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Those before me

| Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I still remember my first breakfast in the dining hall. I was determined to make friends in college, so I made toast and wove through a sea of completely empty tables towards the one table that actually had an occupant.

As I would later learn, the student was a senior, and actually a stellar soprano in the choir. And here I was encroaching on her precious 8am cup of coffee. But you know what? She smiled, introduced herself and proceeded to answer all my random college questions.

During that first week, I slowly learned the proper dining hall protocol. But I’ve never forgotten the way that senior positively influenced my first day at Saint Mary’s. As I progress through my own senior year, I can’t help but reflect on how much I owe to those Belles who have gone before me.

There are countless women who have inspired me on this campus, and here, I feel it is fitting to focus on the past few Saint Mary’s editors of The Observer. Witnessing their journeys as writers, both here and across the ocean, as well as their lives as authentic people with a mix of perfections and flaws, has been an honor.

When I went on a research trip to Iowa this weekend with my professor and a freshman Biology major, it struck me that now I am a senior at the peak of her college career. Did those seniors of years past, despite their incredible accomplishments and personalities, feel as nervous and uncertain as I was when faced with the prospect of stepping off the beaten path and taking the real world by the reins?

When I think about those who already watched the leaves fall from the Avenue for the last time, who already experienced their last “first snow” on campus, who already walked across that stage in the spring, I realize that the answer is most likely yes.

Part of me wants a new student to randomly sit down with me at breakfast one morning just so I can tell them it’s ok to be nervous and uncertain. Just so long as there is some excitement mixed in with those nerves.

Because that’s what those women who went before me had in common. They all had a contagious passion for their area of study. Thank you for teaching me that this passion enables one to walk down the Avenue towards an even more exciting future.

Seniors of years past, you inspired me to pursue my passion, even if that is an odd combination of writing and looking at museum bird specimens. I only hope I can properly pass the baton by inspiring at least one first year the way you inspired me.

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

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn