As we enter the 85th anniversary year of the HER Alumnae Association we hope you will take the time to reminisce on the legacy of the House and its impact on your time at BU and beyond. One great memory prompt is our annual newsletter, full of alumnae updates and news of the House. You should’ve received a copy of our annual newsletter in the mail by now, but we’re also posting it below for your review. Be sure to check back to the 85th Anniversary Weekend webpage for updates as well!
This year marks the 85th anniversary of HERAA, and thus the existence of 85 graduating classes of incredible women worth knowing. In the lead up to the Alumnae Weekend on April 4-6, 2014, we will introduce you to one alumna from each decade starting with the most recent and working our way back to our earliest House residents. You can read our other Alumna Spotlights here.
As we head into the season of giving thanks, we’d like you to meet Emily Torgrimson (COM 2006). She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN and serves as co-founder and executive director of Eat for Equity, an organization with roots in the HER House. A COM Journalism graduate and recipient of a Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, Emily has helped “build a culture of generosity through sustainable community feasts.” Through her work she has expanded Eat for Equity to ten different cities across the United States and engaged citizens to raise over $100,000 for local and international nonprofit causes.
Who are you?
If we are what we eat, I am dim sum from my childhood in Hong Kong, jello salad from my family’s return to small-town Minnesota, and my mom’s pesto made with basil grown on our farm.
What is the best meal you had during your time living in the HER House?
Everything I know, I learned from house meals. I’m joking, but also serious. I saw how food was a delicious way for people to share their stories, by making the “hippie” grain salads or paella they had grown up with. And I saw how food could be a creative outlet, when cooks themed meals around fire or Midwestern cuisine [I take pride in having introduced many people in the house to jello salad and hot dish]. I saw how food brought people together in a natural and powerful way, when we invited our classmates and friends to the shared table.
Eat for Equity started as a small event held at the HER House, but you’ve helped grow it into a national non-profit organization. Please talk about how Eat for Equity began.
In my senior year at Boston University, Hurricane Katrina hit. I wanted to help, but I didn’t have much money to give. And so when I saw a recipe for jambalaya, I thought out loud, “What if I made a New Orleans-themed meal? Do you think people in the house would donate a couple bucks for hurricane relief?” My friends in the house said, “Yes! And what if we invited everyone we knew? What if we made it a party, not just a dinner? And what if we tried it?” When 100 people showed up, we realized that this basic idea could be transferred to any cause, as a way to build a giving community around social change. And Eat for Equity was born.
Please talk about experiences serving as executive director and what it’s taken to bring the organization to its current state.
Create space for others to join you and help you succeed. When I first brought Eat for Equity to Minneapolis, I did it all. I picked the organization, I planned the menu, I invited the guests, I cooked for 50 people in kitchen, I cleaned up. And don’t get me wrong – others helped out a lot. But I while I was doing a lot of work, I wasn’t doing enough to create opportunities for others to join me and help me succeed.
Others took it on, and I realized that this was much bigger than me – and then I got to dream bigger, and focus on expanding Eat for Equity to other branches. I couldn’t start those branches myself, but I could create opportunities for others to lead and co-create. I used to think that leadership was forging ahead to make things happen. Now I know that leadership is also creating a structure – recipes, ingredients, and a balance between guidance and independence – that allows people to take ownership toward the same goals.
What advice do you have for the HER community on expanding or embarking on a path toward professional growth and success?
Be open to changing the dream. You may be doing something ten years from now that you couldn’t imagine today. I studied journalism at school and my original dream was to be an environmental journalist.
For many years, I worked in public radio, while juggling part-time jobs and volunteering for Eat for Equity. Working as an associate producer on The Promised Land, a Peabody Award-winning public radio show, I realized that telling important stories wasn’t enough for me – I wanted to be part of the story.
I wouldn’t be here today if I had not made my first dream come true. I started to realize that I really enjoyed my part-time work, that there was a through line with those jobs – they were about food and community – and that maybe that was a good plan B.
I went back to school and got a Masters in Public Health. When I became open to changing the dream, that’s when things started to fall into place, opportunities started to open up and Eat for Equity started to take off in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
Why would we want to meet alumnae from the graduating classes of 2000-2009 at the Alumnae Tea on April 6, 2014?
My housemates from that era are amazing women. We’re pursuing our passions and our own paths, we’re making a difference, and we’re proud to be part of a continuing legacy of sisterhood and cooperation. My friends from the house are my best friends from college – we’ll have a lot of fun together and with you.
Have suggestions for other alumnae we can interview and feature in the Alumna Spotlight? Email your ideas to HERAA at email@example.com.
This year marks the 85th anniversary of HERAA, and thus the existence of 85 graduating classes of incredible women worth knowing. In the lead up to the Alumnae Weekend on April 4-6, 2014, we will introduce you to one alumna from each decade starting with the most recent and working our way back to our earliest House residents.
To start with, meet Ariana Alisjahbana (CAS 2011). As a Research Analyst at the World Resources Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank working at the intersection between economic development and the environment, Ariana is utilizing her Economics and Environmental Policy backgrounds to tackle deforestation and global warming in her native Indonesia.
Who are you?
I am an Indonesian-American half-hippie, half-capitalist working to combat global warming while also promoting development.
Which of your many accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am proud to have unleashed the potential of Indonesian young leaders through my work and extracurricular activities. In my office, for example, I facilitated the hiring of three young and dynamic Indonesians to head up our Indonesia office. Outside of work, I select and facilitate the best Indonesian young professionals to go to international conferences such as the G20 and G8 Summits. There are many exciting things going on in emerging countries such as Indonesia. Young people are leading the action.
As a recent graduate, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of transitioning from college to your first job?
The lack of support system once you step outside the gates of college. I got into two accidents when I was an intern, therefore I had no insurance. Apart from that, there were also fewer resources to lean on once you are in the “real world.” You’re on your own, there are no guidance counselors, no advisors, no classmates, no professors, and no HER House girls to support you through tough times. You have to seek them on your own. That has been challenging but also rewarding.
What advice do you have for others facing this same challenge?
Have health insurance!!! Apart from that, my advice is to never let your fears get in the way of opportunities you want to pursue. Be aware and learn the language of office and professional conduct. I would strongly recommend reading career coach books such as Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office or Lean In before your first salary negotiation.
What did you learn from living with 23 other women?
I learned that if you are lucky enough to live in this house, it will leave a mark on your life. I have never lived with 23 women in such a tight knit environment where every day has its ups and downs. You learn how to be selfless; you learn how to give to the community; you learn how to help others; you learn how to argue; you learn how to keep the peace; you learn how to handle conflict; and you learn how to make lifelong friends. Oh and you learn how to cook for a crowd!
Why would we want to meet the alumnae from this current decade, the graduating classes of 2010-2013, at the Alumnae Tea on April 6th?
We are chasing our dreams every day in our own ways. We are new to the post-college world and are hungry for advice. We will want to learn how you got to where you are today the passions that drive you.
Mark your calendars!
85th Anniversary Celebration
April 4 – 6, 2014
Check the 85th Anniversary Celebration webpage toward the end of 2013 for more details about activities, registration, accommodations and more! We have tentative plans to host events including reunion picnics, networking, campus tours, museum visits and panel discussions.
For the time being, reminisce and get excited by browsing photos from previous Anniversary Celebrations and Alumnae Teas on HERAA’s Facebook page.
On Sunday, December 16, HER House alumnae from Classes 2006 through 2009 came together and prepared a hearty winter meal for House residents. HER House women were in the midst of finals preparation, and the meal seemed a welcome respite from the weight of exams and papers. The alumnae prepared a well-balanced menu, taking into account House tastes and dietary restrictions and collaborated with the House to shop for ingredients and celebrate the end of the semester – on a budget, of course! The menu included:
- Crusty Bread
- Winter Minestrone Soup
- Rainbow Chopped Salad
- Wilted Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
- Hazelnut Coffee Brownies
The wilted kale and sweet potato salad seemed the favorite of the evening; it was requested the recipe be posted on the HERAA website. It is now available on our recipes page for everyone’s enjoyment!
HERAA would particularly like to thank this semester’s House Steward, Diane Tang (CAS 2015) for coordinating the cook night, and Hilary Kehoe (ENG 2013), who served as cook’s assistant for the evening.
Alumnae interested in participating as cooks or just as diners are more than welcome to join next time – hopefully in the Spring semester! We’ll be sure to take pictures of all the food and merriment next time!