Virginia Hall

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

World War II Spy, Code Name ‘Diane’

On her application to Barnard College in 1925, Virginia Hall wrote that she was interested in a career with the diplomatic service and in foreign trade. “Both vocations would bring me into contact with many interesting persons and give me the opportunity to make use of foreign languages,” she wrote. What she could not have known then was that her interest would lead her to become one of the Allies’ most valuable and courageous spies in occupied France during World War II, and the only American civilian woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross during the war.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Diana Chang ’49

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

Rediscovering the Self

Image

Diana Chang beside a Marc Chagall lithograph she purchased in Paris.
From the Barnard Alumnae Monthly, October/November 1951, courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Diana Chang was born in New York City to a Chinese father and a mother of Chinese and Irish descent. Soon after, her family moved to China, where Chang spent the majority of her childhood and adolescence. She lived in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II and attended the Shanghai American School before matriculating at St. John’s University, Shanghai in 1941. After one year, she left St. John’s to take a position as an editorial and feature writer at the English-language Shanghai Evening Post in 1943, on the recommendation of a friend who knew she was interested in writing. Chang later described her weekly piece in the paper as “chatty, personal, and feminine.” She resigned from the paper after eight months for “political reasons,” which she explained as follows in a letter to the author: “I resigned my ‘position’ … because of the Japanese supervision. No Japanese were in the office, so at first—in my naïveté (I was 17 or 18 at the time)—I thought the paper was run by the three or four men I took to be white Protestants engaged in putting out the newspaper.” Her family later returned to New York City, where she entered Barnard College in the fall of 1946 as a transfer to the class of 1949.

Continue reading

Kang Tung Pih, Class of 1909

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

Noble Daughter, Global Activist

Image

Kang Tung Pih, Class of 1909
From the 1909 Mortarboard , courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Today, Barnard College, like many American colleges and universities, prides itself on its many international students. In the fall of 2007, it boasted an undergraduate population that represented 45 foreign countries. But before World War I, there was hardly a foreign student to be found on the Barnard campus.

During the academic year 1907-08, for instance, Acting Dean William T. Brewster reported that four foreign students were registered at Barnard: one from England, one from Germany, one from Russia, and one from China. While it is not certain that these were the first four international students at Barnard, it is virtually certain that the fourth student, Kang Tung Pih (Pinyin: Kang Tongbi) was the first Asian student to study here. She was also the beloved second daughter of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Chinese political reformist Kang Youwei. The records concerning Miss Kang in the Barnard College Archives, though scant, reveal fascinating details about her obscure yet intriguing life. Continue reading

Edwidge Danticat ’90

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

Unifier of Strands

Edwidge Danticat '90

Edwidge Danticat, ca. 2000s. Photograph by Jill Krementz, courtesy of the Barnard Alumnae Magazine.

Edwidge Danticat ’90, one of Barnard’s most prominent alumnae authors, has published three novels to date, as well as numerous articles and an acclaimed memoir, Brother, I’m Dying (2007). Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1969, she was raised by her aunt while her parents lived in New York City. This early period in her life was extremely important to her development as a writer, as it instilled in her a love and regard for Haitian culture which she has carried with her throughout her career. At the age of nine, while still living in Haiti, she wrote her first story in her native Creole, and she has been writing ever since.

Continue reading

Maria Hinojosa ’84

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

The path from Barnard to CNN

Born in Mexico City, Maria de Lourdes Hinojosa was the youngest of four children. When she was one year old, her father moved the family to the United States, and Hinojosa spent her childhood in Chicago. At the time that she attended Barnard, Hinojosa was living in Washington Heights, the populous and culturally rich Manhattan neighborhood in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge. Ever since her childhood, she has visited Mexico at least every other year to spend time with numerous in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, and her great-aunt, who is more than 100 years old. “I can’t let go of Mexico,” she writes in Raising Raul, her memoir. “It’s part of who I am.”

During her freshman year, Hinojosa participated in the Barnard dance department’s Program of Dance Works in Progress, in which she choreographed and danced a piece called “Intrusion” with one of her peers. Hinojosa entered with the class of 1984 and in January 1985, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in Latin American studies with minors in political science and women’s studies, graduating magna cum laude.

Hinojosa’s career in broadcast journalism began immediately after college, when she took a position as a production assistant for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. In 1987, she joined the staff of WCBS Radio and produced shows such as “Where We Stand” with Walter Cronkite, “The Osgood File,” and “Newsbreak.” From 1988 to 1989, she was a producer and researcher for CBS’s “This Morning.” Then, from 1990 to 1997, she worked for NPR and WNYC Radio as a general assignment correspondent, covering issues in the New York area and throughout the country. During this period, she also hosted WNYC-TV’s “New York Hotline,” a live, prime-time call-in show that addressed current and public affairs, in 1991, as well as “Visiones,” a Latino-oriented public-affairs talk show on WNBC-TV in New York. In May 1997, she joined the Cable News Network as a New York-based urban affairs correspondent. Throughout her career, she has maintained her affiliation with NPR, and she currently anchors “Latino USA,” a weekly national program that reports on news and culture in the Latino community.

Among the major events that Hinojosa has covered on location are the Crown Heights conflicts of 1991 and the 1995 trial of 10 accused conspirators in the first attack on the World Trade Center. While covering that trial for NPR, Hinojosa received a request from an American literary group to cover the first American book fair ever held in Havana, Cuba. On her last day in Cuba, she traveled to the countryside to visit one of the rural sanatoriums where the Cuban government quarantines AIDS patients. There, she met a teenage husband and wife named Javier and Mireya, members of the anti-establishment rockero subculture who had deliberately injected themselves with AIDS-tainted blood, hoping to secure a life of comfortable confinement inside a sanatorium. In the fourth chapter of Raising Raul, Hinojosa describes her interview with the pair:

“We talked for two hours hidden under a tree in the middle of someone’s farm. Javier was afraid that if the police saw him talking to a reporter he might be harassed. They had self-injected, he told me as I listened sadly, because they were tired of being hassled by the police for being antisocial ‘rockeros.’ They explained that they had decided to get AIDS so they could get into the sanatoriums, where they knew they would be allowed to dress how they wanted, listen to the music they wanted, and have air-conditioning and food seven days a week.”

There is no doubt that Hinojosa’s intrepid spirit will continue to guide her where few other American journalists are prepared to venture, a path that will only increase her professional reputation.

Hinojosa has received numerous awards and honors over the course of her career. In 1991, she won the Top Story of the Year Award as well as a Unity Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for her NPR story about gang members, titled “Crews.” That same year, she won an Associated Press award for her coverage of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison for WNYC Radio. In 1993, she received both the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Radio Award and the New York Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Award for her NPR report “Kids and Guns.” In 1999, she received the Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza. Named in honor of a journalist killed by a policeman’s tear gas projectile in 1970 while covering a Chicano march in East Los Angeles, the Salazar Award is given each year to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to promoting a positive portrayal of Latino historical, political, economic, and cultural contributors to American society. The same year, she was named one of the 25 most influential working mothers in America by Working Mother magazine. In 1995, Hispanic Business magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States, and she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for “Manhood Behind Bars,” an NPR story that documented how jail time has become a rite of passage for men of all races.

1995 also saw the publication of Hinojosa’s first book, Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa, which was based on her award-winning NPR report. Her critically acclaimed memoir, Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son, which includes her reflections on life, career, and motherhood, was published in 1999.

— Donald Glassman

Sources

Hinojosa, Maria. Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son. New York: Viking, 1999.

“Latino USA Host Maria Hinojosa Wins NCLR’s Ruben Salazar Award.” Latino USA: Press Release, July 7, 1999. Retrieved October 17, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.latinousa.org/pressrelease/mhinojosa.html>.

“Maria Hinojosa.” CNN.com: Anchors & Correspondents. Retrieved October 17, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/hinojosa.maria.html>.

A Program of Dance Works in Progress (1980); The Mortarboard 1985; and Barnard Honors Supplement 1985 (Barnard College Archives).

Zora Neale Hurston ’28

Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Barnard alumnae. These profiles were originally posted on the old Barnard Archives website.   

Paradoxical Genius of the South

Zora Neale Hurston is one of the most prominent literary figures of the 20th century thanks to her extraordinary contributions to fiction and anthropology, as well as her role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Her popularity has only increased in the years since her death, and she was an important influence on other notable African-American writers, such as Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison. Continue reading