Alumnae Hall in the Diana Chapman Walsh Auditorium at Wellesley College is graced by portraits of revered alumnae. As a current student, walking through Alumnae Hall can be daunting, although I'm almost positive every Wellesley woman wishes to have her portrait next to the likes of Hillary Clinton or Diane Sawyer.
Once again I find myself lingering around Alumnae Hall in the Diana Chapman Walsh Auditorium at Wellesley College. Two weeks ago, I found myself examining Hillary Clinton's portrait but today, with a broken heart, I stare at Nora Ephron's Wellesley Class of '62 portrait. The woman who taught me how to feel, who taught me how to properly rationalize love, who taught me that men and women can't be "just friends," who showed me that women can write, direct, and produce, has passed away. I don't think I'll ever forget what I was doing when I read about Nora Ephron passing away. I refreshed my Facebook page and read about the tragedy last night on my newsfeed. I wondered what she would say if she knew everybody learned about her death via social media. As a pioneer of online romance and food blogging, I hoped she would have found the news amusing.
Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Ephron, I feel this instant connection because of Wellesley College. Our connection has been strengthened through my movie night rituals of watching When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle on repeat. When I was little and thought I wanted to be an actress, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks were my heroes. It took me awhile to realize that my real hero was actually Nora Ephron. She was once quoted saying, "I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are." Much like a Wellesley Woman Who Will (and certainly did), Nora Ephron created roles for women and herself in the male dominated world of cinema with humor, class, and grace.
Wellesley creates this inexplicable bond that ties us all together whether we want to or not. Wellesley has also spoiled me (maybe just a tiny bit) with all of our amazing alumnae. These past two years, I've had the opportunity to hear former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Social Secretary Desiree Rogers speak. I was looking forward to hearing Nora Ephron speak soon. I had calculated that either Nora Ephron, Oprah Winfrey, or Tina Fey would be my commencement speaker. Out of all three, my vote will always be for Nora. In all honesty I was expecting Nora Ephron to pop into Wellesley anytime soon to give me wonderful advice. At 71, Nora Ephron was taken too soon and too young. I was hoping that if I was in the same room as her, some of her wit and intelligence might have rubbed off on me. Maybe I'm just a little more than a bit spoiled.
I've been obsessively reading Nora Ephron's commencement speech to the Wellesley graduating class of 1996 and wishing I had been there to witness. Although I would've only been five, the wisdom imparted by Ms.Ephron is priceless.
"What I'm saying is, don't delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth. Don't let The New York Times article about the brilliant success of Wellesley graduates in the business world fool you -- there's still a glass ceiling. Don't let the number of women in the workforce trick you -- there are still lots of magazines devoted almost exclusively to making perfect casseroles and turning various things into tents."
I hang onto her the inspiring words she has left us for motivation to continue pushing at the glass ceiling.
Nathalie Davidson is an English major and a member of the class of 2014 at Wellesley College.
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