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Tenth AAAVC Triennial a Hit, Say Participants

AAAVC Chairs Ken Miles '07, left, and Karen Roberts Turner '86, right, honor Associate Professor Joyce Bickerstaff.

Networking. Reconnecting. Fun. There was plenty to be had at the African American Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AAAVC) 10th Triennial, held the weekend of April 13. Nearly 90 alumnae/i and guests attended what some have called the “best Triennial ever.”

Tracy Elise Poole ’82, an attorney who lives in New York City, says,  “I went to Triennial this year hoping to reconnect with fellow alums and to meet present students. The experience did not disappoint.” Within a week of returning home, Poole had already touched base with several of her fellow alumnae/i, and she reports, “We are continuing to network in ways that should prove invaluable to us individually as well as to Vassar.”

Throughout the weekend Poole got her wish to meet with and talk to students about their experiences and aspirations, and she says bonding with them “reminded me from where I've come.”

Assefash Makonnen '12, Urban Studies and Africana Studies double major, was an organizer and emcee of Vassar’s Best Dance Crew, a dance-off that took place during Triennial. (The Council of Black Seniors, which Makonnen chairs, organizes the event annually.) She says,  “Having the alums get a chance to experience what Vassar is like now for black students was really important to our interests in being a part of Triennial, not only from the perspective of the Council of Black Seniors but also as individuals. It was important for the alums to be able to see the product of their hard work and dedication to the community.” She considers the college’s efforts to bring more students of color to campus, a goal that has been supported by black alumnae/i, as progress.

A dance party enlivened Triennial weekend.

During the weekend, AAAVC honored faculty members Joyce Bickerstaff (pictured above), associate professor of Education and Africana Studies, and Lawrence Mamiya, professor of Religion and Africana Studies, for their years of distinguished service. Also as part of the weekend, faculty members offered Alumnae/i College discussions and lectures. Poole says the “insightful, informative, and often provocative” sessions made her want to return to college, before adding, “Well…almost!”

Dennis Slade ’91 a content management and tools development consultant, traveled from San Diego, California, to attend his second Triennial (his first was in 2005). He notes the “spirit of togetherness and positivity” he found on campus and describes it as “profound and infectious.” Also buoying his spirit was the heavy attendance of students of “all colors of the rainbow” at two community events held during Triennial—the aforementioned dance-off (which was so popular that there was standing-room only) and a presentation related to the popular web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.  But he says he also loved those quieter moments when “we alums got together and chatted our heads off—recent alums, ‘mature’ alums, spouses, and everyone in between.”

Poole can relate—she fondly remembers an unscheduled Saturday night slumber party at Alumnae House where she and fellow alumnae/i laughed and reminisced until Sunday morning. “I hadn't planned to attend my class reunion this year due to several commitments,” she says. “But Triennial was such a rewarding experience that I'm rethinking that decision and making plans to return to Vassar sooner rather than later!”

–Elizabeth Randolph