Smith will welcome 735 new students—first-years, transfers and students of non-traditional age—during Opening Convocation at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 2, at John M. Greene Hall. The 652 first-years in the Class of 2017 were selected from 4,403 applications, the most in the history of the college.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Senegalese student Aminata Ka (pictured right) is among nearly 100 incoming first-year students who are the first in their families to attend college.
Growing up in West Africa, Ka was bombarded with messages about what was and was not acceptable for women to do, she said. A woman’s place was at home, and education was not an option.
It was her uncle’s belief that women should have access to the same opportunities as men that persuaded Ka to enroll in school, setting her on the path to Smith.
Part of Smith’s orientation program celebrates the experience of being the first generation in a family to attend college. “Generation First” is structured to help students navigate the Smith system with confidence while gaining a deeper understanding of how being in that role lends itself to the potential for greater learning about who they are.
It is a familiar experience for President Kathleen McCartney, who will welcome the Class of 2017 during Opening Convocation on Monday, Sept. 2. McCartney was the first in her family to go to college and commuted to Tufts University from the family home in Medford, Mass., graduating summa cum laude in 1977.
The first-years hail from 41 states in the United States and from 38 other countries. International students make up 17 percent of the first-year class. The five states sending the most students to Smith this fall are Massachusetts, California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In addition to first-years, new faces at Smith this fall include 51 transfer students, selected from among 311 applicants, and 32 Ada Comstock Scholars—students of non-traditional age—selected from among 151 applicants.
A Glimpse of the Class of 2017
Vanessa Pius of San Diego, Calif.
First-year, teen magazine founder
When she was a high school sophomore, Vanessa Pius noticed a dearth of magazines geared toward the high school experience and decided to create her own. “HABIT” is a fashion and lifestyle magazine for teens and by teens available in print and online. Pius and her friends write and design “HABIT” quarterly. They brainstorm layouts, photo shoots, and concepts and then turn their ideas into reality with funding from advertising.
Allison Wu of Alexandria, Va.
First-year, Tae Kwon Do champion
Allison Wu is Virginia’s National Capital 2012 Tae Kwon Do Champion and the fifth placeholder in the 2012 U.S. Junior Olympics. These amazing accomplishments are a far cry from Wu’s rocky start with Tae Kwon Do about six years ago. Her first few seasons were loss-heavy, but instead of giving up, she trained harder and is now a certified third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Anna Cojocaru of Chicago, Ill.
Ada Comstock Scholar
Growing up in one of the poorest nations in Europe, Moldova, Anna Cojocaru understood that education is a luxury not afforded to everyone. Through hard work, Cojocaru earned a spot in a top school in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, and eventually a scholarship to The Academy of Economic Studies. While she enjoyed learning, Cojocaru found the educational environment in Moldova stifling and moved to the United States despite knowing very little English. She worked hard to master English and saved money to enroll in a local school in Chicago before transferring to Smith.
Yuhna Lee of Harrington Park, N.J.
First-year, hip-hop dancer
At 9 years of age, Yuhna Lee knew she wanted to join the 4/14 Movement, an evangelic movement that uses the arts to share faith with others. As a dancer with Promise Treasure, the movement’s hip hop group, Lee has performed in famous venues in the United States such as The Apollo, Radio City and Citi Field as well as several well-known theaters in Germany, Switzerland, Paraguay, Tanzania and El Salvador.
Christine Hamilton of Stow, Mass.
First-year, sustainable fuel innovator
During her junior year of high school, Christine Hamilton and a friend ran an experiment to produce algae biodiesel as a sustainable fuel. Their preliminary experiment was successful and they decided to present it at the state SkillsUSA competition. For weeks prior to the competition, Christine and her partner worked to create a presentation that highlighted each girl’s strengths. But, on presentation day, Hamilton’s partner was disqualified, leaving her to present alone. Hamilton memorized the entire presentation and her work was rewarded. The biodiesel won the gold prize and earned Hamilton a ticket to SkillsUSA nationals.
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