The cherished traditions of Tinker Day bells, Freya walks, and long, lazy spells in rocking chairs on the porch of Main may connect each generation of Hollins alumnae, but the tie that truly binds Hollins women to each other is friendship. Year after year, class after class, the deep bonds that form here endure and deepen decades after graduation. Just ask anyone at this year’s reunion weekend. We did and discovered that the BFFs made at Hollins—that’s “Best Friend Forever”—really are forever.
Class of 1963: Majorie Coleman Mastin and Jennie Wayland Ritchie
Jennie: In 1963, President John Logan told our graduating class that, despite our constant complaints that we wanted to be free, in truth we had just concluded the four freest years of our lives. At the time we thought that having a job and living “independently” was true freedom, but I had a fleeting thought that he might be right. After 50 years, I now know how right he was. What I loved and love about Hollins and the friends I made there was it was such a special place to share that freedom. At our 50th, it was wonderful to see friends and former roommates and to visit with classmates whom I did not know well at Hollins but who share so much in common with me 50 years later.
Majorie: Jennie was my roommate my sophomore year. She brought laughter, fun and a sharp mind to my college experience. I only attended Hollins for two years, but we’ve remained close. I’d never been to a Hollins reunion before, even though I live in Roanoke, but Jennie asked me to go. I was sure that I’d get there and nobody would remember me, but everyone immediately did! We talked about old times and our lives today. Hollins is a shared, special time and experience. The fact that it is a woman’s college makes the times even stronger.
Class of 1983: From left: Elaine Eller Stephenson, Paula Zubieta Irons, Courtney Heina Rice, Sara Kolker, Susan Arnesen Hammock, Anne Helm Galvin and Avery Bank
Anne: My Hollins friendships are truly different from all my other friendships. It goes beyond the instant renewal of friendships no matter how many miles and years have passed. It is the total acceptance of each other from the moment we see each other and hug. We knew each other during a time in our lives that helped us to become the women we are now. We have been there for each other through all of life’s happenings, be they good or bad, happy or sad. We know that the friend we care for today is the same girl who wore her nightgown to the Rathskellar for a snack during exams or who had the biggest crush on a young man who never even knew her name. We have a core group that has been at every reunion. We make the effort to return because we know what it is to be back at Hollins, to get that group hug and have our spirit renewed by memories that make us think, laugh, and get in touch with who we were then and are now. When I look at this photo, I see our class at our best: beautiful faces laughing together in a moment we have shared a hundred times before and, hopefully, a hundred times more.”
Alison Poarch Matejczyk and Kate Marston Cleven
Alison: College was a time of transition, of growing up and finding my voice. The women with whom I experienced this were my compass, my bedrock. Thanks to them, I found courage and strength to take risks. I treasure my Hollins friends. It was so easy to reconnect at reunion, as if no time had passed. One thing I didn’t expect was how much I enjoyed getting to know classmates I wasn’t that close to when were students. Conversations were so easy in large part due to our shared Hollins experience. I haven’t laughed that hard (or stayed up so late) in years!
Kate: I cherish my Hollins friendships. They are special in that we all met at a certain point as young adults, without our families around for the first time, so we learned to make our own families at school. That was a big part of stepping out on my own, knowing there were people which I could fall back on from Hollins. When I think of Alison, I think of our trip to Paris. She was an amazing student and always cracked me up. I remember loving how she was going on to study art history after college, which prompted me to apply to work at an art museum after graduation. What really makes me laugh is this Southern belle (and her accent) now lives farther north than I do.
Class of 1998: Cara Markert Kaufman and Natalie Elliott
Cara: I can go years without seeing my Hollins friends, but when we’re back together, it is like we never left. With my closest Hollins friends, I rarely go more than a few days without talking/Facebooking/tweeting/texting them. This photo is special because Natalie is probably my first and closest Hollins friend. We had so much fun at Hollins, in London, on road trips, etc. I especially love that I can just say “hey” to her, and it’s as if we’re back to our junior year again.
Class of 2003: Carol Clements Motley and Ashleigh Feist Barraco
Ashleigh: There’s just a bond that forms between friends during those four years, and coming back during reunion gives you a chance to reflect on all those memories. This was my first time back to Hollins for a reunion. I had been back for other things, but just not a reunion. I met Carol during our freshman orientation, and we lived together in the apartments our junior year and were roommates our senior year. We’ve kept in touch over the years, but it isn’t always easy since we both have young families. During reunion, we reminisced about classes and favorite professors, sat in the rocking chairs and walked the loop, and just caught up on our lives and our families.
Class of 2016: Maya Rioux and Pavithra Suresh
Pavithra: My Hollins friendships are not like my other friendships simply because I don’t have friends at Hollins: I have sisters. It’s difficult not to form close bonds with the incredible women who attend Hollins. As I have grown through Hollins, my sisters have grown with me. Seeing alumnae at reunion really showed the strength of the bonds of the Hollins sisterhood. It was incredible to see how naturally the alumnae were able to collapse into their friendships from Hollins.
1988: Sarah Achenbach and Susan Spence
Sarah: Susan is home to me. We only see and usually talk to each other every five years but time melts away as soon as I hear her laugh. I have so many great memories of time spent together when we were students, and I know that every time I see her, I will have plenty more. Plus, she laughs at my jokes.
Writer: Sarah Achenbach ’88 is director of communications for Garrison Forest School in Baltimore. She writes for numerous regional publications and in 2008 co-authored Spirit of Place/Baltimore’s Favorite Spaces with photographer Bill McAllen, which City Paper named “Best Book About Baltimore.” She also wrote A Century of Spirit: Garrison Forest School, 1910-2010.
Photographers: Olivia Body ’08 is a professional photographer who lives with her family in Charleston, South Carolina. Kerry Kinnison ’12 is assistant director of the Hollins Fund.