Social Action Student Spotlight: Billie Pingre

Sophia Liu

Caught up in the frenzy of midterms and attempts to ward of stress culture, it can sometimes be difficult to remember the privilege that comes with a Barnard education.  Conversely, for those that don’t come from comfortable backgrounds of wealth and seemingly “guaranteed” paths in life, it can feel like you cannot integrate successfully, and thus should not even try for institutions such as Barnard.


This feeling of exclusion and class divide has lead to a well-studied phenomenon known as “undermatching”; high school students will only apply to schools that are inexpensive at face value, but do not meet the academic rigor or resourcefulness they may require. However, what does not meet the eye is that often times, more competitive and often private and expensive schools are in fact the best places for them to be. It goes beyond just the importance of fitting in with the values and student body of the university. These well-endowed schools often also have more robust financial aid opportunities and offices available both to decrease the amount of debt students have upon graduation, and ensure that students are supported by administration to stay on track for a four-year graduation. While Barnard still has much room for improvement in this area, we are still proudly one of the leading institutions in support low-income, diverse populations throughout their higher-education journey.

Not all the work being done to increase education accessibility is done from the school’s perspective nor from such a high level. Matriculate is a Bloomberg philanthropy that has established clubs on multiple college campuses, capitalizing on the peer-to-peer relationship that college student can form with high schoolers to advise them through the college application process. After a semester of intensive training, about 50 Columbia and Barnard students are ready to meet, support and encourage four high schoolers through one of the most tumultuous periods of their lives.

These college advisors are not molded out of nothing by magic. This month’s student spotlight, Billie Pingree, highlights her work as a head advisor. Her crucial role helping and supporting advisors as they help high schoolers is what keeps the Matriculate club not only afloat, but cohesive and fruitful. She has helped recruited the largest group of new college advisors at Columbia to date (72 students!) while also interning at the official Matriculate office.