cap gown closeup

The beginning of college always brings a sense of wonder and the unknown about the time that will be spent pursuing a degree. This has never been more true than it was for the Class of 2024. When 695 first-years entered Barnard in 2020, it was at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they spent their first year off campus learning remotely.

Now, four years later, everyone is excited to celebrate this final chapter — a time that led to remarkable personal growth in face of the challenges, opportunities, and changes that characterized their years as students.

Zuyu Shen '24 cap gownZuyu Shen '24 cap gown
Zuyu Shen '24
Renata Happle '24 cap gown
Renata Happle '24
Delaney Michaelson '24
Delaney Michaelson '24

Below, three graduates from the Class of 2024 share how they have grown during their time at Barnard.

Zuyu Shen '24, Political science major

“Now I find myself still driven by curiosity, but with a backbone that is made from my passion for law and justice.”

Renata Happle '24, Anthropology major

Renata Happle '24 on campus snow

“Since being accepted to Barnard in 2020, I have been buoyed by the knowledge that every time I step onto campus, join office hours, or get coffee with another student, I learn something new. Entering college, I always knew what I was interested in, but I had no idea what avenue to take in understanding it. After changing majors thrice and settling in the Anthropology Department on the political ecology track, the world opened up to me.

“Within my department, work never really felt like work, and papers were prompts to dive deep into the unknown. Writing my senior thesis made me realize that I might want to do this for the rest of my life: researching and writing, thinking critically about the world around me, and considering what we want our future to look like. This experience, made possible by the support of wonderful faculty like Paige West, led me to accept an offer at the University of Cambridge to pursue a graduate degree in Anthropocene studies, starting in the fall.

“However, the friendships with people I stumbled upon in classes or in community spaces are the ultimate gift of Barnard, because each person introduced me to their own pockets of the universe and gave me the space to explore my ideas with love and support. Days after joining an admitted students group in March of 2020, a fellow new student reached out to me about being roommates and — despite our plans being thwarted in the fall by a remote semester — we have just celebrated four years of friendship with tearful reflection that this might have been the most important part of college. Next year, we’ll be separated by over 5,000 miles but united by the fact that we’re both pursuing our dreams.”

Delaney Michaelson '24, anthropology and environmental science double-major

“As a Barnard senior, I confidently walk into classrooms excited to engage with materials, professors, and classmates.”

For more on Barnard's graduating seniors: