By Kanika Vaish '17
It’s two weeks into my first year at Wellesley, and I find myself sobbing in the middle of the night in the quad courtyard. I won’t get into why I was crying—it would take me a long time to explain. But most Wellesley students know that there are few places on campus where you can cry and keep to yourself.
In the middle of my senior year, I am taking a walk around Lake Waban, thinking about impending graduation, and sense a rush of tears. For a moment, I’m alone. Just as I begin to feel comfortable crying, a few older women and their dogs pass by, and some members of the track team sprint past me, barely panting. My private moment has been interrupted and I am reminded of how out of shape I am.
From experiences like these two, I’ve gotten to know Wellesley as not just a place, but as a person. Wellesley is kind. She lets you cry in front of her—in fact, she won’t let you cry anywhere else. She walks alongside you as you make your way back to your res hall at three in the morning from Clapp or when you get off the Peter Pan from Boston. She joins you when you’re sitting alone at lunch—or she gives you space. Maybe you need to do six readings with her before your next class starts in twenty minutes. If you’re like me, you probably do.
Wellesley is honest. She lets you know that you should have spent more time on your paper as you rush to deliver it to your professor. She tells you how you should have gotten more sleep the night before, because you can’t stay awake during your exam. She reminds you to call your parents, and you do it. Or you don’t. She’ll keep reminding you.
Wellesley knows you well. She sees you in some of your darkest moments: being unkind to yourself, failing a class you know you could have done better in, having your heart broken, breaking someone else’s heart, losing a loved one, falling out of touch with family or friends, losing your appetite, forgetting to shower for three days, sitting on your bed at six in the morning when you haven’t started work but instead, you’re on the tenth episode of How to Get Away with Murder and the sun is starting to rise.
But you can feel her beaming at you in your brightest moments too. She attends your events, your parties, your plays, she applauds the loudest at your Tanner presentation, she makes sure you don’t sleep through your alarm the morning of your interview, and then she makes you one of the most confident, qualified applicants to walk into the room. When you graduate, she stays in touch. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.
So, who is Wellesley? Who is this nurturing soul?
Wellesley is the people with whom we surround ourselves. To me, Wellesley is all of you. One of my favorite things about the class of 2017 is our genuine belief in one another’s capabilities. In my time at Wellesley, there are some things I aimed to improve. For example, I wanted to make our theater scene more inclusive and representative of all the voices on our campus. My fellow seniors, having dealt with their own dissatisfactions at Wellesley, all encouraged me to pour my heart and soul into this project after—and this was crucial—validating that my concerns were real and should be addressed.
I am inspired to pursue the necessary and important because I see my classmates doing the same thing every single day. Like many Wellesley students, members of the class of 2017 speak up for what we believe to be true. We make our frustration productive by ensuring that our voices are heard, challenged, and strengthened through constant dialogue. When we want to get a point across, we get creative. This year alone, we’ve seen compelling videos, provocative poster campaigns, passionate performances, and moving protests. We engage faculty, guest speakers, and students of all backgrounds to help us bring a more comprehensive vision of equality and justice to life. And when the world is not afraid to show just how prejudiced it really is, we stay strong, and we continue to foster a sense of hope, belonging, and siblinghood, especially for the voices at Wellesley who are typically silenced. When I think of the class of 2017, I think about our resilience, our bravery, and our compassion. And, of course, our good looks.
My friends from high school tell me how different I am. They tell me that I’m not as fun as I used to be, that I’ve become more outspoken. But I could not be more proud of how I have changed in the past four years. Here, I am growing in all the right ways. I am more thoughtful and supported because of all of you, because of the relationships and networks each one of us has cultivated during our time here.
Why was I so upset that day when I was walking around the lake? I was worried that leaving Wellesley would mean I would lose my support system and my sense of self. But I have come to realize this will not be the case. Wellesley has taught me how to be raw. Now, I cry in front of other people, and I feel more honest for it. I feel connected to other students sharing these experiences with me. I feel heard, valued, and loved, and I am confident that this spirit of Wellesley will only build as we continue on.
Congratulations, Class of 2017. We did it, and there’s no stopping us now.
From May 2017 Issue