September 15, 2017

Convocation is about celebration

Mount Holyoke College

Featured Image

Q. What has the power to turn a tranquil grassy amphitheater into a pounding, pulsing epicenter of energy, noise and spirit? Of “Oooaaah, oooaaah!” and “Twenty-eighteen! Twenty-eighteen!”

A. Convocation. 

Mount Holyoke’s first tradition of the academic year is all about celebration — and shouting for joy in the company of your class, rain or shine. It’s the official start to the school year and as such includes remarks from the chair or vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, the president of the College, a faculty member, a staff representative and the president of the Student Government Association.

Convocation 2016

Convocation is a chance to highlight community accomplishments, points of pride, initiatives and goals. And it’s an opportunity to enjoy performances by the Mount Holyoke Convocation Choir and the Five College West African Music Ensemble.

Convocation 2017

As notable as the events on the amphitheater stage may be, the real action arguably unfolds within the stands. Here, Convocation is a visual and sensory delight of the blue, yellow, red, and green class colors — and purple for Frances Perkins scholars — and of balloons, boas, beads, flowers, capes, gowns, body paint, pom-poms, glitter, bubbles, Silly String, tiaras, luau skirts, blow-up friends (dinosaur, pizza slice, etc.), hats, wigs, signs and shades. And of drums, songs, rattles, cow bells and noise makers. And lots and lots of raised up cell phones, capturing and sharing the moment.

Convocation 2017, blue lions

To be surrounded by a throng of utterly fearless and unequivocally spirited students? It’s exciting. It’s intense. It’s unexpected. It’s surreal. And you won’t want it to stop. (Until it gets too hot and you are ready to get your picnic on at Skinner Green.)

Convocation 2017, yellow sphinxes

It’s also the perfect introduction to life at a women’s college. Yes, we do things a little differently here. Since 1837, when our College was founded by a visionary woman in a bonnet, we have believed that women could and should do great things. But thoughts of “What will this be like?” and “This is kind of different,” are soon replaced by “This place is amazing!” and “These people inspire me!” Convocation helps kick this transformation into high gear.

Media coverage of Convocation 1933

Convocation, like the College itself, has transformed over the years. What began in 1931 as a “special service” — a buttoned-up affair in the Abbey Chapel featuring an address by the president and the announcement of student awards — has evolved into a rousing bookend to Commencement. This highly anticipated tradition both ushers in the new academic year and brings the classes, faculty and staff together.

Convocation, 1930s

As Convocation helps you see, feel and believe, you are part of a community that is driven to achieve, lead and succeed — and to raise one another up. To shake things up and to make good things happen. This is your College. This is your time. Welcome to Mount Holyoke College!

The two photos above — capturing Convocation from the 1930s — are courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

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Mount Holyoke, a women’s college, is for ambitious, independent students from around the world who embrace complexity, cultivate curiosity and resolve to become agents of change. The tight-knit community is academically rigorous, intellectually adventurous and socially conscious. As one of the most diverse research liberal arts colleges in the United States, Mount Holyoke prepares students for leadership and cultural awareness on a global scale. Mount Holyoke graduates thrive in all fields, on all continents and in a vast array of languages.