Wesleyan College, the first college in the world for women, celebrated 175 years during its fall convocation Thursday.
The convocation, part of a yearlong celebration of events marking the milestone at Wesleyan, began with a procession of senior class members in their caps and gowns, faculty and international students carrying flags from their home countries. Local politicians, religious leaders and others also were in attendance.
“It’s a testament to the strength of the institution to have survived and prospered 175 years,” Wesleyan President Ruth Knox said after the event.
Wesleyan is also marking its 175th anniversary with the Wesleyan Treasures Exhibit & Living History Re-enactment beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, with art, artifacts and archives on display at six locations on campus through May 25, 2012.
Visitors will be able to take a walking tour of campus with living history performers representing Wesleyan women from 1836 to the 1980s on Saturday, as well as on Oct. 8 and Nov. 12.
On Thursday, senior class president Elizabeth W. Herlong noted the legacy of excellence at Wesleyan while also looking to the future.
“We’ll keep moving forward, we’ll keep exploring, we’ll keep the 175-year tradition of strong, intelligent women,” Herlong said.
Carolyn Curry, founder and director of Women Alone Together, gave the convocation’s address about Wesleyan alumna Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, who kept a diary for 41 years recording her life before, during and after the Civil War and became an advocate for women’s suffrage in her later years.
“If Gertrude were here -- and I believe she’s here in spirit -- she would be proud of this college and what it’s become in 175 years,” Curry said.
After the convocation, some seniors reflected on Wesleyan’s anniversary and their own academic achievements.
“I’m excited (and) scared,” said Marissa Duhaime, a senior from Cumming who is majoring in history. “I can’t believe we’ve come this far.”
The college’s milestone adds significance to senior Kelly Coquerel, of Lawrenceville, who is double-majoring in advertising and marketing communication, and studio art.
“It makes me feel part of something big -- a part of history,” she said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.