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Four Years at the Mount

Hopes for a New School Year

Sophomore Year: Taking the Shepherdís Staff

Kyle Ott
Class of 2012

Itís almost impossible to believe that the New Year has already begun. For the college student the ritual of the New Year does not include time square and raining confetti. Instead the New Year starts with next year of college and all the challenges, trials, and opportunities that arise.
 
The idea of beginning anew has been met with mixed reactions by yours truly. This time packing every single belonging I owned into the back of minivan did not seem nearly as soul crushingly brutal. I can still distinctly remember the exact way the van was packed when I began my freshman year. The rack of t-shirts tucked neatly on the left side by the window, the boxes which held everything from plastic cutlery to the stuffed chicken lovingly named ďHugginsĒ who I had bought just for Freshman year. I remember looking at the back of the van and everything that I could want or need for half a year and thinking how it all just seemed so very surreal. The experience was made even more unusual when I arrived at my residence hall. There I was surrounded by a group of people who I did not know and who had no idea who I was, on top of a mountain, on my own. Compounding that was the fact that I was not only encouraged but expected to be a fully functioning adult by the end of orientation.
 
Just when I thought I was going to be overwhelmed, caught in a tidal force of textbooks, meal plans, and responsibility; I met Drew Spriggs. Drew, was the RA of the third floor of Pangborn hall, and one of the biggest role models for me my freshman year. It was Drew, who valiantly led Pang 3, with a leadership style that was simply unique. Rather than shout in our faces or drive the idea of community into our heads, he sat back and manipulated things from the shadows. Whether it was getting us interested in a program we thought weíd never go too, or simply sitting in his room waiting for someone who just needed to talk; Drew subtly developed a community that forever altered my freshman experience. The brotherhood that Drew shaped became the backbone of my life at Mount St. Maryís. It was the foundation that I would rely on whenever I couldnít weather the storms of college life on my own. When I was having a horrible day, it was my hall mates who sat in my room and comforted me. When I performed in the Delaplaine Performing Arts Center as Don Juan last spring it was my hall mates who decided to surprise me by attending the production, taking up an entire row of the theater for our matinee performance. Moments like that made me realize that the things I did here at Mount St. Maryís werenít wasted, and that no matter what I could always depend on the people I lived with. This idea that my community was something I could depend on was a gift from Drew.
 
This year when I packed up my belongings it seemed less like a massive shift in the way I conducted my life, but as something that was normal even second nature. Everything was packed away in precisely the way I needed it. Certain things received emphasis: notebooks for class and doodling, and the six fans that I would need to survive the heat. Other things like jeans and long sleeved shirts would be left at home and retrieved later, when the cold of winter semester returns to rear its frigid head. Yet despite my happiness at reaching a peaceful fusion of excited and prepared itís not packing that leaves my stomach in knots. Itís the fact that I will be following in the footsteps of the Great Drew Spriggs. It will be not only my job, but my personal quest to forge a brotherhood out of nervous new freshmen and to create a sense of stability in the ever changing world of college.
Part of me is absolutely terrified by this prospect. How am I, a person who just recently started figuring their own life out; supposed to help 23 new students navigate their lives? What happens if I donít do a good job? Or worse yet, what will happen if I fail my residents, people who will come to trust and depend on me? All of these doubts and fears linger in my mind, nibbling away at the edges of my brain.
 
Despite these fears, I canít help but be inspired and enthusiastic about this new opportunity in my life, this new horizon to explore and world to discover. Last year, was about discovering who I was as a human being and the direction I wanted to take with my life. This year is all about passing on that strength of purpose to a whole new generation of Mount students. Yes, I am terrified about helping them navigate the murky waters of college life, but plunging into the muck was part of the fun my freshmen year. People didnít tell me where to go; they just took my hand and lead me to the coolest places to swim and let me find that path for myself. In that same vein I hope not to be an instructor of my residentís futures but a sounding board for their ideas and a focus to lend their thoughts, power and direction.
 
As for doing a good job, I have no idea what kind of job Iím going to do, but in my mind I have a creative direction for what I want my residence hall to be and what I want to pass on to the young men that have been put under my care. All I can do now is to charge straight ahead toward the goal that I have set and give everything I am to that. If everything I am cannot accomplish this task then at the very least I will be able to rest peacefully knowing I laid all I am and have on the line. Those new freshman will come to depend on me (whether they know it or not), I believe Iím most prepared for that and I will not fail them. I donít know them well but my goal will be to know them and to act as the friend and guardian to all of them, and with that quest in my heart, I donít think I will be able to fail.
 
Now with all the frenetic movement of orientation weekend in full swing, the responsibilities are beginning to weigh heavily upon me. I think back to the immortal words of the RA who wanted me to be an RA. His last words of sage wisdom were: ďYou should never think of this as a career.Ē Heís right, because at the end of the day itís not about the perks, or the financial aid, or the snazzy polos; itís about being there for people who need you and thatís what Iím looking forward to. Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott


Junior Year: School Year Resolutions

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

As I write this, I am nearing the end of a two-week long training session for Resident Assistants (RA). What does this mean to the average individual? It means working from 8 am to 8 pm every day, being trained to expect the unexpected, and sitting through many, many PowerPoint presentations. It means going dorm to dorm and filling out Room Condition Reports where you must document every little pinhole and scratch left behind by former inhabitants. It means learning things you had no idea you didnít know, and keeping an eye on young adults who maybe canít keep an eye on themselves. In short, itís a grueling affair, but Iíve already discovered it is well worth all the effort. Iíve met so many wonderful new people whom I am very excited to work with and am lucky to have met. Iím gaining new skills in confrontation and mediation and knowledge of the Mountís policies that I did not have before. Most of all, Iím excited to apply these skills and prove myself as an RA, providing a safe community for fellow students and bettering myself as a person.

Along with the challenge of being an RA, I have been privileged with the position of Managing Editor of the campusís weekly newspaper, The Mountain Echo. I am learning very quickly that running a paper is no small feat. Advertisements must be sought, checks cut, stories written and revised multiple times, then of course there is managing the staff writers and making sure everyone is finishing their assignments on time. It makes me appreciate exactly how much work my own editor, Michael Hillman, puts into this paper. It is truly a momentous task, but one which I feel will teach me much about the profession I am pursuing.

With these two mountains set before me, it may seem ridiculous, even inconceivable, to burden myself with additional personal goals. Shouldnít I simply focus on my jobs and GPA? Arenít those enough for one person to handle? Well, yes and no. For a student, the beginning of a new school year is not unlike the beginning of a new calendar year. Goals are set (though not always reached). There is a tangible excitement in the air. The revitalizing summer has brought with it the promise of new and better year than the last. Though I know I have other obligations, which I fully intend to prioritize, I am determined to enjoy my college experience to its fullest extent. The Mount provides so many opportunities that I havenít even begun to invest in, but I hope that is going to change this year, even by just a small amount.

Part of my resolution is to participate in the Mountís outdoor adventure trips provided by CRUX. The CRUX office organizes everything from hiking and camping to whitewater rafting and spelunking, all things I would like to try. A new program CRUX implemented last year is called the Mount 100. Itís a four part series of hikes with each hike increasing in length by 10 miles. The accumulated length of all four hikes is equal to 100 miles. This is something I am very excited to challenge myself to do, though I know it will require quite a bit of physical discipline on my part. Guess itís time to hit the gym.

Other unique opportunities are provided by the Office of Campus Activities which organizes events and trips on and off campus. Last semester I took advantage of a trip to the Big Apple and, though I would personally never choose to live there, I saw some amazing things like the Statue of Liberty and Timesí Square. Campus Activities also offers the chance to be a part of the infamous Polar Bear Plunge, an event that I unfortunately missed out on last year but one I am determined to try at least once. Cold and crazy? Maybe just a little, but admit it, youíve always had that small part of you thatís wanted to try it just once. Well, Iím indulging that part of me because trying new things is what this year is all about.

Perhaps one of my simplest and most normal goals this year is to eat healthier. One of the perks of being an RA is living in a dorm all by yourself. I was lucky enough to be assigned to one of the campus apartments, which includes access to my very own kitchen. That means I no longer have to rely on campus food, no matter how tantalizing it may or may not be. However, it also means I may be experiencing some cruel reality checks when I come home from a long day of lectures and there is no food waiting on the table courtesy of my lovely mother. During those days it will be only too easy to microwave a Hot Pocket and forget about cooking something healthier. This is the exact kind of pitfall I will be trying to avoid as I enjoy the freedom of cooking whatever I want when I want it. Unfortunately, cooking also demands a certain amount of time and money, making budgeting a must. Alas, with independence comes responsibility.

All my excitement and ambitions aside, I am fully aware that I am at the Mount first and foremost to be a student, and no matter how eager I may be to try new things, academics is always going to come first. Unfortunately that means some of the things Iíve hoped to try may have to be passed up in order to study for a test or finish a project. With the tasks of RA, Editor, and student taking up the vast majority of my time this year, it seems almost surreal that Iíll be able to complete any of the things Iíve mentioned. Nonetheless, I will try my hardest to make them happen, because I believe from every new experience we gain knowledge about ourselves and others. Some things simply canít be learned in the classroom, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood."

With this in mind, I think I can summarize my school year resolution with two little words: to learn. Not just in the classroom but everywhere. I want to experience new things so that I can know myself better in order to be the best version of myself possible. I understand that I have responsibilities which will take priority, but I also understand that college is a very exciting experience with a multitude of opportunities that I may never come across again. It is a hub for all things unique, educational, fun and engaging. As the saying goes, "So much to do and so little time," especially as I am already entering my junior year. Needless to say, I expect quite a few sleepless nights this year.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones


Senior Year: Senior year and graduation...bring it on!

Samantha Strub
Class of 2013

That is the one word that hits me as I look at what this year will bring. Iím a seniorÖhow did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that my parents are I were loading up and driving out East to start my four years at Mount St. Mary University. I remember being so nervous having to drive across five states by myself and meet all new people. How quickly that nervousness went away as I now make the drive from Wisconsin to Maryland and back at least three times a year. That long drive is a force of habit now. As long as my iPod is charged, Iím good to go.

Graduation is now staring at me in the face. It is only 9 months away. That is right around the corner! Iím going to be walking across the stage to receive my degree before I even have time to blink. That is unreal to me, even though I have waited for graduation day to come since my freshman year, claiming that I wanted to start my career and be on my own. That independent spirit of mine always seems to come back to bite me in the butt when it comes to things like this. I should have not as talked about graduating so much and enjoyed the ride a little more. However, I think I have made it through my years in college because Iím always focused on whatís next. That focus has helped me create the balance of working hard and having fun. Some people made fun of me for always working very hard in my studies while they were off having fun. All through college I was balancing my responsibilities, work and studies with relaxing or taking adventures with my friends. Since I was always so busy, these relaxing or spontaneous adventures with friends were very special for me, as I was able to step away from reality.

Like the other members of the Class of 2013, I have many cherished memories from the days we made a spontaneous adventure, stayed up all night, relaxed outside, went down to Frederick, gossiped, or had a cooking and baking party in our apartment. There are many times when my friends and I were up late (not by choice) doing homework or studying for finals. We would all be in the common room laughing and rolling on the floor while trying to focus, but we were so exhausted that we couldnít and instead we would drink more caffeine and plug on. Some of my fondest memories come from the spontaneous exertions or the late nights; those are memories that will stay with me forever.

In 9 short months the Class of 2013 is going to be facing the real world, not the college world that we have been living in for the last four years. We will really be adults and go out on our own. We will be applying for jobs that we will love and be passionate about; not just a 9-5 job that we have been working at over the summers in order to save money for tuition, food and gas. Hopefully the Class of 2013 will have fulfilling careers in their degree fields. That is my hope for after graduation: to have a fulfilling career in which I will make in a difference in society and in my personal case, in the lives of my students. I want to be a role model, someone for them to come to and look to for help and guidance while learning the English principles and concepts, which is my duty to teach them.

This dream is finally going to be coming true. I have wanted to become a teacher since I discovered it was my passion in high school. I fell in love with literature and the escape from reality that a book offers to the world. I want to share that love of literature with future generations. I want to show them that a whole new world opens for them in the pages of a novel. That blank screen they open on their computer screen or the paper and pencil in front of them can be transformed into anything that their heart desires. I want to take my students under the spell of a good book. In showing the future generations this world, I want to make a difference in their lives, whether it is in their lives at school or being a pillar for them to rely on when they have no one else to turn to.

The reality of this dream is coming into existence; some days Iím ready for it while other days I want everything to slow down. Some days Iím ready for the challenges that the new world of teaching will bring and the difference that I will be able to make on the world, while other days Iím nervous for being completely independent. It is intimidating going off and living in the real adult life world so to speak. I will be completely independent and responsible for myself, which sadly includes all of my own expenses. That in itself is intimidating. Not to mention that I will have students relying on me for the knowledge that I will teach them.

However, before I can embark on that avenue of my life I have to complete the upcoming year. During those 9 months up until graduation, my plan is to work hard while still having fun. I want to come away with amazing memories from my senior year that will stay with me for a lifetime. I want more of those crazy nights that we will never forget because it is those memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. I want to try new things while still pursuing my passions. Most of all, I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

That desire to make a difference will come to a reality in the plan for me this semester. The plan is to gain experience teaching through my internship. This semester brings about an interesting change, as I will be interning at my old high school, Trinity Academy. It will be a valuable experience teaching three full classes by myself as well as doing writing workshops and tutoring for the students who are struggling. The other exciting opportunity that I will be experiencing this fall is being the assistant coach for Trinityís varsity field hockey team. This is yet another way that I can share one of my passions with future generations and be a resource and a role model for them in the process. In addition to interning at Trinity, I will be doing an education and communication independent study. It looks to be an exciting semester full of new experiences and challenges. I will be learning a lot. It will all prepare me for improving my teaching style and growing as both a student and a professional. I believe that Iím prepared for the challenge and will be prepared for any challenges that this semester will bring.

Senior year and graduation...bring it on!

Read other articles by Samantha Strub

Read Past Editions of Four Years at the Mount