black alumnae/i and students spanning 65 years in the life of the College.



A Gullah native of the South Carolina Low Country, Verneda “Rikki” Lights ’74, M.D., M.B.A., applied to Bryn Mawr as an early-decision candidate. In 1972, she was one of the first women to move into the newly established Perry House. After Bryn Mawr, she attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Class of ’78), during which time she gained national prominence as a poet. She retired from the practice of internal medicine in 1999 and segued into a career as a visual artist and business consultant. In 2009, she founded E-graphX Omnimedia, a design and business consultancy. In 2020, she created the Bryn Mawr Collection, an intergenerational, BMC-inspired line of masks, garments, and accessories. An e-commerce enterprise, the collection donates 40 percent of its profits to the Bryn Mawr and Black Alumnae/i Funds.