Inducting New ASSlings!

It’s been just over a month since the start of the semester, but I’ve already come across a few too many unwelcome reminders of my new status as an upperclassman. My stint as an OA leader this year had me wishing I could join my OAbies in experiencing for the first time all of what Claremont has to offer, and being forced to declare my major as an incoming junior reminded me that the four years that once laid ahead have already been whittled down to two.

Part of me tries to ignore these signs (be it through avoidance, mild dissociation), but last week, that part of me struggled to do so when I was faced with a stark reminder of the fact that how old I feel doesn’t always correspond with how old I actually am.

Our seven new members donning their ASShats for the first time!
Our seven new members donning their ASShats for the first time! Photo credit: Sarah Ridge (SC ’15)

One of the few threads that have linked together each semester I’ve spent at Pomona is my a cappella group, the After School Specials. After joining as a reluctant first-year with no singing experience, I’m now obsessed with a cappella music and I’m the musical director of a group consisting of some of my closest friends.

Last month, the After School Specials (which I will lovingly refer to as “ASS” from here on out) welcomed seven new members to the group after a grueling, weekend-long audition process (to which I probably could’ve dedicated an entire blog post). It wasn’t until last weekend, however, that we officially inducted our new members into the group!

If you aren’t familiar with ASS, one trademark of ours that separates us from the other seven groups at the Claremont Colleges is our “ASShats.” Officially crowning our new members was a strange experience given the fact that I wasn’t quite ready to no longer be one of the group’s little ASSlings, a title I refused to give up even as a sophomore when only three first-years joined the group.

The rest of our returning members watched as our seniors, Kat Arenella (SC ’14) and Dan Skubi (PO ’14) individually crowned each new ASSling (including three more Pomona sagehens!) with their very own ASShats after Skubi, ASS’s official bard, said a few words.

All of this, in tandem with my new leadership role, has been one of the clearest reminders of the rapid passing of my time at Pomona. I’ve spent the last two years donning my ASShat around campus, telling everyone how great a cappella groups are, and responding to strangers’ inquiries about the meaning of the acronym on my hat, but for our seven new members, this is just the first of more years they’ll spend doing the same, and I only have one last year of this to look forward to after this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been more excited about the group than I am now, especially since I get the chance to direct the group, but stepping into this role is one of those things that weren’t supposed to happen until “later” in my college career. I’m brainstorming thesis ideas, exploring graduate school options, and researching fellowships, and it all still feels a little surreal despite the fact that this is literally the time for me to be doing all that!

ASS is a reminder that things always change. Every year, fewer and fewer members respond knowingly when I recount some crazy story involving one of our alums. Even the blend of our voices changes every year if you listen closely. Regardless, as I’m becoming accustomed to the surreality of growing up, ASS will be a place for me take joy in aging, because as we induct such fresh and eager voices into the group, I know that the experiences I’m having now will be shared by our ASSlings when I’m gone.