1 in 2000

Though I like to think that I know most people in my class after three years at the College, meeting Nneka Dennie ’13 – an 18-year-old junior – reminded me that there are still a lot of awesome people out there whom I’ve yet to befriend.

In Paresky on Saturday afternoon right after her Sanfoka rehearsal, Dennie and I discussed entry life, pajamas, the art of pranking and making the most of her young age. 


So you are coming from Sankofa rehearsal. What sparked your interest in stepping?


It was a complete accident actually. It was during my first-year orientation [through] Bridges. One of the Bridges leaders was on Sankofa, and part of the project was to do a Sankofa workshop. They taught everyone a step, and it was a lot of fun so I decided to try out. I was convinced I didn’t get in, and then I saw the [acceptance] e-mail and was like, “Yay!”


For me, that coordination would be really complicated.


That’s what a lot of people think, but if you can keep a rhythm, it’s pretty easy.


That might be a struggle nonetheless for me. Anyway, I hear that you are a Junior Advisor (JA) this year. 


I am! I’m the JA of Pratt 4 and my co is Charlie Sellars [’13]. It’s been an awesome experience.


And I also hear you are the same age as your frosh. 


[Laughs] Yeah, that is true. I skipped kindergarten and fifth grade, so I’m younger than the vast majority of juniors and sophomores here. My birthday is this weekend actually! I’ll be turning 19.


Has your age ever caused any weird dynamics in the entry?

It hasn’t. My co and I actually tried to play a prank on them closer to the beginning of the year and there was a period of time for maybe a week or two where we kept up a lot of confusion about how old I actually was. The guesses ranged from 17 to 22, I think. For some reason, none of them just flat out asked me for my ID, which I thought was pretty funny. We kept [the confusion] up for a while. I’d say that about 75 percent of my frosh are older than I am.


That’s pretty impressive. Were you just too cool for kindergarten?


I don’t really know. I think I was able to read and count or do things like that at a first-grade level already by the time I entered kindergarten. So after a week or so, my parents did some magic that somehow got me into first grade. Then at the beginning of fifth grade, I was ahead of everything they would be doing for the year. So once again, I skipped a grade and jumped to sixth grade after a few weeks.


Has your age ever made you uncomfortable at the College?


It’s something that a lot of people think might be uncomfortable, but because this is essentially the same age group of people that I’ve grown up with, it hasn’t been an issue in any way at all. I think a large part of it probably had to do with the fact that I come from a small town where people already know each other, and I was playing soccer with a higher age division, so I knew most of the people I would be going to school with anyway.


How small of a town are we talking about?


It’s definitely bigger than Williamstown, but it is also in a rural area. My town is Leonardtown, Md., and it’s a suburban part of a generally rural area. My family is from the Caribbean country St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but I was born and raised here in the United States. Fun fact: Pirates of the Caribbean was shot in my country. But here in the United States, my home is about an hour and a half south of Washington, D.C., and on the way [there] it will gradually become less like D.C. and more like farms and cows and everything. And then surprise! There’s suburbia.


So you are accustomed to seeing cows pretty frequently. 


I would say there is a cow within at least five minutes from my house.


Has your entry pulled any pranks this year?


For the month of January, we had a prank war going on in my entry. I think my favorite was when we woke up one morning and everything was flipped upside down. There was a lot of confusion about who [did it], since we didn’t think any one of us would actually flip over our own common room. And when I say everything, I mean not only the furniture but also all the posters in the room, the map, all of the pins, everything was upside down. It was definitely creative. Apparently some girls woke up at 4 a.m. and flipped everything in the common room and then went back to bed after an hour or so.


That’s insane! Did the common room ever get turned back rightside up?


The furniture did. I think our map and all of our posters are still upside down though. We flipped back over the essentials. The television, the couches, that stuff is all back right-side up. We had a Christmas tree too that was turned upside down. That’s now gone. They were really intense with it.


Glad to hear that. You also have Sellars as your co, who wore his JA shirt forever. Was that ever too gross?


Oh, not at all! We encouraged him to wash his shirts a lot. We would even wash them for him sometimes. It was pretty entertaining just to see him try and do all of these things that he wouldn’t like to do in his JA shirt but that he still wore it anyway. We broke into his room, and we stole all of his other shirts. We left him a note saying, “Dear Charlie, We left you because you don’t wear us enough. Love, Your Shirts.” It took dedication. I definitely copped out [in the contest] way before him.


When did you stop wearing your JA shirt?


Probably after the first week of classes.


And you live in Mission, so it must be nice never to have to leave that building. As a Frosh Quad kid, I didn’t have that experience.


Yes! And I love pajamas. I’m actually wearing them right now. So being able to go downstairs for meals in my pajamas and come right back up and get back into bed or into my common room is ideal.


So you just went to rehearsal in your pajamas?!


Yes. I have on my nice polka dotted pajama pants under these sweats right now.


I assume you’ll be going right back to bed after this then. 


I’ll probably do some homework, but it will still happen in pajamas.


Sounds like a fantastic plan. Any final words of advice for the younger ones – or not so much younger ones – at the College? Perhaps something about pajamas?


I’d say do what makes you happy, and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.


Do you really embarrass yourself that often?


On a daily basis. I’m just a huge goofball, and it’s not uncommon for me to be fooling around in front of people I don’t know at all and being in my own world with friends. And I’ll be wearing my pajamas while doing it.

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