For the Love of Reunion
This year, a highlight for me was experiencing a newer tradition — the all-class event at Chelsea Piers. It was wonderful to celebrate with my husband, Doug Wolf ’88, and 1,200 fellow alumni from the Classes of 1958 to 2022. I met newly minted graduates, danced to music from all decades and made new memories with longtime friends.
In the bigger picture, reunion is a time to focus on all that we learned and loved during a transformational period in our lives. You can revisit old neighborhood haunts, hear fascinating lectures and see all that has physically changed on campus (as well as all that has remained the same). It’s also a chance to inspire and be inspired by classmates through simple, casual conversation — best enjoyed with some fries with gravy or a slice from your favorite pizza place. There is something for everyone, and plenty of nostalgia to go around!
I am not alone in my love of reunion. Here, three alums who were on their Reunion Committees share what they love about planning and attending this special event. Next year’s reunion will be Thursday, May 30–Saturday, June 1. Find out more at college.columbia.edu/alumni.
Rick Nardis ’98
Oddly enough, my favorite moment was pulling up to 117th and Broadway and finding a parking spot immediately, as that never happened when I was an undergrad commuting from Yonkers. Since I didn’t live on campus, I spent a lot of time in the libraries and on the Steps. Walking the campus again as if time had not passed was definitely an emotional moment.
This last reunion wasn’t the first time I was involved. The team effort of planning reunion — which itself helped me reconnect with classmates and meet new people — was very rewarding. Still hard to believe 25 years have passed. I’m eager to see where everyone is in another 25!
Karen Lopez ’18
Our Saturday class dinner is my favorite memory. I enjoyed reconnecting with classmates I hadn’t seen since graduation, and especially hearing about the different paths they’ve taken. Some are married, some have made career pivots, others are starting companies and some are going to or were finishing grad school. While our paths might differ, I loved that I could have optimism for our future.
It was also my first time seeing so many classmates in one place since graduation. I could sense there was an appreciation for the Columbia community. At one point in the night, I had a moment when I looked up at the “Welcome Back Alumni” projection lit up on Low and felt immense pride to be surrounded by so many wonderful individuals.
I have always been vocal about Columbia being a transformative experience for me. It was during my time on campus that I discovered I enjoy fostering a sense of community in the different groups I’m a part of. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do that for our five-year reunion. I look forward to continuing to be an active alum!
José Ricardo Moreno ’13
My favorite memory was moderating the “LGBTQ+ Activism at Columbia in the Early ’80s” panel, featuring Dante Alencastre ’83, Carl Birman ’83 and Brad Gooch ’73. At the center of these stories are kids coming to Columbia, trying to find themselves in an ever-changing world.
I was deeply moved by the memories the panel shared of the joyful, spicy moments of the early ’70s, how they continue to honor their friends lost at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s and their commitment to live vibrant, queer lives in the present. I can say without a doubt that I would not be the man I am today without their bravery and the work they put into making Columbia a more welcoming place for queer students.
Behind the scenes, we were focused on creating moments where alums could not only step back into a nostalgic late night at Columbia but also highlight how much growth there has been since graduation. Our class bar crawl went to Mel’s, The Heights and 1020. I was surprised by how many of us reverted to our younger selves and how quickly friendships picked up after 10 years. The most rewarding part was what I didn’t expect — how many new friends I’d make along the way.
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