Words of Wisdom

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We asked for advice from alumnae to the graduating students in the Class of 2020, and they delivered. Shorter versions of these comments were posted on the Quarterly Instagram for the departing seniors and grad students to view, prompting one to say the following: “As a senior, these truly touched my heart. Thank you alums!”

Undoubtedly, 2020 will be defined by this epidemic as 1918 was. However, like my grandmother and mother, who survived the epidemic of 1918, both World Wars, and the Great Depression, you too will find the creativity, patience, compassion, and endurance to meet your life’s goals. Stay flexible and be prepared to change. –Eileen Kurahashi ’65, Orinda, California

Be present. Take this in. Don’t push away your feelings. Let this be a learning opportunity. Get closer to yourself and more clear about the life you want to lead moving forward. –Ann Dyer Cervantes ’80, Oakland

I am so sorry that your senior year has not turned out the way you had hoped. You will go down in history as a member of the Class of 2020, which everyone will know was the class that finished their degrees in the midst of a global health crisis. You will be admired for the fact that you carried on even though you were deprived of the normal celebrations for your accomplishments. –Karen Pare ’91, Alameda

Things are uncertain for everyone at this time. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to grieve what was and slowly adapt to what is. You will achieve what you were aiming for, it will just happen in ways you can’t predict. Allowing things to show up versus forcing them is all we can do right now, no matter how infuriating that may feel. –Jessica Reff ’12, Los Angeles

You may have heard about a small (!) thing called The Strike that took place back in 1990. Because of the timing of these events and friction with the administration, we were not promised a graduation ceremony. Thankfully, the alumnae came to our rescue and planned the whole thing. The pouring rain threatened to cancel the whole event. But we waited. Patiently. And finally, the call came that graduation would happen that day, as a break in the storm was predicted. So the moral of this story…unusual circumstances happen. As they are happening today. My heart goes out to each and every senior. I know how hard you’ve worked. But, do not be dismayed. I know that the good people at MC will not let you down. Your celebration will take place and it will be one heck of a party! Hang in there. Finish strong. We are all pulling for you. –Joycelyn Fung Yee ’90, San Ramon, California

I carry you personally and the Mills community as a whole in my heart—and reflect on my extraordinary Mills College education nearly every day.
–Susan Kay Cummins ’77, Bethesda, Maryland

Mills students have a reputation for compassion, resiliency, and their ability to work together to overcome adversity, and you WILL get through this. Even as we must social distance, keep those connections to your community, support each other through this time, and look for the positive stories to keep your spirits high until the time comes when the shadows part and you can celebrate your accomplishments together, even if it’s later than planned. –Melanie Vega ’15, MA ’16; San Jose

Hang in there. We are resilient. Mills was one of the best things to happen to me, and I wish you the same. Stay strong. Stay safe. –Priscilla Falter ’14

Study the lesson of what technology can do and can’t do. Today’s circumstances help us focus on what is truly important in life every day. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Today is a gift. Don’t waste it. -Sue McKinney ’75

Stay kind, stay positive, and stay humble. Be the best that you can, no matter what the circumstances are. And above all, go out into the world and help make it a better place. -Shivangi Bhatnagar ’14, Long Beach, California

You have been robbed. Straight up. I am sorry. I am sad and I am angry about the things that we have all worked so hard for that aren’t happening. The last days of school to finally come out and have dinner with your classmates a little more often, do your studying on the lawn after picking up lunch from the Tea Shop, the little things that make the warm season so lovely on campus. Commencement on Toyon Meadow—as an alum, I love to go as often as I can to hear the speakers and cheer on each class, but for you, this was the culmination of everything you’ve done to learn and grow and be ready to go out in the world. An invisible enemy has taken that vision that sustained you through countless all-nighters. Now we know next fall will be affected, too, and I know I grieve for the things and the time we cannot get back. I hope we recover from this pandemic and that you are gainfully employed or starting graduate endeavors without a hitch. But you have every right to be sad and angry in this moment while you are at home and far away from the libraries and friends to collaborate with and not walking on that grass in your cap and gown. I sure hope to meet you at a future Reunion. –Pamela Prober Trounstine ’99, San Jose

Please consider a career in public health. As you can see, we need ready people in those professions. Have a plan for the unexpected. –Louise Leck ’11, Fremont, California

Mills has given us all a wonderful learning environment and opportunity. From this, you will go on defining your life by rejoicing in the good moments, and overcoming any disappointments as deftly as you can. Please build on the wonderful foundation Mills gave you throughout your lives. I wish you all an exciting, happy, and vital life. –Norma Levy ’65, New York

Keep on moving forward! As Mills Womyn, you can and you WILL change the world for the better. <3 –Dee Montero Iacopelli ’03, Ventura, California

Be a good citizen of this universe right now no matter how. Mills taught you how to excel and be better than the rest. –Victoria Frost ’80, Santa Barbara, California

The world is in tumult, do what you need to—whether that’s seize the chaos to create change, or find comfort where you can. Change is constant, so this moment will change and so will you. –Stephanie Der ’13, Napa, California