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Saint Mary’s welcomes first years to campus

| Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First-year orientation, or “Belles Beginnings,” at Saint Mary’s ended Saturday with the powerful tradition of closing the circle.

Senior and vice president of internal affairs for the Student Government Association (SGA) Kelly Gutrich said closing the circle is the last event of orientation, where first-year students form a circle on Le Mans Green as a way to welcome them home for the next four years.

Gutrich said she spoke about the Saint Mary’s core values of faith and spirituality at closing the circle.

“I remember how scary the start of my first year was, so I was excited to share any bits and pieces of encouragement I could with them,” Gutrich said.

Gutrich said the intent of events like closing the circle is to help first-year students feel like part of the Saint Mary’s sisterhood from their very first weekend.

“Your first year of college can be such a scary time and we hope Belles Beginnings helps ease that scariness, and helps them start to find their niche at Saint Mary’s,” Gutrich said. “We truly care about our first years, so we want to make them love Saint Mary’s as much as we do.”

SGA academic chair Shannon Schalk, a junior, helped girls move into their dorms during Belles Beginnings and also spoke about the core value of learning. She said she felt the interconnectedness of the Saint Mary’s community when she spoke to the class of 2018.

“Looking at the young and nervous faces surrounding me from inside the circle brought back the memories of me over two years ago, [when] I was that young and nervous face,” Schalk said. “Learning is not just happening in the classroom, it is happening within them.

“In their four years here at Saint Mary’s, they will learn to unlock potentials and passions deep within themselves. Whether these passions are for their major, their best friends and this community, or volunteering, et cetera, by opening their hearts and minds they will be led down a path of discovery that can hold quite a few surprises.”

First-year student Jenny Indelicato said Belles Beginnings helped her transition to life at Saint Mary’s and inspired her to take advantage of the opportunities within her first year.

“It gave me hope that we will makes friends that will be with us for a while,” said Indelicato.

First year Dani Meersman said the passion Saint Mary’s students have is obvious and the upperclassmen were very welcoming throughout the weekend.

“It almost made me tear up when I got to campus and a girl was waving a sign that said ‘Welcome home, class of 2018,’ Meersman said. “I immediately felt like I was home.”

First year Abbie Spica said closing the circle brought feelings of care and compassion, and she could tell how much the upperclassmen really care.

“It was the first moment I had on campus that made me feel like part of a community,” Spica said.

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

Contact Haleigh