Reflections on The Bubble
by Sam Fleming, Class of 2010
I first heard about Vassar when a recent graduate from my high school decided to attend. This particular alum was quite impressive academically, so I added Vassar College to my long list of reaches, maybes and safeties. I was a rising senior and thought it was normal to apply to thirteen schools. I didn’t yet have a specific image in my head of what “college” meant to me, so I applied with a vengeance. Hell, I just wanted to get in somewhere. When it came down to it, I was choosing between Colby College and New York University. I was wait-listed at Vassar, and proud of it, but I didn’t expect anything to come of it. So I visited my two options and chose to spend the next four years of my life in “the City,” as I’ve since come to call it.
I was driving home from school one day in early May 2006 when my father called and told me to hurry for some unexplained reason. I assumed the worst and sped through the serpentine streets of my town. After I sprinted up the stairs to my house, my dad told me that I had gotten a call from Vassar, which I had since visited and learned to love. I called the number that he had taken down, and the faceless voice that answered told me that there was an available spot in the Class of 2010, and that it was mine if I wanted it. I asked her if I could call her back with my answer, and she gave me 48 hours. Within five minutes I was hitting myself for not having accepted the offer immediately. I twiddled my thumbs and feigned patience for as long as I could bear it, and finally redialed the admissions officer’s extension and told her that I would love to go to Vassar and thanked her profusely for the opportunity.
Here I sit, almost exactly four years after that phone call. I’ve spent the past few weeks (read: months) fighting off a case of acute senioritis. I wrote the longest paper that I’ve ever written this semester, and it’s in Spanish to boot. I just turned in the last academic essay of my college career-perhaps, even, the last one of my life. In fact, this retrospective is all I have left to do in the nine days that separate me from my diploma. As I prepare for life outside the bubble, I’m beginning to realize just how fortunate I am to have lived inside it for so long. I’ve had the opportunity to play many roles in my years at Vassar, both literally and figuratively. In the same year, I joined the Cushing House Team and The Vastards-planning dorm events with one group of peers and singing ’80s and ’90s pop songs another-and I performed in two student-directed plays. I declared a concentration in Hispanic studies and recently added a correlate in linguistic anthropology. So naturally, I’ve decided to pursue acting after graduation. That’s the great thing about a Vassar education, though: We receive such all-encompassing preparation for the enigmatic “real world” that no career is outside of our collective potential.
I guess I have some people that I should thank for making my Vassar experience invaluable. To my fellow Cushing Two East fellowees, thank you for making me feel at home from the very start. To my parents, thank you for your endless support (both financial and the more important kind). To my professors, thank you for demanding that I pull many an all-nighter while scrambling to complete your assignments: They were well worth it.
To all of the friends and acquaintances that I’ve made along the way, you’ve taught me as much as my professors have, and I am eternally grateful for that. To the faceless voice, wherever you are, I think I’m in love with you. You brought me to this wonderful place, a place I think I’ll have a pretty hard time leaving. I feel that I can only hope to repay you with the ways I use my Vassar education in the future. I promise to do my best to do some good. And for those of you about to graduate, I salute you. Display that diploma proudly.
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