The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the summer edition of Vassar, the Alumnae/i Quarterly.
WHAT MAKES FOUR YEARS? Vassar may be just one campus, but there are as many journeys through it as there are Vassar students and alumnae/i. What are the classes, extracurricular activities, off-campus adventures, humbling moments, career-altering professors, and life-changing experiences that somehow all come together over four years to make a Vassar career? How does college make us who we are? How does it all correlate?
We asked three graduating seniors to tell us a little bit about what they’ve been up to here in Poughkeepsie and elsewhere since they arrived in fall 2004.
Here are their responses.
Molly Finkelstein ’08
Major: English; Correlate: Classics: Ancient Societies
Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Some extracurrics: The Misc, English Majors Committee, editor-in-chief of the Vassarion, Helicon contributor, Dutchess County Historical Society intern
How have you changed since you entered as a freshman? When I first started school, I fully intended to have a correlate in math. I wanted to be the only person with an English major and a math minor. It was only through a few scheduling flukes that I ended up with one in classics instead. It ended up working out pretty well, though.
A transformative Vassar experience: This actually occurred when I left Vassar and went JYA. I got to make the connection that the things I study in Poughkeepsie actually exist outside of the classroom. I went to basically every museum in western Europe. Before I went abroad, I never really thought about any of these places as modern. It was quite the learning experience to see how the cities have changed.
A favorite class: In English 281: The Medium of Print and the History of Books with Ron Patkus and Robert DeMaria, we got to utilize Vassar’s rare book and manuscript collection. We also learned how to make paper and went on a field trip to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.
Molly’s advice for the incoming class of 2012: Don’t spend too much time on facebook.com. Take Art 105-106, you will not regret it. Also, probably most of what you do your freshman year will be a mistake, but it’s best not to worry about that.
What’s next? I’m attending the Columbia Publishing Course in New York over the summer, and then hopefully I’ll have a job in the city.
Aaron Naar ’08
Double Major: Hispanic Studies (HISP), Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS)
Hometown: Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Some extracurrics: Vassar Filmmakers, intramural basketball, Poughkeepsie High School Spanish tutor
How have you changed since you entered as a freshman? I came in thinking I was going to study studio art and English and play on the tennis team. Instead, I study LALS and HISP and make films in my free time. I knew that I would do film projects no matter what, but I also realized that I would probably get a whole lot more out of a book like A Cultural History of Cacao if I read it with some solid academic guidance. As a result, I decided to spend my class time outside of the Film Department.
Physically, I broke the majority of the bones in my face sophomore year when I fell off a volcano while in Guatemala, and now my face is predominantly made of titanium. A minor change, I guess.
A significant Vassar experience: While studying JYA in Bolivia, I took a visual anthropology class where I created a documentary about the Bolivian village Puñaca Tintamaria, one of the oldest, poorest, and most overlooked villages in Latin America. I was one of the few North Americans ever allowed into this remote community and the first to make a documentary record of the village through an interview with the village elder. This experience sealed my desire to be a filmmaker. And I got credit for it!
Aaron’s advice for the incoming class of 2012: Take as many seminars as you can; ask a professor you like to supervise an independent study; join an intramural team; create your own VSA organization.
What’s next? I am going to be putting together a production studio for my company — Shoot the Sky Productions — in Brooklyn, New York, with some other Vassar grads.
Nicole Savage ’08
Major: Urban Studies
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Some extracurrics: Black Student Union, Council of Black Seniors, Council for Alumnae/i-Student Advancement, Family Partnership Center job coach
A transformative Vassar experience: Working as the AAVC intern, where I hired, trained, and managed 100 students to staff reunion. This was the first time I had to bear that much work and responsibility in addition to my academic work and extracurricular activities.
Some Vassar firsts: I had the opportunity to travel outside the country, doing JYA and taking an international studies course. It was also my first time traveling without my family. I also learned to operate a spotlight and light board for the Black Students Union’s “Souls with Voices” show.
Nicole’s advice for the incoming class of 2012: Truly enjoy these four years. Take as many random classes that you are interested in. Also, find a good balance between school work and your personal life.
What’s next? Working as an Exploring Transfer Program counselor this summer. I’m also currently in the interview process for the Destination Fellowship in Philadelphia and applying for jobs at nonprofits and social service agencies in Philadelphia.