I am the first woman in my mother's family to go to college. Though my mom was offered a full scholarship, her father made her go to work to bring money home to the family instead. On that day, she vowed she would pay for all her kids to go to college. Wellesley, a liberal arts college for women, was her idea. At that time, I had no idea what real, lifelong value I would gain by attending such an amazing academic institution designed to empower women! To me, it was just the “sister school of MIT.” I wanted the best college education I could possibly get. I applied early evaluation. When I got that letter, over 30 years ago, I cried with joy as I raced from the mailbox to call my mom at work and tell her. She cried, too. Though she never spoke of it specifically, that was an amazing moment for her. Before attending, I had no idea what to expect. I was not prepared for Wellesley; I went to a public school. I was smart, but was not coached to think for myself; I had only done research projects to regurgitate and defend the thoughts of others. When at Wellesley, I was not able to settle for the trodden path. I was able to pursue and discover a lot of divergent passions. I was able to create a double major and do a mathematical analysis of a contemporary orchestral piece to blend the music with math. I was able to study theater and go to London and design and build sets. I was able to voice my ideas, ask questions, provoke others to think about what I had to say, and to consider respectfully what they said in response. I was able to become more of myself, more human, than any co-educational experience would have offered. But I still had no idea the impact these four years would have on the rest of my life. At graduation, Susan Sontag told me, “Be bold!” I was “bold” and changed careers in my 40s to become a financial advisor. I could never have done that without Wellesley. I built a portfolio of clients in ways I designed to financially empower women. I knew what that meant. Again, not possible without Wellesley. At that time, I was “bold,” recently divorced, and had a young daughter. I wanted to model for her what “success” was. So I had to “Be bold!” again and again. I wanted to expand my resources and (re-)connect with other strong Wellesley women. So I got involved in the Wellesley Club of Los Angeles. I rolled up my sleeves and dove in. As the club co-president, I worked to build bridges between older and younger alums, to tie each of us in meaningful ways together based on our likes and experiences, regardless of the year we graduated. It was All Wellesley, All the Time! with alums in and out of the house for meetings and events. At my 25th Reunion, my then 13-year-old daughter was overwhelmed as she was barraged with, “Are you gonna go to Wellesley?” “No!” When she approached 10th grade, naturally, I shut it all down. My daughter is a Card-Carrying Member of Wellesley’s Class of 2017! Each of us has her own journey to Wellesley. I admit it was difficult for me to let go, but my daughter had to find her own way. She knew the choice was hers. Yet she dodged it artfully and repeatedly. She even insisted we drive right by after visiting Brandeis and heading to Clark! But a year later, as we drove along the quad, turned into the driveway off 135 for the Accepted Students’ events, tears rolled down my cheeks. She hadn’t committed yet, even though she did apply Early Eval, too! Again, this was her journey and I was literally and figuratively her chauffeur. What moved me most at that moment was how much I missed my mother. I wanted her to see this. I realized how the two of us would be sobbing as we watched my daughter step on campus, decision made, and never look back! It was at this moment that I knew I would be giving my daughter the very same gift that my mother gave me. But, unlike my mother, I knew exactly what this gift truly holds. I Am Wellesley Wealthy! With the onset of Empty Nesting, my ties to Wellesley are expanding and growing even stronger. I reached back to the “Mother Ship” as I moved back to New York City when my daughter began her First Year. It was easy since an alum helped me find my new apartment. Over the years, I have connected with other alums here and across the globe. These friendships have enriched my life. Wellesley women have given me all kinds of ideas and new perspectives. They provoke me in my thinking and expect me to be the best person I can be. They support me in my losses and doubts. I have Wellesley friends who I will continue to have through the rest of my life. Some are from my class, some are twenty years older, and some are even twenty years younger. All this makes me Wellesley wealthy! I wish my mother could see all that she really gave me. But, in addition to this debt-free, Wellesley education that I have now passed on to my daughter, I do know how grateful my daughter is and will always be for this. It is the best gift any parent can give a daughter – it lasts a lifetime and it grows with her. No other investment can ever do that! (Thanks, Mom!) Wendy Joan Salz, Class of 1983 Mother of Moira Frances Johnston, Class of 2017
From Student to Alum Club President to Mom of a Rising Senior, I AM WELLESLEY WEALTHY!