by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
For generations, a select group of Dickinson women have gathered at Dickinson's Old West each spring to be inducted, or “tapped,” into the Wheel and Chain Society. It’s a big moment, recognizing these college juniors' past achievements and foretelling new service, leadership and social opportunities to come. But for the 10 Wheel and Chain members in Dickinson's class of 2021, it was a moment deferred, thanks to the temporary move to online instruction last March.
Now, those Dickinson women are ready to shine. And on Sunday, Sept. 13, they did so—in a manner befitting the times.
“Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to all meet on Dickinson’s campus to do our traditional public ceremony, so we came up with the idea of holding a virtual ceremony as a way to still honor these 10 magnificent women and all of their accomplishments,” says Wheel and Chain alumna Annaliese Tucci ’20, who organized the event.
The online delivery is a first in the 96-year history of Dickinson’s “blue hats”—so named because of its members’ emblematic blue caps. But the ceremony’s fundamentals remain.
The 30-minute video ceremony included brief segments of each of the 10 Wheel and Chain inductees, recorded from the comfort and safety of their homes. They are: Espoir DelMain, Gabriella Farrell, Claire Jeantheau, Abby Kaija, Prabhleen Kaur, Rebecca Maslanka, Rachel Prince, Krystal Ramirez, Marisabel Rivera-Arroyo and Kiana Smith, all of the class of 2021.
Wheel and Chain members also announced the 2020 recipient of the Wheel & Chain Leadership Award, Sam Halpern '22 (law & policy). The award is presented to a rising junior who has demonstrated vigorous participation in campus activities, service to the college and the community, strong leadership skills and high personal character. The 96th Wheel and Chain class also inducted several honorary members: Amy Wlodarski, professor of music; Amy McKiernan, assistant professor of philosophy; Megan Nesbitt, staff psychologist; and Nikki Dragone, visiting assistant professor of American studies.
Published September 10, 2020