Fast FriendsIt All Began on Accepted Students Day

Dana McRae ’22 says he was feeling “a little overwhelmed” by all the information he was absorbing on his visit to the campus last spring on Accepted Students Day. But McRae met a Vassar upperclassman, Emmett O’Malley ’19, who made him feel at home that day, and the two have become good friends. “I went over to a table in the Villard Room to learn about the Sociology program,” McRae recalls. “Emmett was standing there, and we had a lively conversation.”

Dana McRae ’22 (left) and Emmett O’Malley ’19 struck up a friendship during McRae’s visit last spring on Accepted Students Day.

When McRae enrolled at Vassar five months later, the two met again at the Student Activities Fair where O’Malley was recruiting for The Accidentals, Vassar’s only all-male a capella group. McRae joined the group a few weeks later, and the friendship has grown since then. “I’d done some musical theater in high school,” McRae says, “so The Accidentals interested me. And when I saw Emmett there, we remembered each other.”

O’Malley, a political science major from Corvallis, OR, says getting to know McRae at the start of the year “made me recall what I thought of upperclassmen when I first came to Vassar. I kind of thought of seniors as a different species and I didn’t want Dana to feel that way.”

McRae, who grew up in Warwick, MA and plans to major in Environmental Studies, says he didn’t think much about the difference in their status on campus. “I’d always had friends of different ages in high school, so it wasn’t difficult to relate to Emmett as a senior,” he says, “but he did help me adjust to my new environment.”

Since McRae was a native of Western Massachusetts and O’Malley had attended prep school there, their early conversations often focused on people and places they both knew, O’Malley says.

O’Malley (far left) and McRae (third from left) rehearse with The Accidentals.

While neither of them is on a varsity athletics team, they share a love of sports. O’Malley says he takes pride in having played on 10 championship intramural teams in basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and McRae is part of Vassar’s ultimate Frisbee culture.

The two see each other twice a week for rehearsals with The Accidentals and on other occasions quite regularly. “Vassar’s a small place, so we often run into each other,” O’Malley says. “When the year started, there were only four members of The Accidentals, so there was a chance the group wouldn’t stay together. But Dana was one of nine new members, so keeping The Accidentals together is something we share.”

While McRae credits O’Malley with helping him to adjust to college life, O’Malley says he makes a conscious effort not to act as if he’s an expert on all things Vassar. “I don’t like it when someone gives me unsolicited advice, so I’m careful not to do that with Dana,” he says. “It’s just a nice friendship.”