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Students give input to upcoming Nancy Pelosi speech

With Nancy Pelosi’s commencement speech rapidly approaching, Mills College students had the opportunity to give their input on what they would like to hear the Speaker of the House discuss in her talk.

Pelosi’s office contacted the College to arrange a phone call with student leaders to discuss the importance of women’s education. The meeting, which was facilitated by Media Relations Director Jeanne Herrera, was held last month and consisted of a speakerphone conversation between students and Pelosi’s speech writing team.

Students represented different clubs, sports and organizations on campus. Present at the meeting were sophomore Kirstyne Lange, the Vice President of the Black Women’s Collective; junior Jessica Brennan, the ASMC Vice President and Diversity Chair; junior Amelia Lopez, the president of FemDems; Senior Class President Rebecca Waterhouse and Senior Class Historian Marlene Hurd.

Pelosi’s team asked the students to discuss in a round table discussion why they chose to go to Mills. Brennan shared how she felt about the College after her first visit on a Preview Day.

“I left that day literally in tears saying I have to go to that school no matter what,” she said. “It just made sense that I come here, and it has felt like home ever since.”

The team then proceeded to ask about issues pertinent to students, including incarceration, gender issues and concerns about getting a job after graduation. Lopez talked about the College stepping up and helping the local Oakland community.

“We are very active, but at the social realm outside the school, being a part of something bigger — and I think having the outside community follow what Mills teaches — really helps drive that into you. People are really just getting out there and being a part of the community,” she said.

Students then shared what they would like to hear from Pelosi at graduation.

“I would be interested in what, if any, challenges she encountered during her education. How she was able to overcome them and how being at a women’s college furthered her to overcome them,” Brennan said, referring to the fact that Pelosi attended women’s institutions for both high school and college. Pelosi earned her Bachelor of Art in political science from Trinity Washington University.

Lange had a personal message for Pelosi.

“One important thing that you should know about Mills is that it will welcome you with warm arms,” she said, to which Lopez responded,

“That is how welcoming and loving this environment is and it is probably one of the only places were everyone loves doing their job. I think that is one of the greatest things that Mills has to offer not only for students, but for the world, too.”