TTLG: Full Circle
Veronica Winham ’22 reflects on the final moments of her time at Dartmouth that have brought her back to the beginning.
Over the past four years, I’ve had to come up with a lot of fun facts; everything from the first day of classes to icebreakers at meetings seems to require one. I used to gauge how “fun” the facts were of the people who went before me, before I offered up my own to match their level of perceived effort. Now, I land on the safe middle ground of “I was born at DHMC.”
Given that I’m from Hawaii, people are shocked to find out I was born a mere 2.6 miles from campus. The reaction is always the same: “Wow! You’ve come full circle.”
There have been a lot of full circle moments in my Dartmouth career — returning to the place I was born for college was only the first.
I remember getting into Dartmouth and running into my dad’s office to tell him. He was in the middle of a meeting and I interrupted it to yell the news to him. It was one of the greatest days of my life — or, I used to tell people that. Every day I’ve been here has only surpassed it.
Right after I got into Dartmouth I wrote a pros and cons list. Two of my cons about Dartmouth were Greek life and “being outside in the middle of nowhere” — specifically, the First-Year Trips program. Despite not applying to any schools there, I had really wanted to move to New York City.
On my first concern: I was proven so so so wrong, thank goodness. Rushing was one of the best decisions I have ever made, even if I went through the process kicking and screaming. I met my best friends in my house — people I have traveled with, lived with, cried with and will be close with for the rest of life. If you had told high school Veronica, or even college freshman Veronica, that she would not only rush, but also love it, she would not have believed you.
On my second concern: again, obviously, so wrong. My first real Dartmouth experience was on Trips, and I remember being stressed about sleeping in the woods, the prospect of being eaten alive by mosquitoes and losing my Snapchat streaks. However, it ended up being such a fun week that I knew on that very Trip, I wanted to be a Trips leader myself. When I finally got the chance to lead, I was paired with amazing co-leaders that I am now inseparable from. It was the most fun week I have had at Dartmouth, and I attribute that to pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and making myself look like an idiot so that the ’25s would feel comfortable. It made me more extroverted and empathetic and confident, but also allowed me to remember my favorite things about Dartmouth: being silly with incredible people. It was the perfect way to start my senior year.
In a lot of ways, I have not deviated from my original sentiments. I am wary of Greek life and a lot of what the system upholds. And I’m moving to New York City in a few weeks, after all. But being a member of a Greek house and being a Trips leader are two of the absolute joys of my life, and those experiences will always be incredibly special to me. I consider my 180 on these subjects to be full-circle moments of their own.
I’m a member of the women’s cross country and track teams, so I’ve gotten to experience several of our own team traditions. I can’t give away too much detail, as some of these traditions are secrets that I can’t spoil for any future Lone Pine Ladies, but each year, we have a “team wedding.” As I write this, the wedding is coming up, and this year, I get to be the groom. I remember being a freshman at the team wedding; time flies. I have been running for 16 years, and there were a lot of times when I questioned staying on the team amidst canceled seasons and painful injuries. But my heart has always wanted to run more than my body, and I am so grateful I stayed. There were times where it was not easy, but now, as I ask around for a suit to wear to my wedding, I could not imagine not being a member of the team.
My time at Dartmouth has not all been easy. There has certainly been a fair share of adversity in addition to the running-related setbacks. But when I look back, I am going to remember dancing to “Mr. Brightside” in a frat basement, going to Harvard to watch a football game and spending sophomore summer and junior summer in Hanover, coupled with memories of dressing up for formals and concerts, meeting presidential candidates and the hours spent in line at King Arthur Flour (RIP Little KAF).
In addition to Trips, some of my favorite moments have been spent outside. Stand-up paddling and canoeing on the river, picnics on the docks and laying on the Green is how I have been spending senior spring. And, of course, so many woccoms. Occom is the most significant place on campus to me; there was a quarter where I didn’t miss a day walking there. Rain, shine, negative 13 degrees, someone texts me they want to walk and talk and I am there, skipping any and all obligations.
To the ’25s — you have another three years here. And for that, I am so jealous of you. Enjoy it and be open to everything that will come your way, good or bad. In my experience, it leads to the sweetest full circle moments.