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Building Bonds

Ashley Charnley | Friday, August 21, 2009

The words “all women’s college” were a huge red flag in my mind. Not because I’m boy crazy, but because I had grown up in a house of all women, and couldn’t imagine adding another 1,500 females to that list. However, one orientation day later, I knew there was no other place I would rather be.

Being a northern Indiana girl, I had visited Notre Dame several times with my family. In all those trips to the golden dome though, I never once went to see Saint Mary’s. Unlike many of the girls here, no other women in my family had gone here. So, I stepped onto campus with absolutely no idea what to expect. I had come from a public school, so the concept of an all- women’s Catholic college was completely foreign to me.

President Mooney gave the welcome speech at orientation, and she began to talk about the type of women who had been accepted into Saint Mary’s. She began to talk about her own experiences at the College, and what struck me most about her words were how genuine they were. You could tell that she wasn’t just trying to sell the school, but sharing her real feelings about what Saint Mary’s had meant to her. As the day went on, all the stories were the same. This wasn’t a school where you just go to class, but a place where you formed your views on life, the world, and your place in it. The girls here made it clear this wasn’t just a college, it was a home.

Now, entering my junior year, I am one of those girls who can tell you that Saint Mary’s will become your second home, not only for the next four years, but for the rest of your life. Saint Mary’s will never just be a school to me. It is where I decided where to go in life, met inspiring professors and found my closest friends.

Your first few weeks, maybe even months at Saint Mary’s won’t be perfect. They are filled with apprehension about meeting new people and getting the work done. However, before you leave at the end of your first year, you will find yourself missing everything about your time here. The late night cram sessions with the girls, the junk food at 2 a.m., and the girls you were in the trenches with when the professors gave you two papers and a test on the same day will make you long for fall to come.

So, for those of you who were like me and worried about moving to the all-female world that is Saint Mary’s, you should know that this is one of its strengths, not one of its weaknesses. This is a place where women can thrive, find themselves and form bonds that nothing can break. This isn’t just a place of higher education, but a home where you can grow within yourself. My best advice to you is come here, but more than that, come here and get to know the amazing women that surround you. There is no other place where so many talented, compassionate and intelligent women will gather together. Take advantage of the company you are privileged to keep for the next four years.

I know you are nervous now because you are here on your own. I know that feeling. I came here alone too, but I will leave here with dozens of women who I will never forget. Saint Mary’s and the women you meet here will always be with you. So no matter what, just remember to have fun.

Ashley Charnley is a junior Communication Studies and English Writing major at Saint Mary’s. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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