My mother was your quintessential women’s college alumna who was all in when it came to helping her beloved alma mater—admissions recruiter, organizer of class reunions, fund-raising volunteer, officer of the alumnae association. When I got this job, she was very excited—though there was a small parenthetical wondering why didn’t I choose the magazine at Mount Holyoke (her alma mater and mine) instead of at Wellesley. But that quickly was forgotten, and she pronounced, “You could stay in that job a long time! Such a great job!”
I was in my early 30s at the time, and her distant horizon for me was more than I could grasp. But here I am, having worked nearly two dozen commencement and reunion cycles, now thoroughly understanding that this is a great job. I definitely now have a long view on the College. And that has its great benefits. Here are a few:
- You get to spend numerous springs amid Wellesley’s flowering beauty—waiting for thousands of daffodils on the hill below Stone-D to emerge and goslings at Paramecium Pond to hatch. By the time the rhododendron dell in front of the library is decked out in color, reunion will be here, which means getting out your parade whites (you have a huge selection by this time, some of which fit). And when you drive the parade route with older alums in a golf cart, alumnae you know all along College Road call out and wave.
- You have a large repository of stories about colleagues you’ve worked with for years. Like the time Richard Howard, our principal photographer, went plunging into a dumpster of trash while taking pictures of environmental studies students analyzing the College’s waste. Or the time he ended up with an upturned flowerpot on his head after he was so intent on shooting that he backed into a bookshelf. Richard retired last month. Don’t miss a retrospective of his two decades of Wellesley photos (“Behind the Lens”).
- You get to watch students graduate and take flight. Take Kate Erickson ’05, the author of “Come On Back.” She started submitting work to this magazine as a student and launched from Wellesley hoping to establish herself as a writer. My computer is still full of old essay drafts she did early on—some of which worked and many of which didn’t quite get there. But she wrote on, and I continued to give feedback. She eventually moved to California, got a gig writing for TV. And then one day, it was clear from the essays she sent that she had found her voice, strong and confident. She was visiting campus this past winter, and “Come On Back” just poured out in one afternoon in the library.
- You finally feel as though you have earned the right to wear Wellesley gear, even though you didn’t go here.
Which leads me back to my mother. I had been here about nine months when she presented me with a package, beaming over whatever was inside. I opened it and saw a Mount Holyoke sweatshirt. Blank look on my part—I had one of those. “Turn it over, turn it over!” she said. The back was emblazoned with WELLESLEY COLLEGE. Ahhh, a maternal stamp of approval on Wellesley and on having allegiances to both institutions. Though she did add one thing: “Just remember which one is on the front.”
I still have that sweatshirt—it happily reminds me of my mother—but the hoodie I now live in constantly has a huge W on the front … and nothing on the back.