Students Return to Wellesley for Fall 2020

August 31, 2020

The day administrators, staff, professors, and students have been preparing for all summer has finally arrived—the start of term 1 of the 2020 fall semester at Wellesley. Today, students both on campus and remote begin their courses.

Yesterday’s mild and sunny weather brought a number of students outside to enjoy one last day of free time before the familiar routine of class assignments and projects resumes. Camille Osumah ’23, an orientation mentor, gave a tour of the campus to three first-years. Osumah said she was looking forward to starting her in-person environmental horticulture class, and said she hopes the students get to stay on campus.

two students sitting by the lake reading books and talking
First-years Emily Gil (left) and Alana Mackey discuss poetry next to Lake Waban the Sunday before fall semester begins.

Alana Mackey ’24 and Emily Gil ’24 enjoyed a view of Lake Waban while discussing poetry. Mackey, who is from Philadelphia, said it’s hard being away from her family, particularly when they can’t come to campus to visit in person. “I think just the joy I’ve taken from other people on this campus has softened the blow,” she said. “Being able to talk about things I’m passionate about with really amazing and intelligent people is really fun.”

Gil, from northern New Jersey, said she has enjoyed getting to know her blockmates and is looking forward to meeting her professors. “And I’m excited for the transition from high school to college classes,” she said.

A student reading a book while sitting in a hammock
First-year Elizabeth Ray relaxes in a quiet spot on campus and gets a jumpstart on reading for one of her courses.

Elizabeth Ray ’24 found a quiet spot in the woods near Lake Waban to set up her hammock and get a head start on a book for a writing course that focuses on 18th-century China. After a senior year that was cut short due to the pandemic and a summer spent at her Colorado home where it was sometimes difficult to stay motivated, she said she’s  “excited to get back into the learning mindset.” Ray said she’s hoping to join the improv group on campus. “That was something I did in high school,” she said, “and it’s something I’ve always loved, so I definitely want to get involved with it.”

Grace Turner ’23 has been on campus since August 17—she is an orientation coordinator from Alabama, a state with high rates of COVID-19, so she had to arrive early for quarantine and testing before she could start her job on campus. She said creating an engaging orientation week when not everyone could be together—and when even those who were together had to maintain physical distance—was challenging, but she’s happy with how the program turned out. Her favorite event was the MASKerade!, where students decorated face masks. “Some first-years came outside in the masks they decorated and we had a physically distant celebration,” she wrote in an email. “It showed me that we can be safe and still have fun while on campus.”

Turner also noted that most students at the College genuinely care about each other and want to follow the guidelines to keep everyone safe. “We want to stay at Wellesley for as long as we can,” she said.