Standing before a crowd of over one hundred young women, Bay Path’s President Dr. Carol A. Leary shared the personal story of her journey from a first-generation college student to a university president, prompting each new student who had gathered for orientation to consider their own story, too. “You’re an open book today,” Dr. Leary shared. “Use that blank slate to create who you wish to be. You own your story. You own your power.”
August 21st kicked off Bay Path’s WELLcome week, a week-long orientation focused on establishing the foundations for connection, preparation, and transition to college life for both students and their families. “I think it is really important to make students feel welcome when they arrive on campus,” shared Dean of Students and Director of Persistence Anne Chapdelaine. “It is my hope that it will help create in them a sense of belonging, which is important when you are trying to establish yourself in and feel supported by a community.”The event, named after Bay Path’s signature Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) program, included a welcome from Dr. Leary and various faculty and staff members, a trip to Camp Wilder in Springfield, MA, diversity and inclusion training, a multicultural block party, and a group community service project, where students made birthday cards and thank you cards for DOROT’s Card Making Program. Students were also treated to an outdoor movie and a visit from the Batch ice cream truck.
The messaging throughout the week was clear, showing students in a multitude of ways not only the power they hold within themselves, but the power they hold collectively when they work together. “Women are incredible,” Dr. Leary stated. “The power of women alone, and together, as a community, can be an extraordinary thing.”
That community power was on full display early Monday morning, as students, alumni, and both current and retired staff and faculty gathered together before dawn for the annual tradition of Campus Awakening. Started during Dr. Leary’s first year as president, this sunrise walk around campus has become a beloved event that marks the first day of classes. The walk ended at Deepwood Hall, where Chapdelaine, Bay Path’s Provost Dr. Melissa Morris-Olsen, and two student ambassadors shared their perspective on the new year.
Senior Class Delegate, and Easthaven, CT native Caitlyn Esposito urged each student to step outside of their comfort zone, and to create opportunities for themselves every day to do something that makes them uncomfortable and allows them to grow, mimicking Dr. Leary’s urging at the beginning of WELLcome week for students to own their own stories and to recognize and harness their power.
“We believe in the power of new beginnings, the power of women, and the power of one,” Dr. Leary shared with the crowd of women eager to begin their college journey. “Power is who we are, and who we can become. We have an obligation to use the lessons we learn to make a difference, to be that power of one. And Bay Path is here to work with you.”