Updated: Sep 4, 2021
No one loves Barnard more than Mia Ciallella, BC ’19. Or at least, no one uses “Barnard” and “love” more in the same sentence. For Ciallella, her time at Barnard has been all about spreading love and building community, community being the common thread that runs through everything she does on campus.
“My time at Barnard has really been marked by me trying to bridge communities … I have my hands in a lot of different things around campus, and that is ideal to me because I want to build so many different networks and allow [for] so much collaboration,” Ciallella says.
Ciallella is a co-head of the Barnard Zine Club, as well as the Fashion Director of Hoot Magazine. But finding these communities and fitting in on campus was no easy matter.
“I thought that Barnard was not the right place for me, and that I picked the wrong school. That was really hard and things took a while to fall into place for me. I realized that I needed to stop changing myself to fit into the communities that I thought should be a part of, or that I thought I should want to be a part of, and instead just being more genuine to what I wanted to do,” she says.
Once Ciallella began pursuing her own interests at Barnard, she found a campus community that simultaneously loves Barnard and wants to change the institution for the better.
“There are just so many people on this campus who care so much about so many different things. So many people who actively fight to make things better. I think a lot of times it comes from an intense place of love,” she says.
“It’s interesting to think about critiquing something because you love it. And I think that I am around people who love each other so much, and love the place that they’re at, that they want to actively make it better, and they’re just so willing to put everything into that.”
Ciallella hopes that through her work at the Barnard Zine Club, and as an intern at the Met Library, she can entice people to think critically about the way information and culture are persevered and disseminated. She is considering pursuing a career as a “super cool radical librarian,” a passion she discovered at Barnard.
“I just really care about what we deem as important knowledge to get saved and what communities we are focusing on and celebrating when we are archiving,” she says.
Ciallella competes in roller derby during her free time, as a member of the Gotham skating team. She grew up going to roller derby bouts in Philadelphia with her parents but never considered herself athletic. Once she began pursuing her own interests in college, she joined a derby team and never looked back.
“I get to skate with thirty-five-year-olds who are moms and teachers, and it’s just a totally different demographic than I interact with here. It really reminds me that school is not the end all be all, even if that’s what it seems like. It’s allowed me to be more confident in a different way, and take up space in a different way,” she says.
Even though Ciallella will graduate in a few months, Barnard will go on without her, which she says is something that is strange to think about. Finding her community defined her time at Barnard, though, and Ciallella’s biggest advice is to encourage others to do the same: find communities they love, and fall in love with Barnard in the process.