September 7, 2018

Convocation is about celebration

Mount Holyoke College

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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-nineteen! Twenty-nineteen!”

A. Convocation. 

Mount Holyoke’s loudest tradition of the academic year is all about celebration — and shouting for joy in the company of your class, rain or shine.

A sea of yellow and green in the amphitheather
A sea of yellow and green in the amphitheather

Its about welcoming the new first-year students, cheering on the graduating class and loving on all those in between!

First-year students wore red!
First-year students wore red!

Convocation marks 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.

President Sonya Stephens
President Sonya Stephens addresses the crowd

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.

Five College West African Music Ensemble
Five College West African Music Ensemble

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.

Frances Perkins scholars
Frances Perkins scholars

Throngs of students come laden with balloons, boas, beads, flowers, capes, gowns, body paint, pompoms, glitter, bubbles, Silly String, tiaras, luau skirts, blow-up friends (kangaroo, dinosaur, pizza slice, etc.), hats, wigs, signs and shades.

Blue lions among the crowd
Blue lions are among the crowd

You may hear drums, songs, rattles, megaphones, cow bells and noise makers. And see lots and lots of raised up cell phones, capturing and sharing the moment.

Twenty nineteen! Twenty nineteen!
Seniors whoop it up

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.)

Students in green, striking a pose
Students in green, striking a pose

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.

Seniors at Commencement 2018
Seniors at Commencement 2018

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
Convocation of the 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 photo above — capturing Convocation from the 1930s — is courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.


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  • The march of the seniors, Convocation 2018
  • Seeing blue!
  • Seniors in robes and snazzy yellow and gold accessories
  • Green on the scene, Convocation 2018
  • Seniors, plus a kangaroo
  • An array of colors at Convocation
  • Convocation 2017
  • The class of 2017
  • Mary Lyon turned up for Convocation 2016
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.
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