Sometimes it’s the haircut that indicates that the Wellesley Effect is kicking in.
One of the joys of being in the editor’s chair for a long time is watching how our student workers grow and change during their years here (and seeing them return for their—gasp!—10th or 15th reunions). As they tend to our administrivia, we hear about their lives: the tales of Flower Sunday, the papers that are eating them alive, the professors who are causing them to think. Somewhere along the line, they usually turn up with a new haircut.
That’s almost always an indication that Wellesley is transforming them—that they no longer see themselves as an immature high-school student. They are starting to envision themselves as capable Wellesley women with flair and the potential to be a force in the world.
Take Erica, for example. She returned from a semester in New Zealand with her curly ponytail sculpted into a bouncy bob. But that wasn’t all that had changed. She had jumped out of an airplane and had hiked and biked around Kiwi-land, often by herself. She had made friends with all kinds of people on buses and in hostels. And she was bubbling happily about it all.
You have to understand: This was the student who later described her high-school self as “the shy girl who did everything right—did all her homework, did well in all her classes, but rarely spoke up in class or said anything that didn’t feel ‘safe.’” We loved her dearly, but we can confirm that she had indeed been shy and very quiet. After two years at Wellesley and a semester in New Zealand? Not any more.
So what happened? Erica, now in her 30s, explains it this way. In high school, she says, “I challenged myself academically, but I didn’t really challenge myself to try anything new, or to really think about—and talk about—my own thoughts and opinions. Wellesley challenged me not only to have my own thoughts and opinions, but to share them—to figure out what I think about things, and what I can do in my own life to live up to those beliefs. I’m still working on all of these things, but my time at Wellesley continues to challenge me to not just take the safe route … .”
That, my friends, is the Wellesley Effect writ large. If “Wellesley Effect” is a term you’re not familiar with, just flip through the magazine to learn more. It’s the way a Wellesley education transforms students, and then through their lives as alumnae, helps to transform the world. You’ll see examples of the Wellesley Effect in our eponymous lead feature, profiles of six alumnae whose actions ripple around the globe. You’ll find it in “We Are First,” a piece about first-generation college students on campus. And if you’ve ever thought your treasured college friends are some of the biggest Wellesley Effects ever, you’re not alone. Take a look at “A Little Help From Her Friends.”
Our current student is Emma. She’s a real spark plug who keeps us up on the campus buzz. Her budding reportorial skills ferret out great things (for example, the facts on campus bees in the College Road section). As it happens, she turned up this fall with a sidecut, her blond hair cropped close on one side and long on the other. The look totally suits her. And it’s probably also a sign of an evolution in the works. She’s only a sophomore, so we’re eager to see how the Wellesley Effect will work its magic.