weR brightens up Founder’s Day

LIGHTED TREES LINE ’86 Field as a capella groups entertain students and hot chocolate warms people up on a cool November night.

On the evening of November 5, the ’86 Field was the site of a spectacle of lights, sound, and comradery in the form of weR BRIGHT, presented by weR–The Spirit of Rensselaer Society. Over 200 students, faculty, and staff gathered together to celebrate Founder’s Day. Attendees enjoyed a great program that featured a speech by President Shirley Ann Jackson, performances by the a cappella groups Duly Noted and Partial Credit, a hot chocolate station, and the premier of a video created by Rensselaer’s Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations called “How Has Rensselaer Changed Your World.” The evening continued as Jackson flipped the switch to light up the walkway of the ’86 Field so spectators could view the light and music show. It was a busy and exciting night! I had the honor of being Lead Agent of Lights, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career.

The weR BRIGHT/Founders celebration was a combined effort by SCER and weR. weR is a student organization sponsored by the Rensselaer Alumni Association, with the mission to embrace RPI’s unique tradition to build stronger students, a stronger community, and stronger alumni.

Soraya Fouladi ’16, chief visionary of weR, said this about BRIGHT: “To me, weR BRIGHT is one of the most beautiful events at Rensselaer. Campus truly comes alive in the night. It took a community to create this event, and it takes a community to enjoy it! These lights represent the eternal glow of the many hearts and minds of the Rensselaer community.” I couldn’t agree more. The effect they create is very striking.

Since I first encountered weR BRIGHT, nearly by accident, I was fascinated with the event. I was determined to join weR and be a part of helping to make this event something special for others. I envisioned making it bigger and better. I joined weR as soon as I could and ran for lead agent on the weR BRIGHT event. Lead agents are assigned to each event to create and oversee them as they progress. I soon found myself with control of an event and next to no technical knowledge of how to make string lights dance. It was a blessing to find Frank Appio ’15 and Stephen Jiang ’17, who became my technical advisors on the adventure and bowled through the programming in a way that, even as a game design and computer science dual major, I can’t explain. It was incredible. Between the two of them, they gave days upon days to bringing us the dancing lights we saw on November 5. Applo even donated some of the integral technology that made the whole thing run. I cannot thank either of them enough.

The Wednesday before BRIGHT had to be the nastiest, rainiest day I’ve ever seen on this campus. Naturally, that was the day we scheduled to put string lights in more than twenty trees. And you know what? It was actually a ton of fun! I had an amazing crew to work with and we made light (pun intended) of the work we had to do. weR is one of those clubs where, when someone needs something done, there will always be someone who jumps in to help, no matter how far away they live, how much everyone has to do, or how lousy the weather is. You can always count on your fellow agents. Throughout the process, people jumped in to assist in making the dream come true, be it by baking for BRIGHT’s sister event that day, weR 190, moving muddy objects in their clean cars, or making a run across campus to poster West Hall. I also want to thank our contacts in the staff, the wonderful group from Red & White who also got involved, and our weR Agents are champions.

As the lead agent on the party side of BRIGHT, Gregory Pepe ’17 noted, “The evening went off without a hitch.” Greg was a fantastic agent to work alongside. The night was warm and clear and the moon shown full and bright, despite worries that it was going to rain. For the rest of the evening, like some sort of magic was at work (because it was—we call it Python script), the trees blinked on and off in a wave. They still do on occasion. Be sure to go check them out.

After the light show, I had a chance to talk to several people, including Jackson herself. We were able to enjoy the event together. The weR BRIGHT/Founder’s Day celebration was a step forward in the “Bridge to the Bicentennial,” as Jackson and Rensselaer prepare to celebrate RPI’s 200th Birthday. I can only imagine the celebration that’s going to be.

weR BRIGHT was a wonderful chance to reflect on our school, what it has been and what it is; even what it will be. RPI, as I’m sure no one has ever said before, really does stand today without a peer. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to learn from (and I mean both the friends I’ve made and the faculty I’ve met) or a better school to grow with. When I look at the lights on ’86 Field, I’m reminded of the impressive past, beautiful present, as well as the glimmering future. RPI, keep being amazing.