Senior Retrospective: Sarah Oliver

I absolutely love being nostalgic. It’s actually my favorite pastime. I’m that person who asks everyone about their fellow groups and freshman roommates. I love reminiscing about the first time I met my best friends, the first classes I took, or the first time I changed my mind about what I want to do in life. As I conclude my four incredible years at Vassar, I’m honored to share my immense nostalgia with you. My freshman year fellow group is amazing. It all started with a bag of Skittles in the hallway of Noyes 2 East and chatting with the other half of the hall on Noyes Circle. Soon we were playing Bananagrams and Apples to Apples, making French toast at midnight with stolen Deece bread, “bowling” in the hallway, and cooking homemade dinners when it was someone’s birthday. My hallmates were my family that year and I’m so grateful to them for helping me feel comfortable away from my own family. My first Vassar Haiti Project event was a “stretching party,” where we didn’t do yoga but instead stretched Haitian artwork. It was the first weekend of the school year and, as an international student, I’d received an email from Andrew Meade inviting me. I went to check it out and promptly stayed in the CCMPR for probably 4 hours until someone decided they’d had enough and ordered pizza. A few months later, I applied to go on the annual trip to Haiti on a whim. To my surprise, I was accepted and embarked on the most defining journey of my college experience. Launched into a world of questioning development and renegotiating identity across cultures, I discovered my passion for medicine and anthropology. Flash forward four years, three trips to Haiti, 20 art sales, and a million meetings, VHP still provides a home for me to question, while being supported by the most intelligent and caring people I know. My first FWA show was “She Loves Me.” I was cast in the ensemble, a “shop girl” with no spoken lines, although I did sing quite a bit. I made my very best friends rehearsing choreography in Rocky, learning music with the out-of-tune piano in CC237, doing hair in 1940s fashion, and painting the Shiva floor. After such a “Positive” experience in “Legally Blonde,” I decided to try out the other side of theater and do production. I signed on as Dramaturg/Assistant Stage Manager for “RENT” and realized that research is really fun. Whether WebMDing serious medical jargon for “Next to Normal” or scouring Playbill.com for playbills, I couldn’t get enough. FWA has provided me with limitless fun, in the form of excessive amounts of pink, dance breaks, 1:00 am Shiva checks/production meetings complete with vending machine

food, temporary tattoos, talkbacks, and really long excel spreadsheets of in-show references. My first EMS shift was uneventful. It was a Thursday night. I got one call around 7:00 am for a slight stomachache and the patient ultimately decided to go to Baldwin when it opened. My last EMS shift was Seven Deadly Sins, quite the opposite of a quiet Thursday. I’ll never forget those late nights and early mornings, sitting in the EMS Office, filling out PCRs, and checking equipment. The first time I saw the names of my fellowees I was haphazardly checking my email, procrastinating studying for my summer EMT class. I got so excited and immediately started drafting my first email. I spent hours on it, even asking them their favorite colors so I could make incredible door signs for their new homes in Strong. I got one response. However, when I met these 12 wonderful women in August, I remembered all the fears and nerves of being a freshman in college. Between fellow group brunches and friendship drama, Serenading and stressing about classes, breakdowns and birthday door decorations, I realized that being a good Student Fellow is less about favorite colors and more about being there when you need to be, through good times and bad. My second year on Strong House Team was definitely more challenging than the first. Being House Student Advisor and balancing junior year was a lot to handle. One of my best friends went abroad, campus climate issues were bursting at the seams, and Organic Chemistry was just so freaking hard! I looked forward to weekly Student Fellow meetings, a truly safe space. My favorite moments were the times that all seven of us would sit in my room and just chat over tea and cookies, where it would be unclear of who was student fellowing who. Now here I am, an almost Vassar graduate, about to embark on so many more firsts, with so much nostalgia for Vassar memories ahead of me. I’m sure I’ll ask my future friends about favorite classes so that I can relive my obsession with the Vassar Anthropology Department. I’ll ask about their college roommates, just as an excuse to brag about SLAJJ and the memories we’ve made together. I’ll ask about volunteering, theater, crazy parties, and freshman year memories. And I’ll probably cry. Because really that’s what it’s all about. Moving on, but always looking back on the people and the moments that made you who are you.

—Sarah Oliver is a premed Anthropology Major. She was involved in FWA, EMS, Strong House Team, and Vassar Haiti Project.

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