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Opportunity knocked

Anneliese Woolford | Thursday, May 13, 2004

I remember thinking that it would be the be-all, end-all.

I remember sitting on our living room couch, tears streaming down my face and falling softly onto the letter in my hands as though it would cushion the blow.

I remember the anger, confusion and shock that I felt being denied from the one school I had worked so hard for-Notre Dame.

Now, here I am four years later graduating from Saint Mary’s. It’s somewhat ironic that I ended up so close to Notre Dame with three opportunities to transfer had I chosen to do so, but I didn’t.

I came to Saint Mary’s with every intention of being enrolled at Notre Dame by sophomore year. Although the College was my second choice out of several other schools, I couldn’t help but echo my friends’ concerns.

“You’re going where?” they asked. “You’re the least likely person to end up at a place like that.” A private school was one thing, but all women was another. I casually reassured them that it would only be temporary and prepared to pack my bags for South Bend, Ind.

Nothing could have prepared me for the experiences I was about to gain.

Within the first few days on campus I met an amazing group of girls, many of whom I remain close friends with today. Whether coordinating the closest possible housing arrangements or choosing the best bar on a Saturday night, we have been – for the most part – inseparable.

My group of friends was only one factor that prompted me to stay at Saint Mary’s. Small class sizes coupled with insightful and challenging instructors were aspects I had not been provided in high school. It didn’t help that my peers and I strove for similar goals, therefore providing a sense of competition on the intellectual front.

I had no way of knowing whether these same opportunities would be waiting across the street. I found myself with the best of both worlds being part of a tight-knit community while also sharing the benefits of a large University, so I decided to stay where I was.

Suppressing my excessive apprehension, I auditioned for and was accepted into the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir sophomore year. As part of the choir, I have been on two tours visiting cities from Vancouver to Washington, D.C. in addition to performing at Carnegie Hall and recording two CDs – opportunities that I never dreamed possible at a small college.

Two more unexpected breaks came junior year. Recognizing my interest in journalism after taking a course taught by now Chicago Tribune reporter David Haugh, I began writing for The Observer. My experience paved the way for a South Bend Tribune internship, a summer internship at my hometown paper and the Saint Mary’s Editor position at The Observer.

I often think back as to whether or not I regret passing on the chance to attend Notre Dame. I then remember the memories and reasons why I’m in the place I am today and realize I wouldn’t want the past four years to have worked out any differently. On Saturday as I receive my diploma, I will be – more than ever – proud to have chosen Saint Mary’s.

Anneliese Woolford is a graduating English Writing major and former Saint Mary’s Editor of The Observer. Although she is pursing a career in journalism, as of now – she has no job. She is particularly interested in the Chicago area and will continue to job search over the summer as she (hopefully) prepares to move to Lincoln Park in August. No full-time job means two part-time jobs, so any contacts or leads are much appreciated – wink, wink. She would also like to thank her family and friends for their continued support in making the past four years what are sure to be unsurpassed.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.