Senior Retrospective: Joshua Sherman

In almost any essay, short story, or news story I’ve ever written, it’s always been really hard for me to begin the ending. This right here is an ending, of course. I’m ending my college career after four years of living and working on this campus, and it’s hard to try and compile everything into a single feeling, thought, idea, or emotion. I’m ending my career as a fouryear editor and columnist to The Misc. I’m ending an extensive rivalry with our amazing food service provider Aramark. I’m ending this phase of life that, according to a lot of people I talk to, condenses into the “best” or “most important” years of my life.

And I chose those four years to be at Vassar: A quaint, strange campus full of geniuses 90 minutes north of New York City. I came in thinking about a pre-law track, a solid setup for law school, and ended up declaring as an English major before my first year was out. I learned what “womp womps” are. I wrote a hypertext novel. I interned in our Financial Aid Office and worked on stuff i’d never get to do anywhere else. I got a chance to intern in our library for our summer before heading off to some other, amazing places. I ate (a lot) of Vassar Devils. I complained (a lot) about the condition of Raymond Hall. I learned (a lot) of things I don’t think I’d get a chance to learn at any of the other schools I considered as this pre-college former self: a weird 17-year old on Long Island who really wasn’t all that qualified to be deciding what collegiate institution to attend for the next four years. I also remember making a lot of posts on Facebook and that apparently becoming “Facebook Famous” over the summer is a thing.

And now, after getting an e-mail from The Misc, I’m being asked to condense down and reflect on those four years. Give a few people some shout outs, share some wise words and be on my merry way. This is being handed out at commencement, so I’m sure there’s quite a few curious parents glossing over this, or trying to use it to shield themselves from the rain, depending on the weather. I really hope it’s the former.

So, with that all on my mind, I guess I should start talking about what I worked on and all the friends I made in that time. I started writing a column for The Misc the first week in, thinking it was the one thing I knew I wanted to do during my time here, and then doing a whole lot of other stuff too during my four years. I worked as an Opinions Editor for three semesters, in between heading off to London and see what it’s like learning in a room with 200 other students for a change. I have a lot of friends I’ve gotten to know from The Misc over these years, such as Lane, my mentor, Jean Luc, Chris, Zach, Palak, Noble, and Rhys, spending way too many hours in a tiny floor on the third floor of the College Center, enduring a paper with too few reporters and too many pages to fill.

And meanwhile, some of my best friends, like Ramy, decided to go into the chaos that is our student government. Somehow I ended up tagging along, getting to work on very important, insane, why-are-students-allowedto-do-this sort of stuff, like our annual budget of $900,000 and help support the creation of a student vending machine of essential products. And one day I hope someone doing work for the VSA or college historian notices this article and renames the vending machine, if it’s still around, in my honor. I also got to work on this sort of stuff with amazing friends like Ruby, Lauren, Kaden, Apoorva, and all of the Senior Class Council.

I got to learn amazing things from folks like Professors Antelyes, Wallace, Joyce, Hsu, Kumar, DeMaria, Armborst, and probably too many others to count. I got to live with amazing housemates and neighbors, who also beared with living under my domain as the South Commons President, and asked very nicely for shout-outs: Hannah, Jenna, Josh, Phe, Liz, and Sarah.

Vassar was swell, but it’s also great to be taking all I learned from and grown through in these four years and start something else in an entirely different place. There’s an immense feeling of freedom knowing, as you go through college, it’s both an extremely valuable place to be in, but also a simultaneously ephemeral space that I get to eventually leave behind too. I don’t know if this was the “best” or “most important” place to be in my entire life, I still have a lot of that “entire life” to get through, but I’m very grateful for having the chance to stick around and make friends, learn a lot, and having a (mostly) good time. But I have no words of wisdom to share or Hamilton song lyrics to relate to like some other retrospectives may share about their time at Vassar. It isn’t like college is some kind of transcendental experience. Instead it’s mostly just a chance to drink, make mistakes, and get a chance to prove your willingness to care about something a lot and (hopefully) become a caring human being. Maybe that’s what the $60,000-a-year, “highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college in the Hudson Valley” thing is all about. But overall: A++ would Vassar again.

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