Senior Retrospective: Palak Patel

I’ve thought about writing a senior retrospective ever since my sophomore year. I’ve written this retrospective a million times in the past two years, thinking and rethinking the different ways that I could reflect back on my four years at Vassar. Recently, though, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realized that it is absolutely impossible to try to encapsulate every aspect of my Vassar career in under 1000 words.

I remember when I first came to Vassar as a freshman. My parents had come with me from Wyoming to visit a few months earlier after I had already paid the deposit. Walking around Vassar in June when the campus is almost completely empty and then coming back at the end of August for freshman orientation are two completely different experiences. It was jarring to drive through Main Gate and to meet my roommate in person, as well as my fellow group. Those first few weeks were difficult, the adjustment is hard and I remember telling myself that this had to work out. I was not going to be the type of person who left college without really trying.

Then I joined the Misc. I had little newspaper experience, but for some reason they liked my design work and kept asking me if I wanted to come back. My first semester with the Misc consisted of about an hour of work on Sunday or Monday night, and then ripping through the paper on Thursday to see what had changed. My role was so small, and I remember trying to figure out a way to start writing so I could have my name in a byline.

When I first joined the Misc I never thought I would become an editor. I thought I was going to lay out some of the paper, maybe one day write an article or two. I was so happy when they asked me to apply for Design Editor, and then ecstatic when I was voted in.

Sophomore year was the year that I fell in love with the Misc, and with Vassar. Now I had a place that I belonged, a group of friends who were always there for me. I’ve learned a lot at Vassar, and I’ve loved most of my classes here. But my favorite memories are almost all from spending time with Misc staff members. Everyone was so kind and caring; they were funny and smart. When life was difficult, they were always there. Even at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday night when all of the computers were broken and we all had class in the morning.

Ever since sophomore year I’ve invested so much of my life at Vassar to the newspaper. Many of my non-Misc friends didn’t get it, and many of them still don’t understand my undying commitment to the Misc. It didn’t matter to me, though. I had a group of like-minded people on campus to commiserate with when life was difficult. I could always count on the newspaper to come out on Thursday.

I gave the Misc my soul when I was voted in as Editor-in-Chief second semester junior year. People said it was going to be difficult, and they were sugarcoating it. Never have I been so challenged. Never have I slept so little. Never have I doubted my abilities more or cried so much. Never have I loved my work at Vassar more than the three semesters I was Editor-in-Chief of The Miscellany News. So much of my identity at Vassar is wrapped up in the work I’ve done for this newspaper, and I’m so proud of everything I’ve done with it, not only for myself, but also for all of the other members of the newspaper. You all mean the world to me, and I love each of you dearly. The thought of leaving the Misc is daunting, but I know I’m leaving it in extremely capable hands.

I’m sad to be leaving Vassar now. But I’m also so ready to move on to a different part of my life. Senior year has been hard. Between an extremely heavy course load, writing a thesis for Religion, being Editor-in-Chief of the Misc and reviving the Vassar Review, I’ve learned that we are really only meant to stay at Vassar for a finite amount of time. I’ve learned how to fight for what I believe in, not only in the classroom but also in my everyday life. Vassar has taught me persistence and resilience. It has taught me that sometimes friends aren’t meant to be around forever. Sometimes we need to let things, and people, go. As much as I love the security of Vassar, it’s now time for me to let it go. I’ve left my mark here, done the work I needed to do. I’ve made a difference in the lives of my fellow students.

I want to thank everyone at the Misc, past, present and future, for everything you’ve taught me. Thank you for working with me, respecting me, loving me, and allowing me to lead a good number of you. Thank you to the Vassar Review, and my best friend there who trusted me enough to let me join him on a whim. It’s been a difficult year for us both, but we know that we’ve started something that will last for years to come. Thank you to the English and Religion Departments for giving me the tools I need to continue my education next year and into the future. And thank you Vassar for believing in me. Vassar isn’t perfect, but the people here are doing so much work to make it better. I’ve done my part for now. It’s time for me to let you go.

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