For students in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Minnesota, region who are notified of their acceptance to Smith College, a surprise knock on their door soon follows. On the other side of the door smiles a local Smith alumna, who presents a special welcome: a single rose.
Along with the rose comes a warm congratulations and an invitation to an “accepted students tea” with the local Smith Club.
“They are always smiling and very grateful for the special delivery,” said Anna Mikelson ’02, a member of the Twin Cities Smith Club, who directs the program in which all new Smith students get a rose, personally delivered. “And surprised, of course!”
The special delivery comes about one week after students have been notified of their acceptance by the Office of Admission, said Mikelson. The students’ surprise is the result of collusion between the Smith alumna assigned with the delivery and the students’ parents, who are notified by telephone beforehand.
Last month, the Twin Cities Smith Club delivered an impressive 29 roses to newly accepted Smith students.
Though no known record of the tradition’s beginning exists, Mikelson estimates that it has been taking place for approximately 25 years. “I can say that I got flowers from the club when I was accepted,” she recounts. “It was a very special moment!”
For Mikelson and other involved alumnae, the tradition is meaningful on multiple levels. Not only does it honor the beginning of a student’s career at Smith, it also mirrors other venerated Smith traditions.
“I think it is a special tradition that they aren’t expecting, and it’s great to paint that picture of Smith as a place with many traditions, right from the beginning,” Mikelson explained. “I also like the fact that when you graduate from Smith, you are given a rose at Ivy Day—so this is the first rose they get from Smith, to start that journey!”
The accepted students tea is a follow up to the presentation of the roses and is a chance for the potential Smithies (and their parents) to connect with alumnae and glean more information about the college before making their decision to attend.
Other students who have already accepted the offer use the tea—which took place at the house of local alum Barbara Klaas ’74 this year—to connect with future friends and housemates. “We had four girls this year who had already decided to attend, and they were already talking about carpooling and discussing which houses they want to live in! The tea is their first welcome to the college.”
The outreach of Smith clubs like the one in Twin Cities is a way for alumnae to give back to the Smith community. Debra Shaver, director of Admissions at Smith, emphasizes the importance of alumnae connecting with potential students.
“Alumnae play a very important role in encouraging students to come to Smith,” she said. “Admitted students often cite contact with alumnae as an important reason for their decision to apply and ultimately enroll. Without the commitment of alumnae all over the world, we wouldn’t enroll the class that we do—a diverse class full of smart and engaging women.”