Lacey Tompkins ’14 – 2014 Scholarship Celebration Speech Hello, everyone. My name is Lacey Tompkins and I am currently a senior here at Barnard, majoring in Psychology. I am also an Athena Scholar, a program at Barnard that prepares students across disciplines to become leaders. Being a recipient of financial aid support, specifically from the Patricia Abbott Scholarship, as well as the Elinor Georgopulo Scholarship, has afforded me the opportunity to be a part of this campus and is something that I am incredibly grateful for. Over winter break, I received an e-mail inviting me to be tonight’s student speaker. My immediate reaction to this, aside from being honored and of course, a bit nervous, was “how timely,” as just moments before, I had been contemplating how Barnard has truly become my home over the last four years, and how I will soon be leaving the beloved gates of 3009 Broadway for the last time this May. You see, my living situation at Barnard is a bit atypical; I have lived in the same dorm in Sulzberger Hall for the last four years. With this room as the place I entered on the first day of New Student Orientation Program, to the place I will exit as I prepare to wear my cap and gown on stage at Radio City this May, Barnard is not only in the abstract sense a place of comfort and familiarity for me, but is also a physical place I have returned to each day during these last four years. When I first returned home to my apartment building in New York City this past break, I entered the elevator and pressed the floor of my Sulzberger room, rather than the floor that I have lived on on the East Side for the last 21 years. Though a simple “muscle memory” mistake, I find it to be extremely telling of what my Barnard experience has meant to me. My undergraduate career has not been just a stepping-stone, but rather has been a defining and unforgettable experience. Having thrived in my high school setting at The Chapin School, an all-girls school in New York City, I believed Barnard would provide me with a similar environment. However, I was unaware of the value of a single-sex education, and the opportunities for leadership development I would encounter, until my first year at Barnard. It was the spring semester of my first1
Lacey Tompkins ’14 – 2014 Scholarship Celebration Speech year in my Introduction to Philosophy course. In one of the first lectures, I remember looking around and noticing that there were about an even number of male and female students, though slightly more women, a typical ratio in a Columbia course. As the class went on and the professor opened the floor to questions and commentary, I’ll never forget the feeling I had about 20 or 30 minutes later when I realized that no woman sitting in this lecture had yet spoken. I remember immediately perking up and saying to myself, “Lacey, just raise your hand and say something, anything” and did so. I then looked across the room at a fellow Barnard classmate of mine whom I could tell had the same reaction and similarly raised her hand. Though this period of only male voices was brief, and a rarity here at Barnard, the drive I had to speak during that particular class, is, in reflection, one of the first moments that I personally felt my growth as a Barnard leader beginning to take shape. I for the first time understood my passion for women’s education and, more importantly, women’s leadership. Though Barnard is a place certainly driven by academics, when asked, I always say that it is not just the intellect, but also the passion and self-driven experiences that distinguish a Barnard student. Whether this be in the academic, professional, or social service realm, students on this campus consistently take initiative and pave the way not just for themselves, but also for others, all with the support of this campus community. A great example of this is the Social Action Project, a senior requirement all participants must complete in the Athena Scholars Program. For my project this fall, I led AXS Map NYC, a New York based campaign to populate AXS Map, an existing crowdsourcing based, online archive of the wheelchair accessibility of locations.
Utilizing my interest and personal investment in improving the available information on accessibility, I created an online pledge that asked users to rate the accessibility of 15 venues on the platform. 2
Lacey Tompkins ’14 – 2014 Scholarship Celebration Speech Receiving 148 signatures in the first month, the AXS Map NYC campaign not only raised awareness of the platform, but also resulted in the creation of a National pledge by AXS Map. This project, pulling together a variety of my interests, would not have been possible without the support of the Barnard community. I’ve grown and expanded here in more ways than I can express. Academically, I’ve taken classes that have taken me out of my comfort zone. Professionally, I have gained experience that will serve me in whatever field I choose to pursue. From my first year in the Emerging Leaders Program, to my soon to be completed participation in the Athena Scholars Program, my experience at Barnard has allowed me to define my personal concept of leadership. I am leaving this campus as many here may say, as a “strong Barnard woman,” or rather, as a confident, curious, and passionate individual– a fouryear lesson that I believe few undergraduate institutions provide. Thank you to all of you tonight who make the Barnard experience possible for students like myself. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.