Summer Send-Offs Prepare New Students for the Journey to Wellesley

August 22, 2017
An airplane preparing to land over Boston's Logan airport

Over the past several weeks, more than 30 alumnae clubs—from Honolulu to Miami to Shanghai, China—have held send-off parties where incoming students met alumnae and learned about the many resources that will be available to them during their college years and beyond. The parties were as diverse as the clubs themselves, ranging from picnics to teas to outdoor cookouts.

“These events are a great way for new students to hear from predecessors that ‘you’ve made a great choice picking Wellesley,’ said Tara Henrichon, director of parent and family programs. “They also welcome students and their families into a community that will embrace them for life.”

The central and coastal Virginia club emphasized a beloved Wellesley tradition at its annual hoop-themed send-off on August 6, which included a menu of mini bagels, citrus bundt cake, and other round foods. Nine area alumnae welcomed two incoming students and one prospective student at the home of Cheri Harrell Anthony ’97. Everyone received a hoop in her class color, and newcomers were taught the art of hoop rolling. Then the group competed on the sidewalk outside.

“The hoop-rolling competition offers brand-new Wellesley students and prospective students an opportunity to connect to Wellesley before they ever begin their college journey,” said club president Amy Wight ’98. “Perhaps more importantly, it also helps them connect with area alumnae, many of whom participated in hoop rolling on campus and remember it fondly.”

The Hong Kong club, in contrast, welcomed seven incoming students and three Wellesley interns to its relaxed event on August 12, where attendees talked for two and a half hours about life in the United States and specifically at Wellesley. The new students asked lots of questions, such as “Where do I eat?” and “How do I find my classes?”

“We alumnae understand how anxious all students can feel during their first year, but we also know we can make it a more pleasant start for them by offering them the opportunity to share their concerns with us, and by giving them useful tips and advice. We also wish the new students to know, before their departure, that they will always have a strong support system in Hong Kong,” said Joansa Lam ’90, club president.

 

In Los Angeles, four current Wellesley students and 36 alumnae gathered on June 17 at the Chado Tea Room, adjacent to the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, to welcome two incoming students at the 14th Annual Summer Tea for students of color, hosted by the Wellesley Latina Alumnae Network (WLAN) and Wellesley Alumnae of African Descent (WAAD).

“Sixty percent of the alumnae who attended were first-gen students themselves, so we know what it’s like to leave family and familiar surroundings for a college 3,000 miles away. There are differences in weather, culture, and demographics,” said WLAN president Dolores Arredondo ’95, who was the first in her family to attend college. “We shared our experiences and told the new students to be confident that they will be successful. Other Latinas at Wellesley will support and understand them.”

Alumnae offered advice about everything from winter clothing to choosing among the wide variety of courses offered at Wellesley. Anna Rios ’01, senior director of consumer insights at NBCUniversal Media’s E! Entertainment, encouraged the new students to not forget the basics: statistics and math. “There is no doubt that my Wellesley religion and Spanish literature degree taught me how to think critically, write, ask tough questions, and develop strong points of view. However, I can’t tell you how much statistics and math have also helped me in my career,” she said. “The daily inferences from the data I help provide play a critical role in what I do. These classes helped build my understanding of that material.”

A few days after the tea, Arredondo received an email from Jailene Lemus ’21, one of the new students, who said her favorite moment at the tea was when she met Nancy Negrete ’14, who had called her in the spring to congratulate her on being admitted to Wellesley and even spoke to her mom in Spanish. (Negrete later took them both to dinner and answered all of their questions about Wellesley.)

“As a first-generation student, navigating college offers was foreign for my family and me…. Seeing Nancy and other Latina alumnae at the WLAN tea reinforced my decision that Wellesley was the best choice,” wrote Lemus in her email. “The alumnae I met were empowering to me as a Latina, an often-underrepresented group on most campuses. The warm interactions with the Wellesley women at the tea function truly made me feel part of the Wellesley sisterhood.”