Our 2021


in Best of the Smart Set • Illustrated by Camille Velasquez


Another year. 2021 was a series of starts and stops, movement and disruption. And despite moving quickly, the year itself felt incredibly long.

Again, we tried to make and find space. These were just a handful of things we enjoyed in 2021:

Anna’s Top Three

Plant care

I used to be someone who could barely keep a succulent alive, so this year I decided to fill my living room with multiple different plants and commit to learning how to take care of them once and for all. Watching their progress throughout the months has been really fulfilling! It’s also scientifically proven that owning plants improves air quality, boosts your serotonin levels and gives you a sense of purpose (plus it’s fun to watch my coffee table turn into a jungle).

Book of the Month

One of my goals for 2021 was to start reading new books again after my reading habits fell off the rails last year, so a subscription to this delivery service easily ended up being my favorite Christmas present from 2020. By choosing one book out of 5 new releases every month, I got to explore a lot of different genres such as mystery/thriller, coming-of-age, memoir, historical and contemporary fiction. It was really nice to always have access to new reading material without having to physically go to a bookstore and be overwhelmed by options.

The Great British Baking Show 

Comfort TV shows have been a big thing for me this year – some of my favorites include Parks & Rec, Community, and The Good Place – but this was probably the show I turned to the most whenever I felt like I needed to de-stress from work or school. I binged the entire 12th season after it came out on Netflix, but I’ve also been watching earlier seasons with family and friends. Unlike American reality shows, there’s rarely any drama between the contestants and they actually seem like everyday people; you’re just watching a bunch of talented home bakers come up with amazing recipes and beat impossibly hard challenges for hours on end.

Camille’s Top Three

Being a part of Drexel Dragonfly 2021

One of my top memories of this year will be performing as a backup dancer for the openers of Flo Rida at Drexel Dragonfly, a student-led concert. The opening performance, Philly Creators, is also a business I run and co-own with my friends. I am also their creative director and in charge of all things graphics, such as their logo. It was really cool to see a logo I made be displayed on a big screen while the artists were performing in front of 1,000 or more Drexel students. It was also fun to be on stage back-up dancing, with one being a dance I co-choreographed! It was such a great night and moment and seeing all the artists/friends have this opportunity was a huge accomplishment and made me smile!

Bryson Tiller’s Anniversary Album

I think for me personally, Anniversary was the album of the year. It came out in February and Bryson Tiller is one of my favorite artists. I listened to the whole thing and did not find myself skipping any songs! I listen to the songs all the time, some of my favorites are “Sorrows,” “Years Go By,” “Always Forever,” and “7:00.” I just really liked all the beats and the vibe of the whole album. I even choreographed a little dance to “Sorrows” and got my friend to record a dance video for me at Drexel Park!


I was super nervous through the whole co-op process. It is my first and only one so I really wanted to make sure I got a co-op that could help me build my portfolio and learn some new things. After all the interviews and waiting for the responses from employers, I finally got offered a position at the Pennoni Honors college here at Drexel to be the Art Director of Marketing and Media! I am so happy that I accepted the offer, the staff is super welcoming and understanding! My boss, Melinda Lewis, is the best and really makes me feel appreciated for my work. I am building so much for my portfolio and can just focus on the projects given to me. I was also able to get a kitten to take care of since my schedule is much more flexible than it would be in the middle of classes! The work environment is great and I genuinely enjoy what I do and this job is giving me a better sense of what direction I want to head in when I graduate. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and what opportunities will come after this amazing co-op!

Melinda’s Top Three

Maintenance Phase

I spent a lot of time with myself, by myself for the past two years. This has led to detangling more and more from diet and wellness culture. The podcast, Maintenance Phase, has been instrumental to my own education and consciousness-raising. In addition to simmering rage as to how bad research and science has become so capitalized and normalized, I’ve also felt a little more empowered after each episode. Despite the show tapping into a lot of anxiety and trauma, Aubrey and Michael are such great stewards who get us to laugh as much as confront truths.  


Have I spent far too much time on this app? Yes. Has it given me something to slip into when reality feels a bit too realistic? Also, yes? Should I quit? Probably! Will I? Absolutely not.  


This year has been about dipping toes back into the world. Idles went back on the road and so did I. Despite the hemming and hawing, I took the leap back into live shows. Their power, their vulnerability, their smooth and hard lines overwhelmed me. The show reminded me why we do this thing — live music — in the first place. Their newest album, Crawler, is also just another banger of an album. •