Members of the class of 1970 during their reunion.
Members of the class of 1970 during their 45th reunion in 2015.

50th Reunion Class of 1970 Has Heartfelt Message for Class of 2020

June 2, 2020

In 1970, the United States was politically and socially torn apart by the Vietnam War, racial conflict, emerging culture wars, and economic disparity. That spring, Wellesley’s seniors faced uncertainty fueled by the antiwar protests, in which many of them participated, a nationwide student strike in response to the shootings at Kent State University, and a looming recession.

Elizabeth Trimble ’70, currently serving as Class President, and her fellow classmates recently wrote a letter to the Wellesley College class of 2020—on the eve of what would have been their commencement, and ahead of the class of 1970’s 50th reunion, both milestones disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, they said that they too graduated “with dim prospects for employment—but determined to change the world for the better.”

“We want to assure you that you are ready to enter this new world and to make it better in all the ways that you had planned,” the alumnae wrote. “As it did for us, your time at Wellesley has helped you to hone the innate talents you brought to college, taught you new skills, and set you on paths that you might not have foreseen when you entered. The timelines that you planned for yourselves may be altered but your intellect and creativity are needed in this new world environment more than ever.”

Peace dove and Black Panther Party arm bands worn in protest during the 1970 commencement.

They welcomed the graduates into the Wellesley alumnae community, creating what Trimble believes will always be a special connection between the two classes.

In a separate email interview, Trimble and her classmates looked back on the lessons of their years at Wellesley: “We learned to listen to people with different views and pursue our values, and to ground them in reason and evidence. Our Wellesley education taught us to think, to diagnose, to analyze, to develop alternatives, and to effectively communicate verbally and in writing.”

Wars, disease, and economic depression are unpredictable, and no generation or class of students proceeds unchallenged, Trimble said. “We hope the Class of 2020 will keep their hopes, dreams, and optimism as they navigate the challenges they will inevitably face… The opportunity is to find a role for yourself, wherever you are, whether employed or as a volunteer, using the assets of your education and your relationships with others who can help you along the way.”

Many in the class of 1970 experienced unexpected turns after leaving the College,  struggling to find a career direction, exploring the possibilities that emerged as a result of the women’s movement, and discovering different paths over the years. “At Wellesley, many of us believed we could go wherever we wanted in the world after graduation. In life, we realized we would often need to fight every step of the way in a male-dominated environment—and we learned to prevail and set better pathways for all who followed us,” they wrote.

“We hope [the global pandemic] will motivate this generation to look for ways to contribute to improving society and addressing the inequity and disparities that have been exposed by the pandemic, leading to another generation like ours that pursued ways to build a better society rather than just the pursuit of personal success.”

Though they are disappointed to miss gathering in person to mark their 50th reunion, the class will continue to stay connected, via mini in-person and virtual reunions.