Vassar’s class of 2021 prepares (or doesn’t) for graduation

Brynn Gauthier ’21 in Unbound Theater’s production of Eurydice in Nov. 2017. Courtesy of Brynn Gauthier ’21.

Warning: Seniors Beware! The following article might trigger a number of responses, of which include, but are not limited to: crying, primal screaming and parasomnia (exploding head syndrome). It focuses on one question …the dreaded question that inevitably sneaks its way into the brain of every college senior as graduation approaches: What now?

I reached out to a number of seniors to talk about their post-graduation plans, goals and feelings. In true second-semester-senior-year fashion, less than half were able to provide coherent answers, and the majority experienced some form of screaming and hair pulling.

While some responded to the aforementioned question with a waterfall of tears, a blank stare of utter confusion, a look of horror on their face or a combination of all three, some had a different perspective, one full of excitement and hope. 

Brynn Gauthier ’21 is excited for her life after graduation to begin. “It gives me something to look forward to, a reminder that there will be more life outside of Vassar, that there is so much more,” she noted. Gauthier is undeniably ready to grow up and out and to spread her wings beyond the chapel gates. A Drama major with a Creative Writing Correlate, she was recently accepted into the Graduate Acting program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, a stepping stone to her lifelong dream of acting and writing with friends. To reach these goals, Gauthier plans on continuing to work hard and trusting her voice. Most importantly, she will be sure to stay “curious and open and plucky,” she adds. While becoming an actress and a writer is high up on her list of priorities, the most important place she’d like to see herself in five years is simply close to the people she loves. 

Gauthier describes her time at Vassar as formative and intimate. She affirmed, “It held so much gravity, but was also very funny and quietly ridiculous.” She attributed her years at Vassar to being a catalyst for change and personal growth. “I loved being overly thoughtful here with other overly thoughtful people. We dealt in so many extremes: in awe and inured, believing in everything and nothing. I changed a lot here, in ways I both embrace and am trying to shake,” she commented.

As for what she will miss most about her Poughkeepsie pad, Gauthier lists: living close to friends, walks home at night, the library, the Metro North, Vassar’s insane tulip budget and Sanders Classroom. In terms of advice she would give to current students, her list is a long one, ranging from a helpful heads-up about the importance of making copies of bike keys to reminders that second chances are everywhere and to embrace the freedom college brings. 

Simone Rembert ’21 will surely be embracing her post-college freedom the second she walks off the stage on Commencement Hill this summer. A Film major who declared on the last day before finals sophomore year,  Rembert plans to move out to Los Angeles as soon as possible. However, when prompted about her plans further, she could not offer much more detail. “I wish I could, but I don’t have a job, apartment or even a plane ticket yet,” she admitted. While she has had the occasional second thoughts about her hazy plans, she is fairly certain the West Coast is for her. “I need a change of scenery and I need the sun,” she noted. Rembert’s plan for achieving her dream of becoming a multi-hyphenate Hollywood celebrity is clear: “Working hard, kissing a**, staying sharp. Most importantly, being talented and beautiful,” she stated.  

Looking ahead to the coming months, Rembert, like Gauthier, is itching to leave. “I am ready to grow up and out. Vassar started feeling very small and I started feeling very itchy,” Gauthier admitted. While Rembert is thankful for everything the past four years have given her, which have been a lot of sleepless nights, silly sunshine-filled days and revelations, she recognizes that her time to explore what the rest of the world has to offer is quickly approaching. 

Julia Noonan ’21, an American Studies major, is of the same sentiment as Gauthier and Rembert. “I’m glad the semester is extending further into June so that we get to enjoy the weather. But, when graduation comes, it’ll be time to go,” she explained. After graduation, Noonan is moving back home to continue working for the West Robins Oyster Company, an oyster farm where she worked last May. “Since farming bivalves is one of the only ways to produce protein that has a net positive effect on the environment, I feel very good to be part of this work,” she added. Noonan will miss, above all, living next door to all her friends and the library. 

Rembert, like most seniors in their second semester, has also started to reminisce about what she will miss once she leaves the Vassar bubble. A number of Vassar favorites will always hold a special place in her heart of which include: the THs, 112 and 114 in particular, the rotting wood smell in Joss and drunken fights outside the Chance theater during opening week. 

While Gauthier and Noonan are ready to face the world outside the Vassar bubble head on, seniors like Rembert are still figuring out their place in the world beyond 124 Raymond Avenue. Different approaches to post-graduation plans, however, are much more accepted in today’s  uncertain COVID-19 world than in previous years, according to Gauthier. “Everyone feels a little less certain about the future and so I think people are more forgiving in terms of the pressure placed on having really solid post-graduation plans,” she asserted. Hopefully, every member of the Vassar Class of 2021 will be released into the world sometime this summer. Whether they like it or not, a new chapter is opening for over 600 students whose official titles within the Vassar community will change from students to alumnae/i in a matter of months.

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