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Four Years at the Mount

This month, our writers are enjoying their first few weeks of the summer. We asked them to write about some of their favorite memories, summer plans, and thoughts on the months to come!

Summer Dreams

June 2016

Work & Leisure

Michael Kenney Jr.
MSN Class of 2019

In a culture windswept by social media and movie marathoning, I suppose my laborious summers have been pretty unorthodox. Nevertheless, summertime is continually the capstone of my year, and while my family typically treks on rustic vacations full of símores, swimming, and lagging cell phone service, our 2014 summer vacation at the Grand Hotel was an exquisite twist in time and culture.

Can a regimented summer also be a relaxing summer? Although it may seem paradoxical, my regimented summers are contingent on genuine leisure. The term "leisure" is too often confused with "laziness." While laziness neglects responsibility, genuine leisure comes as a consequence of fulfilling a responsibility. In Book X of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle famously writes, "we work to have leisure, on which happiness depends." In other words, you cannot enjoy rest until you have invested in work. My summers testify to Aristotleís statement.

My parents have never sympathized with my ambitions to become a summertime couch potato. In a household of seven children, my siblings and I learned from an early age that "being bored" never sufficed as an excuse for them. Some chore could always use an extra hand: laundry needed folding, meals needed preparing, and younger siblings needed shuttling to various practices and activities. Nevertheless, my parents have encouraged us to capitalize on our summer free time. In particular, I utilize the summer as a time to invest in my athletics and education, which enables me to enjoy genuine leisure time. As a result, my summers analogize to skipping rocks upon a pond; each summertime goal ripples into unanticipated opportunities.

Summertime has always been a time of rewarding athletic and academic work.

Starting at about age ten, I would wake up at the crack of dawn each summer morning and ride my bicycle five miles to the nearest university gym. I shot hoops for hours on end until the varsity menís team arrived to conduct their practice. The team chatted on the sidelines and watched me until their coach arrived, cueing the start of their practice and the end of mine. After weeks of this routine, I became well acquainted with the guys on the team and their coach. They occasionally invited me to join in their drills and eventually asked me to assist with their summer camp for boys. Both opportunities were ideal ways to grow as an athlete and leader.

Since having "retired" from competitive basketball, I have become a track and cross-country runner, and the summertime has been a pivotal time for me to rack up mileage. I have gotten a job at my local running shoe store, which has enabled me to guide novice and experienced runners select shoes that best suit their running style and training regimen.

In addition to athletics, I have traditionally spent a large portion of my summer learning. I cannot begin to quantify the number of summer hours I have spent tucked away in a stuffy library, completely immersed in a treasure trove of books and audiotapes. I have always enjoyed reading, so cracking open a book at a poolside has never been burdensome to me either.

Last summer, I made a deal with my parents in which I committed to full-throttle ACT preparation and college hunting in place of a full time job. Luckily, I learned a lot, had fun, and ended up discovering Mount St. Maryís University in the process!

But my summers are not "all work and no play."

At the conclusion of each summer workday, my whole family gathers for a cookout dinner. Our dinners spill into lengthy conversations accented with a blend of music, laughter, and savory aromas. We then top off each evening with a family board game, film, or bonfire.

Although our day-to-day leisure elicits fond memories, our familyís annual summer vacations to Northern Michigan render the most remarkable fun. Our most extraordinary summer vacation occurred during the summer of 2014 on historic Mackinac Island. The island itself resembles the classic charm of a Norman Rockwell photograph, teeming with bicycle riders, horse drawn carriages, and quaint window shoppers.

While we were on the island, our family resided at the Grand Hotel, which has stood as the crowning jewel of the island for over a century. Staying at the ritzy mansion was an absolute dream. The interior of the hotel was decked in pastel colors, baroque furniture, and pictures of the international leaders who vacationed there. Croquet on the front lawn, strict dining room dress codes, and chandeliers in the ballroom -- every aspect about the extravagant atmosphere was worlds away from those of our suburban Detroit home!

My summer vacation on Mackinac Island was a unique experience. While we enjoyed the luxuries that the Grand Hotel offered, we also had opportunities to hike in the woods, stuff our faces with fudge (a hallmark of the island), and learn about the French and Indian War battles that took place there. Although Mackinac Island is only a few hours away from my home, our vacation was like a breathtaking step back in time.

So what are my grandiose plans for this summer? Nothing too exciting. I have to get my wisdom teeth removed, and I will train a lot for my upcoming cross-country season. I will be working at a shoe store again and will probably take a summer course. In terms of leisure, I plan on visiting some relatives in New York City and Chicago and then capping off the summer with a family vacation in Northern Michigan.

But who knows? Maybe, like skipping rocks, my plans will ripple into unanticipated adventures.

Read other articles by Michael Kenney Jr.


Those summer nights...

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

I have never liked summer. It has always been too hot, too humid, and the chances of me getting a sunburn are astronomical. Recently I have been warming up to the idea of summer, however, writing this article in the middle of the recent bouts of rainy days, I could do with a few hours of sunshine. I miss those summers long ago, maybe because I am far removed from the heat and mosquitos, but looking back at the summers of my youth, I am struck by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

When we would travel for a summer vacation, my family would travel to the far away and exotic Ocean City. We would spend a week at a small flat that our relatives owned. It was not a grand place or luxurious, but for the week it would be ours: Our place at the beach. For a week, I was surrounded by the smell of chlorine, sunblock, and the ocean. My sister, my father and I would go to the nearby pool in the afternoon. We would have to walk fast because the asphalt would have been baking in the sun all day and we would usually go barefoot.

My family is not made up of beach dwellers. We would go to the beach, of course, but usually it was at the end of day when all sunbathers and beach runners had gone away, along with the fading sun. My father would bring his fishing rod and see what he could catch; my mother and sister would sit in some chairs and bury their feet in the sand while I would walk, wander, and look for sea shells. The one down side of these memories is that they are tinged with the memory of the sunburns I used to get, no matter how much sunscreen I lathered on. Months later in the dead of winter, we would slip on some shoes and be surprised to find that some left over sand of long gone summer had hidden away in the crevices.

While we have not gone to the beach in quite some time, there are things I do over the summer that will stay with me always. I will always remember going to my grandparentsí house, over the river and though the woods, and chasing fireflies in the fading twilight. The smell of freshly mowed grass and the sound of cicadas. I remember laying down on the sun-warmed asphalt of their driveway and looking up at the lightly swaying eves of the trees. I will remember sitting outside with my grandpa and watching the hummingbirds fight over control of the feeder, as my grandmother hangs sheets on the clothes line. Most likely, I will go and spend a few nights there this summer, it is the one tradition that I can never and will never stop.

This summer, things are expected to change in a big, big way. As I have previously mentioned with my other articles, my sister is getting married. Actually, by the time you read this article the wedding will be over. The confetti will be swept up, the cake eaten, and she will be starting her new life. I am so happy for her, but at the same time a little sad that everything will change. I remember, in years past, Katie and I would sit at the dining room table with my parents and play cards or dominos.

This summer, unfortunately, will be filled with work, but I am trying to squeeze in a few moments of summer into my never before, busy schedule. Hopefully, I will be able to write a bit more, but so far I have been unlucky in those endeavors. In the midst of the sweltering heat and oppressing humidity of summer, I always forget the fond memories of those summer nights long ago.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir


Summer time!

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

 

I walked into the gym today and Ė "Hey Leeanne, wow you look tired" was the first thing I heard. I responded letting everyone know that of the past 15 hours, I had slept for 13.

Summer!

My summer will consist of three real parts: first, somewhere in the middle, and last will be a strange cycle of sleep, random fun, and working at the pizza shop. The second real chunk will be spent in Fort Knox, Kentucky, at CLC (Cadet Leaders Course) or "camp," as it is affectionately referred to as. Finally, the third chunk, falling in between camp and the last cycle of sleep and work will be a couple of weeks spent in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

The first part is this "strange cycle." I call it strange because every day is different and every day moving from a 13 hour work day one day, to a seven hour sleep day the next. In between work and sleep will be the random fun. My friends have become experts at hunting down free concerts, or concerts under the maximum 20 dollars, so a lot of time will be spent cheering for up-and-coming artists at random venues in York, PA. I have already begun to consume too much ice cream, be it a McFlurry (my go to) or a random find at a little ice cream shop. Iíve binge watched Friends and Girl Meets World. And, Iíve found a new gym since my old one mysteriously shut down and got a new phone number that I havenít been able to track down Ė all a lot of fun.

In a few weeks, Iíll fly to Louisville, get on a bus to Fort Knox, and my fun will shape shift. Iíll spend 30 days there, 18 days in the field, operating out of a tactical patrol base, five days testing in the classroom and qualifying on weapons, one day celebrating the Fourth of July, six days in-processing and out-processing on the front and back ends, respectively, and one final day graduating with my new Battle Buddies. The 18 days in the field will probably be the hardest test that the Army has given me so far. We will ruck out to the field and set up a Patrol Base in the most ideal spot that we can find in the woods. Each day, at the end of each mission, we will move and set up a new Patrol Base to sleep in and operate out of for the next 24 hours. Each morning we will wake up around 0300 and conduct a mission until NLT (No Later Than) 1100. There is an emphasis on avoiding Heat Casualties during Cadet Summer Training in the humid Fort Knox weather, so no missions can be conducted above a certain temperature Ė Kentucky normally reaches this predetermined temperature around 1100. At this time, we will return to our patrol base and begin planning and rehearsals for the next dayís mission.

There is a constant leadership rotation and regardless of which leadership position, or general position, that we are in we will be constantly evaluated on our performance, attitude, mental agility, and more. This evaluation will end in a cumulative COER (Cadet Officer Evaluation Report) and a ranking among our peers that is relayed back to our cadre at school.

The tough part wonít be the monotonous planning or rehearsing, and it wonít even be executing each mission every day. This is all expected, and has been drilled into our heads for the last three years and practiced so much that I could absolutely do it all half asleep. Sure, this will be a test. A lot, and I mean a lot, of cadets will have more tactical knowledge than I do and Iíll learn by operating alongside of them, but the real test will be the unexpected. The real test will be the heat that will send many to the hospital; it will be the random rain storms at any time of day, the "casualties" cadre will give us in the middle of a mission, making lifelong friends and working with all kinds of people, communicating and staying calm in every situation, eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for a month, no technology, only handwritten letters, and more. The real tests will come every day, and they will all be different. Iíll probably get bored, make best friends, and have a love/hate relationship with every moment of camp. Finally I will graduate and complete the CLC commissioning requirement Ė this will leave me only ten months away from becoming a Second Lieutenant, and I can guarantee I will be more ready than ever.

After camp, Iíll come home to the real world and re-commence summer! Iíll most certainly sleep way more that I should, and eat even more ice cream than I am now. Iíll return to my normal cycle of fun and work. Fun will again be in friends, adventures, and more instead of the small thrills of a bag of Skittles in my MRE.

Finally, my third "chunk" of summer will be spent in Haiti. This time, Iím going to visit all of my friends and the children Iíve fallen in love with. Summer school will be out of session; Iíll miss it this year because of camp, so instead of teaching I will stay with a full-time missionary friend and learn about her daily life. Mornings will be spent baby feeding in the ravine, but that will be the only constant each day. Afternoons and evenings will be spent at different missions and in different areas. A lot of my time will be spent visiting and enjoying my friends and the children.

My three "chunks" of summer are all drastically different. From cheap concerts, ice cream, and movies at home, to training at Fort Knox, and finally to daily missionary life in Haiti, the three seem to have nothing in common; however, as I stand a couple weeks away from camp, I think they may just be the perfect balance for my last college summer. I will learn crucial and important lessons, get to relax, and get to share and experience love in my favorite way. Hopefully, this will all leave me ready to return to the Mount for the final time.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary


Summer musings

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

In the words of Olaf from Disneyís Frozen, "I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot." Typically, I am a total mermaid, beach babe, surfer dude, shoobie . . . whatever you want to call it. I love summer, the ocean, and not wearing shoes. Unfortunately, this summer I will not be having quite the time that Olaf or I imagined.

Just a few weeks ago, I walked across the stage in the PNC Sportscenter, Dean Simmons handed me my "degree," and I shook hands with President Einolf and posed for a picture with my empty degree/portfolio-thingy.

And yet, I think I have decided I donít want to be done. I love learning so much, and I know there are still whole bodies of knowledge that I can absorb. So, I have decided to pursue my Masters in Gerontology from the University of Southern California! Gerontology is the study of aging, typically from a biological, sociological, and psychological standpoint. I have a huge weakness for seniors, and since eventually we will all be old, itís not really going out of style. I digress. Since I am in graduate school, I will be staying on as The Graduate writer for the time being, to give you some insight into my first few months after the Mount. Hope thatís okay with all of you, because I still have plenty of weird musings that I would be thrilled to share over the next few months! As for this article, Iíll just focus on what I will be doing this summer, as far as my graduate studies go, working, and my thoughts on all of that.

My first graduate class, titled GERO 500, started just three days after I officially graduated from the Mount. I donít want to bore you too much, but I will say it is amazing what online classes are like. Itís not just a PowerPoint to read and a bunch of quizzes and tests that you open-book your way throughónot that I would want that. I have interactive lectures to watch and respond to, multiple assignments connecting my world to what weíre learning, and opportunities to interact and learn more about my classmates, who are from all over the country. So far, it has proved to hang with my in-class lecture experiences. We shall see how it goes!

I know I sound like such a pity party. Oh, poor me. Started grad school right after undergrad, no summer, no free time, blah, blah, blah. I know you donít feel bad for me either, and you shouldnít. While some of my friends went into the workforce and start desk jobs this summer, I got the privilege of retaining my old gig at my pool for one more year. Thatís rightóI still get to spend my days at the swim club. I coach our clubís team in the mornings from eight to noon, then I stick around until eight at night and keep the place running smoothly till dark. It is probably the greatest job in the world because I hang around in the sun all day. I just wonít get all the shore time that Olaf and I would like.

After the summer ends, I will get a "real job" where shirts and shoes are required. However, I know that you know that I wonít be behind a deskóthatís not me. I hope to get a job that will put together two of my greatest passions: creativity and seniors. Yes, you read those right. Working in activities at a nursing home is probably the best job that I could ever have, second only to (you guessed it) managing and coaching my summer club. I know that both of those sound ridiculous, silly, and kind of no skill needed jobs, but I would say you are wrong. We always place a personís occupational worth in the hands of their bank account, their schooling, or natural ability, but we are wrong. Why do we count a personís worth in dollars, and not in the countless lives they have improved?

I believe we all have a calling to help humanity. For some of us, it is through teaching the next generations. For others, it is being a police officer, firefighter, or something of the like. For others, it is making money in the business world to donate to third world countries, or keeping all that money for yourself and having a really rich family. Do you. My point is, we all have a calling to improve another personís life through our work. To me, ignoring that calling is just plain wrong. I know that studying aging might sound like a drag, working in a nursing home might sound depressing, and doing activities with people who canít do much is just boring. But honestly, teaching children is actually my worst nightmare. Crunching numbers is brain numbing, and while my family members might say I am a great arguer, being a lawyer just never appealed to me.

Much like normal, I have gotten far off topic. I guess my point is to say that even though I wonít spend hours on the beach with my "snow up against the burning sand," this might be my best summer ever. I get to be in the sun every day coaching the sport I love, learning more each week about the group I am most passionate about, and most importantly, for the first time in four years my summer will go until Labor Day.

Read other articles by Katie Powell

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