Remarks by Deborah Steinberg '13, VSA President, Fall Convocation, September 11, 2013

Good afternoon, Vassar.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to the Class of 2017 on their move-in day. I tried to provide them with advice for how to approach their first year at college. I’m not really sure I’m the most qualified to give this advice, but there I was anyways, reminding them to take advantage of all of Vassar’s incredible opportunities. In the weeks since, I realized that this advice doesn’t just apply to freshmen; it applies to all of us, regardless of how long we have been here. In fact, many of the things I learned in my first few weeks at Vassar are still some of the most valuable life lessons I have learned to this date. So I have written a poem, that I would like to present to you today.

It is called:

“All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Freshman Year”:
But Sometimes We Forget So I’m Going to Remind You Now

All I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be - I learned in freshman year.

These are the things I learned:

  • Don’t plagiarize. The original version of this poem is actually by Robert Fulghum and it is actually about kindergarten. If you haven’t read it, you should do so as soon as you leave here, or pull it up on your phones if you get bored.
  • Make new friends. You’re never too old to meet someone new.
  • Pour your own drinks, and clean up your own mess.
  • Whenisgoods will never work, so stop trying. If you send me one, I will not fill it out, and I will not join your org.
  • No one ever regrets a shower.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours. Especially the silverware at the deece, because then they run out and people get upset.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Go wherever they are serving free food.
  • Serve free food if you want people to come to your event.
  • Recycle.
  • Always go to office hours.
  • Wash your hands before you eat, or at least that weird Purell thing.
  • It’s ok to disagree, but be respectful.
  • It’s ok to change your mind, that’s the best way to know that you still have one.
  • Go to study breaks. If nothing else, for the free food.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • When your friends need to talk to you, put away your cell phone, and listen.
  • Don’t wait until you’re out of clothes to do laundry.
  • Choose your battles - and the annoying kid in the front row, is not your battle.
  • Warm cake, made by your student fellow on your birthday, doesn’t count as calories.
  • Live a balanced life – study art and English and a foreign language and a lab science and history and music and economics and environmental studies and women’s studies and all of the other studies ever.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Nothing good ever happens after 2am, especially in the Mug, so just go to bed.
  • Don’t walk and text at the same time.
  • When you go out in the THs, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Be aware of wonder. When you hear about something that excites you, go to the library and learn everything there is to know about it. And then write your thesis on it.
  • Try new things, because it’s still ok to be bad at them. You have other skills. And this is our time to explore.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, a senior, or a tenured professor. Vassar is our home, and we should always make the most out of it. Have a great year.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, September 17, 2013