Senior Retrospective: Simon Patané

These past four years at Vassar have been, to say the least, unexpected. Looking back, there have been painful moments and struggles complimented by some of the best times of my life. At Vassar I have realized the cushions that propped me up and propagated some of the most traumatizing facets of society. I have been insulated from the worst failures of this institution by this privilege and I have seen many friends, both student and faculty, face the full violence of these failures. Now, through the looking glass, these moments speed past like the receding blur of the world outside the highway that will take me back to my first home. I thought I would avoid saying this, but time flies. Leaving Vassar, one treasure that will always be with me is a learned appreciation for time. Time is only as valuable as the ways you chose to inhabit its tenuous, wispy paths. Here I have been gifted the company of companions who have made my fleeting time here all the richer. This reflection is for you. If for some reason I forget to mention it to you before we depart campus, you are all such beautiful and amazing individuals. To those amongst you who I don’t mention by name, and you know who you are, I will never forget the times we shared. I make a point of allowing myself no regrets, but today, I have one. I regret that I haven’t reached out sooner to all you, the incredibly strong, supportive people who I have had the privilege of knowing. If you told me four years ago that I would find myself helping plan events and participating in the labor of love that is, or attempts to be, a community, I would have laughed. To the inspiring and kind friends who I met while on Jewett’s House Team, thank-you for your friendship and unwavering care. You are all pillars of a family that pulled together something special for me and so many others and these efforts, especially with the chaos that can be communal living, often go unspoken and undervalued. I’d like to give a huge thanks to a few people in particular. Clayton, Ben, Tewa, and Calvin: you are superstars. To Batia, Terry, and Kelly: wow, I could never do your jobs, you are unbelievable! And, of course, to Evelyn, Brooke, and Briana: so much love. One of my greatest fears about life after Vassar is getting corralled into science and losing the amazing company of the family with whom I have shared in the joys of creative writing and spoken word at Vassar. My words cannot do justice to the empowering and welcoming fortitude germinated in my freshmen year and the beautiful community that has flourished in the wake. Wordsmiths is an unbelievable collective and friendly space that, although not immune from the ups and downs of Vassar, is remarkable in its capacity to merge creativity with friendship. To the absolutely wonderful and talented crew I was with this semester as part of Senior Creative Writing, I will never forget the strength and so

lace of easy laughter and silences shared amongst friends. We made something simply fantastic and to Michael, thank-you. I owe an immense debt to another community, my friends in political science who welcomed me without reservation. Our conversations and experiences have shown me an entirely different side of campus that I would have missed in these fleeting kaleidoscopic moments we call years. As I see it, in my understanding, I will be hard pressed to find another community so entirely constituted by kindness, insight, criticality, and a willingness to listen, and one that allows me to listen and live, as much as you all have. To Sahara, Elijah, Lillian, and Henry, I hope you enjoyed these times as much as I have and wish you all the best of luck. To those of you who helped enrich physics and astronomy in and outside of the classroom, thank-you for your patience and guidance. There is something indescribable and daunting about taking on physics and astronomy at an intellectual level. From the sleepless nights and hours in and outside Sanders, frozen nights at the observatory, uncountable hours at computers and wrangling our minds into problem sets, the real education fell far outside the problem sets and exams that constitute science education. To a good friend of mine in particular, Professor Krusberg, your wisdom and teaching will stick with me forever. It was an absolute privilege to both learn and meditate under your guidance. You will be missed, but I am sure your journey onwards to Yale will be infinitely rewarding. To the wonderful people who have, in particular, made this final semester a real and meaningful last hoorah, your friendship is difficult if not impossible to qualify within the limits of this retrospective. A huge shout out to Jake, Marcos, Zach, Delaney, Alma, Deep, Sarah, Teddy, Katie, Ben, Brooke, Mark, Bobbie, Yasmeen, Saul, Henry, Rose, Leo, Ramy and Steph for being the amazing people you are. Finally, for those amongst you, past and present, who organize with and help sustain the solidarity that is Students for Justice in Palestine, I am humbled by your friendship, tenacity and love. No journey is ever without its stumbling and coughing fits of infancy, but you have all reinvigorated my conviction in the simple ways that people call and make each others’ company a force for awareness and solidarity. To those at this college that make it their mission to extend oppression and vilify justice and solidarity, you will learn quickly what it means to swim against a tide of compassion and a justice that no knows no limits.

—Simon Patané is a physics and astronomy major with a correlate in political science. After Vassar he will be pursuing a Master’s in Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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