Wellesley Celebrates 2018 with Nine New StoryCorps Podcasts

January 12, 2018

A new year always brings the opportunity to reflect on the people and places that have helped make us who we are.

That’s certainly true at Wellesley, where we’re celebrating 2018 with nine new StoryCorps podcasts featuring alumnae. These conversations focus on three themes: the ways Wellesley prepares its students to lead in any field, the lifelong friendships women make here, and what it means to be part of the Wellesley community.

Here are excerpts from three of those conversations, which you can also hear in full:

Deborah Birnbach ’87 and Shannon Langston ’87 recalled that Wellesley taught them “women’s leadership” is synonymous with “leadership.”

“At Wellesley, every leader was a woman. And so to me, learning that women could do all those leadership roles was really transformative,” said Birnbach, who double majored in economics and French. “When I left and worked on Wall Street after college, it was only because there was a Wellesley program, called ‘Wall Street Warmup,’ and you used to follow alums around in their jobs, and it makes younger women think, ‘I can do that!’”

Langston, a political science major, studied law at Emory University, then became a deputy prosecuting attorney and later a district court judge, handily beating several men in elections, she said.

“Leadership is the only option…in whatever you do. That’s what Wellesley brought out in us,” said Birnbach.

Alexa Rice ’11 and her aunt Desirée Rogers ’81 said their college experiences prepared them for the challenges of leading in the world beyond Wellesley.

“Some people will not like your opinions. Some people will not like just the mere fact that you are female or minority, and you have to be prepared for that,” said Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing and White House social secretary under President Barack Obama.

“Having gone to Wellesley taught me to be fearless…and certainly not to fear my peer set just because they happened to be male,” she continued. “That’s why I think the Wellesley experience is so good. It really teaches you, if you pay attention, confidence, courage, all of those things that are so important that will be voices in your head as you move through life.”

Ann Damsgaard ’66 and Evelyn Go ’66, who roomed together all four years at the College, found that the friends they made at Wellesley are reliable, loyal, and willing to do anything to help.

“When I first came to Wellesley, I had never been away from home for even one night, so I actually was quite homesick, but I remember meeting you the very first day and we had such a great friendship right from the beginning…,” said Damsgaard. “And then after college, I remember we could have three-hour phone conversations without any problem at all.”

“I knew that Ann came from the Northeast, and I came from Long Island, so we had some common bonds, we knew the geography of the area, we weren’t too far from home, and then later we discovered that we had many deeper ties.… And surprisingly or not, even our children are close…,” said Go. “I think there’s still, in modern America, maybe internationally, a kind of confidence gap between men and women, and as long as that remains, I think all-women’s education really is a very good way of addressing that for many women.”

Alumnae are invited to record their own stories by using the StoryCorps app or submit their written stories directly to the Campaign website. StoryCorps, known as “America’s oral history project,” will also add these stories to the national archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.