PJ McInnis ’15 and Virginia DeWees ’16 high-five
each other after realizing they have more in
common than expected.

We Are HWS

by Jessica Evangelista Balduzzi ’05

In a small corner of the Scandling Campus Center, PJ McInnis ’15 and Virginia DeWees ‘16—two students with seemingly nothing in common— walk up to a white board and begin describing themselves. Using giant letters, DeWees writes “Queer,” while McInnis scribbles the Greek symbols of his fraternity. After five minutes of writing identifying words, the two students take a step back and to their surprise, find they’ve both written “extroverted” and identified themselves as having a learning disability.

Doris-Pierce and Honorary Trustee Herbert J.
Stern '58, P'03, LL.D. '74 both wrote "passionate"
and "sarcastic."

“It was the moment when I realized that this campaign just might work,” says Molly Doris-Pierce ’15, creator of the “We Are HWS” campaign, an initiative that brings together members of the HWS community by uncovering their identities and then snapping a photo with a sign that reads, “We Are HWS.” “I think this really surprised them to see that they had much more in common than they could have ever anticipated.”

Ti-Ti Qin ’17 and Sarah Feldman ’15 both identify
as advocates and activists but consider
themselves to be procrastinators.

The idea for the “We Are HWS” campaign originated from the basic premise that everyone at HWS—students, staff, faculty, parents, trustees, alumni and alumnae— all have a stake in the Colleges’ future. “I believe sometimes, especially in difficult times, it is easier to take on different identities rather than identifying with the Colleges,” she says.

Jordan Smith ’15 and Julia Yenco ’16 learn they
have similar tastes in music and movies.

For Doris-Pierce, the goal of the “We Are HWS” campaign is about building community and creating a culture of change to “show that despite our differences we are one community and that all of us ARE HWS. We cannot build cultural change from the top down,” she adds. “In order to create a campus community where everyone feels valued, we must first change individual attitudes. We must make sure that the words, “We Are HWS” hold weight— whoever you are in this community, we are a community and we ARE HWS.”


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.