Bellinis at breakfast? Check. Coterie of well-heeled and tenaciously
loyal friends? Check. Four-inch heels to section? Double-check.
For Erica S. Birmingham ’06, Harvard is an all-pink,
Champagne-drenched party of her own invention. She’s the closest thing
Harvard has to a true celebrity: like Paris Hilton, she is known solely
for being known.
She’s a character, quite literally. She checks into hotels
under the name Rosalind Connage, the debutante from F. Scott
Fitzgerald’s ‘This Side of Paradise.’ “When she buys clothes online,
she has her parcels delivered to “Duchess Erica Birmingham.”
Sure, there’s a Harvard dweeb in there—she’s writing her
thesis on the Latin American drug trade. The girl’s nobody’s fool. But
she exudes an effervescent sensibility, all manicured nails, dress-up
outfits, and very tall pumps.
Take a typical Thursday night at the Hasty Pudding. Erica
stormed in (rather, teetered in) and insisted that everybody tie
themselves together with purple ribbon for a drinking game.
Gleefully sipping the champagne she carried in with her, she
ordered everyone to play fair—and then winked and ensured that all hell
broke loose. “Everyone must be called by the name of someone they’ve
hooked up with, punks!” she commanded. “And later, we’re all going
And Erica does go out. “Let’s just say that it’s been Senior
Spring for seven semesters,” she said, ever committed to the good life.
“Erica decided the best place to enjoy our intoxication one
intersession would be the themed restaurant, Jekyll and Hyde,” recalled
Sarah G. Heyward ’06. “We spent two hours, at Erica’s request,
interacting with creepy cast members and becoming lifetime members of
the Jekyll and Hyde club. We were forced to take vows in front of the
entire restaurant. Up on stage.”
This, er, magnanimity extends into her personal life. “My
friends are the reason I love it here,” said Erica. Her friends can’t
get enough of her, either. “Her most remarkable quality is the genuine
kindness and loyalty that she shows to her friends and the people
around her,” said her blockmate Kate B. Yearwood ’06.
“I should tell you that I balanced work and play,” said Erica,
sipping a Kir Royale in Daedalus. Her rabbit stole dropped to her hot
pink sequined bag. Erica rolled her expertly lined brown eyes,
shrugged, and smiled mischievously. “But no, I’ll be remembered for
being polite and having fun. I didn’t take anything too seriously!”