The Wellesley Community Offers Advice and Encouragement for Incoming First-Years

August 26, 2016

Welcome, Class of 2020! Today, incoming students arrived for orientation and the beginning of their lifelong Wellesley adventure. To help welcome them, we asked members of the red Class of 2016, who are starting new adventures of their own, to share words of advice and encouragement.

Alyssa Brody ’16 said, “Go out of your way to try something entirely new, something you never thought you'd try, and you might just end up with some awesome experiences that will shape the course of your Wellesley career.” Brody did just that by taking an environmental studies lab, which led her to major in environmental studies (and political science), and by signing up for several Alternative Breaks (offered during Wintersession and spring break), where she saw firsthand the importance of environmental stewardship. Now she is a Watson fellow and will travel to five countries this year to study the farm-to-table-system. “Wellesley will open up so many doors for you, both familiar and new,” she said.

Kimberly Coombes DS ’16, who recently began working as a corporate account manager for a computer firm, echoed Brody’s advice. “Dive into classes and subjects you are unfamiliar with, even if you are a first-gen or you had an unconventional route to the College,” said Coombes, who grew up in a blue-collar town in New Hampshire. She worked 40 hours a week at Walmart while also studying Japanese language and culture full time at Wellesley. “If you want something, you can make it happen,” said Coombes.

Rose Gibson ’16, who is pursuing a doctorate in astronomy at Columbia University, said, “Don’t compare yourselves to your peers too much. Wellesley is a wonderful place for personal growth, so don’t get too stuck worrying about other students’ academic performances. That being said, don’t be afraid of asking for help and advice when you need it! Your peers at Wellesley are your most valuable resource.”

Emma Regan ’16, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in applied physics at the University of California, Berkeley, offers two pieces of advice. “First, befriend people with completely different interests and goals,” she said. “One of my closest friends at Wellesley studied literature and political science, while I studied physics. I learned so much from her. The second is to take advantage of off-campus opportunities—MIT, Olin, Babson, Boston, etc. It’s really amazing to have the resources of big schools and companies at your fingertips, while having Wellesley as your home.”

Other alumnae offered sage advice as well, via social media. Common themes included “Get to know your professors,” “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” and “Have confidence in yourself.”

Several graduates mentioned the need for self-care and balance. “The quicker you truly learn to be comfortable in your own skin and embrace your strengths and limitations, the more happiness, peace and success you will have,” said Kai Memmer ’89 on Facebook. Patricia Allen ’95, wrote, “Try to quiet your analytical brain, surrender your competitive drive, abandon fear and anxiety, and just open up and gulp in the joy and beauty and wonder Wellesley has to offer you.”

Sydney Stewart ’18 touched on similar ideas in her Facebook post. “Embrace every single moment and don’t forget to reflect. Sit by the lake, in a green space, or in the comfort of your res hall when it’s too cold to go out and journal or meditate,” she wrote. “Also … take loads of pictures and don’t forget to back them up!”

A few writers reminded first-years to strive for excellence, not perfection, and remember what’s most important in life. “Everything is going to be okay. Mistakes are more than fine,” said Kat Chen ’12. Linda Nikitas wrote, “Don’t forget the people who helped get you to this point in life. Much love and sacrifice from those who raised you. Don’t take it for granted.”

The most common theme, on all social platforms, may be the most important: “Welcome to Wellesley. You are now part of a family that will always support you.”

If you’d like to add your thoughts to the conversation, join us on Facebook and Twitter.