Senior Snapshot, Karissa Coleman ’23: “Be Everything You Want to Be”

Karissa Coleman poses for a photo surrounded by greenery in Global Flora.
Image credit: Ahana Basu ’25
Author  Quinn Etoll ’23
Published on 

When Karissa Coleman ’23 applied to Wellesley, she figured it was “just another school.” She says she found something very different upon visiting. Coleman hails from Springfield, Mass., and she didn’t necessarily want to be close to home, but after attending an admitted students day, she realized Wellesley was the place for her. The students she met expressed joy from “learning how to become a person and not just a student.” She wanted to go to a college that would make her “grow as a whole person and not just gain skills,” and Wellesley fit the bill.

Coleman has always been interested in law; in high school, she participated in programs that gave her the opportunity to learn from lawyers and visit law firms. At Wellesley, political science was an obvious fit. She quips that she is one of the “few people at Wellesley who chose a major and stuck to the major.” Coleman serves on the Political Science Majors Council, facilitating communications and events with students and faculty within the department. After graduating, she plans to study for the LSAT and intern for a political consulting firm. Coleman is a psychology minor in part to figure out how to “get people to hear your message” in order to help them. She sees the intersection of political science with psychology as bringing her closer to honing in on exactly how to help people, which is her goal.

“Wellesley is the best place to fail,” Coleman often tells prospective students while leading tours or at admission events, because so many people on campus want students to succeed and truly care about them. Coleman recalls a difficult time last semester when extenuating circumstances prevented her from doing her best work on an essay for a class. Her professor sat her down, acknowledged that her work did not represent who she was as a student, and waived the assignment, then helped her get back on track.

Outside of academics, Coleman has had several on-campus jobs, including as a student ambassador coordinator for the Office of Admission, as a dispatch assistant at the Public Safety Department, as a Davis Museum guide, and as a ball-runner for the Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics Department. She found unexpected support in the Admission Office, when her supervisor gave her advice on how to balance her schedule for her overall wellness. She worked in the office during the summer as well, and the staff threw her a surprise birthday celebration. “I was not expecting the spectacle,” she says. “They made all my favorite desserts, and they made pictures and presents and cards, and it was a whole thing.” Coleman finds that that kind of dedication to noticing “the little things about people” is part of what makes Wellesley, Wellesley.

Coleman is also involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. She is a member of Tau Zeta Epsilon, the arts and music society, and an active member of the Pre-Law Society, the Schneider Board of Governors, Ethos, and Fever Dancers, an Afro-Caribbean dance group on campus. As a junior, Coleman was an Albright Fellow, before which she interned remotely for Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in his Washington, D.C., office. Coleman says she is “very intentional” about the activities in which she chooses to participate to maximize her impact while still protecting her health and well-being.

“Don’t forget that being a person is what really is the most important at the end of the day, not just the academics,” Coleman advises incoming first-years. To Coleman, a Wellesley education is as much about human connections as it is about the classes. After graduating, she says, she will miss the thoughtfulness of her peers, from the students who notice her colorful, monochromatic looks to the supervisors and faculty who want her to succeed. “Do everything you want to; try to be everything you want to be,” she says.