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Steps of Saint Mary’s

Ashley Charnley | Saturday, August 21, 2010

Welcome, Class of 2014, to the greatest place on earth. (Notice there is no bias in my “voice.”) Okay, so I may be a little biased. However, I think once you’ve watched your first three years speed by, you’ll be envying the position you are in now.
Granted, your current perspective makes it seems like getting through the remainder of this weekend, let alone the academic year, will be tricky. I’m hoping I’ll be able to help break through your nervous, apprehensive point of view and make you realize you are about to begin some of the best years of your life.
So, I’ll do it with an extended metaphor that, with any luck, makes sense.
College is like a giant flight of stairs. (Bear with me, please.) When you are a first year at the bottom, you look up the steps and it looks daunting, exhausting and almost unattainable to get to the top.
There is one piece of optimism, though, which will help you take that first stride; it’s only uphill from here.
I’ll be the first to admit, that you will get tired as you climb the flight to your degree. This fact will never change. What does change as you ascend the steps of higher education here at Saint Mary’s is that the first step is the last one you will ever take alone.
I won’t lie to you and say this will be a breeze. No college will ever just let you waltz through it. I can think of a thousand positive things to say about Saint Mary’s, but easy will never be one of those. It’s made for young women looking for a challenge.
As I said, every place of higher education will challenge you mentally in one way or another. What sets Saint Mary’s apart is the community you encounter as you begin your battle to reach the top. There will always be days when you reach the landing and want to quit. While at Saint Mary’s however, there will never be a day when you hit that point and have nowhere to turn.
This won’t only come from the friends you make in the residence halls and classrooms. It will come from your professors as well. While you are on campus, they will learn your name, take an interest in your education, and more than that, they will work with you to ensure that you are doing your best every day. It isn’t just a career for them. The professors at Saint Mary’s see you for who you are, and not just another student who will be moving out the door come graduation.
A good challenge, good friends and good professors make Saint Mary’s a good school. In my personal experience though, it’s the Sisters of the Holy Cross that make it an excellent school, and a college experience you quite literally could not replicate anywhere else.
During my time here, I have been fortunate enough to spend time with the Sisters at the convent. Without those Sunday brunches with my favorite women on campus then I am positive my journey up the “stairs” would have been far more overwhelming.
It has always been a refuge on the days when you simply just need to escape everything. On the days when you can’t do anymore work, you can’t deal with anymore drama and you just need to relax in the company of amazingly impressive, intelligent women.
It is within this smaller community that the larger community of Saint Mary’s has found its heart and purpose. Without the Sisters, it would be a pleasant place to pass the four years rather than the life-changing one it is now.
So, as the small twinge of doubt starts to creep up your spine and you hover over that second step that will lead you into your first year of college, just remember, this is the only time you’ll move alone. This is the only choice you’ll make without another mind to guide you. It is also one of the few choices you make that I can almost guarantee you will not regret.
Take the step. It’s only up from here…

Ashley Charnley is a Communications Studies and English writing major at Saint Mary’s College. She can be
contacted at acharn01@saintmarys.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.