Stories including Founder's Day

A List to Remember

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.

My Incredible Peers

I can comfortably and definitively say that my time at Vassar has defined who I am as a person. I have never before been in a place filled with so many engaged, brilliant and beautiful people. My experiences here have been entirely shaped by my peers, and as I look toward graduation, I know that what I am going to miss most about Vassar is not meal plans, senior housing or the amazing campus, but the presence and proximity of over 2,000 impassioned people.

Vassar students are incredibly involved. For the last three years I have served as an officer of Vassar College’s Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS), and this past year I was given the privilege of being named captain. Being an EMT on campus has given me the opportunity to interact with many Vassar students at some of their most vulnerable moments. Despite the circumstances, I have always been struck by how deeply caring and concerned Vassar students are for one another. Regardless of the severity of the situation, Vassar students are always extremely supportive of and concerned about their classmates. On many occasions, friends of sick students have debated over who is going to accompany their ailing companion to the hospital because they all wanted so badly to show their support in a time of need.

VCEMS’s volunteer EMTs give their valuable time on nights and weekends to help serve their community-time they could spend relaxing, studying or partying with their friends. I can’t speak highly enough about this wonderful group, over 50 of them volunteering to literally spring into action at a moment’s notice in the service of their community. Despite their great service, Vassar’s EMTs are just one example of students going out of their way to better the community they live in.

Vassar students are diverse in their interests and are experts at combining various fields of study to create new, exciting ways to approach problems. In addition to being an EMT, I am a drama major with a focus in lighting and set design. For me, this area of study has been the perfect liberal arts experience. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with my peers to create exciting and engaging works of art. Once we have completed the artistic and conceptual work, I spend countless hours on a computer drafting program, doing calculations and drafting in order to turn artistic ideas into an architectural and mechanical reality. For me, Vassar students’ ability to move between the artistic and the technical, the qualitative and the quantitative, has come to typify a liberal arts education.

I know that after I graduate what is really going to stick with me are not classes, lectures or special events, but the fleeting moments of beauty and amazement that my classmates and I have encountered together. To me, it’s always been the little things that count. I will never forget my assignment to watch and observe the sunrise (twice!) with my lighting design class, epic spur of the moment hikes on the Farm, watching a hot air balloon land across Hooker Avenue, deciding to go bike jousting with friends during parents’ weekend, watching asteroid showers from the Earth circle, being on call with EMS during Founder’s Day, biking around Poughkeepsie with my sculpture class, or venturing out into snow storms to sled down sunset hill. More than anything else, it is these moments of companionship, togetherness and beauty that will define my time at Vassar.

A Place That Loves Me Back

This past fall I had the opportunity to talk with a number of alumnae/i about my experience here at Vassar. I was asked why I chose the school, what activities I was involved in, my favorite place on campus, and a number of other questions that were meant to detail my personal experience over the past four years. Toward the end of the conversation, I was asked the inevitable: “So what is the campus climate really like right now?” It was about halfway through the fall semester, and at that point the situation wasn’t so great. Spirits were low, and students, faculty members, administrators and staff were all frustrated. Words like “transparency” and “economic downturn” had become part of everyday conversations. And so, I was honest with the alums: The campus attitude was fairly negative, but not at all uninspiring. I had come to the conclusion that students were taking action, demanding the best resolutions from their administrators for one reason: Vassar students love this place.

For me, drawing this conclusion was a revelation of sorts that I had yet to recognize for some reason. I knew that if anyone asked me about my Vassar experience my automatic response would be: “It has been incredible. I love this place!” And yet for the first time I was really able to approach these sentiments as an observer. I watched my fellow students spend time organizing protests, making signs, creating videos, signing petitions, participating in ergathons and writing letters to the Miscellany, showing their love for their academics, their professors and their staff members, all the while pushing those in charge to make the choices that were the best for the College.

These choices were anything but black and white, and I watched as peer institutions struggled through the same process. However, I couldn’t help but think that the situation at Vassar would always be better-our students just cared more. Despite the challenges that came the way of the College, students were still continuing with their academics and extracurriculars. There were three-, even four-hour Vassar Student Association meetings, with students using the opportunity to make their voices heard. No opinion was deemed unimportant and all were expressed in an effort to make the College a better place for its students.

Any Vassar student here both first and second semester will admit that the campus climate took a dramatic turn after Winter Break , and students seemed to be much more preoccupied in showing their love in more traditional ways. Plays were sold out, a capella concerts overwhelmingly attended, and the stands at men’s volleyball games (and even men and women’s lacrosse games) were overflowing. Students supported the events, their peers, their professors and their community love-everything from thesis presentations to readings by English professors and composition classes, to a local elementary school threatened by budget cuts.

By the end of spring semester, there is always the anticipation of what the next academic year will hold. From many of my fellow outgoing seniors I’ve heard concerns (and excitement) about changes that will come to Vassar next fall, and it’s been sad to watch their realization that they will no longer be a part of that immediate Vassar community. Yes, as the Alumnae and Alumni Association of Vassar College will remind you, the seniors are becoming part of that vast network of Vassar alumnae/i, an exclusive club of sorts that is still allowed to come back once a year to celebrate Founder’s Day. But the experience won’t be the same, and our love for Vassar will be taking another form. We’ll be celebrating it whenever we see our friends in New York City or Asheville, N.C. or maybe even Alaska, writing about it through e-mails and Facebook posts, and reading about it whenever we catch a classmate’s name in a newspaper article, or even a byline. And most important, our love will be forever extended to those current students at Vassar through our faith in knowing that those already here are showing the same love that has made the past four years nothing less than incredible.

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