Senior Retrospective: Ann Nguyen

Dear Vassar, This a thank-you card and break-up text. You’ve shaped me, changed me. I will take you with me in all the coming chapters of my life because you are a part of me, but I will never be here again in the same capacity. I am no longer an undergraduate student. I guess you could say my entire life has been a series of happy accidents. Make no mistake, I plan. I plan to excruciating detail, and nothing upsets me more than a paper jam in my printer or a wrench in the works, but you could think of it this way, now I have scratch paper, or someone took the time to give me a wrench I can use to build stuff. And then those accidents can give you new direction. Sometimes there are accidents that don’t even bother disguising themselves as silver linings and are just giant inyour-face gems. Vassar, you are a giant in-your-face gem.

It has been four entirely too short years. I knew it going in, eight semesters is nothing. Blink and you miss it. How many plays have I not seen, how many parties have I not gone to, how many amazing people have I not met. The answer is too many. And yet, of the things I missed, how many of them could be as life-changing as the performances I have seen, the fun I’ve had, or the life-long friends I’ve made. Being at Vassar had its ups and downs, but coming out after four years I know I’ve been someplace special. When I came to Vassar I already had my fouryear plan mapped out, but life changes, certain classes are available while others aren’t and some classes are more fun than others so you change your direction. I met some of my greatest mentors and closest friends in my freshman year. Spent four beautiful years in a fantastic lab. Founded a writing and media program at the Grace Smith House and spent four years teaching those stunning youngsters. Junior year, applied to engineering and genetics programs, got in and instead went to an entirely different

program to dissect cadavers. I cannot describe how many happy accidents Vassar has given me, and then some really stressful and not so pleasant accidents, but overall I come out of Vassar a better person than I came in, or at least different. My housemate, in reading over this for me suggested I use an anecdote to better illustrate my story. I have found that my time at Vassar cannot be contained or summed in one incident. There have been so many different Vassar moments; whether it’s walking through the quad to Joss in the Fall and just feeling overwhelmed with the beauty of it all, swiping a family into the Deece, crying over how many labs you have in a week as a science major, or walking home at three a.m. from your research because it’s actually fun and an incredibly rewarding feeling to make progress on something on the edge of knowledge. A parallel that emerges when contemplating research and college is the ever elusive point of success. We never reach the point where we are 100% in control and confident in our life, there are constant new challenges and insecurities to trip us. Doesn’t it feel like you’re running up a hill on a treadmill? You can see the top and you’re running, but at you best you make some progress and at your worst you regress. Every few years you shed your skin for a new one, but that also means you’re growing. The world is growing. You can think of it this way, you’re not on a treadmill, the mountain is actually growing and you are moving with it. So seniors, we are constantly growing and gaining new challenges. Vassar, you too though it seems like your challenges repeat, Vassar today is different from Vassar four years ago (gender neutral bathrooms!).  Anyways Vassar, this is my good-bye. I have grown I have made friends and family here and abroad who will come with me on all my future journeys. I’m more dazzling because of you Vassar, and you’re more amazing because of me. Much love, your graduate.

—Ann Nguyen is the outgoing President of the South Commons and co-chair of the Finance committee. Barring extreme circumstances, Ann will be at the University of Cambridge next year getting her Masters of Philosophy in Engineering.

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