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College Community Gathers in New York City to Talk Fashion, Technology, and the Liberal Arts

Alumni, parents, and friends gathered in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 22, for “Liberal Arts Lives: Swarthmore in Fashion.” The event featured a conversation with Joseph Altuzarra ’05, Cindi Leive ’88, and Cathy Polinsky ’99 about the intersections of fashion, technology, and the liberal arts. It also celebrated the success so far of the Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign.

From left: Cindi Leive ’88, former editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine; Cathy Polinsky ’99, chief technology officer of StitchFix, an online personal style service for men, women, and kids; and Joseph Altuzarra ’05, creative director of Altuzarra, a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and accessories brand.

Polinsky spoke about how studying computer science at Swarthmore prepared her for a career in Silicon Valley. “My liberal arts education taught me how to learn—a skill that has been essential to my career because so much of working in tech is figuring out what’s next and learning as you go.”

Altuzarra, who is also featured in the new video “Swarthmore College: Changing the World,” spoke about how studying the humanities gave him a unique perspective on the fashion industry. “I used to have an inferiority complex [about not going to fashion school], but the longer I’ve been in this industry, the more I’ve realized that being a designer is in part being a psychiatrist and a sociologist and an art historian. At Swarthmore, I learned a way of thinking that helps me connect all those different things together.”

Leive, who moderated the discussion, reflected on her experience as a writing associate while at Swarthmore. “That process of sitting and working on a paper with a fellow student, helping them get across what they wanted to say … that experience was the closest parallel to what I actually ended up doing professionally.

Tomoko Sakomura, associate professor of art history and assistant vice president and dean of academic success, who opened the evening, spoke about the connections she sees her students make in her classes every day between art history and chemistry, sociology, pop culture, and beyond.

The event also celebrated the success of the campaign so far, including the recent endowment of the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program, more than $76 million raised for financial aid, and the completion of Phase 1 of Maxine Frank Singer Hall—Swarthmore’s new home to biology, engineering, and psychology.

Alumni panelists with President Valerie Smith before the program

Over 125 alumni, parents, and friends attended the event.

Young alumni mingle at an event in New York City

A number of current students were also invited.

Professor Emerita of Art History Kaori Kitao and alumni at an event in New York City

William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emerita of Art History T. Kaori Kitao mingled with alumni attendees.

Young alumni mingle at an event in New York City

A broad range of class years were represented in the crowd—from the Class of 1957 to the Class of 2019.

Alumni mingle during an event in New York City

Other campus partners, including staff from the Center for Innovation and Leadership, also attended.

Alumni mingle during an event in New York City

Regional events offer alumni the opportunity to hear more about Swarthmore today—and catch up with classmates.

Over 125 alumni, parents, and friends attended the event.

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Swarthmore College: Changing the World

“Swarthmore College: Changing the World,” a video featuring seven alumni who are changing the world through their lives and their careers, premiered at the event. Find out more about how you can change the lives of those who will change the world at

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