Orientation Activities Wrap Up; Students Ready for First Semester

August 31, 2012

The incoming class at Wellesley, first-year students on track to graduate in 2016, are finishing up a week of activities across campus to help them get to know one another, get to know their way around, and get prepared to dive into their first academic semester on September 4. The official class color is red.

The 586 members of the class of 2016 were selected from the largest applicant pool in the College’s history. These women come from 39 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., and from 34 different countries, with 12 percent of the class being international citizens. Thirteen percent of these students are the first in their families to attend college. The majority (59 percent) attended public school, with others coming from independent school, parochial school, or home-schooling backgrounds. Forty-three percent of students are African American, Latina, Asian, or Native American, with 11 percent of those identifying as biracial or multiracial.

They are much more than this assemblage of facts, however. As Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Jenn Desjarlais shared with them in a welcome address, past teachers had described them as “role models for peers and also for younger girls.” She told students, “They emphasized your appetite for learning, your passion for history, your gifts for music, math, science, languages—your wide-ranging and eclectic interests, and the extension of your education beyond the boundaries of the classroom.” Words used to describe these women included intelligent, creative, playful, kind, generous, strong, compassionate, socially conscious, athletic, remarkable, enthusiastic, resilient, and courageous. 

They should feel right at home among their Wellesley sisters.

They bring a wonderful array of talents and experiences, as well. Among these first-years are a bagpipe player, the leader of an all-girls robotics team, a rower, an avid participant in Capoeira, a biathlete at the national level, a debate team president, a mock trial club president, an aquarium guide, a junior Olympic fencer, a student representative on an environmental advocacy board, the creator of an adventure game, and a researcher in gene therapy.

Some have made a difference close to home, teaching art to special needs kids, delivering meals to homeless people, caring for younger siblings with special needs, founding and serving as president of a Muslim awareness club, playing an active role in her Hispanic church.

Others have taken leadership positions in their communities and in the wider world, serving as: a student member of her state swim board, an intern at an immigrant women’s rights group, the founder and co-head of Hope for Change at her school in Sierra Leone, an organizer of student protests during Wisconsin bargaining talks, a participant in a group trying to lower the drop-out rate in D.C. public schools, a Junior Statesman, a recipient of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship trip to Russia, and an NPR intern, trying to make radio more accessible to deaf and blind.

This will not be the last you hear of them.