Hope and Resilience
Energy has been apparent everywhere in a terrific start to the school year.
Dear Friends: Last weekend Bryn Mawr was alive with visitors and energy for Homecoming, a “new” tradition by Bryn Mawr standards (although already a decade old). Students were out in force, joined by alums who had returned for Alumnae Volunteer Summit, family members and many family pets, and former Bryn Mawr athletes.
An ice cream truck and thank-a-thon sponsored by Career and Civic Engagement was busy all day, and swag provided by Alumnae Relations and Development could be seen everywhere (including on the many dogs in attendance!)
The field hockey team dominated from the first in a 6–0 win against perennial powerhouse Gettysburg, the volleyball team played its most competitive match against a conference rival since 2015, and the soccer team was resilient in a close loss.
The day was in keeping with what has been a terrific start to the academic year. New and returning students arrived in late August eager to take full advantage of an in-person residential liberal arts experience. That experience has been on offer through the years of the pandemic, but the impact of vaccinations, available treatments for those who become ill, and shared commitment to adopting additional protections as needed has provided confidence to students ready to engage in classes and all aspects of campus life.
This energy is apparent everywhere. Members of the senior class turned out in record numbers to participate in the Fall Convocation ceremony on the first day of classes—which now takes place under the trees of Senior Row—and nearly 1,300 people attended the community picnic that followed.
Fall Frolic brought out more clubs—long-standing, revived, and new—than anyone can remember, and the SGA treasurers report they are swamped by
budget requests to support student activities.
My personal favorite new club is Bryn Mawr Cheer—a cheerleading club that supports our athletes at games in ways that are uniquely Bryn Mawr.
In our classrooms and laboratories, libraries and archives, and through the experiential learning of Praxis courses, our students are focused on meaningful knowledge exploration and creation.
Even as I delight in our students’ engagement in their Bryn Mawr experience, I am mindful of the resilience they had to cultivate over the past several years to reach this point. Our first-year students were cut off from many formative experiences of their last two and a half years of high school. At Bryn Mawr, our sophomores and juniors have only experienced college during the pandemic. For some students, the pandemic intensified existing financial or family stresses. Still others have lost relatives or friends.
At Fall Convocation, our graduate student speaker, M.S.S. candidate Shanae Sutton, reminded us that “getting dressed in [an academic] robe shows uniformity not individuality. Wearing the robe, we all look the same—clean, pressed, polished, and put together. No one sees the stains or rips and tears … or those times we felt like quitting and for a moment we did quit but after getting advisement or counsel we decided to get back up and try again.”
The resilience and hope I have witnessed among students is remarkable, and Shanae’s remarks remind me that for many, that resilience and hope has been hard won. It also reflects the critical support of family, friends, professors, and staff. I am grateful to witness and celebrate this affirmation of possibility for our students and for the College as a whole and am eager to support the potential of this moment for growth and for joy.
With gratitude and best wishes,