So, here we are. As I’m sure you can appreciate, there really aren’t that many words to describe what these four years have meant to me. And I think what makes this place so special is that we all had such completely different but life-changing experiences, that nothing I could say would ever be sufficient to cover all of the things we’re feeling right now. So I’m just going to talk about one aspect of Vassar, and hope it resonates with you.
We’ve had an unfair share of loss and challenges this year. I’ve personally seen some pretty dark times, and I’ve watched a lot of you go through them as well. But what I’m going to take away from this year, and probably my whole time at Vassar, is the way I’ve watched people in this community come together to support each other in these harder times, even when we don’t always get along, or when we don’t understand the situation, but we care for each other anyway.
So this is a retrospective of the types of hugs I’ve seen in my time here, and the people who made them so memorable.
My first Vassar hug was when I met Kelly, my freshman year roommate, on move-in day. I recognized her immediately from looking through all her Facebook photos over the summer, and shyly walked over to her in the Noyes parking lot where we had our first of many best friend hugs.
There are the hugs the first time you see your friends after winter break, or frankly after going two hours without seeing them.
Hugs when we won Serenading two years in a row.
Hug because Meryl Streep won an Oscar!
When you hug someone on their birthday.
When you hug someone the day after their birthday because they’re not on Facebook so no one reminded you.
You made a bad decision last night but I still support you hug!
When you hug someone you don’t know at the Halloween Party because you both dressed up as Katniss Everdeen.
Monday Retreat hugs with Matt Ortile.
Hugging someone in the Express Lunch line so you can cut behind them.
You have a fuzzy sweater on so I’m just going to hug you now.
Sobbing in the 24-Hour room hug.
Accidentally hugging a professor when they were going in for a handshake.
When the fire alarm wakes you up in the middle of the night and you hug everyone from your dorm outside in their pajamas.
Going away and coming back from junior year abroad hugs.
When you saw your friends’ performance or sporting event, and then waited around at the end so you could congratulate them with a hug.
Hugs every time you see Doug Greer.
When you hug someone just because it’s finally warm outside.
Getting a job or internship hug.
Not getting a job or internship hug.
Finishing your thesis hug.
Founder’s Day hugs!
DreamSuite reunion hugs with Claire and Hallie.
Hug because something really embarrassing you said on Facebook in 2010 was resurrected in the
When Connor hugged me and kissed my forehead every Sunday night after walking back from VSA.
When you’re upset, and your friends hug you before they even ask you what’s wrong.
Four years later, still hugging the people in your fellow group (Elana and Wilson).
When you wake up at 2am to your friend, covered in glitter, coming into your room to hug you because they went through a bad break up and didn’t want to be alone.
The people who hug you every time they see you…even when they live with you (Matty).
When you lose someone you love, and everyone hugs you.
And finally, in just a few days, commencement hugs.
You all have supported me, inspired me, and challenged me over my four years here. Because of your love and support, I’ve been able to overcome many struggles, learn from my mistakes, and become a better version of myself than I was when I first arrived here. And I’ve seen so many of you take risks and grow as individuals and as a community, and it has been an honor to be a part of it. I know we all talk about things we would do differently if we could do Vassar over again, but I honestly have no regrets, because of all of you. I cannot begin to tell you how special you have made this experience for me, and I look forward to reunion hugs with all of you in the years to come.
—Deb Steinberg is the outgoing President of the VSA.