Senior Retrospective: Fiona Chen

And with this, I can check “write for The Miscellany News” off my bucket list.

I’m sure that by the time this issue is published, however, there will be plenty of items I failed to accomplish from said bucket list. After all, there is only so much time during Senior Week and so many challenging decisions to make (AM or PM Booze Cruise?). What I do know from my four years of attending this esteemed institution is that, regardless of the choices I make, I always end up regretting what I did not do, rather than what I did during my time here.

So let’s talk a little bit about what I did do here.

I lived in Strong House. My fellow group lived in the Strong 2nd floor North hallway, but we met on the MPR balcony. Everyone was a little too nauseatingly friendly, so I made it a point to shoot my new “mandatory friends” with Nerf darts on Friday afternoons. When not being bombarded with small foam darts, we bonded over movies, baked goods, and our mutual yearning to destroy all the other houses for the Brewer House Cup (we did). My roommate was an international student from India who thought I was snooty because I said I would share my mini fridge with her (I thought I was being nice). I would tell you all about how our relationship has evolved since then, but she would probably give me the sideeye and call me disgustingly sentimental, so I won’t. But here’s to us, Richa Gautam, for getting out of that tiny room that they eventually turned into an electrical closet.

Strong House meant a lot to me. Sometimes we had a bad reputation, as cited by our Serenading cover of Neon Tree’s “Everybody Talks”: “rumor has it that we don’t go out (but we got out of the kitchen!)” But those rumors are unsubstantiated. After all, I went out A LOT… as a member of Vassar College Emergency Medical Services. VCEMS is an organization to which I devoted a majority of both my waking and sleeping hours. York Chen (no relation) convinced me to take this little interdepartmental course where we learned how to “catch babies” and “package people for transport.” INTD150/151 is where I learned just how much a committed group of students could contribute to the wellbeing of their peers. It also meant I attended a ton of parties uninvited. So here’s a huge shoutout to Farah Aziz, York Chen, and Ronald Yu for spending four hours every Tuesday and Thursday of freshman year in a little room in Olmsted where we only received two half-credits for our time. It was thanks to those credits that this year, I could serve as the Captain of VCEMS, which to this day remains my crowning achievement (I hope I haven’t peaked in college). To my (eme)sister Renata Mukai, and flawless human beings, Maggie Ginoza, Nick Page, and Mark Derasmo, I could not have served without you and your hemorrhage, diaphoresis, and lacrimation.

Speaking of bodily fluids, I am (hopefully) graduating with a major in Biology. I did manage to submit my thesis, all about proteomics in Tetrahymena thermophila, which is now my least favorite protozoa in the domain Eukaryota. While T. thermophila may have lost the award for most beloved model organism, Professor J. William Straus without a doubt deserves the award for most beloved research advisor. Thank you so much for all the conversations we’ve shared: I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much about proteolytic enzymes without you. I think that it is also important to mention that the Biology Department faculty contains some of the most intelligent mentors I could have possibly asked for: Dr. Kennell, Dr. Collins, and Dr. Proudfoot, thank you for teaching me how to be a mad (good) scientist.

Madness reigns supreme at Rabies House, the Terrace Apartment I currently call home. My housemates, Cady Cirbes, Cari Goldfine, Richa Gautam, and Rachel Messbauer, have done an incredible job of keeping me well fed and well rested. There’s nothing like coming home to more baked goods than a single human being should ever consume in a single sitting. Thank you all for weathering all those fire alarms with me: I am truly sorry for all the time lost because I could not boil water properly. I’ll know better for the future. But really, I’ve learned so much from our co-habitation, and I will always hold that little Old Norse proverb close to my bosom.

And… the last thing I will cross off my Vassar College bucket list is “graduating with the Class of 2016.” I feel truly #blessed to be receiving a degree alongside all of you as a part of the 152nd Commencement. I didn’t have the chance to meet all of you, so consider this my Vassar Missed to those I did not get to know. Go into the real word, beautiful people, and I will see you all again soon at our five year reunion, where surely, we will finally meet Meryl Streep.

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