Wellesley Alums Pen Sage Advice to Their Younger Selves

July 27, 2015
“Persevere,” an illustration by Michelle Thompson, appears in the summer issue of Wellesley magazine.

The summer issue of Wellesley magazine landed in alumnae mailboxes recently. Those who haven’t opened the award-winning publication—or who aren’t or aren’t yet alumnae—may want to read the cover story, “Dear Me,” online because it offers a different kind of Wellesley education: life lessons shared by eight alumnae over the age of 50 in letters written to their younger selves.

What inspired the feature? “The run-up to commencement [for the class of ’15] got us in the magazine office thinking about what we know now that we wish we had known when we graduated from college,” said editor Alice Hummer.

Ophelia Dahl CE/DS ’94 reflects about the need for perseverance and a long-range view of career challenges. “Balancing patience and impatience takes practice; don’t quit before you’ve properly begun,” she wrote. “You will come to appreciate the slow build of change, the delayed gratification of getting things right, and the small payoffs in between. Nothing worth much will reveal itself quickly; the end result is never the end.”

Yolette Garcia ’77 notes the importance of courage, and the fearlessness she felt at the College: “Everything was an adventure and anything was possible. That spirit blissfully came from your youth, but as I look back, it was also a sign of resilience,” she wrote. “Thank goodness for that. There are more than enough times in life when you will think you are down for the count, but with the help of others, you pick yourself up again.”

Shirlee Taylor Haizlip ’59 advises her younger self to “use every variegated gift that Wellesley showered on you to help those whom most people do not see or pass by unmoved.”

Their letters, along with those of five other alumnae, create a chorus of voices urging Wellesley students to follow their dreams, take risks, and embrace mistakes and detours that happen along the way.

Other stories in the issue reinforce those ideas, said Hummer, such as the profile of Ruth Tamen Wilf ’52, who, at 83, continues to work as a midwife and holds leadership roles in several maternal health organizations. Mfoniso Udofia ’06, a first-generation Nigerian in America, shares her journey from being an aspiring lawyer to an actress who was never “the right type” to a playwright who is “wrestling—no, dancing—with my own culture,” she said.

Those pieces, along with features on the We-Lab (the College’s engineering lab), botanical illustrators who are painting portraits of Wellesley’s rare plants, faculty profiles, and news about recent campus events round out the issue.

The Wellesley magazine won two awards in the 2015 CASE District I competition: silver for overall writing and gold for Article of the Year.