Dear Rensselaer Community,
Tomorrow, you’ll be voting in one of the oldest traditions at RPI: Grand Marshal Week. That will bring an end to my term and bring a new President of the Union. I have spent a lot of time over the past few days thinking over what to write in my last Derby, and it has come down to a simple “Thank You.” Thank you for granting me the privilege to serve as your 126th President of the Union. Thank you for helping me bleed cherry red and ivory white. Thank you for changing my life.
A year ago I could have never imagined myself where I am now. I still vividly remember having to drop from the race a mere 150 signatures away from a primary spot to deal with a family emergency. I remember being awake for over two days straight running my write-in campaign by myself when I was finally able to jump back in. I remember signing jar lids “PU Week 2015” in the cold the day of the run-off election. I remember being floored when I found out I had actually won, and I’m still in the process of archive diving to find out if I’m the first write-in PU.
I’ll admit, I came in having little direct Student Government experience, but I never felt a lack of support or found people unwilling to help me learn. Especially with a year as tumultuous as this one has been for the Union, I have been truly blessed to have the support network that has always been there for me no matter what. I could fill up this Derby with nothing but examples of how the Executive Board, the staff, the students, the alumni/alumnae, and beyond have been more than willing to share their time and efforts. When I needed to learn about the bookstore transition, its history, and past contracts with the Union, Rick Hartt, Mike McDermott, and Joe Cassidy among others were always there to answer questions. When I was in the hospital after fracturing my skull over the summer, I awoke one morning to a fruit basket from the admin office and a card that brought a smile to my face for the first time in days. In the weeks before budgeting, the E-Board did their homework so well we finished budgeting an entire day and a half early within a few hundred dollars of our target. When the events of the past few weeks unfolded, I think I almost ran out all the minutes on my cell phone plan talking to past student leaders, alumni mentors, and other students.
I have been thanked a few times in the past few weeks for my work, but in all honesty there are many who deserve those thanks more than me. I will try to name just a few, but I know I lack both the time and space to fully express the debt of gratitude I owe to the student body and the Rensselaer Community for all they have given me throughout my tenure.
To the Executive Board, thank you for putting up with my terrible jokes and odd analogies, for sitting through the painstakingly long meetings, and being one of the best teams I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. I am incredibly proud of you and the work you have done, and I hope you in turn feel the same for yourselves. You have made an impact on the Union that will be felt by current and future students alike. I am honored to be able to call you not just my Board, but my friends.
To the staff, thank you for endlessly teaching me, for keeping me grounded, and for working tirelessly for students. Your devotion to the Union does not go unrecognized, and quite frankly we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for the long days, the constant smiles, and your unwavering commitment to helping students, even when we can be less than pleasant to work with.
To The Polytechnic, thank you for dealing with my late submissions and so-so writing skills. I don’t know if I ever told you, but when I woke up in the intensive care unit after my accident, the first thing I did in my concussed state was try to message the E-Board to have them tell you I wouldn’t be submitting a Derby that week. Even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, I swear I try to get these in at a reasonable hour.
Finally, to the community as a whole, thank you for making my time here at Rensselaer an amazing one. Graduation is right around the corner and I may be moving 1,200 miles away for work, but RPI will always have a special place in my heart. I only wish I could have done more to give back to a community that has given me so much and allowed me to grow immensely over four years. I look forward to what the next PU will bring, the preservation of our student run Union, and returning to campus to see how things have grown. I raise my glass in toast to you and to Dear Old Rensselaer.
Thank you for everything,