Northeastern students learn Mills traditions

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In mid-January, the inaugural cohort of Northeastern students—14 in total—set foot on the Mills campus for the first time. While the emergence of the Omicron variant made in-person get-togethers difficult, these new arrivals still received a full welcome to the spring semester at Mills. 

Jillian Mosley ’18, director of orientation and family programs in the Division of Student Life, oversaw the onboarding process for these visitors from Boston, and will likely do the same for future program enrollees on the Mills campus. She sent this first cohort through the typical orientation schedule, with tours and introductions to campus services, but also included a session on what makes Mills Mills—from legendary ghost stories to the “Strong, Proud, All Mills” chant. As an alumna, she says she took the responsibility seriously. 

“I was really struck by how, almost instantaneously, the cohort felt connected to the campus and the feelings of protectiveness they expressed. They want Mills to remain as unique and green and intimate as those of us who’ve been connected to Mills for much longer do,” Mosley says. “I want them to get that little frisson of excitement I still have when I realize how Mills has influenced artists, writers, dancers, scientists, scholars, and activists from around the world.” 

What this first round of new students affirmed for Mosley was how people-centered her efforts needed to be: “If we want to send out new generations of ambassadors and cheerleaders for what Mills has to offer and who want to preserve the institution, then we need to be human with each other,” she adds. “How do we connect with our new students? How do we help them feel that coming to Mills was the right choice for them?” 

At press time, the participants in this spring’s Leading Social Change Program, which includes six Mills students, had just embarked on their first off-campus field trip to the Oakland Museum of California to experience its Afrofuturism exhibit. 

In addition to the 500 Northeastern students that are anticipated to come to the Mills campus this fall, there are other opportunities on the way for Millsies to interact with their Boston counterparts. For starters, Northeastern’s Burnes Family Center for Social Change and Impact–with its partner GovLab, a New York-based organization that specializes in collaboratively solving problems that affect the public sphere–has created the Oakland City Challenge project this spring in conjunction with Mills faculty members, giving Mills students the opportunity to participate. There are also several Mills students registered for Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations program this summer, which will send them to locations such as Berlin and Tokyo to examine critical issues affecting the global community.