I came to Wellesley College in the fall of 2012, as a member of the Class of 2016. The campus was decked out in red, our class color, and every building from the student center to my first-year dorm had signs welcoming the brand-new members of our class.
2016 seemed so far away that I could barely comprehend it. I remember sitting in my dorm's living room, looking at the seniors welcoming us to our hall. I wondered who I would be as a senior, and what I would have accomplished and learned in this place. And in some hazy way, I imagined my graduation, and the kind of woman I would be when I crossed that stage. It seemed impossible.
Me on my first day at Wellesley
And then, just like that, I was sitting in the Academic Quad, wearing my black robe and trying to keep my graduation tassel from getting caught in my eyelashes. It's true, what they say; the days are long but the years are short. My day-to-day life at Wellesley went by at a normal and sometimes agonizingly slow pace. But at the end of four years, it all felt like the blink of an eye.
I laughed and choked up during the speeches, and as I saw my best friends crossing the stage. I counted rows and heads to figure out how long it would be before my turn to do the same. When it finally was, I lined up before the podium, and I looked out into the audience, and I saw my mom.
Suddenly, it hit me.
I had my doubts before I came to Wellesley, and my time here has not always been easy. But despite it all, I love this place. I love these people. And at the end of four years, I can say that I did my absolute best. To see my mom standing there, and to know that my family and friends were with her, witnessing the culmination of some of the most formative years of my life, brought it all back. Four years of love and laughter, of hardship and struggle, of incredible memories and experiences. Four years of the best and worst moments of my life. Friendships that will always be a part of me; classes that changed the way I think; moments that showed me my own strength and resilience.
This is the place where I became the woman I am.
They said my name. I walked across the stage, I shook a hand, I received a diploma holder. And somehow, it was over. Though I have another semester left in the fall, that moment symbolized the ending of something. As I shook the president's hand and received my (as of yet, still empty) diploma holder, I realized that this was the moment I had imaged four years ago. I had become the woman I had hoped to be: strong, intelligent, and equipped. And powerful as hell.