Nicole Caratas | Friday, May 18, 2018
When I was looking for which college to go to, my dream schools were Kenyon College and Boston College. I ended up at Saint Mary’s as a compromise.
I loved the College, and my parents loved that it had connections with Notre Dame. The deal was I would major in engineering and get a degree from both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame.
That didn’t last long. By the time my deposit was down, I was set on doing anything except for engineering.
When I was a first year, I found the English writing department. I took a poetry writing class because writing had been something I turned to since I was little. I thought it would be a for-fun class, but two weeks in, I decided this was my major.
During my sophomore year, I took a humanistic studies class that focused on the high society of Great Britain, and within a few weeks, I declared humanistic studies as my second major.
As for The Observer, I joined my freshman year to force myself to write more. I had never worked in journalism before, but I quickly grew to love it and thought this was my life’s path. I took too many stories every week, and by my sophomore year, I was made Saint Mary’s editor.
While I loved serving Saint Mary’s, I quickly realized that journalism was not where my passion was. I thought I loved The Observer because of what we did, but really, the only part I cared about was the way we brought Saint Mary’s stories into the spotlight.
This College has done nothing but change my life for the better. I know everyone loves their schools, but Saint Mary’s is different. It doesn’t have quite the worldwide name recognition that Notre Dame appears to have, but that didn’t stop me from finding a recent Saint Mary’s graduate when I went to Singapore. When I saw the Lumineers in concert, a Saint Mary’s alumna was sitting behind me and my friends, and recognized us by our class rings; to say we instantly connected with her was an understatement.
The Saint Mary’s community is crazy. I’m a writing major, and I have no words to describe this kind of community. I didn’t think I’d be able to care about strangers this much, but the love between Saint Mary’s Belles is something completely unique.
This College is incredible, but I cannot even attempt to explain what it feels like to be part of a department here.
The English writing department made me realize I was not as good of a writer as I thought, and then built me up to be a better writer than I could have ever been. They made me realize writing is not something to be done alone. You need fellow writers to critique your work, build you up when you get discouraged and share a bottle of wine every now and then. Dr. Bremyer encouraged me to go to graduate school for creative writing, and because this woman genuinely cares about each and every student, I found the strength to follow my dreams even though what I want is not exactly a conventional, money-making path. Even though the future for writers is never secure, Dr. B made me realize you have to do what your soul tells you to do. Because of her passion for our craft and her dedication to the writing students, I am genuinely happy about my future plans.
The humanistic studies department is a monster. These professors expect more from their students than should even be legal, but they do it because they know we can do better each time. Even though I have shed my body weight in tears over these classes, the Humanistic Studies department transformed me. Between Dr. Shinners, Dr. Ambrose, Dr. Hicks and Dr. Bird, this department has no shortage of brilliant minds. These four professors also liked to take the “tear you down before we build you up” approach, but let me tell you: they churned out some of the strongest students in the college. Not only that, but I was able to find my best friends through this major. Plus, they let me interview Margaret Atwood, so that’s pretty neat.
While I’m sad that I’m leaving this place, I know the Avenue will always lead me home (yes it’s cheesy — let me live my life). I don’t know how to thank the people who got be to this point, so I’m going to just call them out by name.
Martha Reilly, Stefanie Dyga, Kaylie Johnson and Courtney Weston: thank you for putting up with me, supporting me and being the best human beings I could have possibly found in this crazy world. I want to take you with me to Scotland, so please don’t fight me when I try to shove you all into my suitcase.
To the professors I named earlier, and every other professor I’ve had in my time here (especially Dr. Haigwood), thank you for truly being incredible. I don’t think many people can graduate college and honestly say that every professor they have had has been life changing, but I sure can. It meant the world to me to learn from you and with you, and it’s that much harder to leave this place knowing I won’t see these people every day.
To my parents, sister and brother-in-law: thank you. I don’t know how to summarize everything you people put up with, so I’ll just leave it at the thank you. Also, sorry for getting a tattoo, but not sorry because it’s a Saint Mary’s one.
Finally, to Saint Mary’s in general: I know I sound cheesy, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was totally emotional through this whole column. But this school seriously has made me into the [hopefully awesome] woman that I am today. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had gone anywhere else, and I’m glad I don’t have to find out. I don’t want to think about driving away from this campus for the last time, but I know that once a Belle, always a Belle. So thank you to everyone here. I thank you. I love you. I will never forget these four years. #BelleYeah.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.