As the School Year Gets Underway, Meet the Class of 2020

September 6, 2016

At Wellesley, every new class is considered a gift, and every student has a unique story. When the red Class of 2020 arrived on campus for orientation in late August, its members already had the distinction of being chosen from among 4,888 applicants—Wellesley’s largest pool yet. The students hail from 37 countries, 44 states, and the District of Columbia; 49 percent identify as students of color (including biracial and multiracial students), 14 percent are the first in their family to attend college, and 62 percent attended public school.

The students’ interests and talents include speaking multiple languages; playing several varsity sports; making costumes; ice skating; playing the flute; participating in Girl Scouts; volunteering with local churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues; and campaigning for various presidential candidates. The class boasts a prize-winning poet, a qualified yoga teacher, and the winner of the best actress award at the Providence Horror Film Festival.

“This class has incredible energy and enthusiasm!” said Joy Playter, dean of the Class of 2020. “They turned out in huge numbers for orientation events, convocation, and Stepsinging, and they embodied ‘cultivating community’—the theme of orientation—by making connections with one another and engaging in all the College has to offer them.”

Many first-years were taking that approach before leaving home, stepping into various leadership roles and strengthening their communities in the process. One woman founded a chapter of Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign that gives students the opportunity to help girls and women all over the world; she was named one of the top 30 high school moguls in the United States by Mogul. Another student, who cared for a sister with Down syndrome, began a nonprofit to promote healthy eating habits in children with special needs, and she is a volunteer cheerleading coach at a gym for children with special needs.

The Class of 2020 has also shown an ability to overcome obstacles. Some left countries with oppressive regimes, helped family members seek asylum abroad, or rose above extreme poverty. Others are continuing their education after years devoted to children or family. One woman became an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a trained printmaker while being treated for cancer.

A recent story in the Guardian about the Red Hot Class of 2020 includes other impressive stories and reflections from several new students about why they chose Wellesley. Anna Vargas ’20 told the publication, “Wellesley gives a taste of what life would be like if there was a more prominent balance between genders in areas that are more important. [In] the Wellesley bubble, women are leaders—they’re presidents of clubs, vice presidents of clubs, fill almost every single position in athletics, in recreational activities.”

Lauren Dines ’20, a basketball player who left her friends and team in New York City to attend a high school for girls in New Jersey, said she chose Wellesley because she could imagine herself calling it home.

As the Guardian noted, for some members of the class, “the supportive nature of an all-female institution is paramount.”

Wellesley is thrilled that each of the nearly 600 members of the Class of 2020—including nine Davis scholars and one transfer student—now call the College home. “I look forward to watching them grow and learn as they try on different academic and personal selves on their way to becoming Wellesley Women,” said Playter.