Annabelle Lee ’18 Named Student Commencement Speaker

May 11, 2018
Annabelle, a double major in political science and history, will address her fellow students during the College’s 150th Commencement ceremony on May 19.
portrait of annabelle lee

Annabelle Lee ’18 has been chosen as the student speaker for Wells’ 2018 Commencement ceremony. A double major in both political science and history, with a minor in environmental science, Annabelle has distinguished herself as a dedicated student-athlete as well as being an active participant in a wide variety of campus organizations and activities. Annabelle was recently awarded first place in Wells’ annual “Be Your Own Boss” competition in the Social Impact/Nonprofit category. Upon graduation from Wells, Annabelle will pursue a master of science in higher education at Syracuse University.

Though Annabelle arrived at Wells from her hometown of Dolgeville, N.Y. already equipped with a passion for history, it was a first-year class which would help chart her future course. “Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies, taught by Lisa Hall, is the class I’ve most often come back to. It really opened my eyes to the deeply ingrained power structures and imbalances as they pertain to gender in our society.”

As a senior, Annabelle has recently completed her second thesis “Changing Perception of Sexual Assault in the NCAA: A Case Study of Jameis Winston and Larry Nassar,” exploring power dynamics in the NCAA in a post-#MeToo sociopolitical environment. Her first thesis, entitled “Gender Variation in America: Pre-Colonization to Mid 20th-Century” looked at the Two Spirits of various Native American tribes, the Mahu of Hawai’i, and gender-variant individuals and protests, such as the 1969 Stonewall riots.

Annabelle hopes to put all that she has learned in her time in Aurora into action, working as a Title IX coordinator following graduate school. “I’d like to give back and be of service,” she reflects. “I’ve learned so much about community at Wells; from being a four-year member of the volleyball team I’ve learned the value of teamwork; and through being a tutor at the Writing Center I’ve been able to help, and in turn learn from, so many of my peers. And I owe so much of this wonderful graduate school opportunity to the unwavering support of my professors — specifically my two advisors at Wells, Susan Tabrizi and C.J. Koepp — as well as the vital help I received in navigating the process from Career Center director Linda Galbato.”

It is, in fact, this spirit of giving back which informs Annabelle’s interest in serving as the student Commencement speaker. “I remember every single Commencement speaker during my time here at Wells, and I remember feeling so empowered by them. I arrived here at Wells, as a young Asian woman with a certain amount of, I don’t know how else to say it, ‘self-loathing’,” she laughs.

“In the same way that I was inspired, I want to inspire the next generation of Wells students along on their own individual journeys of self-discovery, and hopefully help them recognize that ours is a shared journey. Because that’s what’s so special about Wells; everyone here is so accepting, affording each other the opportunity to be their truest selves; while at the same time remaining a tightly knit and interconnected community. It will be the highest honor to serve as the student speaker at Commencement and give thanks to my Wells family.”

Annabelle will share the stage with alumna Christin Schaaf ’99, who will deliver the main Commencement address. (Read more about Christin here.)

Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, on the lawn and steps of Macmillan Hall in Aurora, N.Y. In the event of inclement weather, proceedings will be held in the Frances Tarlton Farenthold Wing of the Schwartz Athletic Center. Additional information, a schedule, and more can be found at

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