The day commenced as graduates, family, and friends congregated at Macmillan, all hoping the rain would hold off. Fortunately, the sun won out. The President, along with the Board of Trustees, cabinet, and faculty, honored the graduating students and distributed various awards.
The ceremony kicked off with a grand procession as the soon-to-be alumnx made their way down Macmillan’s front steps to their seats. Sachem George, a member of the Cayuga Nation, recited the “Words Before All Else” in his native language. He also invited everyone to recognize and respect the land on which they had gathered.
Marie Chapman Carroll ‘75 spoke for the Board of Trustees, saying, “It is my fervent hope that, armed with your Wells degree, you will help our nation and the globe reimagine our systems to deliver racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. It will require analytic minds like yours to see beyond the surface to understand the intersection of these forces. We can and must develop comprehensive strategies to drive the necessary change in our world,” and then invited the class of ‘23 to remember their Wells family as they continued down their paths to success.
The Student Speaker was Stacy Mars ‘23, who shared her story of being a first-generation college graduate and Haitian immigrant. She told of when, during the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, an alumn opened up their home to Stacy and two other international students, so that they could continue their studies at Wells College. She shared how she discovered her passion, research, and how she came into her personhood at Wells. She concluded with one more idea, “Before I end, I want to share one of the biggest lessons I have learned: it is not about fitting in; it’s about letting your authenticity be celebrated! Stay weird, Wellsian!”
Next, Nicola Williams ‘85, spoke to the graduating class and taught them a new term to carry away from Wells, “tallawah”:
Tallawah is a Jamaican term, usually used as an adjective that means, powerful, strong-willed, tough, and not to be underestimated. Yeah, that is me. But it means much more. Jamaicans have a motto that says ‘We likkle but we tallawah’. We are small, but we are strong, we are mighty, we are powerful, and we can do anything we set our minds to… Wells is tallawah. We are 155 years strong and we cannot be underestimated. I know because this little Jamaican girl from Brooklyn, New York came to Wells with the determination to change the world, one community at a time. This small and mighty college offered me the tools and the foundation to grow, learn, take risks, and become the leader that I am today. I was able to be my authentic self without judgement.
Then, President Gibraltar came to the podium to award the “Wells College Medal” to Fiona Morgan Fein ‘65. Joyful tears were shed. Fiona has served as a trustee for fourteen years and received the WCA Award in 2018 in recognition of her leadership. President Gibraltar also presented the following Awards:
- Susan Wansor, Instructor of Education and Education Coordinator, Emerita Status
- Mike Lindberg, Director of Athletics and Physical Education, Emeritus Status
- Jude Nash, Frances Tarelton Farenthold Leadership Award
- Rosemary Byington, Presidential Leadership Award
- Sabrina Burns, Keller-Panhuise Leadership Award
- Luna Kolz, Gertrude H. Freiert Prize in Fine Arts
- Emma Sheiman, Koch Prize for Best Senior Research Paper
Finally, the graduates crossed the stage, sporting caps decorated with flowers, quotes, and quiet jokes. Some danced, cheered, and all received a bright red folio holding their degrees, which had been hand-set and printed on the Wells College presses.
Upon completion of the ceremony, graduates were invited to move the tassels on their caps from right to left, and they joined the ever-growing family of alumnx.