Families from around the country and the world flew in to watch their beloved Class of 2023 seniors graduate in Vassar’s 159th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Speaking to the graduates is Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, daughter of Beatrix McCleary Hamburg ’44, the first self-identified Black woman to attend and graduate from Vassar College.
Before seniors walked the stage, the Senior Class Council (SCC) organized the annual “Senior Week,” in which the Class of ’23 celebrated its final days on Vassar’s campus with a formal, a winery tour, one last late night at the Deece, laser tag and a number of other activities leading up to Commencement on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
There are many things that the students are looking forward to during their last week on campus. Taylor Gee ’23, SCC Secretary, said, “SCC has tried a lot of new ideas this year. We put on Vassar’s first ever silent disco and created the Vassar Womp Womp dessert with help of our class. This year’s Senior Week is special because we exchanged the Booze Cruise for a bottomless brunch at Savona’s. People might be more accustomed to the Booze Cruise which gave attendees a beer and a ride in a rowboat. The brunch and unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s will be a lot more fun!”
According to a written statement by Taylor Gee ’23, SCC Secretary, “Senior Class Council shares responsibility for planning Senior Week: the types of events that we put on, when they occur, and executing those plans. I keep us organized by taking a lot of notes. For example, when we did a site visit to the Grandview I was writing down the capacity limit, how the cocktail hour would work, etc.”
Shannon Bender ’23, the SCC Treasurer, said she has been working with the rest of the Council members to manage the budget with suppliers and vendors. She explained, “While all of us on Senior Class Council have some defined responsibilities based on our roles, we really all work together to figure out the specific events we put on as well as the nuances of each event.”
Last year, Commencement reinvited parents and families to campus following the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions. According to Dennis Macheska, Associate Dean of the College for Campus Activities, “Commencement will feel like many commencements felt prior to COVID—in recent years we were required to modify Commencement due to COVID. Returning to how Commencement traditionally occurred, without COVID modifications, is something to celebrate. In addition, this year, we are offering a larger affinity reception celebrating all affinity ceremonies on Saturday; we also moved the reception following the Commencement ceremony to Noyes Circle.”
But Senior Week has many graduates looking forward to life beyond Vassar. Bender added, “Senior Week is a Vassar tradition that celebrates seniors and everything they have accomplished during their time here.” She continued, “Vassar graduates end up all over the world so Senior Week might be the last time many of us will be able to see our friends in-person for a while, and our class in particular has had a challenging college experience, with most of our years at Vassar being affected by COVID-19, so I think having some time to spend with each other without any worries about classes and things like that is extra meaningful for our class.”
Bender expressed excitement for the other events planned: “Senior formal is the first and biggest event of Senior Week. We are also offering a visit to Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, a bottomless brunch at Savona’s Trattoria and laser tag right on campus. I am also looking forward to Last Late Night since there will be grilled cheese.” She added, “This is the first year senior week includes a bottomless brunch at Savona’s Trattoria.”
President Elizabeth Bradley made sure to note the accomplishments of the Class of 2023. She remarked, “Every class is unique at Vassar in its own way; this is the class that spent the most Vassar time in COVID and really set the tone and carried the College safely to today. So we honor them, we thank them, and wish them well, reminding them—Vassar for a lifetime!”
Gee ended her regards by saying, “The goal of Senior Week is a time of revelry and celebration. To anyone in the Class of 2023: Congratulations! I’m so proud of us.”