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Four Years at the Mount

Changes at the Mount - May, 2012

How college has changed me

Kyle Ott
Class of 2015

Itís hard to believe but the adventure of college is almost over. The snow and cold which held Mount St. Maryís in its icy grip has all but faded from our memories, and even now the mild touch of spring is slowly giving way to the humid grasp of summer. For many of us, the year marks an end to classesí work, and the amazing social life that weíve all had here on campus, and for some itís an end to school for good. Regardless of how the setting of an era is viewed one thing is certain and that is that things will be changing for all of us: and whether weíll be moving into the workforce, grad school, or back on campus next year, how we let those changes alter us will play a fundamental role in our lives. My fellow authors of the "Four Years" section will write about the changes that have occurred here on campus. However, as a member of the freshman class, and one with a fairly limited perspective on how our college has changed, Iíll be reflecting on something a little more esoteric: the changes that college life has had on me. When I think back on the person I was four years ago in high school, and the man I am now, Iím shocked by how much Iíve changed. Thereís so much that Iíd like to say to the me from back then and lessons that I want to share. And so in an effort to share what limited wisdom I possess Iíve listed the core lessons of college and the changes theyíve had on me. (And in case time travel ever does become possible, hopefully this list will find its way back to that shy, starry eyed Freshman.)

3. Be like the Water

Bruce Lee couldnít have been more right when he said to literally "be like the water." While Mr. Lee was referring to the fluid style of kung-fu that required constant skill, motion, and precision, his words of sage advice can be easily applied to the social karate of college life. One of the things thatís changed about me is that Iíve become like water when it comes to my friends. On any given day I can be found hanging out with my hall-mates in third floor pang (Third Pang, as its lovingly called) playing call of duty, or watching movie, or I could be with the choir practicing for songs, or chilling in the Office of Social Justice. The group of people Iím with fluctuates in a way that would not have happened in high school. In the past I would have been waaaay too scared about constantly moving about, but here at Mount, the fact that I share a common bond with so many people has allowed me to as Henry David Thoreau said: "suck the marrow out of life".

2. Take the plunge.

College is inherently scary. You pack everything you own in a van, are shoved in a room with a person youíve barely known away from all that was familiar and stable, and told to adapt. And you know something? It completely rocks. Never be afraid to live college like you could drop dead at any second, because itís a place of unbridled opportunity, and all thatís required is for you to reach out and grab it. In college I got a chance to travel to Canada with the Mount Chorale, perform on stage as Don Juan in Delaplaine theater, and occasionally write a little column in the Emmitsburg News Journal. Yes, there were times that I was scared of failure or embarrassment, but I overcame that fear and my life is better for that one instant of bravery, then a whole lifetime of excuses.

1. Work.

Seriously, this one is self-explanatory but it is a lesson that desperately needs to be addressed, readdressed, and then covered once again just so were clear. The experience here at Mount has been fun, exhilarating, and enlightening. However, it has also been hard, requiring an equal amount of work to be put in for the fun that you get out. In high school I would procrastinate for days on end, whip out a simple assignment in no time at all and get a good grade. If I tried that here at Mount I would get laughed at. If thereís something to be learned from school it is that when something needs to be done: do it. Do it with all your might, talent, and intelligence. Work, and rework until it fits not only the parameters of the assignment but the image of perfection that you hold in your mind. A running joke among the people that know me is that Iím married to the library and while funny its partially true. When I sit at my desk on the second floor to work I donít leave until Iím completely satisfied that what Iíve produced is a quality piece of work. Thatís one thing Iíve learned from college: work hard and donít just do it for the grade, do it because you canít stand giving something less than your best.

So there you have it, the changes that college has had on me turned into lessons straight from the trenches. Hopefully youíll find this list useful to your own college journey, and who knows? Maybe the things Iíve learned will set you on your own path to self-discovery. I leave you with a quote from the Father of Philosophy, Socrates "the unexamined life is not worth living." Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott


Sophomore Year: Overture

Carolyn Shields
Class of 2014

Change at the Mount? Iíd like to think that nothing can change this little university on the side of the mountain. I would like to believe that the only thing that changes are the students that walk on its campus for four years, but I would be wrong.

The Mount has definitely kept its charm, but itís so beautiful that I donít want a single finger to touch it. I think itís perfect as it is. If it were up to me, Iíd keep the rolling green fields as farmers from a hundred years ago made them. I wouldnít fill it with giant solar panels that collect energy for something. I would keep the rustic and worn down Honors Lounge where my dad used to have a beer at the bar with friends twenty years ago, and not convert it into another dorm for the ever growing number of freshmen. I wouldnít have converted Purcell which once had a fireplace and a carpet for cozy, winter afternoons into a club for half naked and letís say, not-sober kids to dance in. I would have kept the libraryóthe one place on campus where silence was welcomedójust that, silent.

But if thereís something I had to learn since coming here, itís that change is good. Jacques Philippe says in "Interior Freedom" that if we cease changing, if we cease growing, then we stop living. I want to dedicate the rest of this article to my oldest sister, Kathy, whoís going to receive her diploma and a lot of change in two weeks.

For those like me, change is normally something that I avoid. It can stem from choices that we must make, but more often than not it comes from something that leaves no choice. Oftentimes, according to this Philippe fellow, there are fundamental features in our lives that we never choose at all like our parents or our sex. And thereís something to be said about that. But Iím limited to a thousand words. The fear of change, for me at least, comes from my fear of making decisions.

But whatís great is to know that God has our interests in mind, Kathy. Heís not going to drastically change something that we canít live with or without. So we have to be open to Godís will, which is hard, obviously. Being receptive to His will is also kind of scary because we are afraid that Christ is going to whisper, "Great. Now that you are finally listening, I want you to go to the jungles of Africa and evangelize." But He wonít ask something of us that will make us forever miserable. "You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4). Does that sound like a God who is going to ask us to live miserable lives forever? No, but we still need to trust Him because He knows what is best for us. We arenít all called to be heroes, missionaries, and warriors, but we are all called to be saints. A saint is the stuff of legends.

But I love moments when time ceases moving forward, and a midnight with friends is just that. When my friends have a dance party late at night and the guys in their ties form a brotherhood line and do the can-can. When at 2 a.m., we find ourselves at the Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg, rolling our eyes at the drunk woman hitting on our guy friends, and then minutes later they are slurping syrup from a spoon. When change is in the back of my mind and a choice is just something to be made down the road. And Kathy is right there next to me throughout it all.

But sheís graduating this month and is about to walk across a stage for the final time. It was a long journey for her, and my sister is leaving the Mount a completely different person than the one she entered it. Kathy has kept her laugh (though in sisterly mockery, I call it her cackle), and her faith has strengthened tremendously. Mostly our relationship has changed once we started sharing the same friends, and we still fall on each other as safety zones at parties or whatever, but our independence has grown enormously as well. Weíve each become our own woman.

I canít believe that after twenty-one years together, after all weíve been through, that she is about to start another bigger adventure without me. We had Daddy snuggle with us each Sunday night, and we stood on the front porch and cried together when we watched the same Daddy leave for Iraq. We suffered through miserable years of high school together, each putting on a false smile for the other to get the other one through it. I like how we are honest about school now, though, and genuinely love it, and how we went from twirling little girls in lacey dresses singing "God Bless the Outcasts," to her punching out half of my tooth, to super late nights out, to finding ourselves kissing the Blarney Stone, to recent license excitementÖall of this with change interwoven between.

Not many sisters go to the same college, but without her guidance through these two years Iíve had here I probably wouldnít have half the friends I do now. And these past two years together have been our best. I think the main way I made friends my first few months last year was by being associated with her. She was the one who nudged me out of my comfort zone. I donít tell her Iím thankful enough for even the dumbest of our memories.

Kathy, I could never be the oldest sister, not with all the careless things I do without considering others in my actions, but you are able to balance freedom and family, unlike me. Itís beautiful how much you care for us. Concerning your heart, remember Danteís words: "In His will is our peace." By submission, we are free. You donít need a diamond, and you donít need a life plan because the present moment is the point of time that touches eternity. Your knees are already worn, but keep pouring out your heart to Christ. People should be thoroughly honored to be your friend, to be a part of your life, and I donít know what I would have done if you werenít my voice for the years when I was petrified to whisper. Mostly, I love you.

Read other articles by Caroline Shields
 


Junior Year: So Much has ChangedÖ

Samantha Strub
Class of 2013

I look at the freshmen lying out on the quad, and my mind floats away to another world where I had time to lie out on the grass and in the sunshine. Between all of the running from West Frederick Middle School to the Mount and back again every day, along with my job, homework and lesson planning, there is no time to sleep, much less lie out enjoying the sunshine. I canít help but get lost in the memories over the past three years. Once I realize that I have been at the Mount for three years and have all those precious memories, Iím struck by how fast time has flown by and how much has changedÖ

I can easily remember shaking with nervous excitement as I brought bag after bag into my new room in Sheridan Hall on move-in day freshman year. I remember not believing that I was done with high school and that I was really in college. I couldnít imagine living on my own, but my concerns were more about wondering if I would be able to get out of bed on time to get to class without my mom coming to wake me up. Freshman year was about meeting new people and enjoying the social life of constantly staying up until 2 a.m., doing absolutely nothing or doing a paper that was due the next morning. It was a whole new experience of being responsible for myself and not having anyone tell me what I had to do. I was free to make my own decisions and go where I wanted when I wanted to go there.

Sophomore year brought new responsibilities and lessons to be learned. I still loved the independence that I had at college. The summer after freshman year brought about fights with my parents about where I was going and how late I was out. They had no idea that at college Iím out so much laterÖI had to adjust to living with rules and guidelines after not having them for a year. Once I adjusted, I had a much more relaxing summer, but I couldnít wait to get back to the Mount. Once there, things became a little busier. Classes became a new challenge as they started to be more focused on my major, though I loved the challenge because I was finally taking courses that I was actually really interested in. I still had some difficultly with some of the core classes, which now have all changed into the Veritus program. Too bad that wasnít in place when first came here; I could have possibly had a higher GPA. Everything happens for a reason though; Iím a well-rounded person now because of the core. I became more involved in extracurricular activities like the Mount Ambassador, field hockey, and Big Sister programs, and I worked a lot more. I felt that I had better control over my life, as everything was going well with new opportunities that I never expected. Looking back, I can see it was my know-it-all sophomore mentality because I was not prepared for what was coming the following year.

As I rush past the freshmen lying in the grass without a care in the world, Iím professionally dressed, thinking about my middle schoolers. I realize that in my junior year I have a completely different mindset than I did the past two years. Though I still struggle with getting out of bed in the morningóI donít think that will ever go awayóI realize that I have grown into a different person. Iím not concerned about all of the pointless drama that seemed to run my life when I wasnít doing coursework. Iím done that that immature mentality. Iím worried about my friends and the people that truly matter in life. Iím worrying about my students, making sure that Iím teaching them in a way that will be beneficial for them. I always seem to be looking for ways that will explain concepts to them in the best way possible. My teacher mentality has gotten so bad that I couldnít even read and watch The Hunger Games without my teacher eye coming out. I made the connections between the plot of the novel, real life and the practical and moral lessons that develop throughout the novel. Such as, the dramatic contrast between the ways that the controlling society (Gamemakers) see themselves to how we have an idealistic view of ourselves and the values that we hold in high regard. It is a different perspective that I still need to get used to, but I guess that means I chose the correct career. Iím a different person with my teacher- mentality perspective.

The roller coaster that I have been on has taught me that life will constantly change and I just have to learn to have the "serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." Life will constantly throw new challenges and obstacles in your face, and you just have you learn to roll with the punches. I have different priorities in life now than I did even just a year ago. One such example is, knowing that I have to focus more on academicsí and my internship instead of participating as much in my extracurricular activities field hockey and horse-back-riding. It is all a part of lifeís roller coaster that we have been blessed to be on. I realized that though I still constantly worry about everything and wonder if I will ever be able to get everything done on time, that these things are not the memories that I will think of first. When you look back on your college experience, or any experience for that matter, you remember the priceless moments, whether they are serious or completely ridiculous. It is about the times you stayed up all night watching movies, playing cards, and being insane. It is about finally experiencing something that you have only ever dreamed of. Those are the things that will take you back down memory lane.

I look back over my years at the Mount and canít help but realize how far we have comeÖand how much things have changed along the way. Iím almost done with my junior year of collegeÖ I only have two semesters leftÖYikes! Where did the time go? WellÖletís make it count!

Senior yearÖgulpÖdeep breathÖhere we goÖ.

Read other articles by Samantha Strub


Senior Year - Thank You

Julia Mulqueen
Class of 2012

I am sitting in my room at the Mount. The sun is shining brilliantly in the sky. The grass is lush; leaves are gently rustling in the breeze. I cannot help but feel a little blue as I write this, my last article for the "Senior Year" column. It was just two years ago that I sent Michael Hillman a letter that landed me this job. It was just three years ago that I completed my freshman year at the Mount, and it was just four years ago that I visited the Mount to check out the ROTC program. Where has this time gone? How did it slip through my fingers? When this article goes to press, I will have just 12 days left here at Mount Saint Maryís.

So with this article, I will glance back over my past fours years. I came to the Mount in August of 2008 with my parents and more stuff than any 17-year-old needs. They helped me move in and drove away-my mother with tears in her eyes. I loved my college classes, and I loved meeting so many new people. During the fall, I had to write a piece about myself for freshman seminar. I had just gone to our Commanderís Introduction lab for ROTC. Sitting straight and tall but feeling nervous, I watched as the Cadet Battalion Commander introduced himself. When I returned to campus to finish writing my paper for freshman seminar, I included a new goal of mine: to become the Battalion Commander when I became a senior.

My first semester flew by; soon it was springtime at the Mount. I could barely focus on my studies. Every day was a new opportunity to explore the mountain, study in the sun, or just relax with my friends. I feared the approach of summer, because I knew I would miss the Mount and all of the people I had met terribly.

Summer proved to be a nice time to relax with my family and catch up on the sleep I had missed during my first two semesters. Little did I know when I returned to the Mount in the fall of 2009 that exciting changes would come my way. For my first three semesters at the Mount, I had been a biology major in the hopes of eventually going to medical school. My sophomore philosophy class completely changed my mind. After reading Aquinas and Augustine, I realized that I no longer wanted to be a trauma surgeon; I wanted to be a Theologian. Two days before the end of add-drop week, I changed every single one of my courses. I had already taken one German course, so I decided I could fit another in for my spring semester and become a double major in Theology and German. I also signed up for a month abroad in Salzburg, Austria.

The summer in Austria proved to be extraordinary, and I soon returned to the Mount for the third time. The thought of my junior year made my stomach churn; I knew that in just a few short months I would fly to Fort Lewis for the ultimate test of my Army prowess. The year was difficult. I was carrying a heavy course load: 21 credits, and I felt continuous pressure from myself to do well. In case it has not been evident in my articles up to this point, I am a little bit neurotic about everything I do. I constantly try to better myself, but sometimes this leads to me burning myself out. So by the time finals week of my junior year rolled around, my brain felt like a mass of soggy bread sitting in my skull. The summer sun washed over me, but I continued to worry about going to Fort Lewis. That month was the most difficult, but most rewarding, month of my life. I wrote about it earlier this year in a series called "Conquering LDAC."

Soon, it was time for my fourth and last trip back to Mount Saint Maryís. I loaded up my new MINI Cooper and set off. Life was calm; my senior year had finally arrived. When I reached Emmitsburg, my phone rang. It was our Professor of Military Science calling to tell me I would be the Battalion Commander for the year. My face broke into a giant smile; I had reached my goal.

And now, as commissioning and graduation quickly approach, I realize I will soon reach two more goals. More importantly, I realize now that I can do nothing on my own. The only reason that I have been so successful in college and ROTC is that I have had a wealth of amazing supporters around me. I have a team of fans who have consistently helped me on this journey through school. So with this, my last article, I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything.

Read other articles by Julia Mulqueen

Read Past Editions of Four Years at the Mount