Wellesley StoryCorps: In Celebration of 50 Years of Ethos, Wellesley Women of Color Share Their Stories

What happens when Wellesley alumnae sit down for an open, candid conversation about their lives and careers, their hopes and fears, and the bond that connects them—their Wellesley experience?

This question lies at the heart of a unique partnership, begun in 2015, between Wellesley and NPR’s popular StoryCorps project, a national movement that invites people of all ages and from all walks of life to help create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview.

In a new installment of this inspiring, empowering, and often poignant podcast series, Wellesley alumnae of African descent from across the generations reflect upon the importance of Ethos and Harambee House to their experiences as women of color on campus.


Listen by the Decades

Early Days | Karen Williamson ’69 and JudyAnn Bigby ’73

Karen Williamson, a founder of Ethos, and JudyAnn Bigby discuss the early days of campus activism and the organization’s challenges and successes in advocating for a more diverse Wellesley in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


1980s | Pamela "Pamm" McNeil ’82 and Tracy Heather Strain ’82

Classmates Pamm McNeil and Tracy Heather Strain share their own preconceptions and early encounters with racism on campus, and they discuss how Ethos and Harambee House made class, social, and geographical “crossings” possible, fostering unexpectedly diverse and enriching friendships.


1990s | Malika Jeffries-El ’96, Shelly Davis ’97, and Katrina Mitchell ’96

Malika Jeffries-El, Shelly Davis, and Katrina Mitchell recount the evolution of Ethos’ objectives from advocating for diversity and inclusion on campus to thinking about the broader aspects of being black women in the world. They touch on efforts to connect Wellesley to the larger Boston community and the continuing importance of having an organization like Ethos and a space like Harambee House on campus.


2000s | Liz Miranda ’02 and Natalie Gill-Mensah ’03

Natalie Gill-Mensah speaks with close friend Liz Miranda about Miranda’s transformation at Wellesley, from a young woman with undefined aspirations, raised by a teenage mother, to one with the confidence to run for public office with a vision for change.


2010s | Diamond Sharp ’11 and Ikhlas Saleem ’11

Journalists Diamond Sharp and Ikhlas Saleem discuss the effects of social media on social movements, the silence surrounding class differences, and learning to code switch between different social groups at Wellesley, a skill that has helped them navigate the workplace successfully and ensure that female and minority voices are heard in the media.


Edited and produced by Wellesley College, with interviews recorded by StoryCorps.