Toni-Ann Williams ’23

Toni-Ann Williams ’23 submitted one of the winning essays of the 2019 Hortense Parker Celebration. The celebration honors the legacy of Hortense Parker — class of 1883 and the College’s first known student of color — and all students of color, past and present. Williams’ essay is presented here with her permission. It addressed these questions: When you leave the gates of Mount Holyoke College, what do you hope to leave behind? What will your legacy be?

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October 29, 2019

“I am” and “Who am I not to be?”

Toni-Ann Williams ’23 submitted one of the winning essays of the College’s 2019 Hortense Parker Celebration. The celebration honors the legacy of Hortense Parker — class of 1883 and the College’s first known student of color — and all students of color, past and present. Williams’ essay is presented here with her permission.

Q: When you leave the gates of Mount Holyoke College, what do you hope to leave behind? What will your legacy be?

“Actually, who are you not to be? … As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others,” stated Marianne Williamson. 

Upon entering the gates of Mount Holyoke College on August 25, 2019, a plethora of questions flooded my mind. Chief among them, “Am I really ready for this?” I quickly acknowledged my “I am” after scanning my surroundings. That is, I am an African-American 18-year-old female who was raised in Jamaica. I am, for the first time in my life, the minority. At a predominantly white liberal arts institution that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

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