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Corwin ’24: Sentiments from a Super Senior

I anticipate that the enduring identity of Brown’s class of 2024 will inevitably center on our scattered start to college in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be mentioned in speeches throughout Commencement weekend and at reunions down the line. I am a member of the class of 2024, but in many ways, I do not feel like one. Having started my Brown experience pre-pandemic in the fall of 2019 and taken a full year off during COVID-19 plus a semester abroad means that I’ve only overlapped on campus with the peers in my class for five of my eight semesters. Many of my current classmates — at least 40 of us, if a photo we all took together offers an indication — did the same, which leaves us graduating with a confusing conception of our graduating class identity.

The cohort of ’23s turned ’24s is the last remaining group of undergraduates on campus that remembers Brown was like pre-pandemic. Andrews Commons served brownie sundaes until 2 a.m., Wednesday nights were “Whiskey Wednesdays” at a sports bar on the river called the Whiskey Republic, and Blueno kept watch from his perch on Ruth J. Simmons Quad. We are the remnants of the old generation who still refer to the Vartan Gregorian Quadrangle as “New Dorm,” not “Greg,” since Brown didn’t begin construction on newer dorms until after our freshman year. 

Most members of the class of 2024 spent their freshman year in back-to-back trimesters. They hold fond memories of a summer semester that felt like sleep-away camp, but starting college during COVID-19 meant they built friendships through pods of fewer than six people. This experience is completely foreign to me and fellow “super seniors.” My freshman year was defined by sweaty parties in the crew house basement, packed concerts around Providence and Boston, and waiting in long lines at the Ratty, eyeing a roomful of unfamiliar faces that were well within six feet of each other. 

We are no longer members of our original class of 2023, even though we might feel more of a connection to it. We consciously chose to put our college experiences on hold during COVID. We embarked on a wide array of adventures throughout that strange year, while our current classmates navigated a dystopian COVID-19 campus that we know existed but never laid eyes on. 


The existence of this super senior cohort speaks to our deep love for Brown; most of us elected to take a year off to preserve our college experience and get more out of it on the backend. For a handful of my fellow ’23s turned ’24s, their COVID-19 gap year was their second gap year in three years, but that didn’t sap their willingness to wait for all of the things we loved about our freshman year at Brown to return. 

Brown (and the world at large) has finally returned to a somewhat stable normalcy, but the pandemic’s widespread impacts can be glimpsed in every facet of modern life. On a more granular level, it is strange to realize that my graduating peers did not have senior proms or real high school graduations. COVID-19 affected all of us, but I was fortunate enough to have only six weeks of Zoom school at the end of the spring 2020 semester rather than six months. 

When we gathered for the photo to memorialize our unique collective identity, I recognized many faces: Groups of us have remained close friends since freshman year. But there were some people I didn’t even realize were still on campus. 

When I chose to take leave from Brown during the pandemic, many of my close friends from freshman year elected to stay and ultimately graduated on time with our original class. As a result, I made unexpected new friendships both during my gap year and when I returned. But socially I have always felt more like a member of the class of 2023, never quite in the class of 2024. It makes perfect sense that the class of 2024’s Brown experience has been quite singular and therefore uniting — a trauma bonding of sorts. 

Returning to campus this January after watching most of my close friends graduate last spring and then spending the subsequent fall semester abroad in Spain felt like whiplash. Most people I ran into thought I had already graduated. They were well into their senior year routine and savoring last moments with established friend groups. The feelings of social discomfort and isolation I remembered from freshman fall returned with a force. I promptly decided that this was no way to spend my senior spring, and within a few weeks, I remembered just how easy it is to put myself out there at Brown — to join a film crew, shop a life-changing seminar, or turn an acquaintance into a best friend. There will never be a shortage of cool people and opportunities on this campus. While my eighth semester has looked different than all seven prior, I can leave feeling satiated that I made the most of it. 

The Brown journey has been singular and trail-blazing for everyone graduating this year, regardless of whether we began our college experience in the middle of the pandemic or returned to it afterward. I’m not yet sure whether years down the line I will return to campus for reunions with the class of 2023 or with the class of 2024. There will be gaps present in either scenario, with friends and shared experiences missing from both. Nonetheless, the Brown experience remains universally beloved and singular. Not even a pandemic could stop certain traditions from carrying on or quench a fire as fervent as Brown students’ love for their school and Brown alumnae for their alma mater.

Dorrit Corwin is a graduating senior in Brown's class of 2024.



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