House pride is a very important aspect of Vassar’s culture, and it begins right as one moves into their dorm. Residential Life (ResLife) events are times where this pride is expressed through community bonding. Posters for these events are plastered around each nook and cranny of the residence halls, and students—especially first-years—are encouraged to attend. A few weeks prior to the Cushing Carnival, I ran into one of these posters. Having come back from the Loeb and being a short walk away from Josselyn House, I just knew I had to attend.
Cushing House Advisor Bianca Keesler was the organizing force behind the Cushing Carnival. Keesler acts as a liaison between ResLife and Cushing House, offering support to both students and House Team members alike. Speaking on her role as a House Advisor, Keesler notes, “My biggest, and most favorite, role is that of a support person. If someone is going through a rough time, needs advice or misses their pets and just wants to hang out with my cats, I’m happy to be there.” She advised the House Team committees preparing for the event and brought in the voices of other Cushing residents. The mission statement of ResLife is to provide students of all walks of life in the residential community with a safe space to live and activities that complement academics. The Cushing Carnival was one of the ways these goals were achieved.
One cannot forget the invaluable efforts and dedication of the Cushing House Team that made this event possible. “House Team worked extremely hard to put it all together, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Keesler expressed. Cushing House Vice President Madeline Galian ’25 played a vital role in the planning of the Cushing Carnival. “The planning process actually took all year,” she explained. “All of [the] Cushing House Team was involved… [and lots] of effort and creativity went into planning this event.” Galian joined House Team because the coziness of Cushing House really spoke to her. Before long, she knew that she wanted to contribute to the community and plan fun events: “[Cushing is] such a beautiful house with so many great people and I’m so thrilled that the carnival was so successful!”
Irene Kim ’26 was happy to try something new at the Cushing Carnival. “My favorite moment was playing in the big, clear, inflatable bubble that you can go inside and roll around in,” she described. “I’ve always wanted to try out one of those, and [I’m glad] I was finally able to!” Galian thought the event was a great way to let loose and share special memories with friends. “My favorite moment at the Cushing Carnival was definitely seeing my bestie Jude Borromeo (Treasurer of Cushing) get dunked!” she recalled. Being a passionate animal lover, I was especially happy to have had the opportunity to pet a kangaroo and pet baby chicks. The Cushing Carnival truly achieved its purpose of bringing the Vassar community together.
Beyond the Cushing Carnival, there exists community building fostered by the Student Fellows of each house. Arily Velasco ’25 is a Student Fellow in Cushing House and can attest to the community building from her experiences., “I applied to be a Student Fellow because I wanted to foster a closer relationship with first-year students to [create] a home away from home, just like my Student Fellow did for me,” Velasco explained. “Cushing is the best [dorm] on campus because we welcome everyone and make them feel part of the family.” Student Fellow Finley Greene ’25 shared similar sentiments, stating, “I was inspired to become a Student Fellow by the kindness of last year’s House Team and a desire to create a more welcoming environment for first-year students.”
Neil Kotru Gode ’26 is a prospective Cushing Student Fellow for the 2023-2024 year. As an international student from India, he was apprehensive about the transition process into an American college as a foreigner but found solace in his Student Fellow, who he called a big sibling of sorts. Gode has many hopes for the 2023-2024 academic year, especially in his role as a mentor for first-year students. “Above all else, I hope to be as effective in aiding the orientation and transition of my fellowees as possible,” he said. “If I can succeed at that while also being involved in House Team… I’ll know I achieved what I hoped to do as a Student Fellow.”
The Cushing Carnival has had an uplifting effect on the morale of Vassar students, creating a more close-knit community. Greene is glad that ResLife has been able to help students relax: “It’s easy to forget how important it is to keep playing… I hope that the carnival brought people together from different houses and gave everyone a chance to laugh and de-stress.” Cushing House pride has also grown stronger, as shown by Gode’s enthusiasm: “Cushing’s chant is absolutely spot-on because we are indeed good-looking, and we do indeed keep pushing. Cush Crew forever!” In support of students studying for their upcoming finals, Keesler has some encouraging words: “Cushing! Cushing! We keep pushing! Push on through finals, and enjoy the summer!”