Greet a Gryphon: Soccer Star Shines

Photo by Tony Correa

In his collegiate soccer debut, Mohamed Camara ’19 pulled off a hat trick and scored the game-winning goal in a 4–0 shutout. He also pulled off a first-year hat trick as a resident assistant, Alternative Spring Break volunteer, and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, and he scored as a scholar.

Hailing from Guinea, Camara admits he’d never heard of Sarah Lawrence before his coach, Scott Miller, invited him to campus for a visit. But Camara hit the ground running as soon as he arrived in fall 2015. “Everything is a culture shock, coming from Africa to America,” he says. “But when challenges come up, you just adapt to them.” Among his challenges: conferences. “My First-Year Studies professor told us he was going to push us to the limit, but when we were about to drop, he would pick us up.”

While Camara may not think of himself as a leader, plenty of others do—on and off the pitch—naming him Newcomer of the Year in men’s sports and selecting him for the College’s new Emerging Leader Award. “It’s not really about being a leader,” says Camara, modestly. “It’s more about understanding the people around you, embracing the differences in people.”

Bringing an infectious, upbeat attitude to everything he does, Camara certainly embraces leadership by example. “Now that I’m in college, my little brothers at home are very proud,” Camara says. “I know that they are looking after me and the actions I take, and that’s one of the things that I really, really care about. Not personal image, but knowing that people are looking up to me.”

Camara emphasizes that his ultimate goal is to be in a position to give back, regardless of what that turns out to be. “Helping people in need is central in Islam,” he explains. “With the media nowadays, there’s been a skewed image of what it means to be Muslim. In this era of confusion, I want to show people what Islam really is.”

School Spirit

School SpiritEmmy winner Julianna Margulies ’89 joined First Lady Michelle Obama for the Third Annual College Signing Day, which the White House describes as “a tradition to celebrate students going to college the same way we celebrate athletes and celebrities.” More than 4,000 New York high school students gathered in Harlem at an event hosted by MTV, one of the many across the country encouraging students to continue their education. Margulies showed her Sarah Lawrence spirit, proudly donning a classic t-shirt for the paparazzi.

Margulies has gained fans for encouraging higher education, including Graham Phillips, who played her TV son Zach Florrick on The Good Wife. “She went to Sarah Lawrence,” Phillips told People at the conclusion of the final season, “and her argument was that your acting will always be best served when you have more in your arsenal. The more you know, the easier it is to understand people and to be more empathetic.”

Illustration by Vaughan Fender

New Directors Take the Helm

Photo by Chris TaggartCelebrated dancer and choreographer John Jasperse ’85 has returned to Sarah Lawrence as director of the renowned program in which he once studied. Just four years after graduating, Jasperse established his own dance company, garnering prestigious recognition ever since—including New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Awards as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among many others.

“The critical thinking that Sarah Lawrence nurtured in my time as a student has served me well, both in my practice as a dance artist and as a citizen,” Jasperse says. “I’m honored to be following in the footsteps of Bessie Schönberg, Viola Farber, and Sara Rudner, all of whom are legendary in the dance field.”

Photo by Bill MilesOn the history faculty for 15 years, Mary Dillard has taken a new leadership role in Graduate Studies as director of the Women’s History Program.

Dillard earned her BA with Honors from Stanford University and her MA and PhD from the University of California Los Angeles. In addition to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, she has also been selected for Fulbright and Spencer fellowships, two US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, and a Major Cultures Fellowship from Columbia University’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities.

Her research focuses on gender, education, migration, and representations of Africa, and she is currently working on a book of oral history interviews with Nigerian immigrants. Dillard also serves on the editorial board of Ìrìnkèrindò: A Journal of African Migration.

Photos by Chris Taggart and Bill Miles

Seeking Diversity, Supporting Activism

Photo by Dana MaxsonFrom conflict mediation training to film screenings, dialogue groups to guest speakers, the community came together for increasingly robust diversity and activism events and programs throughout 2015–16. A few highlights: New students engaged and connected through a Social Justice Café during orientation. Damani Baker ’96 (filmmaking) and Komozi Woodard (history) led a discussion of director Stanley Nelson’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Real Talk@SLC facilitators guided a talk back with “Panther, Prisoner, Poet, and Professor” Jamal Joseph following a screening of his film Chapter and Verse. Former Dean of the College Barbara Kaplan returned to campus, joining Dean of Equity and Inclusion Al Green for a panel discussion, “The 1989 Sit-In: A Retrospective.” Accepted students and their families were welcomed to campus at a jazz appreciation reception in Common Ground during Admitted Students Day. Photo by Dana MaxsonThe Call for Empathy photo project documented individuals’ campus experiences around religion and spirituality. And Kindness Week included a social media challenge and a dining-hall-turned-dance-floor lunch, when students and food service staff spontaneously celebrated together.

Photos by Dana Maxson

Milestone Moment

Illustration by Vaughan FenderPopular professor and beloved don Jefferson Adams (history, emeritus) taught filled courses for more than four decades and held the Adda Bozeman Chair in International Relations for two consecutive terms. In a poetic culmination of his tenure at the College, he delivered the 20th anniversary lecture named to honor Bozeman, a legendary faculty member from 1947 to 1977. Adams’ lecture topic: “Understanding Global Conflict: The Worldview of Adda Bozeman.”

In 1996 the first lecture in the series considered endangered cultures, focusing on Himalayan Buddhism. In the years since, Adams has invited diverse guests who spoke from real-world experience—even a former KGB general and a US Army lieutenant colonel who led the capture of Saddam Hussein.

“Sarah Lawrence allows you to be more imaginative in your teaching and research, without being hamstrung by the traditional academic bureaucratic apparatus,” Adams reflected upon his retirement. “I am really grateful to the College and cherish the freedom I’ve had here.”

Illustration by Vaughan Fender

Mother’s Day

(Mother Earth, That Is)

At Westchester County’s annual Earth Day celebration, Sarah Lawrence garnered two awards for environmental initiatives. The Center for the Urban River at Beczak was cited for water quality research and monitoring of the Saw Mill River watershed, planned green infrastructure for the City of Yonkers, and tracking migrating glass eels in the field station’s tidal marsh—as well as mentoring more than 100 volunteers and serving more than 5,000 local youth. Students active in the Environmental Awareness Organization also enjoyed their moment in the sun, earning recognition for several community events, including a recycled fashion show.

“The issues of the future will be centered on the environment and water quality and availability,” notes Trustee Olivia “Vicki” Churchill Ford ’60, MSEd ’87. “Sarah Lawrence has a history of tackling cutting-edge issues, encouraging students to think critically about relevant topics.” Ford joined (left to right) Melanie Ersapah ’17, Julia Fisher ’18, and Meredith Gilbert ’18 for the award ceremony and festivities. (Check out that recycled “bag lady” skirt!)

Photo by Ryan Palmer

Sadie Lou, Superstar

Illustration by Vaughan FenderLeading trade publication Variety knows the entertainment business—and knows what it takes to make it in the industry. Scoping out programs around the globe, Variety named Sarah Lawrence’s filmmaking, screenwriting, and media arts program one of the world’s best for future showbiz pros. Pointing to the success of grads like J.J. Abrams, the magazine cited the College’s “intimate seminar and workshop environments, an expansive and comprehensive program that incorporates screenwriting and media arts, and one-on-one mentorship with faculty advisers.”

Illustration by Vaughan Fender