Hillary Rodham Clinton '69 is First Woman to Receive Major Party's Nomination for President

July 29, 2016
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Hillary Rodham Clinton ‘69 accepted the Democratic nomination for president last night, capping off the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She is the first woman to receive a major political party’s nomination for the presidency. "When there are no ceilings," she declared, "the sky's the limit."

Clinton acknowledged what the moment meant for her and symbolized for women, young and old. "Standing here as my mother's daughter, and my daughter's mother, I'm so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone." But she also recognized the work ahead. "So let's keep going...until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have."

Wellesley College does not support or endorse any political candidate, campaign, or party, but at this historic moment, we proudly celebrate the transformational leadership of a Wellesley alumna who inspires us all. Clinton has maintained close ties to the College in the years since her 1969 graduation and many in the Wellesley community—from students to alumnae to faculty and staff— are reflecting on the milestone achieved this week.

Kathleen Kaisia ‘17 said, "It’s inspiring. I think Wellesley students are always very, very aware of the legacies that our alumnae are building in the world because they give us a sense of what we can hope to do." She added,"Yesterday Hillary Clinton was a student here and today she’s the nominee for our nation’s highest elected office. Today I’m the student, so I ask myself, ’Where will I be tomorrow?’"

Wayne Bouchard, head of motorpool and parent of a Wellesley student, said, "I am very proud that my daughter will be in the company of the many Wellesley women who have gone on to become powerful women and influential leaders, now including a potential U.S. President."

The community has also started to come together to share reactions on social media. One Alumna wrote on Facebook, "Never underestimate a Wellesley Woman!" Another wrote, "So cool that one of our Sisters has done what we knew would happen during our lifetime!" On Twitter, an alumna wrote "So proud of our Wellesley sister...You make me feel like I can do anything. You inspire me to fight harder for equality," while another pondered this question: "How many Wellesley women are gonna be wearing white pantsuits for the alumnae parade next reunion?"

Laura Grattan, assistant professor of political science, said Clinton's nomination is undoubtedly a source of pride for Wellesley and a reminder that women's colleges and institutions remain important to the ongoing struggle for gender equity in the United States. "In that tradition, this should be a moment of both hope and critique," she said. "It's not the time to be lulled into believing that feminism is no longer necessary, especially in a period when heightened attention to structural racism has shattered the national myth that President Obama's election eight years ago ushered in a post-racial society."

Grattan added, "As we celebrate Clinton's success, let's keep our eye on the activists--including those protesting outside the Democratic Convention--who know that feminism entails commitments to racial and economic justice, queer and transgender struggle, and solidarity with women outside the nation's borders."

Cameran Mason ‘84, Vice President for Resources and Public Affairs said, "We often talk about shattering the glass ceiling in an abstract way but there are actually years and years of hard work behind making that happen. That's what I saw last night when Hillary spoke. Her leadership journey—and that of so many Wellesley women—began decades earlier as a student here where she learned how to lead, and more importantly, how to lead in male-dominated world."

Now the focus shifts to the presidential debates—the first of which will take place on Monday, September 26 at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY. Alan Schechter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, was Clinton’s faculty advisor and supervised her senior thesis. He said Clinton is ready for them. "Hillary was an outstanding student at Wellesley, and earned top grades. Her senior thesis was based on original research, and was graded A by four professors. She was highly articulate, organized, hardworking, and efficient," Schechter said. "As president of the Student Government and president of the senior class, she got early experience as a leader. These skills have served her well during her years in national politics, and especially in recent months."