A native of Red Hook, New York, Bard senior Julia Jardine hadn’t planned on staying so close to home when she applied for colleges. But as early as her first tour of the campus, Julia loved Bard. She was drawn in by the College’s reputation for intensive reading and writing, as well as its unique interdisciplinary programs. Through her interdivisional major in Bard’s Human Rights Program, Julia has had the option to take classes in many fields, such as Rights and the Image with Professor Susan Merriam, a crosslisted art history/human rights class exploring how the global public interacts with human rights issues through art. This class heightened Julia’s enthusiasm for her major, a field of study that she had in mind before enrolling at Bard. “Human rights is where I get to think critically about what’s happening today and what’s happened in the past,” Julia explained. “I just fell in love with it.”
Growing up in Red Hook, Julia was aware of Bard before she entered the College, but living the experience of a Bard student is different from what she had imagined. Julia described the student community as “extremely smart and usually very modest about it, and engaged in a lot of intellectual conversation outside of class.” In her circle of Human Rights majors, Julia frequently finds herself discussing her studies at all hours. Since coming to Bard, she has been surprised by how much her classes are involved in her nonacademic life, and how applicable what she learns in the classroom can be for her jobs and life in general. After almost three years at Bard, Julia’s way of thinking has changed. She has learned a lot about how to navigate the world, as well as much about herself and her personal outlook on life. She has also learned to focus—to dedicate herself fully to the things that she is most passionate about.
Through Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement, Julia has gotten involved with the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Partnership, a nonprofit organization in the nearby town of Hyde Park, New York. Her work there began as a summer-long unpaid internship and has since turned into a paid position. Julia is collaborating with the partnership to create a summer human rights workshop for students focused on how Eleanor Roosevelt might have approached the human rights issues that women face today. “I have learned research skills for programming, capacity building, and grants. I was able to independently prepare a budget of $30,000.”
“I have seen the inside of a nonprofit at the most important stages, its development and early innovation stages. I have attended cocktails and luncheons in Manhattan with some of the most powerful people in the city; I have spoken with Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, about journalism today; and I have baked blueberry crumble for the Roosevelts and shared it with them over tea,” Julia added.
What Julia’s learned on and off campus will serve her well after graduation. Currently, she is thinking she might apply to physical therapy schools, get a master’s of public health, and go into the Peace Corps. Ultimately, her goal is to go into the health field.
When asked about her favorite places on Bard campus, Julia immediately proposed Kline, the dining hall, where students come together to eat and relax: “I go there sometimes just to get my life organized.” She also loves the library, where she spends a lot of time working, and the grassy area behind Keene, her first-year dorm. Being so close to home, Julia now lives off-campus in Red Hook, with her parents, with whom she shares a close relationship.
How has Bard changed Julia’s life? According to her, she is more independent, confident, and outspoken, not only about issues that matter to her, but also about issues that matter to the people around her. “I also just think differently,” she mused. “Even in everyday ways.” During her time at Bard, Julia has learned to take information from the classroom and apply it to her own life, resulting in a gradual change in her thinking process and views.
“I couldn't have experienced such an unexpected transformation without the opportunities I found at Bard College.”