The CE/DS Community will Gather to Celebrate the Program's 45th Year at Reunion in June
For 45 years, Wellesley’s Davis Degree Program, once known as the Continuing Education Program, has offered a Wellesley education to women who, for one reason or another, departed from the more common timeline of going to college directly out of high school. There are more than 750 Continuing Education/Davis Scholar (CE/DS) alumnae. The community will gather to celebrate the 45 year milestone at Reunion this year.
"The experience of being a Davis Scholar is unique and special to Wellesley, and it brings another level of diversity to the campus community," said Fiona Almeida DS '15.
Susan Cohen, dean of the Class of 2016 and Davis Scholars, began working with Davis Scholars in the 2002-2003 academic year. In addition to working closely with the Davis Scholars in the years she has served as dean, she has also gotten to know many alumnae from earlier years.
"I look forward to the Reunion as an opportunity to reconnect and catch up on what individuals have been doing," Cohen said, "but also to join with them in celebrating and supporting a program that has been so important to all of them....Their backgrounds and experience are as rich and diverse as their interests and achievements, and their contributions to Wellesley are as important as Wellesley's contributions to their development."
Leah Thiffault DS'10, this year's Reunion Chair, came to Wellesley following a career in musical theater. She was taking classes at Pasadena City College and her Women's Studies professor recommended Wellesley. "I stumbled upon the Davis Scholar program while researching Wellesley," she said. "I was also considering UC Berkeley, but worried that as an older student I would have difficulty finding community in a larger school. Both schools are excellent academically, but the Davis Scholar program made Wellesley the obvious choice."
Thiffault said it was important to her that Davis Scholars take the same classes, fulfill the same requirements, and have the same opportunities as all Wellesley students. "I was not interested in a watered-down academic experience, and my hopes for rigor were met and exceeded by my studies at Wellesley," she said.
Thiffault said one of the things she is most looking forward to about Reunion is meeting the remote members of the planning committee. She shared, "They have been hard at work planning reunion for months, but many of us have yet to meet in person!" She said she’s also looking forward to reconnecting with her Homestead roommates. "A small group of us do mini-reunions every summer, though meeting on campus (or "the Mothership" as we refer to it) is sure to be memorable," she said.
Almeida, too, is looking forward to connecting with friends, and meeting alumnae "from across the years," many of whom, she said, have been her "cheerleaders every step of the way."
After graduating last year, Almeida stayed at Wellesley as a staff member and has been working as a project coordinator for the President’s Office and Board of Trustees. She was recently awarded a Davis Projects for Peace Award and is leaving Wellesley to spend 3 months in the Karnataka region of South India working on adolescent, wellness and women's reproductive health before heading to graduate school at Tufts this fall. Projects for Peace is an initiative, funded by Kathryn Wasserman Davis '28.
"Wellesley has given me a wonderful opportunity, and challenged me in many ways—but every challenge has had a positive impact," Almeida said. "Every day, I continue to see faculty, staff and alumnae cheer me on. I feel humbled by how amazing my experience has been and I know it will continue."
Reunion is a time to gather and celebrate Wellesley memories. For the CE/DS alumnae, in addition to the parade and traditional reunion events, there will be a luncheon, dinner and a group paint night event.
Inger Nielsen CE/DS'92, who is an outgoing class officer, said she has enjoyed creating programming with the rest of the board. "The programs made it possible once more to hang out with fellow CE/DS classmates and meet new friends. Reunion will do the same," she said. "Being on campus and having time to talk and get to hear about other classmates' experiences never gets old. The CE/DS women are a fascinating group of women."
She added, "and I may just take in a lecture too."