The Dartmouth Bucket List

by Lauren Vespoli | 11/1/12 11:00pm

Last weekend, there was a lot of self-imposed pressure on seniors to make the most of their last Homecoming as undergraduates to go out every night and have loads of fun, all while looking good in green the next day and attending every tailgate and sports game. Or maybe I'm projecting the pressure I felt to do it all, which I ended up failing to do when I somehow managed to nap through the football game.

There were a few things I felt I could do for the last time as an undergraduate at Homecoming that would not be OK as a young alum, including running a final lap around the bonfire though after reading the weekend's campus blotter, apparently alums still sexile undergrads from their own rooms. Call it lame, call it sappy, call it hazing myself, but I was sentimental, and I wanted to do it.

And I saw other '13s out there being sentimental too, or rather using the loophole in the new hazing policy to welcome the freshmen on their respective sports teams.

So, with one of my very best friends at Dartmouth and roommate of three years by my side, I took another lap around the bonfire, laughing the whole way. Now, we've reached the point in this column where I could launch into some deep reflection about how I ran around the bonfire three years removed from my freshman self and thought about how much I had grown and changed from the timid 18-year-old Lauren who wore the same '13 jersey I had again donned out of nostalgia.

However, I don't want to bore you with tales of my personal growth. My primary observations were: "It's hot!" and "Pipe down, '13s," as I heard and saw a few of my peers boo the fact that as a senior, I decided to join in on this first-year rite of passage.

After the lap, I ran into my mother by the fire truck. She is a Dartmouth alumna and a member of the second four-year class of women. She loves Dartmouth and uses any excuse she can to return back to the College. Her continued passion for Dartmouth, I think, is largely what has made me so sentimental about senior year.

She has helped me realize that though I'm at Dartmouth for only four years, I could spend the rest of my life thinking back on my student years. In her day, running around the Homecoming bonfire was not a tradition because there was a bonfire for every home football game. One of her alumna friends joked that she should run a lap with her daughter, and she laughed, clearly embarrassed by the proposal.

But I convinced her to do it, despite her protests that she was too old and her fear of being seen by someone she knew. I grabbed her hand, and she, my friend, my friend's father (who was also an alumnus) and I took a lap together. Now you might be thinking, "Wow, Lauren is lamer than I could have imagined, hanging out with her mom at her senior year bonfire!"

To that, all I can say is that my mom is awesome. While at Dartmouth, she was one of only a few women in the hardest chemistry classes and went on to be a chemical engineer. She worked in Thayer Dining Hall scraping food off of used plates until her manager heard she was good at math and promoted her to managing the payroll. She skied, played field hockey and eventually joined the women's rowing team her junior year, a sport she went on to pursue at a national and international level.

I was not embarrassed, but rather proud to partake in this tradition as a daughter of an original Daughter of Dartmouth.