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Presentation of the Student Gift

Sunday, May 27, 2018
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by Jasmine Raizel Basbas Martinez ’18

President Bradley, Trustees, Faculty, beloved family, friends, and the amazing class of 2018: Hey everybody! Wow, you all are looking good in those dashing robes. Like many others before and after me, I want to say congratulations—you’re hard work has paid off! We getting a degree at an incredible school and we are graduating!!!

My name is Jasmine Raizel Basbas Martinez, thank you mom and dad for the long name! I decided to attend Vassar because it was a quirky college and offered me a great financial aid package. Before coming here, I didn’t quite understand what it meant to be a first-generation and low-income college student, but once I stepped on campus, I knew I needed all the help I could get to navigate this place. Thankfully, I found so many communities here—such as Transitions: Vassar’s program for first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students. It was essential to my success that I found mentors and friends who understood where I was coming from. I didn’t know I would face emotional upheaval and hidden costs when I got here, but that is not to disregard the just as surprising pockets of love, positivity, and growth I’ve found on this campus.

My experiences at Vassar speaks to both the emotional and financial burden low-income students experience at institutions like Vassar. I joined the Senior Gift with the hopes of alleviating some of that stress to an incoming first-year with financial need. I cannot say how much every dollar matters for students coming from this background, and that is just one of the reasons contributing to the Senior Gift has been incredibly important!

We as a school are committed to preserving the diversity in thoughts, passions, and experiences. Ensuring that Vassar remains financially accessible plays a huge part of this commitment, and I urge our class to continue supporting this cause, as so many classes of alums have done for us. It cannot, and will not, happen without us. We are therefore ecstatic that our class decided to create the Class of 2018 Scholarship Fund, solidifying this commitment. This year we have raised a total of $9,864 for the Class of 2018 Scholarship Fund, with gifts coming from over 26% of the senior class, generous alumni, parents, friends, and of course, President Bradley. That money, and more importantly the thought behind each gift, marks the beginning of the Class of 2018’s lifelong commitment to ensuring that Vassar continues to grow and evolve with the next generation of admitted students.

Today we sit under this burning sun awaiting the moment when our loved ones strut down the stage, get their diploma, and switch that tassel from right to left. Beyond congratulating you all on this, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of the friends and family who have supported this class throughout the entirety of our Vassar experience. Without your endless love and encouragement, we would not stand where we are today. And without your tremendous generosity and commitment to an accessible future at Vassar, we would not be able to present this gift.

Let’s make a commitment not to forget this place or any of the multitude of complex emotions it evokes in all of us. Let’s make a commitment to keep giving back to our fellow students so that they too have the opportunity to make this wild, complicated, and beautiful place, theirs as well. For now though, congratulations on all of your incredible accomplishments. Go forth and be the incredible people you all have proven yourselves to be, and remember that when we stand together as one, we have the power to change lives. Thank you!