As I prepare myself to graduate from Mount Mary University, I look back on all of the positive experiences that this school has given me with gratitude and a little sadness. The past four years have been such a journey of growth for me. My classes and work experiences have helped me to develop my skills in my field and also to gain confidence in my work.

Before I set foot on the Mount Mary campus as a freshman, the thought of college chilled me with fear. A voice of doubt spoke clearly in my mind, expressing every unanswered question I had. What if I wasn’t college material? What if the classes were too hard? What if I missed home too much? What if I graduated from this school the same person I was before? Everything about college gave me anxiety, and I was not confident about being there.

I quickly found out that most of my fears were pointless, and the classes were not too hard. The supportive professors and my new friends made being at Mount Mary enjoyable. Slowly, I saw myself begin to grow and change as my journey continued.

Freshman Year: The Year of New Experiences
My freshman year was a time of new beginnings. I had not chosen a major yet, but I knew how much I loved to write. I joined the staff of Arches Magazine right away and wrote a blog during the first semester. Arches marked the beginning of my growth in my soon-to-be writing field; I learned that the editing process was a good thing rather than an insult.

Freshman year was a year filled with new friends as well. I introduced myself to the women who lived in the dorms next to mine, and I talked to new people in my classes. I had never had a group of friends before! It felt so special to be a part of something. We ate lunch and dinner together in the dining hall every day, and we even had a secret Santa gift exchange during our first December at Mount Mary.

Sophomore Year: The Year of My Writing Major
My sophomore year was even better than my freshman year. In the first semester, I got to share a dorm with one of my new best friends. (She moved out in the second semester.) I had declared my English writing for new media major, and I felt 20 pounds lighter with the weight of that decision off my chest. I was enrolled in fun writing classes, and my love for writing began to grow. New ideas for stories, articles, poems and blogs bubbled around inside of my mind. In my Intro to Writing for New Media class, my cat blog, Cat Connections, was born.

Also during my sophomore year, I started working in multiple positions in the Student Success Center. I created posts for the Learning Services and Advising Facebook accounts. I would walk into the Student Success Center each shift with a feeling of positivity. The environment was warm and welcoming. The staff members cared about me, and I would always tell them whenever I had good news to share. I thought that these jobs would pair nicely with my writing major because they had to do with media.

This was the year when I felt like I belonged here. I belonged in college. Mount Mary was my second home. I was a writer and I was meant to take these classes and write these stories. It was clear that I had chosen a major that I loved, and that I would enjoy the second half of my journey at Mount Mary University.

Junior Year: The Year of Personal Growth
In my junior year, I was met with some challenges. My house flooded and my Mom and I found ourselves living in a hotel for 8 months. My dorm became a sanctuary, a place of consistency for me. I would prop my pillows up, wrap myself with my quilt, do as much homework as I needed to in a night and then play puzzle games on my Nintendo 3DS. My dorm felt far more familiar than the hotel. I lived there during the weekdays and invited my friends over for homework and game nights.

Junior year was also the year of some of my favorite classes. I was blessed to be a part of the special topics in literature Harry Potter class. I attempted to read the whole series during winter break to prepare for the class, but I only made it to book five. To my horror, book seven was spoiled for me during the first day of class! Overall, It made my heart happy to be with people with the same interests as me to celebrate a much-loved book series.

This was the year that I found myself. I had to lose a piece of who I was to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be. I found solace in art and creative hobbies. I poured my soul into my cat blog that I revived in my Advanced Writing for New Media class, going as far as to create digitally-drawn comics for posts. When I struggled, my professors were there to support me at every turn, and I once again felt the confirmation that I was right where I needed to be.


Senior Year: The Year of Confidence
After three years of writing, growing and breaking out of my comfort zone, I took part in two internships. The first involved making a book of Sister Jean Hasenburg’s poetry. Sister Jean was looking for a Mount Mary student to create a poetry book for her as an internship, and the opportunity sounded like a lot of fun! I met Sister Jean in Elm Grove back in July of 2019, and she gave me a binder of her poetry to work with. I used Blurb, a self-publishing company, to create her book. It was a heartwarming feeling to make Sister Jean’s lifelong dream come true!

The second internship was a social media internship in the Student Success Center. I created a Facebook and Instagram page for the department and posted tips, events, information and some fun things (like pets!) In this internship, I saw my confidence improve start to finish. At the beginning, I felt like I needed approval for everything I posted. At the end, I trusted myself enough to make unsupervised decisions without anxiety. My leap in self-confidence made me feel hopeful about my upcoming job search.

Mount Mary University, you’ve given me four years filled with friends, amazing classes, friendly teachers and lovely coworkers. You’ve given me a home away from home. I will miss walking your halls and sitting in your classrooms. I will miss so much about you. Your community has helped me become the person I am today, and I am eternally grateful.

You’ve given me new friends and new opportunities to make connections. You’ve taught me that growth is an ongoing experience, and that change is not to always be feared. You’ve challenged me so that I could learn new things and figure out how to succeed and carry on despite life’s obstacles. You’ve given me the confidence to go out into the world and give it my best shot. I love the person that you made me. Thank you for everything.