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Ivy Day 2021 Expression of Student Gratitude

Esther Rose Mejia ’21, Student Government Association President


Watch on Facebook: Esther Rose Mejia’s remarks start at 48:10.

Hello, Smith College, my name is Esther Rose Mejia and I am your student body president. I am honored to address my graduating class and share an expression of gratitude with the Smith community. I want to take you all on a quick reflective journey.

My time at Smith can be best described as a series of full-circle moments, moments where I grew as a person and took the lead to create the life I wanted. Even before Smith was on my radar, I knew I wanted to find a college that I felt comfortable at and someplace that could potentially be my home away from home. My guidance counselor and assistant principal at Park East High School in New York City pushed me to apply to a prospective student program here at Smith called Women of Distinction. I came on campus on a beautiful weekend where I fell in love with everything Smith had to offer, the first night of the program I was convinced that I had found my college. That same night, as I stood under the Emerson arch, I called my mom to tell her that the search for my college was over because Smith was my college, and I could potentially see it as my new home. At that moment, I felt so confident in my decision—and I knew then and there that I was ready to start this new chapter of my life as a Smithie.

And so I began.

During our first-year orientation, we had an event where we sat in Sage Hall and heard Katie Chong, the student body president at that time, speak on the SGA experience and their own experience as president. During their presentation, I said to myself, “Maybe I can become SGA president when I am senior.” I did not think anything of it when I said it, but Katie’s speech really stuck with me. Nonetheless, you can say I was inspired. My junior year was really special not because all of our lives got flipped upside down because of the pandemic. Oh no, my junior year is when I started to work for the admission office as a multicultural recruitment intern. As an MCR intern, I was able to assist in the planning and execution of the very program that convinced me Smith could be my home, Women of Distinction. As I spent that weekend talking to prospective students who were in the exact same boat that I was in three years ago, I felt like I was experiencing a full-circle moment. As it hit me that I was no longer a senior in high school on the chaotic college search journey, but that I was a junior at my dream college, working at the very same event that convinced me to become a Smithie.

During the end of junior year, the opportunity of me potentially running for the SGA presidential bid presented itself. To be honest, I was unsure and not confident in my ability in running SGA. So I sat with myself, and I had a heart-to-heart, where I reminded myself of the confident and successful women leader that I am. And in that same moment, the memory of how inspired I felt as I sat through Katie Chong’s speech served a sign that I was headed in the right direction. Once again a full-circle moment for me.

So today, as I experience the ultimate full-circle moment, as I tell you all the same thing I did when I called my mom four years ago to tell her that Smith was going to be my new home, I am here—standing in front of my peers and with my mother listening at home—listening to me explaining how Smith has become my home and exceeded all my expectations. As I knew four years ago that I was ready to start my chapter as a Smithie, I stand here with that same confident energy that I am ready to start this new chapter or cycle of my life as a Smith alum.

Though I am the only senior talking, I am not the only person experiencing the ending of this chapter as a Smith student. We as a class spent the last year and a half completing our degrees with the cards stacked against us, but look at us. We are here both physically and virtually. So, I want us all to take a deep breath and really ground ourselves in this sensation and to be present.

So, I want us all to take a deep breath and should allow ourselves to completely enjoy this weekend and have fun because we deserve it. I know many of us are ready to finish this chapter. I believe it is fair to say that we are excited to start our lives as Smith alums. And, I know that there is a strong community waiting to welcome us.

So lastly, I want to thank you for lending a listening ear to my Smith experience, and I hope to serve as a reminder that though we may be anxious and scared, that we are all confident individuals who are capable of achieving greatness and success as long as we stand true to our passion and allow our guts to tell us that we are heading in the right direction, because we are. Thank you again!