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Taryn Abbasian ’12

Taryn Abbasian

Donor Profile

Tell us about your Dickinson experience.

I had an absolutely incredible time at Dickinson, and I was so glad that, through lacrosse and my college search, I landed in Carlisle. I visited a lot of similar schools on the East Coast, but I immediately felt at home when I got to campus. Meeting my future teammates on the women's lacrosse team, I could tell that these were the types of people I wanted to go through the ups and downs of college athletics and life with.

I was one of those kids who came in at 18 years old and felt with certainty that I knew who I was, what I was interested in and exactly what my path would be. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I had so many opportunities to grow and learn, and I would never be the person I am today without my Dickinson education.

I remember taking my first sociology class with Associate Professor of Sociology Amy Steinbugler, who truly changed my life. I was initially signed up to take ceramics, but I was terrible at it, and I was afraid it would hurt my GPA. So after a week, I dropped the course and added a class called Stratification. I didn't even know what the word meant when I started, but I left with a love of sociological analysis, and I felt like I understood the world so much better after that class—along with many other courses in the political science and sociology departments (and beyond). It totally reframed the way I saw myself and my place in the world. And I think it led me to the work I do today in public policy and politics. 

How has Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?

Dickinson's liberal-arts education really allowed me to become the multifaceted, curious person I am today. When I was younger I asked so many questions, and I had a sense of the career I wanted when I came to Dickinson. But I was so grateful to be able to take courses on religion, linguistics and sexuality and satisfy that curiosity I had outside of my career aspirations and ambitions.

In the world I'm in now, public policy and politics, there is no such thing as a simple issue. Every prospective policy issue or political problem has so many different layers to it that there is no way that looking from one perspective would lead to a solution. So even before I began graduate school I felt so prepared, because I had a background in research methods, economics, religion, sociology, etc., which all shape the world of politics and policy. I have found that being able to think outside of the box and find creative solutions to the issues we face is crucial, and all of that really critical thinking started for me at Dickinson.

What inspired your gift to Dickinson?

I give to Dickinson because I had a truly wonderful experience there, and I hope that that kind of experience remains accessible for all types of students in the years to come. I truly feel like I had a unique experience, compared to my friends that went to big universities, because I had and still have such a strong community. The bonds and connections you make in a place like Carlisle—and as part of such a small student population—are incredible, and I hope that this special place will continue to bring in students from all walks of life for centuries to come. 

What do you hope your gift will do for fellow Dickinsonians?

I hope that my gift can support the athletics program, which is very near and dear to my heart and Dickinson experience. I hope that my contributions, along with the contributions of so many alumni, will collectively ensure that anyone who wants a Dickinson education has that opportunity. I also cherished so many of my professors from my time at Dickinson, and if my giving can support their endeavors and their research to continue changing the world, then that is incredible. 

Why is it important to give back to Dickinson?

Well, from a practical perspective, I know the cost of education in our country continues to rise and that my Dickinson education was so foundational for me. I want to ensure that incredible future Dickinsonians can have the same support I had. I also received scholarships provided by generous alumni donations, so I feel it is only right to pay it forward to future generations of students and do my part to support the college that gave so much to me.

What is your favorite memory from your time at Dickinson?

My favorite memories stem from the women's lacrosse program and my teammates. I couldn't pin it on one particular win or loss or season. But all the cold mornings in February. All the long bus rides, when we were deliriously tired. All the slap-happy Caf breakfasts after a morning workout. All the painful running tests. All the laughs on the sidelines of practice. Those are irreplaceable to me. My teammates are my family, still, to this day. There is no one who has loved me fiercer or supported me more than my teammates, and I'm so grateful to Dickinson for all of them.

Can you tell us about what you do outside of work—hobbies, interests, etc.?

I used to do a lot of lacrosse coaching and traveling in my spare time, though the pandemic has put a damper on those for now. My dear fellow alum Sunnie Ko ’11 had previously pulled me into rec-league softball, which was always fun during D.C. summers. As I mentioned, I work in the political realm, so when I'm not working, I like to try and volunteer with local and state campaigns that get way less attention than they should! I also would consider myself a movie and TV buff, so I'm always trying to find new shows or more indie movies to check out. And though I am certainly not as in shape as my college lacrosse days, I try to spend my days working out, staying fit and taking my puppy, River, on long walks and hikes. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to today’s students?

The best piece of advice I would give to today's students would be to focus less on the X's and O's and focus more on the connections. Grades are certainly important, but don't spend all of your time in the library without forming connections with your fellow students or your professors. Go to office hours and study groups! You may not remember everything from a particular course after you graduate, but if you formed meaningful connections and work to maintain them, that will be what you can carry with you beyond Dickinson and into the working world.

That goes for when you're in your first jobs as well. It's not just about coming in, sitting at your desk and finishing your work as quickly as possible. It's about getting to know the people you work with and forming connections outside of your actual day-to-day tasks. I have found that that makes it easier to get advice, learn on the job and to be able to collaborate with your coworkers, and it is a great way to expand your network.

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Published June 13, 2022