Senior Snapshot, Nia Goodridge ’22: “Wellesley Teaches You How to Make a Difference.”

Nia Goodridge smiles into the camera.
Author  Shannon O'Brien
Published on 

Bouldering—a type of rock climbing that doesn’t require a harness because climbers stop at 12 to 15 feet from the ground—is a new passion for Nia Goodridge ’22. It also serves as a metaphor for her Wellesley experience. “You get up to this wall and you’re like, oh, no. I can’t do it,” she said. “You see that p-set? You’re like, I can’t do this. You get that essay, you’re like, why me? But once you get up to the top of that wall, you just feel an overwhelming sense of achievement.”

Goodridge chose Wellesley because it offered peace and justice studies—a major she sought because she has seen injustice in the world and wants to correct it, and improve the lives of people who come after her. “I don’t want people to experience what I’ve experienced, or what others have experienced in the past,” she said. In her mind, peace and justice studies can help to “create a world where everyone can thrive, no one is looked down upon because of the color of their skin or their gender, sexuality, or ability.”

Lori Tenser, associate dean for academic integration and advising, recognized her interest in changing the world. “Nia has been inspired by her Wellesley education to look for ways to combat the systematic oppression and inequity she sees in the world,” she said. “She is a person of tremendous integrity, remarkable self-reflection, empathy, and brilliance.”

Goodridge described her time at Wellesley as unorthodox, not only because of the pandemic interruption in her sophomore and junior years, but because she took a medical leave during her first year to go home and recalibrate. “Every time I come back to Wellesley I feel like a first-year,” she said.

“Wellesley has challenged me in a lot of ways.” She said her four years at the College have been the most formative of her life: “They tested me. They showed me that I had the strength to overcome. They showed me how beautiful other people could be.” She entered Wellesley thinking she wanted to get through as fast as she could, but has since switched, she said, to “let’s savor this. Let’s appreciate everything that’s been given to me.”

Goodridge advises new Wellesley students to ask for help when they need it. “One of the reasons why I had to leave was because I tried to depend on me, myself, and I, and that didn't really work out well for me,” she said. “For first-years, I know it’s scary, but I think that they should truly lean into the community because that’s why it’s here. As long as you make the effort to seek out help when you need it and continue to take care of yourself in the meantime, you can be successful at Wellesley.”

After she graduates, Goodridge will start an internship with the Summer Public Health Scholars Program, where she’ll take courses at Columbia University, get field experience, and learn more about public health careers. Her long-term goal is to earn a master’s of public health and a law degree. “I’m very interested in how public health and law are ubiquitous and that they have the power to change the world,” she said.

And she is ready to change the world: “Wellesley teaches you how to make a difference. And then once you graduate, you can finally start making that difference,” she said.