“Sweet Briar is my ‘happy place’ ”

| October 15, 2013

 Q&A with Christine Bump ’00

Christine P. Bump has given to Sweet Briar each year since graduating in 2000. A lawyer practicing food and drug law in Washington, D.C., she’s a member of the Boxwood Circle and one of the College’s youngest and most passionate supporters. We wanted to know what inspires her generosity, and how she ended up at Sweet Briar in the first place.

Christine Bump ’00 today, 13 years after graduating from Sweet Briar.

How and where did you grow up? Did you always want to be a lawyer?

I am an only child, and I have always had a very close relationship with my parents. They sacrificed so much to ensure that I had every opportunity, and I am forever grateful to them.

When I was 2, we moved to Napa, Calif., which was a fantastic place to grow up. The public school system offered ample opportunities for academic enrichment, arts and sports. I was active in dance, children’s theater, vocal performance, community service and local journalism. Despite all of these activities, school and academic pursuits took top priority in our household.

While studying both science and government at Sweet Briar, I grew fascinated by how legislation, regulation and public policy can be used to shape scientific research and health care. I wrote my honors thesis on the need for genetic privacy legislation. In my senior year at Sweet Briar, I applied to joint J.D./M.P.H. programs to obtain both my law degree and my Master of Public Health, with an emphasis in health policy. I didn’t initially intend to use my law degree to practice law; I wanted to have a legal education to enhance my understanding of policy and its implications. During my third year in the J.D./M.P.H. program at Emory University, I took a one-semester food and drug law course. It completely tied together science, technology, law and the implications of legislation and regulation regarding products intended to improve people’s health. Taking that class, I felt like I could connect all the dots that interested me, just like at Sweet Briar. After graduation, I began practicing food and drug law with a firm in Washington, D.C.

What made you decide to attend Sweet Briar?

I decided at the ripe old age of 6 that I was going to attend college on the East Coast. I still don’t know why. By my junior year of high school, I wanted to major in chemistry in college, and I was really drawn to the idea of being surrounded by women who wanted to succeed in science.

When my family and I began looking into all-women’s colleges, my mom fell in love with Sweet Briar from the brochures we received. Coming from California (and with all of the insight of a teenager — ha!), I was adamantly against attending college below the Mason-Dixon line. I only applied to Sweet Briar to appease my mom. However, when I arrived on Sweet Briar’s campus for the first time as a prospective student, my outlook completely changed. The gates, the winding road onto campus and the beautiful landscape made me feel at home before we even reached the checkpoint. Attending classes, touring the campus and staying in the dorms during that visit made me 100-percent confident that Sweet Briar was the perfect place for me. And, second only to marrying my husband, it is the best decision I ever made!

Christine Bump receives her diploma from President Betsy Muhlenfeld during Commencement in May 2000.

What was your major? What activities were you involved in?

I began as a chemistry major, and I loved my courses in chemistry, biology, genetics and biochemistry. All of my professors and lab instructors, including Susan Piepho, made science accessible and applicable. However, because of Sweet Briar’s general education requirements, I took Barbara Perry’s Introduction to Government course my first semester. I loved the historical and theoretical discussions during government classes. Before junior year, I switched to a government major.

The government classes were thought-provoking and fostered long discussions well beyond the classroom. I remember debating political theory with friends on nights and weekends! I was fortunate to receive a recommendation for an internship in the clerk’s office of the U.S. Supreme Court, and I interned in that office for two summers.

I sang with Concert Choir, Chamber Choir and Sweet Tones, which I led my senior year. I was treasurer and president of Sweet Briar’s Circle K Club and was active in the Honors Program; I co-edited the Honors Journal with one of my best friends. I served on Dean Valerie Walker’s Dean’s Advisory Committee and as the Orientation chairwoman in 1999. I was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Alpha Delta and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. My favorite activity, however, was fencing. I took Coach Jennifer Crispen’s introductory fencing class my first semester and loved it! I joined Sweet Briar’s club team and by senior year, I was captain. Fencing was the perfect combination of athleticism and intellectual strategy. All of the women on our team were bright, talented and dedicated. It ended up being a huge part of my college experience.

At Sweet Briar, there were ample opportunities in every realm of academics and campus life. The entire community encouraged and fostered discovery and exploration of all kinds. Both my major and my participation in a new sport resulted from Sweet Briar’s focus on ensuring that students were exposed to as much as possible. That is a true testament to a liberal arts education.

What’s your favorite Sweet Briar memory?

I have so many wonderful memories of Sweet Briar! I always had a great time singing at the Christmas Tree Lighting. There was such a sense of community and warmth. I also had a lot of fun with Sweet Tones tapping and at all of our concerts. A high point every year was Christmas Vespers. I absolutely loved singing in the chapel, and Dean Jonathan Green selected beautiful pieces for the choirs to sing. I especially enjoyed the pieces he composed — they were always challenging! I don’t think we ever mastered them, but I hope we performed them well enough.

Christine Bump and her husband, Elias Papasavvas, at a black-tie event in 2010.

What happened after Sweet Briar?

After graduation, I moved even further south to Atlanta for graduate and law school. I completed the four-year J.D./M.P.H. program at Emory University’s School of Law and the Rollins School of Public Health. While at Emory, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serving as a policy fellow in the National Center for Environmental Health and as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel. Research I conducted during my fellowship at the NCEH was used in a chapter of the book “Law in Public Health Practice.” During law school, I also served as the executive managing editor of the Emory International Law Review.

Since 2004, I have represented large and small companies that manufacture medical devices, biological products and dietary supplements regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In my first years of practice, a lot of my work involved the regulation of laboratory tests intended to detect genetic variants. That had a lot of significance for me, as it connected back to my intended career path coming out of Sweet Briar.

Why do you give?

It would have been difficult for me to attend Sweet Briar without the assistance of several scholarships, including the Betty Bean Black Scholarship and the Kenmore Merit Scholarship. I can’t imagine missing out on the Sweet Briar experience because of tuition costs, and I am so grateful to the individuals and families who provided the money to fund the scholarships I received. The best way to repay that generosity is to help the next generation of Sweet Briar women. I have made a donation to the College every year since graduating in 2000, and I always designate it for student scholarships. I hope that my donations are enabling young women to attend Sweet Briar with less hardship.

How often do you come back to SBC, and with whom do you stay in touch?

Sweet Briar is definitely my “happy place” and I love returning to campus. I didn’t make it back to the college as an alumna until 2004. Since then, I have averaged about two trips a year, including attending my fifth and 10th reunions, as well as my own engagement: my husband proposed on Monument Hill! I am really looking forward to the 15th reunion, and I hope our class has a great turnout.

I still keep in touch with several friends from my class, as well as a dear friend from the Class of 1999. I treasure my Sweet Briar friendships. One of the most wonderful aspects of these special relationships is that no matter how much time passes, we can always pick up where we left off.

Janika Carey

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Category: Alumnae and Development, Uncategorized