Senior Retrospective: Zach Rippe

I learned a lot at Vassar. Perhaps that’s a pretty bland way to kick things off as I start this retrospective in typical Vassar fashion (aka last minute). Whatever. I work best under pressure.

As simple as it sounds, that’s really what everything really comes back to. Whether we’re taking an incredible class, an incredibly underwhelming class, cursing the administration and picking apart the systemic faults of this crazy College, arguing with our friends, blah, blah, blah, we are learning things. Over the course of our four years here, we have constantly been challenged to think and learn in ways that make us feel angry, frustrated, insecure and at times hopeless. But that’s what’s so great about a place like Vassar. It provides us the tools and opportunity to think critically and defiantly to the best of our abilities.

After school, people may ask me what my favorite class was and how it changed me. Sure I could answer that question. But for me it’s always been more about everything else; the experiences I’ve had, the way I’ve shaped my view of the world, and most importantly, the people I’ve surrounded myself with. That is by far my favorite part of Vassar: the people.

It’s not just that everyone I’ve met here is insanely smart, because they are. But it’s the type of passionate, caring, interesting, weird individual that is drawn to this place that keeps it going. Sure, I’ll remember the classes I took. But I’ll also remember the first day of school when I wanted to hang out with my new neighbor but was so awkward that I instead asked if he could help me set up my Xbox because I didn’t know how. I’ll remember the late nights sitting at the bench on top of the hill at the Alumni house talking about things that seemed important at the time. I’ll remember dollar beer nights, midnight movie premiers at the mall, riding bikes in the middle of the night, sitting out on the picnic table under our tree, blasting “See You Again” and drinking Coronas. I’ll remember all of the head-trips my friends and I gave each other and the three layers of irony we’d throw onto every conversation as we laughed about how ridiculous we all were. I mean, we call our house “Blockbuster Total Access.” Oh, and you can definitely be sure that I’ll remember tons of other things that I am not at liberty to discuss in this silly little piece.

I, someone who incessantly apologizes and is afraid to hurt a fly, played four years of rugby and smashed countless amounts of kids my age into the dirt. That’s not to say the same didn’t happen to me twice as often. We were gifted with brilliant, caring coaches who not only taught my friends and I a sport we knew literally nothing about and actually got our scrawny little butts to win a bunch of games, but also cared deeply about us as people. As much as I loved giving myself scrapes and bruises, it was just as much the bus rides singing “Country Roads” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the awkward (and not so awkward) TH parties that always gave us plenty of stories, the trips to Spain and Trinidad and Tobago, and again, the special people I was lucky enough to meet and bond with that kept me going back.

Vassar taught me to surround myself with good people who cared about me just as much as I cared about them. Obviously there will be bad eggs. But there’s never any harm in putting yourself out there and showing that you care. After my sophomore year, I had good friends. But I hadn’t really branched out at all. I was petrified to go abroad and meet new people. These were “cool” Vassar people that I definitely would never get along with. Obviously I was wrong.

I wrote for The Miscellany News all four years here and got to say pretty much whatever the heck I wanted (as long as it had to do with sports). When I took over as sports editor after coming back from abroad, I had no idea I would again meet even more amazing people who have continued to shape my college experience, even as I sit here rushing to finish what will most definitely be my last piece ever for the Misc.

Sure I’ve “made connections.” I got myself a degree and a job, again partially due to the many wonderful people I’ve met during my time here. But much more important than those things is the fact that I feel ready for the next stage of my life. Obviously I’m not. But who really is? I guess we’re all just going to dive in.

Vassar taught me to keep my head up, put on a smile whenever I could muster it, and most importantly, be the best person I can be. It taught me to appreciate things I thought I couldn’t stand and let others’ enthusiasm and passion for what they love fuel my own. I don’t ever like to take things too seriously. Perhaps that’s still a major fault. But amidst all of my hard work, my slacking and over-analyzing, my adventurous but indecisive tendencies that affect my relationships and life decisions, I’ve realized that most things in life can be pretty hilarious.

We’ve all experienced tremendous highs and lows in every facet of our lives while here. It’s a weird time. But I guess it’s always a “weird time” in some sense of the phrase. I’m more than ready to be done with Vassar. It is by no means a perfect place. In fact, it is far from it. I think that most, if not all of us know that. But I’m happy and thankful, because in many ways, Vassar can really be special. The relationships I’ve forged here mean more to me than very few other things in my life (hi mom and dad!). So yes, I’ve learned a lot. I hope to carry these memories, experiences and people with me for as long as I possibly can, because frankly, I’m really going to miss this. All of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *