2019 in Review: Wellesley’s Top News Stories

January 3, 2020

As 2020 begins, we revisit 10 of Wellesley’s top news stories in 2019.

Admissions staff members hold up yellow signs and wear yellow clothing

Wellesley Admits the Class of 2023!

On March 20, Wellesley officially offered admission to 20 percent of the top candidates from a pool of 6,488 first-year applications, the second-highest total in College history. Take a closer look at the yellow class of 2023.

Two alumnae make "W" with their hands

Wellesley Celebrates Alumnae Sworn In to Public Office in Year of Historic Firsts

The 2018 midterm elections were a watershed moment for women in U.S. politics. A record-breaking number ran for seats in Congress (255, according to the Brookings Institution); 116 won their seats. As of January 3, 2019, women made up nearly a quarter of Congress—not quite parity, but an important step forward.

Wellesley is proud to count seven alumnae among those sworn in as elected government officials in 2019: Harriette Chandler ’59, Massachusetts state senator, and Edith Tucker ’94, New Hampshire state representative, were both re-elected. Diana DiZoglio ’11, a former Massachusetts state representative, was sworn in as a state senator; and Jocelyn Benson ’99 took the oath of office as Michigan’s first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years. Emily Randall ’08 won a close race for Washington state senate. Liz Miranda ’02 (right)and Lindsay Sabadosa ’02 (left) are new members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. (Photo: Facebook Lindsay Sabadosa)

Students cheer under a large tent during commencement 2019

Commencement Day 2019

Members of the yellow class of 2019 joined their family and friends on May 31 in celebration of Wellesley’s 141st commencement exercises. Anita Hill, renowned activist, attorney, and educator, addressed the graduates. Check out some of the highlights of commencement 2019! (Photo: Richard Howard)

Two students stand by a newly planted tree

Digital Map Celebrates a Wellesley Tradition: Class Trees

Every year since 1879, Wellesley’s sophomore class has planted a communal tree to convey the students’ connection to Wellesley. Kristine Meader ’21 created an interactive map that indicates the location of almost every class tree on campus as well as information about the trees’ contribution to carbon sequestration, their possible medicinal uses or edible properties, or tree-related quotes from Wellesley students, alumnae, faculty, and staff. Meader started the project during her internship with the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative.

An alumna stands behind a counter space, preparing food.

Wellesley Alum Competes on the Food Network’s “Chopped"

Judy Yao ’15 landed a spot on the March 5 episode of the Food Network’s cooking competition show Chopped.

Though it was the “single most stressful and exhausting experience” she ever had, Yao says, she also “felt empowered to be in an episode that specifically highlighted women butchers, and two out of the four…were women of color!” (Photo: Food Network)

President Paula A Johnson smiles from her seat at convocation

President Johnson Writes Boston Globe Op-Ed: “Speaking with the Enemy 101”

In a September 6 op-ed in the Boston Globe, President Paula A. Johnson explained why students should be equipped to talk across difference, and she shared her vision of a “Curriculum of Connection” as a way to give students a robust rhetorical toolkit to help steer them toward shared values and common ground.

Two students sit in chairs on the academic quad

Two Wellesley Seniors Receive Prestigious Watson Fellowships

Lucy Wanzer ’19 and Sophia Zupanc ’19 were awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, one-year grants of $30,000 that support 12 months of travel in pursuit of a dream project outside of the United States. In 2019, 41 college seniors were selected to join the organization’s 51st class, the most competitive in the fellowship’s history.

Wanzer, a geosciences major and canoeing enthusiast, is studying how fishermen, conservationists, and boat builders in island communities in Greece, Japan, Indonesia, and New Zealand connect with the ocean.

Zupanc, an economics major, is exploring how aspects of a “dignified death” are socially and medically constructed, through travels across Greece, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

A Wellesley staff member looks at a machine

Master Plumber Leslie Pano ’77 Knows the College’s Inner Workings

Leslie Pano ’77, who has worked at the College for over four decades, talks about her path from graduation to her current role as one of Wellesley’s master plumbers.

As of 2010, 1.5 percent of the country’s 553,000 plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “I’ve never worked with a female plumber,” Pano says. “And when I was in school there was only one semester where there was another woman in my class.”

Members of the class of 2009 walk by LuLu during the Sunday reunion parade. They wear white

Wellesley Welcomes Classes Ending in 4 and 9 to Reunion 2019

More than 3,000 alumnae, representing the classes of 1939 through 2014, and their guests descended on Wellesley from across the country and the world to reconnect with friends and former classmates for reunion 2019.

The three-day celebration included faculty lectures, social hours, dinners, walking tours, and departmental open houses to allow alumnae to reminisce, revel, and see what’s new at the College since the last time they visited. Events also included many campus traditions, such as Stepsinging and the Sunday parade.

Saturday featured a conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69, Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59, and Wellesley President Paula A. Johnson.

Five students stand together in the provosts office

Fellowships Awarded to Five Wellesley Seniors to Pursue “Dream Projects”

This fall, five seniors were awarded Pamela Daniels ’59 Fellowships to fund individual projects. The 2019 recipients were Elana Bridges, Jessica Budz, Rachel Frazer, Alicia Margarita Olivo, and Amanda J. Wahlstedt.

The fellowships will allow them to pursue “dream projects” in their fields of interest. In Working It Out (1977), an anthology of feminist essays she co-edited, Daniels wrote, “Doing what you love means knowing yourself well enough to be able to answer the question, ‘What would you love to do?’ and loving yourself enough to ask it.”