Phil Hession ’15
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Phil Hession ’15
Freshman Year: 2011-2012
Disclaimer: This copycat faux biography — modeled after one our Commencement speaker David Brooks wrote many, many years ago — is unoriginal and possibly professionally reckless, but what do you expect from a youngster like me? These days we aren’t taught to think for ourselves.
My mom visited me halfway through my junior summer, and we brought books and magazines down to the Connecticut River for the afternoon. I fell asleep looking at the lazy current, clouds collecting above, and I woke up dazed, drained. The air was thick and groggy. Thunder rolled in soon after, about a half an hour before we were to drive to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for dinner. The car’s wheels skidded across the highway several times, and I gripped the car door and my mom’s hand, trying to see through a wet dashboard from the back seat. I couldn’t — and I held my breath — but we made it in time to slather butter on hot bread as the last drops fell. When the sun came up the next morning, the air felt cleaner. I felt like I could think more slowly, carefully.
From a young age we are taught to distinguish between right and wrong. I’m not talking about in the moral sense, but rather the notion that there is a correct way of doing or experiencing particular things. For example, preschool-aged Carla was taught not to put gum in that girl’s hair and that she should always say thank you to the school bus driver. As I check off the final items on my senior bucket list, I can’t help but wonder — did I have the “right” Dartmouth Experience?
This weekend the great Class of 1965 celebrates its 50th Reunion. The Commencement ceremony held in the Leverone Fieldhouse on that rainy Sunday in June of 1965 was the beginning of our voyage as alumni into the adult world of military service, employment, graduate school and many other sorts of adventures, including a contingent who paddled and photographed their way around seas and rivers of the world.
As thousands of green and white chairs begin to cover the Green, members of the Class of 2015 begin to reflect on their four years at the College and prepare themselves for the world outside of Hanover. As the old adage says, each student at the College will have their own Dartmouth experience before their graduation. There are, however, events that undoubtedly affected the lives of almost every student on campus — from national attention coming after the “Rolling Stone” article detailing alleged fraternity hazing to a protest of the Dimensions of Dartmouth show and a sit-in at the President’s Office.
At this year’s Commencement ceremony, the College will award honorary degrees to seven experts in fields ranging from geochemistry to fashion.
The 2015 senior class gift campaign has raised $20,143.30 in contributions from the graduating class, senior class gift co-chair Zachary Nelson ’15 said. While official donation and participation numbers were not finalized by press time, 54 percent of the Class of 2015 had contributed to the gift as of Wednesday. This marks a continued decrease in percentage participation from previous years.
From beginning graduate school to entering the workforce, this upcoming year will be one of change for members of the Class of 2015. For the handful of seniors who were named Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars earlier this year, it will be a year of unprecedented opportunity.
Graduating the College with perfect transcripts, four students — Catherine Baker ’15, David Bessel ’15, Abhishek Parajuli ’15 and Talia Shoshany ’15 — have been named valedictorians. Each has maintained a 4.0 grade point average through their time at Dartmouth.
It’s easy to get swept up in remembering the beginnings and ends of things. The nostalgia of Trips and the seemingly grand significance of right now — what may feel like an end to some and a beginning to others but is probably something of both. But, in between that first step on the Green to the last step off that stage, what will you remember once you are no longer at this College on the Hill?
Caela Murphy — Arts editor
Some 20,000 years ago, the Laurentide Ice Sheet began to melt, gradually thawing and retreating, inching up and up and up, at some point shaping the very valley we inhabit. I won’t purport to understand this process better than my B+ in “Marine Geology” suggests. But walking down Gold Coast under a blushing sky, sun slipping west beyond Vermont, or running through Pine Park, or crossing Ledyard Bridge, I often think of this icy ebb and flow, wishing I could better read the glacial striations and grooves carved into this land, better understand the soil on which I stand. I’m lucky to be part of a landscape that prompts me to zoom out like this. A landscape laden with Abenaki history, mining booms and busts, destruction and rebirth. I relish these lessons in geopoetry — some sudden, others taking the form of long, solitary runs.
A few weeks ago, in one of my few forays into the wilderness since my Hiking 1 trip freshman year, I spent the night with a group of friends at the Class of 1966 Lodge, also known as Harris Cabin. As we laughed through rounds of Taboo and “yum-yummed” the remainder of what must have been an industrial-sized block of Cabot cheese, the daylight receded, bringing with it the serene darkness and the distant, unknown living sounds characteristic of a forest at night. We staked out our sleeping locations, a few others and I opting for the cool air of the balcony overlooking the clearing.
There was a moment my freshman fall — standing on the snow-covered Green, wearing drenched sneakers and a crayon costume (yes, it snowed on Halloween) and surrounded by hundreds of my similarly elated classmates — when I declared in an uncharacteristic display of sappiness that I loved Dartmouth.
It is easy to lie about who you are, both to yourself and others. Most freshmen enter college with very few people who truly know them — and, of course, many barely know themselves. This makes it easy to take on a new identity — many consider the ability to reinvent yourself to be one of the most positive aspects of entering this new stage in life. Unfortunately, this reinvention often comes at the cost of important aspects of one’s personality and can change the core of a person.
During our time here, we watch as the strangers we are thrown together with in this remote place become our closest friends — and sometimes, as they become strangers again. We meet people from across the world we never would have met otherwise, and, if we’re lucky or if we ask, we get to hear their stories. Yet this is all too rare.
Whenever I’m asked to discuss my favorite part of Dartmouth, I always end up talking about the friends and mentors that I’ve been lucky enough to meet. But when I sat down to write this column, I found myself thinking about places that have defined my time here. I first recalled a moment during my initial visit to campus. My dad and I were listening to our tour guide, and I remember imagining myself lounging on the Green, FoCo cookie in hand, after a morning in the biology class that my tour guide described.
Flashback to Wednesday, March 30, 2011 — college acceptance letter day for the Class of 2015 and the day I found out I was accepted to Dartmouth (contrary to popular belief, I did not apply early decision). It was about 9:45 at night. I had just finished playing a lacrosse game in a hailstorm that left me cold, wet and tired. I got into my parents’ car and checked my email, and after sorting through emails from various other schools, I finally came to one from Dartmouth. I got the news I wanted, but it was bittersweet. My parents then told me that my grandfather had just been readmitted to the hospital.