Lantern Night: An evening of illumination

By Lindsay Carroll

Tyler Hein was one of 450 young women lined up in the Cathedral.

Like many of the others, she didn’t know what to expect. A freshman, Hein had gotten an invitation to Lantern Night in the mail. Everyone in her dorms asked each other if they were going.

Hein decided to go. She joined her fellow students for the ceremony in the packed Heinz Chapel

.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox three times a week.

Lantern Night began in 1920 as a ceremony celebrating the history and legacy of women at Pitt. First-time female students at the University receive lanterns, which are lit by alumni parents and mentors, and walk in a processional from Heinz Chapel to the Cathedral of Learning.

Now, the ceremony is an important tradition that’s growing in popularity at the University.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey and other administrators attended, while women’s basketball coach Agnus Berenato spoke to the students about the symbolism of the lanterns and the special role of women at Pitt.

“As women, we have to realize the great challenge before us,” said Berenato. “Ladies, this light comes with responsibility and accountability.”

Berenato said she never heard of Pitt when she was in high school, and she couldn’t afford to go to college.

It was before Title IX had passed. But she was offered a chance to play basketball in France, and she began to follow a path to coaching and personal success.

She said came to Lantern Night six years ago, when she first started coaching at Pitt. It soon became her favorite University tradition.

Berenato encouraged women to pursue their passions and get involved at school.

“You have to make [your light] shine,” she said.

Chelsea Austen, a freshman, said the ceremony was meaningful and made her feel better about starting her first week of college classes.

“It made me feel less nervous and more content,” Austen said.

For Hein, it served as a reminder.

“It reminds us that it wasn’t always easy to do this,” she said. “I feel like I should take advantage of the opportunity.”