Majoring in Unafraid

Alumna and writer Anna Quindlen says that she “majored in unafraid” at Barnard. Tell us about a time when you majored in unafraid.


“There is a one percent chance of rain,” my camp counselors told us as we packed for our overnight. We threw in just what we needed, leaving our raincoats behind.

The next day, after a trek through the beautiful Yosemite backcountry, it began to rain, starting with harmless raindrops but intensifying as the night progressed. As we headed to bed, it started to pour. I noticed that the tarp, our sole protection from the rain, had holes. A few hours later, our sleeping bags were soaked. We were so cold that we couldn’t feel any parts of our bodies. We watched as the river beside our campsite flooded and saw lightning flashes in the distance. I was miserable and afraid, but I knew that crying or complaining would not make the morning come any faster. I thought to myself, “What is the most important thing to do right now?” I knew what I had to do. I helped lead us through happy songs, breathing exercises, and sharing our warmest memories.

Rather than letting the night become as terrible as it could be, I found the strength to do what I needed to do to survive and help others do so, too. This trip showed me that I am powerful, and that if I survived this night, I can “major in unafraid” in so many more ways than I ever imagined...

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