by DeAnna Wynn, Class of 1991
Main Dorm, Afternoon Tea, Greedless, Founder’s Day, catwalk on the roof of Main, Mug lines, Primal Scream, ACDC, Trouble Funk at Sunset Lake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tribe Called Quest in ACDC, The Rollins Band, Vassar Angels, Vassar Devils, Alumnae House, ICC, Jessie Jackson at the 1991 Baccalaureate Ceremony, serenading, bonfire, Frisbee, skateboards, Beastie Boys, parties at West Point, road trips to Manhattan, Metro-North, The River Café, Cooper House, the TAs & THs, Napoli’s Pizza, Pete’s, the Acropolis, Mythology in New England building, Dante in Rocky, Drama with Dr. Berkeley, dancing in the Aula, the 24-hour room in the library, Town Student’s Lounge, classes at Sunset Lake with Norman Hodges, the purple tree in the Quad, ice cream in the Retreat.
by Brandon Smaglo, Class of 2002
I came to know Megan Perry ’02 during freshmen year at Vassar. We were very different people; had we not been assigned to the same student fellow group, I doubt that we ever would have came to know each other well. In fact, when we were no longer in close proximity housing-wise, we quickly grew apart, so that by senior year, I doubt if we spoke more than a handful of times.
Megan was impulsive and energetic, and threw herself passionately into everything and everyone she encountered. Much to my chagrin, this included a determined effort to expose me to a broader range of experiences. In retrospect, some of these are some of the funniest of my time at Vassar. One time, Megan collected a group of friends to break into my dorm room while I was out. I returned to find that it had been decorated with a wide assortment of pornography. She also dragged me to any number of Philaletheis productions, TH parties, and the Homo-Hop, none I which I would have dreamed of attending of my own volition, and all of which I am deeply grateful for having gone to in retrospect.
After Vassar, Megan brought her passion for life in all that she did. When Hurricane Katrina struck, no one who knew Megan was surprised that she set out to help in whatever way she could. Literally, Megan got a group together in a school bus (which was, incidentally, fueled by vegetable oil), and set out for Louisiana. Sadly, there was a traffic accident in Louisiana, and Megan was killed.
Although I knew her briefly, Megan Perry left a lasting impression on me, as I am sure she did with everyone she encountered. I suspect she accomplished more in her short life than many people will in thrice the time. The great tragedy of her young death is in the people she will not have the opportunity to encounter, to help, to touch. I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to have known her, and I am sure that she is on the list of fond Vassar memories of everyone who knew her at the college.
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.
by Kelly Stout, Class of 2010
All the living rooms in the Town Houses (THs) look about the same: one window, linoleum flooring, and-for some reason I don’t think I’ll ever understand-no lighting.
In an attempt to set our TH apart, my housemates and I called our living room “Florida” this year. Our striped orange couch, purple carpet, faux-glass patio table purchased at an estate sale, and indoor plants gave it this sort of tropical living facility vibe that made us feel not like seniors as much as senior citizens.
Which is, of course, pretty funny considering we’re all 21 and 22 years old. But anyone who has ever taken a poli-sci class can tell you that the spaces we occupy alter the activities we do in them and thus our identities. So it’s not totally impossible to believe that we’ve spent the past year acting a little like old people-excuse, me-active adults.
I’ve spent a good deal of time at Vassar doing the kinds of things that your grandpa does when he hangs out in his plastic patio furniture shouting about what everyone else is doing wrong. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for the Humor & Satire section and editing the Features section of The Miscellany News – tasks that have required that I poke fun at everyone and everything at Vassar and take on a sort of weird public critic persona. At times I’ve felt a little like grandpa sitting there in his orthopedic shoes shouting insults from the corner when all I really wanted to do was make everyone laugh.
And sometimes I felt like grandma too. I wrote the Humor and Satire section’s “Weekly Calendar,” a long-standing tradition that dates back to the much-missed-but-not-forgotten Miscellany News Backpage, and includes a daily themed nod to the historic-if poorly attended-tea in the Rose Parlor. In fact, I’ve never actually been to tea in the Rose Parlor for all the hours I’ve spent making fun of campus culture through it. Regardless, thinking so much about tea in the Rose has sometimes made me wonder whether although I physically appear 21, I might actually be a 70-year-old dandy sippin’ on Earl Grey in the Rose à la Benjamin Button.
The trick, I think, is to remember that we never actually have lived like AARP members. Vassar is a place where we’ve all tried on different ages for size. We’ve talked as if we’re in our mid-40s in an afternoon seminar one moment, and behaved with the maturity level of toddlers at TH parties only hours later. Then we’ve felt like arthritic seniors again the morning after.
And now we’re leaving the retirement community, ditching the faux glass table aesthetic, and won’t return for another 50 years. We’re retiring from retirement. Or something.
Everyone’s been bellyaching about how hard it is to sum up four years at Vassar especially as we’re clinging to it the way Leo clung to that piece of wood in Titanic, but I have to admit that I can sum up my Vassar education: I’ve learned to be open here. Vassar and the friends and professors I’ve had here have helped me to see why things are interesting and to see why they’re funny.
I’m so grateful to Vassar because I’m curious and open, and I know it’s because I went here. The secret, I’ve learned, to being a critic, is not only to be-hopefully-interesting, but interested. Which brings me to the point of this retrospective: The great thing about not actually being an old dog is that we can still learn new tricks.
So until the day I actually join the AARP, goodbye “Florida,” goodbye patio furniture, goodbye Vassar and goodbye tea in the Rose! I’m ready to come out of retirement, and I’m ready to try out my new tricks.
by Chloe McConnell, Class of 2010
“What will you miss most about Vassar?” a friend’s father recently asked. I took a moment. The campus, the academics, the activities? I went with my friends; “Living in such a high concentration of 20- to 22-year-olds,” I responded. “I’ll never again be surrounded by so many incredible people my age. All my closest friends live with a 15 minute radius.” To me, Vassar is about making meaningful connections: relationships between people, parallels between classes, and analogies between academics and life-experiences. From frustrating days in the library freshman year to quirky evenings in senior housing, the past four years were absolutely extraordinary.
I started classes freshman year by making a pact with myself: that academics would always come first. I spent most days in the Library, but luckily had incredible friends in Cushing House to return to each evening. While I’ve stood by my academic goals, I eventually realized that the relationships made here are just as significant.
I joined The Miscellany News sophomore year and immediately developed great relationships with my colleagues whilst working through the grueling weekly production schedule. Being on the paper spurred an active engagement with the College’s inner workings. Learning about Vassar’s history, understanding the administration and tracking current arts events fostered a deep respect for the institution.
After a diverting junior semester abroad in London, I wasn’t ready to return to the rigid Vassar schedule and the tiny campus. Moving in to the new Town Houses, however, refreshed the school for me. I lived with ten girls who transformed from mere acquaintances to close friends by the semesters’ end. I met professors that challenged me and took courses that reformulated my interests. This continued into senior year, which has outdone the rest in terms of meaningful friendships and social excitement. I wrote two theses and took on new opportunities with a WVKR radio show. I fully immersed myself in Vassar’s peculiar social traditions, and I explored the beautiful campus. Even after walking the same paths thousands of times, I still gaped at the huge trees and magnificent buildings. Leaving this idyllic environment will definitely come as a shock.
I haven’t yet come to terms with leaving the place that has been my home for the past four years, but maybe I don’t have to. While my time on this campus will conclude on May 23, and the concentration of smart minds and affectionate hearts will disperse, I know that Vassar will stay with me. This somehow makes graduation and the thought of starting another chapter of my life a little less terrifying. Absorbing Vassar’s culture and ethos is inevitable. It will remain inside of me through all that I have learnt; it will remain around me through my continued friendships.
For the rest of my life, these past four years will persistently shape my character and thoughts. I want to say thank you to all my professors, friends and classmates. Thank you for building this unforgettable experience.