One in Two Thousand: Rosa Kirk-Davidoff ’21

Rebecca Tauber

Rebecca Tauber/The Williams Record

Each week, we randomly select a unix from a list of all current students at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature. As long as the owner of a selected unix is willing to be interviewed and is not a member of the Record board, that person becomes the subject of our interview. This week the computer (using a script in R) chose Rosa Kirk-Davidoff ’21, who discussed her favorite tree, what type of lycopod she is and Facebook fame. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

So, you’re a senior. You’ve been here for three years. Do you have a particularly wild memory that comes to mind from your first three years at Williams?

So one thing that sitting in this spot reminds me of … you can’t see it anymore because it’s been very concealed, but there used to be a tree there … like a big maple tree, a Norway maple. … So I would always be back here behind the library, so that I would walk past that tree over there, the Norway maple, which I realized had these dark spots on its leaves, and I looked it up and it was a fungus, and I used to actually even know the name of the fungus because I thought it was an interesting one, so I guess this tree had this fungus, and that’s why they decided to cut it down … So I got in the habit of sitting on that stump because it was a really nice stump to sit on … so one evening … I was just sitting, you know, looking at my phone. And this guy walks up to me … and he turns and he says, “Do you like sitting on that stump?” And I was like, “Yeah, I guess so.” He was like, “Yeah, I mean, I wonder sometimes, if we had more places to sit like that, maybe more chairs should look like stumps.” And I was like, “Yeah, OK.” … and he was like, “You know, I think the tree feels your love.” … But then I was asking him like, “Oh, like, Are you a student here?” And he said, “No. I’m just a visitor.” And then he said, “You know, it’s hard sometimes just always feeling like you’re a visitor everywhere.” … And then he walked away and drove his car away. And I never saw him again. And then I like texted my friends, I was like, “Guys, like I was just sitting on the stump and like this guy came up and we had this like, really deep conversation about like, being a stranger and the tree feeling my love” and they were like, “Rosa, you just met Jesus.” But then sophomore spring, they ground up the stump and covered it with grass. So I even wrote an email to the head of landscaping or whatever. I was like, “Hi, I just wanted to know why that stump got ground up.” … They said that that’s a very routine thing.

What’s your favorite tree? 

Sophomore spring, I took a class, an art class called Material Issues with Professor [of Art Pallavi] Sen. Our first assignment was to write a manifesto, about anything, and I had a lot of trouble. I was like, I don’t know if there’s anything that I totally believe 100 percent and I also think other people should believe. But I eventually settled on, everybody needs a tree, which was based on a children’s book that I had called Everybody Needs a Rock. So I had this whole speech, and I led the class on this little walk down here, from the art building. I was explaining it, and how getting to know a tree gives us perspective because trees live for so long, and various things. And, you know, if you really sit then you’ll also get to know the other animals that interact with the tree … So I was like, okay, I want to pick a tree when I go to college … And so I learned about [Eastern] cottonwoods. A couple of interesting things about them: One, they’re very resilient, they grow on riverbanks and so they get chewed down a lot by beavers and stuff, but they can grow back like twice as much the next year. Two, they have this kind of cool thing where the leaves flap a lot … But the main thing is that because they grow near riverbanks, they often sprout after a river floods, and so it’s like something good coming out of something bad, which I kind of like. And also, I wanted a deciduous tree and I wanted something unusual, not just like a maple because everyone likes maples. 

So, on a different note, I was trying to figure out how we first met, and I couldn’t remember. And then I realized, did you post in the Class of 2021 Facebook group a lot before freshman year?

Oh no. [Laughs.] It’s gone down a lot now, but freshman year, it was like, “Oh, you’re Rosa from the group chat.” 

Do you feel like this haunts your legacy at Williams?

I feel like now people have mostly forgotten that, but once in a while — now I’m living with Onyeka [Obi ’21] this year, who was also big on the 2021 group chat — and once in a while, we’ll just be like, “Remember when we were the queens of the group chat.” … I was like, “I can’t wait to go to college. This is so great. I’m gonna have so many friends. I love this.” And then I got here and it had totally inflated my expectations. They weren’t actually my friends. 

And do you feel like when people met you, they were like, “Oh, you’re Rosa from the Facebook group?”

Yeah, and actually my good friend Sophie [Torres ’21] had this whole story of like, one time I had turned down an idea that she had had in the group chat and I didn’t even remember it. But she was like, “Rosa bullied me” [Laughs.] … I revealed so much about myself … I would be like, “Guys, I’m at a party for the first time.” I don’t regret it because it made me so happy at the time. But it definitely gave me an inflated expectation.

Do you have any good social media stories from quarantine?

I’m in this ecology memes page that I really enjoy on Facebook. And I was taking Field Botany this spring, which really deepened my appreciation for trees. And we were learning about lycopods, which are these really cool, they’re like the step between mosses and ferns. So they’re sort of like big mosses. You see them a lot in Hopkins forest, actually. But I made a quiz that was “What lycopod are you?” … The first question was “What’s your quarantine activity?” … “What’s in the back of your freezer?” “Favorite type of socks?” … And then it told you which lycopod you are.

So which lycopod are you and why?

Well, so I got myself Princess Pine, which is Dendrolycopodium obscurum, because that’s sort of like the cute pretty one. [Laughs.] And they grow a lot in old pastures, so I thought sort of an animal lover. That’s what I ended up with. And then there was one that was sort of like the goofy one. One was sort of just weird, and one was, like, the leader like the big guy, which was — what’s it called — a Lepidodendron, which is the prehistoric huge lycopods that were the size of trees. Anyway, … like 2000 people took this quiz … So this was my little bit of fame during quarantine — that 2000 people took my lycopod quiz… People were obsessed with it. People were like, “This is the most accurate personality quiz I’ve taken.”

Do you feel like fame has changed you?

No. But I think I’ve sort of figured out like, the hack of Facebook groups, which is, it’s so much easier to become popular in a Facebook group because you post something, and you can gear it towards the people who will see it.

So you’re like a Facebook popular girl? What other niche Facebook groups are you a member of?

Yeah, that’s true. It’s followed me since freshman year. It started, like, senior year of high school with the “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented [Teens].” That’s a big one. It’s like anyone who’s into public transportation or cities, but now it’s just trains. I’m in a forestry one, which I joined last summer when I was doing forestry fieldwork. They don’t post in there very much, but they’re all actual foresters … and I was in some of these ones that are just silly. There’s one called “That Mason Jar is Unnecessary” …  I’m in a map one that I really like … I love maps. My parents always told me map was my first word, and then at dinner this summer, they were like, “Oh, actually, it was ‘meow.’” …  I don’t know, I guess I just like, you know, the world. And so then a map sort of like, contains it.

Editor’s Note: Rosa would like to emphasize that Rosa and Onyeka are now friends.