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The Talented and Diverse Class of 2009

When she first considered Smith College for her undergraduate education, Arielle Elyse Radelet of University Place, Washington, was 16 years old and sitting with one of her brothers at a travelers’ café in China. “When my oldest brother suggested that I pursue an all-women’s education, I choked on my dim sum,” she commented in an e-mail this summer.

“Months later, my final apprehensions about all-womens’ colleges were resolved when I had an interview with Washington State Smith Alumnae Representative Stevie Crane,” she recalled. “After the hundreds of schools that I have explored, I feel that Smith offers what I desire most from an undergraduate education.”

This September Arielle joined some 631 other students entering Smith who compose the class of 2009. The accepted students were selected from a record applicant pool of 3,408, many of them taking advantage of Smith’s fee waiver for applications submitted online. The selectivity rate for incoming first-year students -- the percentage of applicants who were admitted to Smith -- was 48 percent. “The record-breaking number of applications to Smith allowed us to shape a class that is academically talented and extremely diverse,” says Audrey Smith, dean of enrollment. “The class of 2009 is also the most racially diverse class we have ever enrolled.”

The first-year class includes three Gates Millennium Scholars and 124 students who are the first in their families to attend college. Thirty percent of the class identifies as a student of color; of the total student body, 14 percent are Asian American, 8 percent Latina, 7 percent African American and 1 percent Native American. International students make up another 8 percent of the class.

Although perched at the starting point of their collegiate careers, these students bring with them an impressive list of accomplishments. Arielle has been an overseas contributing editor and writer for an educational newspaper distributed throughout eastern China, The Shangai Students’ Post. The class of 2009 is also distinguished by a playwright whose one-act play was produced by a professional theatre company; a recipient of the Roberto Uno Youth Leadership Award; two sisters who moved to United States as Chinese immigrants five years ago, maintaining near-perfect grades throughout high school in New York City; and three sets of identical twins.

In addition to these new undergraduates, the college welcomed 67 Ada Comstock Scholars and 69 transfer students.

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