Friday was the last day of class, the last day of college. I finished off with “PSCI 215: Race and Inequality in the American City” with Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies and Political Science Mason B. Williams. He went above and beyond with online learning to make sure we were all getting adequate professor time; he split us up into small groups and spent significantly more time video calling with us than he would have had to for in-person classes. The class was inspiring, thoughtful, painful, progressive — one of the best I’ve taken. We are all so grateful to Professor Williams for making the time to support us as he did during online learning, and for just being a wonderful educator in general.
“Race and Inequality in the American City” was also my last in-person class back in March. When Professor Williams asked the four seniors in the class how we wanted to spend our last class ever, I lost it and broke down crying. I think the underclass students in the class were some mix of shocked, embarrassed and sympathetic.
The last day of class is just one of many “lasts” that should mark a conclusion to our years at Williams. The weather was beautiful in New Jersey today; I wanted to walk out of Griffin Hall at 3:50 into that charming Williamstown spring with a proud sense of accomplishment. We did it.
Classes at Williams are a roller coaster, for sure: I could be crying at 2 a.m., totally lost and overwhelmed by work and then incredibly excited and engaged at 2 p.m. that same day. It’s all part of the charm, though: We work so hard because our classes are so, so rewarding. I feel like I’m graduating leaps and bounds beyond where I was four years ago. I feel smarter, more conscientious, more thoughtful, more passionate and more prepared to take on the world.
Sophomore year during Winter Study, I took a course about happiness. One homework assignment we had was to write down three things that had made us happy that day, and one thing we felt grateful for. I’ve kept up the practice since then, and now I have three journals brimming with happy Williams memories. I’m glad I have this written record of the best of it. Maybe I’ll look through it tomorrow. I’m still scared to lose memories of the tiniest things that make Williams what it is, though. I’m scared of forgetting memories, scared Williams will forget me too.
I want one last day jam packed with classes, frenzied pre-finals and waving to all the friendly faces on the way to the library. I want one more 6 a.m. morning at Tunnel, kicking myself for staying up with friends and not doing my work the night before. I want one more lunch at “Chapin Beach,” a sunset behind the Clark, watching the beautiful mountains turn from green to purple, even being stuck in Sawyer and eyeing the sunny afternoon blooming right outside the window. One more Goodrich bagel, one more Driscoll dinner, one more field hockey game. I know these are shallow requests considering what the world is handling right now; thank you to the first responders among us and sending extra strength and hope for change to the most vulnerable.
I still feel sad today, though. I wish I could share joy with my classmates at Mt. Hope, walk across the stage and throw our caps together, applaud those most accomplished students who address us and toast the class of 2020. To celebrate those among us who are first generation, those who struggled the whole way through, those who are going on to do a whole lot of cool stuff or nothing at all quite yet. Graduation and these next few weeks are a celebration of all we have done — all the joys and all the struggles.
People keep saying that Williams will be with us forever, and that Ephs are an incredibly supportive group of alumni. That may be, but I don’t really feel ready for this stage of Eph-hood yet. I’m feeling a little lost without the final cumulation of these years.
Mostly, I want to say thank you. I’m hoping that my love is apparent here. Thank you for those bustling spring days, but also for the brutal winter winds that bite you straight through all the layers. Thank you for bringing together all the faces that make this community what it is. All the dining hall and facilities staff that make campus a home. Every niche all around campus that gives each student a different welcome. All the friends we’ve made, the laughing and crying moments we’ve shared. Thank you for classes and professors that have changed my mind and my life. Thank you for teaching me so much, and for pushing me down but lifting me right back up. Thank you for giving me so much to love and to pour myself into.
Thank you, Williams. You’ve given me the most meaningful four years. I could not have expected any of it, and I wouldn’t trade this slice of purple for anything. I am better for your trials and joys, and I won’t forget you any time soon. I’m grateful always.
Emma Ticknor ‘20
Emma Ticknor ’20 is an American studies and environmental studies major from Madison, N.J.