Student Commencement Speaker Michelle Lee '16

April 25, 2016
Michelle is well-known on campus for her dedicated involvement and for her outspoken role as a student activist and voice for social justice.

Michelle Lee '16 has been chosen as the student speaker for Wells' 2016 Commencement ceremonies. Michelle is well-known on campus for her dedicated involvement—she is the chair of the Women's Resource Center and chief copy editor for the student-run magazine The Sycamore—and for her outspoken role as a student activist and voice for social justice.

"When we're there at Commencement to celebrate our achievements—there's value in having our voice be a part of the celebration," said Michelle. "The goal for me is to share the moments that we had as a class as a collective, to share our experiences.

"I have this belief that everyone in our graduating class is going to be fine, end up just fine and happy in whatever they're doing. It makes it hard to think of any advice to give, because I just want to say, 'You're going to be fine, I promise you.'"

Michelle will be graduating with a dual degree in English: Creative Writing and Women's & Gender Studies. As such, she undertook two separate thesis projects during her senior year: a long-form fiction piece exploring her Korean-American identity for the English program and a reflection on her trajectory as an Asian-American Activist for Women's and Gender Studies.

"I really loved my thesis experience because all of us in the major kind of created a community of support," she shared. "We would say 'Hey, could you read this and tell me what you think?' And the last few days before it was due we were in a frenzy, but all in it together. That strange sense of community was really nice."

In the past year, Michelle has taken opportunities to serve as the opening reader—this time presenting work from a poetry course—for the Visiting Writers Series reading by noted poet Marilyn Chin; to support and contribute to the Student Committee for Inclusion and Intercultural Excellence's regular "Coffee, Tea, and SCIIE" series; and to speak to incoming students about Wells' Honor Code during first-year Orientation.

Her student experience has also been shaped by a pair of study abroad experiences in Bath, England, and Florence, Italy, as well as participation in occasional theatre productions and, of course, the demands and rewards of working on the staff of The Sycamore.

"We just finished designing the new issue," she said. "That's something that always ends up being a 4 a.m. adventure but is a really big highlight of my semester: sending a product to the printer and then waiting to have it in hand."

This fall, Michelle will continue to develop her skills in writing and publishing in New York City under the Writing for Children and Young Adults program of The New School. We wish her luck and success!

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