Four-Generation Graduate to Wear Robe Embroidered with Six
Mass. -- Award-winning author Toni Morrison will
address the 579 members of the Class of 2004 and their families
and friends at Wellesley's 126th
Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 28, at 10:30 a.m.
on Severance Green on the Wellesley, Mass., campus. Morrison
is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of the
Humanities at Princeton.
eight major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon,
Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, and Love,
have received extensive critical acclaim. Morrison's last
visit to Wellesley was in 1998 when she delivered the prestigious
Carolyn O. Wilson Lecture. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
in 1993, Morrison was the first African-American winner
and the first American woman to win since 1938. She also
won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved, and the
National Book Critics Award in 1977 for Song of Solomon.
At Princeton, Morrison founded the Princeton Atelier, which
brings to campus renowned artists to collaborate with students
on original performances, productions and exhibitions.
O'Grady, a senior from Yonkers, N.Y., has been chosen
as the 2004 student Commencement speaker, a position of
honor since alumna and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
delivered the first such speech in 1969. Among other accomplishments,
O'Grady organized a Shakespeare-reading marathon this year.
soon-to-be graduate, Natalie W. Jeffers of Portola
Valley, Calif., will become the sixth family member to wear
a Wellesley College Commencement gown embroidered with their
names, beginning in 1916.
robe has five relatives' names in it," Jeffers said. "They
are Katherine Chalmers (class of) '16, my
great-grandmother; Rebecca Chalmers '26, my great-great
aunt; my great-aunt Elizabeth Chalmers '45; Ansley
Coe '48, my great-aunt who was here when my mother was
born; and Dectora Coe '69, my mother. My name will
go in this week."
From left to right: Mary Walden Bell Jeffers '36, Natalie
Walden Jeffers '04
and Dectora Coe Jefferrs '69.
just one side of her Wellesley family. "My paternal grandmother,
Mary Walden Bell Jeffers (class of '36) will
be at my graduation, though she, of course didn't wear the
robe," said Jeffers. "My great-grandmother (Katherine Chalmers)
was the first to wear the robe and she was a philosophy
major who played golf for the school."
has double majored in English and art history at Wellesley.
While noting her family history with the college, she admitted
the all-women's college wasn't her automatic choice as a
prospective student. "I don't know how to put this any better,
but I didn't want to come here at first," she said. "My
mother never pressured me nor did my grandmother. My mother
simply requested that I apply. So I did."
made up her own mind and decided to make her own way at
Wellesley. "It's only until recently that I tell people
voluntarily about my family history here," she said. " I
like the feeling that my relatives have been a part of this
school almost for the last 100 years."
she imagine passing that legacy onto the next generation?
"If I have a daughter in the future, I want her to go wherever
she wants," she said. "If she chooses to go here, then I'll
have more advice to throw at her, and a robe in which she
can test her embroidery skills."
1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an
excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make
a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston
is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states
and 68 countries. For more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.