I firmly believe in the metaphysical experience of staying up all night every once in a while in an academic capacity. It is nothing like staying up all night to go to a party, or to go to a party after going to a party, which I have done before…The night is much shorter, paradoxically, than if you were doing it voluntarily. First it is one o'clock, as it frequently is, and then it is three-thirty and finally, much later, it is five and then suddenly it is ten minutes past seven and all the other people are beginning to crawl out of bed having slept all night, a fact which you scorn, and are looking simply terrible, – much worse than you, and you have the feeling that life has been passing them by whereas you, YOU know the value and meaning of everything. Knowing how long the night is, exactly, and how much can be accomplished in that time, and what time the sun comes up in the latter part of May, is a little bit like knowing how long life is.
—  letter from a Vassar student, May 1958

“Zendaya will produce and star in "A White Lie,” playing the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar College, Variety has learned.

The project is based on Karin Tanabe’s book “The Gilded Years,” which told the true story of Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned, African-American woman who was the descendent of slaves and passed as white so she could attend Vassar during the 1890’s. She’s pulled into her elite world where she’s treated as wealthy, educated white woman who finds romance with a moneyed Harvard student.“

To the class of 2017:

August has, for the past 4 years, meant returning. It has meant homecoming. It has meant fresh starts, new pens, and blank pages.

August has come to mean, to me, Vassar. And now, suddenly, it doesn’t.

When I graduated (a whopping 2.5 months ago), it felt right and good and true.  I was ready. It wasn’t until August peaked around the corner that I felt like something was missing. 

You, luckiest of all the most lucky in my mind, are about to set foot on my favorite place, and I envy you beyond reason.

I challenge you to try more do more be more than you think you can.

Stay up late, talk to those kids down the hall, experience the end of an all nigher from the library, the Rose Parlor, your dorm room. Lie awake on a Saturday night and listen to all the comings and goings of the quad. Kiss a stranger. Kiss your best friend.

Follow the 2 week rule.

Go to the bridge next to the willow on Sunset Lake, lie down, tip your head over the edge, and enjoy.

Spend all day on the quad. Listen to a new favorite song, make a new friend & watch the shadows grow long.

Get a solid crew together for breakfast.

Get a solid crew together for dinner.


be brave. be nervous. be fucking terrified.

Visit people in their rooms, share your clothes, walk to Acrop at 3 in the morning.Take more pictures than you think you need to.

There’s a quiet nook next to the Shakespeare garden…spend an afternoon there alone. Bask in those fleeting moments of privacy.

Say no to things, to people, to projects.

Fight over which one is the best dorm (Davison, obviously).

Watch a lightening storm from the Earth Circle. 

Leave messages hidden in books in mailboxes on trees. 

Come up with a code.

Relish in the talent of others. Don’t be afraid to take on leadership roles. 

love and love and love until you think you can love no more.

surprise yourself by loving again.

Speak up in class. Don’t be afraid to let someone change your mind. Take a pie from the deece and eat it in the orchard. Get lost on the farm. Sleep outside. Watch the stars.

Dance. What you feel, when- and wherever you feel it.

at the mug

in the villard room

for VRDT

for flypeople/hype/on tap/shakers

for yourself

alone. in a crowded room. in the dark. 

Be wild. Be uncertain. Be committed. Be there for others. Be generous, and be so often. But be selfish sometimes. Be good to yourself.

Get off campus.

Recognize that nothing is perfect. Don’t be afraid to point out the corruption, the hypocrisy, the unrealistic idealism. Fight for the changes you believe need to happen to make things better.

Collect something… bottle caps, ticket stubs, dried flowers. Mark the passage of time with something other than deadlines.

Eat good food.

Be comfortable in your body, somehow. 

Listen to music when you shower. 

Make sure you don’t remember Freshman/Sophomore/Junior/Senior year because so much has happened, not because you drank any single one of them out of your brain. 

Spend the next 4 years learning Vassar and build for yourself the most amazing group of friends anyone can ask for. Hold each other up hold each other together. Be sensible and crazy for one another when you need to be. Be vulnerable and let them see you. Truly you. At your best and your worst and anything in between. See them back. Laugh often and loudly.

And then, when you’re not quite ready, just because you can, move in with strangers. 

Fall in love with them.

That’s what I did, and it worked out pretty damn well.

Vassar is where I discovered myself, found my soul mates, and learned to chase my dreams. She is responsible for who I am and who I will become.

So take good care of her. And she’ll try her best to take care of you, I promise.

Have a great 4 years you lucky little turds. I’ll see you on the other side.

The Gilded Years

Zendaya Coleman to star as Anita Hemmings, the first black female student at Vassar College. The film will be titled, A White Lie. It will be co-produced by Zendaya along with Hello, Sunshine Productions, the Reese Witherspoon owned production company. 

So far, production details are far and few.

The film is based on the book, The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe.

 Hemmings was the first black woman to graduate from Vassar College in 1897. The school was not aware of her race until graduation, as Hemmings, along with her husband, passed for white.