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By Ashley DeLeon

Deputy Editor

The shimmers of joy and delight that illuminate our happiest moments in life exuberate a brightness like no other. When we reflect on the beauty of these treasurable moments, we are convinced for a second that we are reliving them. This edition of The Defender’s illustrated news series highlights these indispensable moments, and how they have transformed the lives of many in our community.

Alexis Comeau ‘21 

Illustrations by Ashley DeLeon

One of the happiest moments of my life was when I attended the Burlington Climate Strike last year. I felt a surge of hope seeing all the kids, students, parents, and elders come together with a common message. After years of learning about the grave future that awaits us if we fail to take action, being there truly made me believe that there was a potential for humanity to change. 

Jessie Anderson ‘21 

The happiest moment in my life was when I decided to date the love of my life. For once, I made a decision where I chose happiness for myself. Someone close to me made this decision seem impossible because they wouldn’t accept my sexuality. However, I stood my ground and decided to do what was best. My girlfriend and I had been friends for two years, and independently grew into who we truly wanted to be before dating. I am truly blessed to be with the best woman in the world. She makes me laugh, is supportive, and cries with me when things get hard. 

Maddie Van Winkle ’23

Parents always tell you that you’re a role model for your younger siblings. My happiest day was seeing that I did not just fulfill that role, but exceeded it. one of the biggest things I instilled in her was acceptance of others and herself. she highlighted how this one piece of advice that I drilled in her for 17 years made her feel comfortable to come out and speak out for those who needed it most. There is nothing more life changing than the feeling of changing someone else’s.

Kaylee Sayers ‘23

The happiest I have ever been was when I went to Peru on a volunteer trip to help a small village build a classroom. The group I went with provided resources and volunteers went to provide an extra pair of hands. The work was difficult, but it was rewarding to get to know not only the people we were working with, despite language barriers, but also become acquainted with the community. I loved the trip because we worked alongside the people there and did not impose our ideas onto them. We understood that they knew what was best for their community.

Mark Lubkowitz, Professor of Biology

Here’s how I describe my nirvana moment: Thirty years ago I was sitting in a Dairy Queen parking lot near sunset, basking in the radiant heat coming off of the asphalt. I had spent the day kayaking with my friends, and at that moment, I was physically and emotionally fulfilled and content. I have used that moment as my gauge for happiness and equilibrium ever since. This is from a self-guided trip down the Grand Canyon last summer with the same friends from Dairy Queen 30 years earlier.