Senior Retrospective: Frank Najarro Izquierdo

It’s raining outside. I’m sitting in the new Deece watching people go by, getting eggs, bowls of fruit, and giving each other goodbye hugs; the summer looms, hidden behind the rain.

Vassar is a paradox. It’s made me feel bigger than ever before, but smaller. Smarter than I ever thought possible, but also made me realize how little I actually know. It’s made me feel full, full of so many things, but I also feel empty. Hungry. Like all I got was a taste. Time carries on at the rate molasses flows when you’re in the thick of it. And those sunny days in the quad, in the lawn outside SoCo 8, in the bench facing the lake, looking up at a full moon, go by like blinks of my memory. Now I feel I’ve blinked and Vassar has passed me by.

Have I done everything I wanted to do? I don’t know. Have I done everything I knew I would do. Yes. I went to Australia to study abroad for a year. I got honors from the Anthropology Department. I successfully passed my classes and I’m leaving here with more knowledge than I ever thought possible. I made lifelong friends and was guided by passionate, wise, and intelligent people who care for me. But I also cried. My heart was broken, my muscles ache from sitting down at my laptop for too long, my eyes burned, my knees scraped a few times, I almost died in a waterfall, and I became leech food for a good 25 minutes. But even if I didn’t see it coming, even these parts were fun.

How do I know I was going to cry? Well, I wrote myself a little note at the beginning of my time here, when I took part in what became one of the most critical parts of my time at Vassar, Transitions. It’s where I met some of my lifelongs friends and mentors, and I wouldn’t be on this side of my Vassar experience if it wasn’t for the help and guidance that Transitions offered me. It was Transitions who led me to the other major part of my non-academic life here at Vassar- the ALANA Center.

I was lucky enough to be an ALANA Center Intern for the three years which I was physical-

ly at Vassar, and it made my life here at Vassar so much better and richer. Conversations such as the one I had in the center never happened back home. Race wasn’t something that was ever really engaged with in South Dakota since when I was going to school there, it was a very large majority of the students who were white and middle to high income. The ALANA Center finally gave me the space to express my frustrations but also to heal and to do good work for myself and for the community of POCs here at Vassar. Although it was the hardest thing I ever did for the center, to this day, making ALANA Fest Spring 2016 was my favorite thing I did for the center, and I will remember the stress and anxiety which I had during the planning process, but also the smile of the people who came and had a great time, enjoying themselves, the food, and being so happy to have a place to celebrate. Eventually, the ALANA Center led me to the second thing which made my non-academic life here so meaningful, being a part of EPI.

EPI was difficult. It was the most time I’ve ever dedicated to doing good work for this school. And though I leave the school after only its first year, I know there are so many more great things coming. Sitting in 3-hour-long meetings, and even our marathon meeting where we reviewed every question that went into the survey was fun, once it was over. But that’s what it takes to do this work, and I’m glad I gave my time to EPI during my senior year.

And that brings this to an end, and Vassar to and end for me. I’m very nervous to receive my diploma, as I will be the first in my family ever to do so. A culmination of the sacrifice which multiple generations of my family have made. A combination of the guidance and support of my friends, professors, and mentors throughout my time here. And I am so thankful.

It’s still raining outside, and though some would find it sad, I know that god is in the rain.

 

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