Convocation Launches Wellesley’s 148th Academic Year

Seniors wearing their robes and face masks laugh and hug while gathering before commencement.
Image credit: Shannon O'Brien
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The Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Ballroom was alive with laughter and conversation as the yellow class of 2023 gathered together with the rest of the College community ahead of convocation September 6. “I want to congratulate everyone who made it here, but especially the seniors, my golden class of 2023,” said Alexandra Brooks ’23, College Government president. “We have definitely not had a traditional Wellesley experience, and I know that many of us feel that we’ve had crucial moments of our college experience lost due to factors out of our control.”

“I hope you build strong, enduring friendships here with people you didn’t initially expect to bond with—and that you enjoy the contrasts, as well as all you share,” said President Paula A. Johnson in her opening remarks. “I hope that when you leave Wellesley in a few years, those friendships will have taught you so much about life and our common humanity, and that you approach all new connections with confidence, optimism, and the sense that there is something to be learned.”

Andrew Shennan, provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College, reflected on his first Wellesley convocation in 1988: “I was sitting where you are, feeling pretty nervous. I hadn’t yet taught my first class. While I was half listening to the speakers, the other half of my brain was contemplating the prospect of walking into Founders 207 the next day to meet the 30 students who’d signed up for History 201: Europe since 1600. I hoped they didn’t know how terrified I was. Faculty members, too, suffer from imposter syndrome!”

Brooks talked about the power and courage of student activists at Wellesley, working to fight injustices in their communities. “I know that in the future there will be other issues and more problems that need solving, but I am more than confident in both current and future Wellesley students to face those injustices, courageously and head on, just as they have done in the past,” she said. “And courage does not just exist solely in fights for monumental changes from an institution or government, but in daily acts of resistance and understanding. It exists in listening and learning from the people around you and realizing that it is, in fact, very OK to not be the smartest person in the room, especially at a place like Wellesley.”

Chief Justice Nuzaina Faisal Khan ’23 noted the significance of the Honor Code and how students and alumnae have manifested it in their actions. “Over my last three years I have watched in awe as Wellesley students have time and again manifested the Honor Code and pushed for a moral education in addition to an academic one,” she said. “The Honor Code is only two sentences, but I believe its simplicity is actually its biggest strength. It is timeless and not location-dependent but rather a dynamic conversation between Wellesley, our environment, and the needs of our time.”

The full ceremony is available on the College’s YouTube channel.