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Four Years at the Mount

This month we asked our writers to ruminate on what it was that drew them to Mount St. Mary's University. We also bid a fond farewell to our Graduate writer Leeanne Leary and wish her well in her future endeavors.

Why choose the Mount

September 2017

Looking back at lobstersÖ

Angela Tongohan
MSM Class of 2020

Second semester of my senior year of high school, I faced one of the most important decisions of my adolescence. Which was, I had to choose which college I wanted to attend. At the time, I had been accepted to a number of colleges in the area, but only two really caught my eye.

The Mount was always one of my top choices. From a young age, my family and I have been visiting the Grotto yearly. It was my motherís dream for me to attend Mount St. Maryís, and she was rather vocal about it.

I liked the Mount. But I always felt like it was a little too close. A little too familiar. Which wasnít a deal-breaker, but growing up in generally the same area for most of my life, I was set on college being a completely new adventure.

My dream school was the University of Maine. I had always been in love with the state of Maine. The idea of small towns, the proximity to the ocean, the lighthouses, the lobster. Everything about it appealed to me. When I received my acceptance letter that year, I was ecstatic. I thought I had everything figured out.

My mother was not as excited as I was about my decision. She felt that Maine was a little too far, a little too big, and a little too unknown. She convinced me to visit the Mount. Just to make sure that I absolutely didnít want to go to this school.

Now, as we all know I did end up choosing the Mount; this is why. The minute I stepped onto the campus, I was amazed by how beautiful it was. It looked much different when youíre standing next to the Mother Mary statue up near the Grotto. There was something homey about the campus. It was like entering a secluded, gorgeous little world. Walking around, following the tour guide, I couldnít help but feel excited. And another thing I found peculiar was that everyone looked so happy.

The religious aspects of the school were also very prominent. The statues, the church, the view of the Mother Mary statue standing sentinel, over the entire campus. Everything was so enchanting. I was someone who grew up and grew into my Catholic faith, and being a part of a university that could foster that made me feel safe.

After that everything changed. All my plans for the University of Maine were replaced with plans for a future at the Mount. I joined the Facebook pages, followed their Instagram, I watched all their YouTube videos, and slowly but surely fell more and more in love.

When I finally attended the school my opinion of it only got better. Now, Iím in my second year, and I am pretty set on a double major in English and Biology. I currently take a Genetics class and every Tuesday and Thursday, I attend an English Lit class., between the two of them and my other classes I couldnít be more excited.

Another plus is the Mount always has activities to do: outdoor adventure with Crux, parties with Amp, or (my personal favorite), social work with the Office of Social Justice. I never feel bored, and constantly feel fulfilled.

I also have great fun at work. For all those who feel like campus jobs are an absolute life-ruiner, it isnít here at the Mount. I work as an FA over at the ARCC, and it couldnít be a more pleasant experience. The supervisors are easy to talk to and skilled. The job itself is not stressful, and allows for time to also focus on your studies. Iíve made several friends from working at the gym, and I am so excited to work there again this year.

I do not regret choosing the Mount. Sure, there may be times that I wonder "What if?". What if I went to Maine? What if I chose to move so far away? But then I look outside my dorm window, see the gorgeous green grass, the tall stone buildings, the clear blue sky, and think to myself, "Iím happy where I am now."

So, for all those students who are sitting at home, struggling to choose which school to go to, I would like to give some advice. Visit the school! That is so important. It is important that you feel comfortable and happy in the environment you will be spending most of your college career in.

Another thing I would say is, if you like me are use to being near home, make sure you are comfortable being far away. Because I thought I wanted to be as far as possible. I wanted to go to Maine for goodness sake! But now, I canít imagine being in school and not having the option to come home every weekend or so.

But the most important thing to think about when choosing your future school is, "Am I going to be happy here?" And if the answer is yes, then youíve found the one, kid.

Read other articles by Angela Tongohan

Things are different at the Mount

Shea Rowell
MSM Class of 2019

A few years ago, during my last year of high school, a single question was at the forefront of my mind. How could it not be, as every one of my friends, teachers, and family members would ask me the same question: where are you going to college? My answer was invariably some form of the ever-reassuring phrase, "I donít know." I had no clue where I would end up, or where I wanted to be. I was undecided as to what I would study, and completely lost in the sea of possible career choices. Many of my classmates were able to answer the question in startling detail, as if they had their whole lives planned. Theyíd be attending Shenandoah for nursing, JMU for accounting, Virginia Tech for engineering, or some specific combination of a dream school and career. I was not quite so certain. I knew that I enjoyed music, and that I loved to read and write. I wanted to incorporate both into my college studies. I wanted to continue my education in French, and even take a few classes in subjects I had never taken before. All I really knew was that I wanted to learn, and improve myself in as many ways as I could. To my dismay, none of my College Board research provided a school with a major in "Everything." Most schools I visited championed the career-oriented, fast-track programs that I dreaded, but one school was different. A liberal arts school, where every student was required to take classes in multiple disciplines. A school where faith was incorporated into the academic program, and where undecided students like myself would have the freedom to explore.

Before long, I found myself enrolled at Mount St. Maryís University, studying Music, English, and French. I fell in love with my major studies, and even those classes outside of my major like Mathematics, Philosophy, Theology, and Sociology. I was fascinated by the depth of knowledge my professors had achieved, and how they were able to challenge their students to think in new ways and expand their horizons. I found myself in awe of the people who I met there. Students standing in front of carefully-decorated poster boards, advertising Pan-Africa Club, Amnesty International, and Ballroom Dance Club communicated their enthusiasm for new members. The campus chaplain captured attention with his joyous demeanor, and friendly chatter with students. Campus calendars were filled with sports games, service trips, dances, and concerts. Even though I knew it would be impossible, I wanted to attend every event, join at least ten clubs, and take 22 credit hours of classes. The Mount had more opportunities to grow and explore than I had hoped for. I knew I had chosen the right school.

Every semester, every week, and every class I would spend at the Mount after that would affirm my choice. I would soon learn that the Mount is a place where everyone is given the opportunity to be an individual. Each person has an opportunity to grow and learn, to discover his or her passions, and to explore faith. Each is known by name by his or her professors, coaches, and instructors. At the Mount, a student is more than a number, a potential evaluation, or a blank stare in a lecture hall. Each student is a person with unique skills, passions, and backgrounds. This, for the Mount, makes all the difference.

The Mount is unique because of the people who live and work within her. Itís the professor whose door is always open for assistance during office hours. Itís the music instructor who poses welcome challenges to his students, and guides them as they rise to it. Itís the basketball players who salute their fans after a tough game out of state, and the coach who reflects upon their season with grateful tears. Itís the resident assistants who work long hours to ensure the safety of their peers, and the students who spend late library nights with a large coffee and a paper to finish before morning. Itís the dining staff who always greet you with a smile and familiar chatterósometimes a hug if youíre lucky. Each of these people contributes to the wider entity that is the university. Each of them leaves their mark on the school, and makes the Mount a place where everyone is given the encouragement not only to succeed, but to flourish. Sometimes, it seems that the Mount is a person herself. One with her own desires, motives, personality, and voice. She, influenced by her students, faculty, and staff, advocates for kindness, and values integrity over worldly success. She is welcoming, as many come to her seeking a home. She integrates scholarship with faith, and provides a place where students can come to live, learn, and grow.

And so I have. My two years at the Mount have passed faster than I knew time could move. But within them, I have learned about history and philosophy, theology, and sociology. I have travelled to Birmingham to explore Civil Rights history, and Gettysburg to explore the pizza (and the battlefields too). Washington DC to learn about the Holocaust and to experience a professional Shakespeare production. I have made music with local groups who have taught me to be courageous enough to play loudly and confidently (but also, to play the right notes), and not-so-local groups who have taught me to survive rehearsals conducted in Russian or Chinese. Iíve cried through my first bite of spicy Pakistani food, and attended a morning prayer service at Frederickís local mosque with my roommate to pray as Muslims do. Iíve been challenged to tutor my peers in mathematics, and to climb a little higher at Cunningham Falls. I have escaped daily routines through Campus Ministry retreats, and have spent more time in prayer and study of my faith than I ever thought I would. In many unexpected ways, the Mount and the people Iíve met there have given me the gifts of growth and exploration, study and faith. While in many ways I am still the same frightened young person whose future is uncertain, I couldnít be more enthusiastic to spend my present at Mount St. Maryís.

Read other articles by Shea Rowell

SoÖItís my Senior yearÖ

Sarah Muir
Class of 2018

As I have been informed by numerous persons, itís my senior year of college. It is funny how many people start off nearly every conversation with, "SoÖitís your Senior yearÖ" and I am left to give an awkward drawn out confirmation coupled with a small presentation of what I plan to do with the next few decades of my life. Senior year, I have been told, is the odd combination of fun and arduous work. Itís the culmination of oneís formal education, a year filled with projects, papers, and internships to prove that one is ready and able to join the throngs of the adult working society. Perhaps I have made this sound a bit too cynical and if I did, know that it was not my intention. To be entirely frank, I feel a bit how I felt as a Freshman; nervous, excited, and a bit anxious. However, I do not feel entirely unprepared and that is entirely because of my education and experiences I have had here at Mount Saint Maryís University.

Four years ago, I accepted to begin prepare for my future here at the Mount. I began as an undecided major, oscillating between History and English. I was seventeen, shy and a bit awkward (traits I havenít, nor will I ever, fully shake off). Yet, with all my apprehensions and "what ifs," things worked out better than I thought. In the first couple of months I fell, quite accidentally, into a job at a local newspaper because I told a girl named Lydia that I enjoyed writing, she remembered, and I was introduced into the Emmitsburg News-Journal. Now, four years later I am managing editor, which I had never expected to be. My first year of classes was wonderful, then again, I have always had a want for learning, a desire to know whatever there was for me to know. With the Liberal Arts education I have received the world has been brought closer to me, opened up, and I have been granted access to study it further with the tools I have received through my education.

I admit I complained a great deal when, after fourteen years of formal Catholic education, I found religion classes were still a "thing" in college. Nevertheless, every theology and ethics course that I moaned and groaned about has made me a more thoughtful individual. Now, by "thoughtful" I do not mean "sharing is caring" or saying Ďpleaseí and Ďthank youí (though you should do both). Rather, I have become more aware of the world around me and my place in it. More importantly, I have a deeper connection to God and my faith than ever before.

Since we have touched upon faith, the added benefit and one of the main reasons why I chose the Mount in the first place, was because it had the proper conditions to cultivate spiritual growth. My faith has always been important to me. At the Mount the Catholic faith and tradition is such an integral part of the community and I was able to thrive in my faith and reach a deeper understanding and love for God.

As far as my major is concerned, I fear I love English now more than I ever have. The professors I have met, whose courses I have taken, are filled with such an unbridled enthusiasm that it is positively infectious. Even the subjects I did not much care for were redeemed by the professors. It is inexplicitly wonderful to see people so passionate and knowledgeable about the subjects they teach especially in my own area of interest. To see a love for language and literature, especially in a world that seems to be forgetting their importance is comforting. Some people seem to forget that to be an English major is not just about books, but it is a recognition of how an individual can change some parts of the world, for good or ill, with a command of words.

It is a bit bittersweet, this final year at the Mount, and I find that as the year begins I am already a bit homesick at the prospect of leaving. The Mount is a wonderful university and I am fortunate to be a part of her noble history. This brings into my mind a quote by Albert Einstein, "The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think," and with my senior year at the Mount beginning I find myself agreeing with him. I have been fortunate enough to receive a phenomenal education here; lessons and knowledge that will serve me long after I walk across the stage and accept my diploma. I have learned to think and process the world around me through a multi-faceted lens all thanks to a liberal arts education and the professors that have served the Mount Saint Maryís community.

Though Iíll be busy this year with internships, my studies and a few part-time jobs I know that all these things work towards a good future. I am unsure where my future is going or where my education will bring me, but I am happy to have had this time at the Mount, learning and growing and taking advantage of what they have offered to me. Throughout these four years at the mount, I have found it stunning how much can change and at the same time comforted that the particulars stay the same. I still love what I do, still strive and struggle to do it well. I am eager for this yearís challenges and struggles and interested to see how I adapt and overcome whatever comes my way and see how much growing I still have to do. So, yes, it is my senior year and I am nervous about what lies ahead, nevertheless, I am looking forward to it.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir


Leanne Leary
MSM Class of 2017

A few months ago, right before the commencement ceremonies at the Mount, I wrote a farewell to the Mount, my friends, professors, and all that accompanies life on the Mountain. Now, as students are preparing to say goodbye to summer and move back to campus for another year, I find myself saying another farewell, only this one feels more real.

As incoming freshmen are walking into their dorms for the first time setting up beds, desks, and laying down carpets all tied together by a unified color scheme and rising seniors are throwing garbage bags full of clothes, lamps, and sheets into apartments, I am sitting in Ft. Lee, VA out of the loop.

A large part of me thought that this moment would feel weird. The residence life and admissions offices are posting pictures of Pre-Orientation trips and I have friends positing about their final days of summer, and again, here I sit in what seems like a different world.

After this edition, I will no longer write for the Emmitsburg News-Journal and what seems like my final tie to Emmitsburg will begin to fade. I started writing for this newspaper when I was eighteen years old. I didnít know what I would end up majoring in, I didnít know what passions I would find, I didnít even know what religion I claimed. Yet, I sat down in front of a laptop that has since been deemed garbage, and wrote about a fundraising for Cancer event for my first article.

Over the past four years, anyone who has stuck with me has read as I figured these things out. I changed my major, joined ROTC on a whim, made my best friends, struggled through typical college stressors, took my very first trip to Haiti, ventured to India, Bulgaria, and Canada, and came out alive.

Not only did these things happen to me as they do to most people, but this Newspaper gave me the very exclusive and quasi-surreal chance to record it all as it happened. I could flip back to my March 2015 edition and probably feel the stress coming from my words as I prepared to watch all of my friends graduate at the end of my sophomore year. I could find August 2014 and marvel at my response to my first trip to a third world country, and track how that trip turned into my life over the next three years. I could pull out December 2014 and read between the lines to see a falling out with friends and how patience and apologies ruled over any classwork that might be on the table. October 2016 holds the tale of my student teaching and the 120 eighth graders I saw every day. Spring of 2017 found my love for Creative Writing and my Senior Research. This newspaper, even if nobody has been reading, even if you have only read the titles of my articles each month, has documented every ounce of growth during my time at the Mount, and it did it without me even realizing it.

The Mount will continue to go on, growing in virtues, community, leadership, discipleship, and so much more year after year as classes come and go. The Mount moves forward as the world does, and right now a new Freshman student is moving into the dorm I cried and laughed and yelled and danced in four years ago. The majority of these passing years will never be rightfully documented or properly remembered. Some will end up as pictures in the front lobbies of the freshmen dorms and others will receive awards that earn them an engraved plate with a list of previous students, but the moments in between will exist primarily in memories and Instagram collages. Because of this newspaper and its readers, this will not be the case for me.

I probably wasnít always the most interesting read. Sometimes I was so caught up in the world of school that my articles were written frantically before deadlines. Sometimes I stared at my computer screen for hours listening to Taylor Swift Pandora and eating chocolate Ice Cream as I waited for the articles to write themselves. Sometimes my articles that sounded nice in my head turned into a blatant stream of roaming consciousness that never came to much of a conclusion. Regardless, the opportunity to share my perspective and my life with all of you and with my future self has been just that, an incredible opportunity.

What comes next for me is finally coming together. I will be moving full-time to Haiti in November of this year to teach. I will fly home for drill once a month and continue to try to live the double life that I hope I am called towards. What will come of that is entirely uncertain, but, as everything else has done over the past four years, I know that it will figure itself out and make much more sense than I could have planned for. What I do know, is that I will write it all down. This four-year journey has taught me so much, but through this newspaper I have learned one of the most important lessons and that is to document, always. Everything will work out, or at least it has so far, but if it doesnít get written down, half the experience is lost. Writing captures all, and as I flip through the past four years of editions, this becomes all the more obvious. So, though I am certainly not qualified to be giving life advice yet, I do have one piece of it; write it down, read it later.

Read other articles by Leanne Leary

Read Past Editions of Four Years at the Mount