By Nikita Saladi '16
I have Wellesley goggles.
Not the type you’re thinking of —those infamous pieces of invisible eyewear that cloud a Wellesley woman’s gaze as she walks through Harvard Square and to class at MIT, magically turning all average looking men into Ryan Gosling. While I might be guilty of wearing those occasionally, Wellesley has also equipped me with an entirely different pair of goggles.
On a sunny August morning four years ago, I peered through the passenger seat window as my soon-to-be Academic Peer Tutor bellowed at the car, welcoming me onto tree-lined College Road and the campus that would quickly become my home. I felt those anticipatory butterflies, the nervousness in the pit of my stomach that always means something good is beginning. Over the past four years, I’ve gotten a chance to meet many of you: siblings from across the country and across the world. Then, and now, I am amazed by you.
It is you who have constructed this unseen eyewear—the unconscious expectation that everyone in this world is conscientious, confident, and curious, just as you have been during heated debates in class or around a dinner table. The lenses of these spectacles have only strengthened during the past four years, as you have awed and inspired me daily in the most mundane and the most spectacular ways. You, who are working to deeply understand the world in which we live, and you, who are working to change it for the better. And you, who have absolutely no idea what is coming next. We’ve lived across the hall from each other, we’ve run the circumference of Lake Waban together, we’ve made awkward eye contact during lectures, suddenly struck by the profound words flowing from the mouth of the seemingly human (but most likely divine) professor standing before us.
Perhaps because the arch would not settle comfortably on the bridge of our noses or perhaps because of the limits of the laws of optics, we often forget to turn our goggles inwards. During our last days together, I’d like to ask you to take these fantastical pieces of eyewear that have served us so well and do just that. To all of you who have ever felt like you are not smart, successful, or Wendy enough, I ask you to remember the immense amount of hard work you’ve invested to be here today. Know that you are enough, that you have already had an incredible impact on me, on each other, and on Wellesley. And when you leave here—this place that has pushed us to no end, but has also provided us space to step back, breathe, and grow—I hope you remember that there is a first-year (and probably a senior too) who is inspired by you.
What I most fear about leaving Wellesley is not that I won’t be able to walk down the hall to see my best friends (although I most definitely am terrified to lose the physical closeness that the Tower complex affords), but that I will lose this culture of thinking deeply and critically. That I will forget the high standards that we hold for each other to be genuine and to be proud of our passion. In other words, I am terrified of losing my Wellesley goggles. I am terrified that one day I will wake up, look out of my window, and realize that the world is one shade grayer, one shade less kind, one shade less determined, and know that my goggles are gone.
So, I will stand by my Wellesley goggles: the cherished lenses that were glued to my face when I stood by my fellow first-years in Severance Hall, our faces lit by candlelight as we tied a piece of ribbon around each others’ wrists to signify our newfound community; the spectacles hiding my tired eyes during late nights in the Science Center, when my classmates continued to patiently explain Grignard reactions for our midterm the next day; the unseen eyewear on us all as we collectively hated Wellesley Fresh’s Sunday brunch menu. I know that our experiences at Wellesley have differed in many ways: we use different pronouns, we come from different places, and some of us have even inexplicably enjoyed Sunday brunch. Yet, in the powerful plurality that exists among us, there is also a beautiful commonality—our shared experience of growing, our minds incubating in this community to create an unconscious expectation of the best. I treasure my own pair and I am thrilled to wear them proudly on all of our next adventures.
Congratulations Class of 2016—I look forward to seeing each and every one of you today, next month, at our twenty-fifth and fiftieth reunions, and in the many moments in between. Then and now, don’t forget your goggles.
From May 2016 issue