Gray skies delivered rain on May 20, yet campus was awash in shades of yellow as commencement attendees and seniors alike dressed for the yellow class of 2023’s big day. Class co-presidents Ahalya Ramgopal and Alex Hussey gave a speech celebrating detours, and a story from student speaker Charlize Chen brought classmates back to the very first night of orientation. In her opening remarks, President Paula A. Johnson encouraged the class to engage with the wide world of Wellesley alums. “Make them part of your story,” she said.
Jocelyn Benson ’99, commencement speaker and Michigan secretary of state, noted that “life is defined by uncertainty and unpredictability.” For a cohort whose Wellesley experience was upended by COVID-19 after only one semester on campus, the message rang true. But Benson went further, emphasizing the power to choose how to respond to the unexpected. “You can choose, always, to respond to uncertainties with courage instead of fear. With integrity instead of succumbing to the convenience of the moment. With truth over lies. With discomfort over ease. Perseverance over retreat. Resilience over surrender,” she said.
Shortly before conferring diplomas, Johnson urged the class to embrace gray areas as sources for solutions in a polarized world. “A great deal of hope lies in the gray area,” she said, “if we can find our way to it.” Rain or shine, the class of 2023 heads out to do just that.