Alumnae Club Send-Off Events in 20 Cities Welcome Incoming First-Years to Wellesley

August 23, 2016
students Hooprolling

Every summer, alumnae clubs host send-off parties for incoming students and their parents as well as alumnae and local current students. The events, produced in partnership with the Alumnae Association and the Parent and Family Office, provide a warm welcome to the Wellesley family and a chance to learn more about the College. They also help new students connect with each other so they will already know a friendly face or two when they arrive on campus.

“Summer send-offs are a wonderful way to begin a family's journey with the College,” said Elizabeth Drew Scholl, director of parent and family giving. “We want all of our new students—and their parents—to feel warmly welcomed and part of the Wellesley College community for life.”

Over the past four weeks, 20 clubs—including Hong Kong, Honolulu, Northern California, and Florida—held send-off parties, where new students met alumnae and heard why Wellesley is a great choice for the next four years and beyond.

The Baltimore club emphasized that point with a group discussion about what Wellesley has meant to each of the six alumnae present. “An alum from 1955 described her Wellesley years as the best of her life and talked about her career at the Department of Defense,” said Denny Donovan ’79, who hosted the event at her home. “Another alum noted how the diverse nature of Wellesley’s student body enabled her to succeed later as an attorney and in community volunteer activities.”

“Stories like that are a good reminder that Wellesley prepares students for leadership and for a lifetime of meaningful contributions,” said Scholl. “But a Wellesley education means so much more than that. Students become part of a community that will embrace them for life, and parents feel reassured to hear that.”

“One of the mothers who attended our event told me how grateful she was for the experience,” said Ashley Coale ’07, the alumnae admissions representative for Oregon. “Her daughter is the first in her family to attend college, and with Wellesley being so far away, it meant a lot that she could connect with part of our community and with other parents going through the same transition.”

That sense of connection is also important for the new students, said Coale, especially since Massachusetts can be very different culturally from other states. “The send-off provides an opportunity for students to learn about those differences, and to have all of their ‘mundane’ questions—like ‘Where do I eat?’ and ‘How do I figure out where classes are?’—answered by a small group of women who have been through it before and can guide and support them.”

Send-offs, which reflect the character of the clubs themselves, included pool parties and informal teas, as well as informal dinners and meet-and-greets hosted by alumnae in their homes.

The central and coastal Virginia club held one of the largest gatherings, for 26 people at the Richmond home of Cheri Harrell Anthony ’97. Guests included an incoming student and her family who drove more than two hours to attend, nine area alumnae and two of their young daughters (future Wellesley students, we hope!), and a rising senior from a local high school, who’d received a book award from the club. The Book Award Program recognizes outstanding academic achievement and gives recipients and their families an opportunity to know Wellesley better.

Apart from welcoming remarks, there was no formal program, said Amy Wight ’98, club president, who helped decorate Anthony’s home with Wellesley balloons, buttons, name tags, and napkins. “Our goal was to welcome new and prospective students into the Wellesley community and to share some of the Wellesley spirit,” she said.

Toward the end of the send-off, the club taught guests the basics of hooprolling (an idea from area alumna Portia Chan ’95) and organized a race in front of Anthony’s home. “The hooprolling was a tremendous success,” said Wight. “It gave students and their parents a sense of connection to Wellesley’s past and its vibrant future. The event even connected some of the current students who hadn’t met each other yet! That’s what these send-offs are all about.”