’94 grad rallies to Reunion

| March 14, 2014

The race is on for Kimberly Bramley Estep ’94 — with Reunion just a little over two months away, she’s been on a mission to bring her classmates back to the Briar.

Kimberly Bramley Estep ’94 (left) with oldest daughter Morgan and her husband, Scott, in Park City, Utah, in 2012

Many will reconnect with each other — and the College — for the first time in 20 years. Even for Estep, it will only be the second time she has returned to campus.

After graduating with a degree in government, the Connecticut native moved all the way to Boulder, Colo., where a temporary position as office manager jump-started her business career. She returned to the East Coast four years later to work for her father’s company, which she now owns.

It took more than a decade to make it back to Sweet Briar.

“I brought my whole family back five years ago, and it was such fun to introduce my kids to my classmates’ kids,” she remembers. “Seeing the next generation running around the campus, and sharing my experiences with them … it’s priceless and it brings me joy.”

But participation isn’t everything.

“I try to tell everyone that we need to keep Sweet Briar affordable for all future women leaders,” Estep says.

Daughters Morgan (left), then 12, and Ryleigh, 11, each earned a Black Belt last year.

To raise the incentive, the mother of two girls has made a challenge to her class.

“I will gift an additional $250 for each donation made of $500 or more.”

Despite the extra motivation, rallying support has been difficult, she says.

“We’ve had some takers, but not the great response I was looking for. Our class is wonderful, but I’m finding that economic times are difficult for a lot of families.”

For Estep, returning to campus has meant not just sharing part of her roots with her husband and daughters, but also reliving some of her most treasured memories — and there are many of them.

She especially enjoyed economic development classes with Richard Jacques, but her recollection is a bit fuzzier when it comes to science courses, which often happened early in the day.

“I’m not a morning person,” she admits.

Memories of campus life, on the other hand, are much more present.

“I loved hiking to the monument in the fall,” Estep recalls. “[And] the outdoor dinners in the Quad — especially Mexican night — were the best.”

Kimberly Estep in her senior photo in the 1994 Briar Patch

There are some highlights most classmates are bound to remember.

“Dave Matthews performed at one of our formals when he was just starting out. [And then there’s] freshman-year memories of second-floor Reid and the great towel thief: I had to walk back to my room wrapped in a shower curtain.”

Then there are the tiny Macintosh computers everyone used, and the fact that there was no Internet, and no cell phones. Roommate fights over phone bills were common, she remembers. During her time at Sweet Briar, Estep lived in Reid, Glass, Grammer and Randolph halls, but a boyfriend in South Carolina kept her off-campus many weekends. On campus, Estep spent as much time as possible at the riding center with her horse Moose, and the two of them competed with then-coach Paul Cronin. She was on the Riding Council and also a member of Sweet Tones.

Estep knows that many of her memories will come back to life when she sets foot on campus May 29.

She’ll also take a much-needed break from her fast-paced job — as president of Branig Capital Markets, Estep doesn’t get to unwind very often. When she does, she can be found racing her Porsche Cayman S, a hobby that began in 2003, when Estep and her husband participated in a BMW track day. Three years ago, she started competing and has placed fourth in the GTB1 Porsche Club Racing competition for two years in a row.

“I’d love to vie for the podium this year, though my work schedule and responsibilities have increased so much it will be difficult to find time to race,” she admits. “It’s a huge time and financial commitment.”

In the meantime, there’s always the rally to Reunion — much slower-paced, maybe, but well worth the ride.

Janika Carey

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Category: Alumnae and Development