Well, this is weird. Whoever is reading this, thanks for showing interest. And if you’re questioning whether or not to continue, I’ll probably be repeating myself in my commencement speech so I won’t be offended if you passed me over (religion major joke, I couldn’t help myself).
Looking back on my time here is weird. It was just so much. Sooooo many things happened! The other day I was down by the lake at the Lights thing and I just started crying because of the sheer immensity of this experience that is about to come to a close.
That’s also weird; a whole part of our lives is ending soon. One we’ve shared together. We were the class who broke the Chance and Shiva Rave, who saw the end of LikeaLittle and CollegeACB. We’ve cried, laughed, and destroyed THs together. And now it is almost over.
When I think back ~retrospectively~ on my career at Vassar, I often think of how much I have changed in the past four years. None of us are the same as when we arrived here. But I can only quantify my own experience. When I came here, I had a weird flow haircut and no self-esteem. I was shy, I was horrible at making friends, and I didn’t do a lot of homework.
I remember being kind of disappointed by my start to college: I had friends but didn’t feel like I really fit in, I thought I had a path academically but I felt unsteady about it, and I was certainly not having the “it gets better” kind of experience you tell unconventionally attractive high-school aged gay dudes they’re going to have in college, if you get my drift (don’t worry, I got hotter).
It did get better though. It started when I moved into Lathrop my freshman year. Best decision I ever made. That’s where I solidified my friendship with my then-roommate now-housemate future-apartmentmate and best friend (Hi Grace!). My new student fellow became another of my best friends, and her crowd did a great job of adopting me into a group of good people.
After that I got involved in house team, did standup for the first time, felt like I was killin’ it academically, etc. Then junior year I became HSA in Lathrop and felt for the first time that a group of people really needed me, which is all a type-A Virgo like myself could ever want or need.
After my junior year a lot of my best friends graduated. It felt like a trial run for my own graduation. It was really hard to see them go and Vassar was such a remarkably different place when they were gone, but it was really helpful to see people graduate and survive. They didn’t just fade into awkward adultness after they left, they became cool people who moved into new cities and got new cool jobs and hung out with new cool adults.
I can’t wait to join them, honestly. It was also nice to see them end their senior year without completely torpedo-ing their lives as the Convocation Curse might forewarn (ask Deb Steinberg about that one). They’ve become responsible citizens of the world, and we are about to join them. Crazy! Scary! But also really fun.
Now I’ve landed in senior year a fiercer, smarter, funnier, more confident person than I thought I could ever be. That is what I am most grateful to Vassar for. My experience was not perfect, and many times I wanted to leave and never look back, but Vassar made me into someone closer to the person I want to be, and I am forever in its debt.
I qualify my years here not by successes or attempts or failures, but by moments I felt myself change, adapt, and grow. By moments that forced me out of myself.
That is what I hope I take away from this whole graduating nonsense; not that I did not do all I wanted to do, or that I did not take all the classes I should have taken, or that I did not drunkenly mack it with people I should have, but that I am better person because of Vassar.
I hope you think about all the times Vassar tested you and challenged you to change once-solidified notions. And all those times your whole self collapsed under the weight of joy you’ve felt here. The times you’ve cried because you felt yourself change. I hope that you feel the same, reader (okay, who am I kidding, the only people reading this are going to be Matt Ortile and Matty Norstad. I love you both.)
—Connor Martini is a religion major and the President of the Class of 2014.