By Anakin Jackson
Farewell Vanguard. I understand it to be my role that as the parting senior of my publication, it’s my duty to impart some everlasting, undying wisdom or a quirky little story wrapped in metaphor about how that “coffee latte literally saved my life,” or how it really was the friends we made along the way. Instead, I will betray this and tell you that for most of you college will not be what you expect, hope, or dream. Like many things in your life, it will just be.
My first semester at Brooklyn College was quite lonely if I am being honest. I found myself in a new place and struggling to make new friends due to my own arrogance and ignorance. I vividly remember calling my mother in tears two weeks into my first semester, telling her that I had to leave, not because I was alone or sad but because I was convinced I wouldn’t learn anything in college.
I told her I must leave and I must leave today because I am just spinning my wheels in these classes and surely, certainly, no professor could actually know what was going to be valuable. I began to hatch a plan to write my way out of college (however unrealistic, I was willing to delude myself into thinking it was possible, despite my lack of knowledge). I wrote a pilot script for a show I titled “Development Hell,” which followed a character essentially modeled after myself moving to New York City, disregarding college, and pursuing his dream of filmmaking.
Thinking I had it all together enough to leave and do this was my first lesson: I made a deal with my mom that I would finish the semester, get the credits, and reassess around Christmas. Needless to say, I landed around then without a solid exit plan and with the stress of seeing my peers and being afraid of being a failed drop-out, I decided to commit to the entire year. I had proven to myself that I, in fact, couldn’t make a plan to write myself out.
In March 2020, we all know what happened, and being afforded two years to rediscover and reconnect with myself proved valuable. Despite the devastation of the pandemic, I honestly cannot say that I would be before you, pending my final exams, a college graduate.
I found myself in the Vanguard community at the end of spring of my freshman year. I landed as the layout editor for the Vanguard. While my experience at Brooklyn College wasn’t traditional, I believe I have a few pieces of parting advice:
- Just do something. There’s no pride in being removed or detached from community. Community is essential; it motivates us to do well, be inventive, and most of all, care. Without a community, it’s a lot harder to create meaning in watching reruns of 30 Rock.
- People are usually understanding. If you do find yourself with a group of people you call friends, coworkers, or fellow club members and you get in a disagreement or fight, take a beat, explain yourself and circle back. Yes, it’ll require time and space, but more often than not, if those people are meant to be around you they will be. This, however, is sometimes less effective with professors.
- Get your work done ahead of time. This is a skill I still need to work on. I need to feel the heat of a deadline which is why I’m writing this on my phone on an LIRR ride back to Brooklyn the day the paper is due. As of writing this, I have not begun the layout (sorry, guys).
- Be thankful, and be kind. We can’t be here without others. When you have an opportunity, thank people and always choose kindness. Years ago, I saw those who were kind in the face of all things as weak. Now I can see them as just truly experiencing their lives. The only reason we aren’t kind is that we are denying someone else’s humanity. There’s a quote from the play “Harvey” that goes, “in this life, you can be oh so smart or oh so pleasant, for years I was smart, I recommend pleasant.” So now, with my platform of the Brooklyn College Vanguard, I would like to thank some people. If you expect to be on this list and don’t find yourself, it isn’t personal. Send your complaint emails to email@example.com.
So anyways, THANK YOU TO (in no particular order)…
Jade Cheung-Becker, my favorite person I’ve met during my entire time at Brooklyn College. She’s changed my life, she already knows this, but much love to her.
Todd Chandler, for opening me up to the possibilities of editing, being kind, inspiring me, introducing me to Jem Cohen, and sharing your skills.
Bonnie Harris, for your instruction, smile, and generous comments on all of my creative writing work. Also, the best reading selection of all my English professors.
Robert Elliston, my best friend since fourth grade, thank you for believing in me and helping me grow.
Brendan Ahmed for being fun, joyful, and helping me out in my thesis.
Mickey Kaplan, you had no reason to be as awesome as you were always to me, but you were without fail and without reason.
Rich Imburgio for being someone I admire and aspire to be like, and saving the day with your edits on the last scene of my thesis film.
Becky MacDonald, I learned the most about the industry in Film Artists with her! Thank you for always remembering me and thinking of me kindly.
Gabi, John, Michela, and Ryan for being such great editors and tolerating my lateness with the issues. Special shoutout to Ryan for hiring me!
Lindsay Smilow and Elizabeth Mellen for being the two professors outside of my major that made me more engaged and interested in their subjects (art history and classics).
Althea (my sister, ick) for really being a great role model, and support system, and providing 98% of my meals during freshman year.
My parents, it’s all for you.
Cassidy (my other sister, PEE YEW!) for always wanting to hear from me, for always supporting me, and for making me feel like you’re proud of me.
Hank! You made your class the best, I genuinely looked forward to doing free labor and spending time with you weekly.
John Wright, for being there for me always, for making me laugh always, for being more than a friend – like a brother.
Brian Paccione, for opening up my creative mind, offering an expansive view on how to create a film, and taking the time to be interested in what I would like to create.
Oscar and Karl, I don’t have either of your guys’ last names, and we didn’t stay in touch after the first semester, but you guys really added a lot of light to that dark period.
Thank you to all my current professors (let’s try to keep my GPA that sweet, sweet 3.9, eh?)
This list feels very incomplete. There are so many more of you, but it’s also 8:44 PM the night before we publish this thing, so just know, it’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that I procrastinate (see tip #3). Thank you again, Brooklyn, thank you again, Vanguard, and thank you again to everyone everywhere in my life. You loved me into this moment. I will always feel it, I will always cherish it.