by Shelby Wardlaw, Class of 2010
Rain pelted my umbrella as I watched my parent’s rented minivan drive out of the muddy lot behind Josselyn House. Turning back to face the quad, Vassar’s campus suddenly seemed huge and void, blurred in the downpour like an impressionist watercolor of a dreary, unpeopled landscape. It seems that ever since that first smeary uncertain day, my time here has been a gradual process of peopling and clarifying that first image I had of Vassar College.
Now I see a campus rife with familiar faces, buildings sharpened and defined by experiences. It’s a landscape that I have run across and tripped over and lounged in until the canvas of Vassar now appears so vivid and heavy with painted memory that I know that finally, it’s done.
There is the freedom and giddiness of freshman year, the settling in of sophomore year, that crazy semester I thought it would be a good idea to take five and a half credits; there are the three hour meals at ACDC, the awkwardness, the well-worn friendships, the loneliness; there’s my summer with the Yale-Vassar program in St. Petersburg, the subsequent whirlwind semester in Paris, the new TH, and that second semester of my junior year in which I believe I grew three years in as many months; there’s senior year, with all its many hardships, the many times when I told myself “it’s not so bad”; there’s my a cappella group that I have loved throughout; there’s my thesis that nearly killed me; there’s all the professors that changed my life, intellectually, spiritually, and sometimes accidentally by adding to that store of wisdom that grows as one matures. It’s hard to say if there is anything that I would change about my time here. Everything seems so cumulative, who knows who I might be if I were to go back and change any of it? Now, facing a real world that seems just as blurry and uncertain, I remember my first day at Vassar and realize that college, like many things in life, is what you make of it.