Seniors use week to reflect, party, prepare for post-graduation

by Kelsey Blodget | 6/10/06 5:00am

The Class of 2006 will never have to take a midterm, a final or hand in a problem set at Dartmouth again. And for many, senior week will be the time to celebrate that fact, to relax and to spend time at Dartmouth that is not scheduled or stressed.

"I guess I'm basically just going to hang out with other guys in my frat, try to play some tennis, just enjoy not working," John Timmer '06 said.

For many, the week preceding graduation will also be a time for goodbyes with friends and for one last college hurrah before facing the real world.

Jessica Alvarez '06 plans to spend time with her friends from freshman year, she said. The group rented one of the Dartmouth Outing Club's cabins Tuesday evening, where Alvarez said they planned to bring a keg, share photos and to barbecue together.

"[We're going to] talk about the last four years. Be together for the last time maybe ever all in one place," she said.

Alvarez said it first struck her she would be graduating while she was standing in the lobby of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity during Spring term.

"My freshman year roommate asked me 'What happened, where did the past four years go?'" Alvarez said. "We were tearing up, even some guys."

The fact that he would be graduating hit Timmer during fraternity bequests at Zeta Psi fraternity, a tradition in which senior members of Greek houses hand down items to younger members.

"Giving things away, it really drives it home that you're leaving," Timmer said. "You're giving away part of yourself, it's kind of crazy."

Other seniors will opt not to spend the days before graduation in college nostalgia, but will instead embrace the adult lives of their futures.

James Barkley '06 said he will be busy with DDS catering every day during senior week except for Sunday, the day of Commencement.

"I want to work. This is what I do," Barkley said. He conceded he would squeeze in a game of beer pong or two, but said that "things have gotten really serious" for him lately in terms of new responsibilities.

"It's time to slow down, it's time to start making that transition from frat guy to serious adult," said Barkley, who is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Kristen Wong '06 will get a head start on her transition to post-collegiate life by traveling to Hawaii during senior week. She will not be vacationing, but instead will look for an apartment. Wong will work for two years as a special needs teacher for children on Oahu's impoverished Leeward coast through the Teach for America program, which places recent college graduates in underprivileged public schools across the country.

Although Wong originally said she was "kind of stressing about missing senior week and making those final connections before everyone scatters to the wind," she decided her friendships were strong enough that missing senior week ultimately would not matter.

"I'm going out there because I figure senior week is just a time when everyone gets really drunk, and sad, and sits around and cries, and I didn't think I wanted to do that," Wong said.

Wong conceded that with most members of her class taking jobs in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., she is "a little nervous about what it's going to be like to be away from everybody."

Many seniors approach their new lives with similar emotions, according to Wong.

"Part of you is terrified that you're not going to be able to do it. And part of you is really really excited that it's going to be the greatest thing ever," Wong said.

Jonathan Vaccaro '06 also began to face his future responsibilities when he was inducted into the officer corps of the military June 10 at the DOC House on Occum Pond.

"It's bigger than graduation for me," Vaccaro said.

Seniors Brad Walcott and Jason Hartwig were inducted along with Vaccaro and will serve as armored cavalry officers. Vaccaro will serve in civil affairs and military intelligence.

The three planned to go on a fishing trip together Tuesday, and Vaccaro said it would be "the last time we'll probably see each other in a long time."

"For us we really feel we share a friendship that's different than a friendship that anyone else experiences. We really share a bond," Vaccaro said. "You don't have a lot of people you can talk to about what it's going to feel like getting deployed, what it's going to be like in Iraq."

After five months of additional training the three men will join their respective units, and when their units are deployed, they will go to Iraq. Vaccaro said they have no idea at this point how soon that will be, but noted that some officers are deployed as early as sixth months after their college graduations.

"I think we're looking forward to the responsibility," Vaccaro said.

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