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Saint Mary’s seniors reminisce on College experiences

| Friday, May 18, 2018

As another year comes to a close, members of the Saint Mary’s class of 2018 are bracing themselves for Commencement and the future while reflecting on their collegiate experiences.

For some, like senior Olivia Burnett, Saint Mary’s felt like home since the beginning of their time on campus. Burnett said she fell in love with the College before fall break her first year.

“Everything just felt good and happy and safe, and I was surrounded by great and supportive friends,” she said in an email. “I was enjoying my classes. My dorm room was cozy. It felt really right that I was here. Not that I ever questioned it, but I just came to be so confident in the fact that Saint Mary’s is where I was meant to be. It was the place that I was meant to grow in my education, my social life and my faith. It all felt very comfortable.”

The experience that stands out above all others for Burnett took place during her first year, but she said many more instances add to what she’ll always love about her time at Saint Mary’s.

“My favorite memory is hanging out with Drake Bell at his hotel after his concert at Legends freshman year,” she said. “[For others,] it’s not exactly a specific memory, but just being in the presence of my friends, laughing, hanging out in the dining hall, walking around campus, just soaking everything in.”

Senior Stefanie Dyga said she did not truly experience all the College had to offer until after studying abroad, but she fell in love with Saint Mary’s in the end.

“It started to feel like home my junior year, after getting back from study abroad,” Dyga said in an email. “I had wanted to transfer my first two years, but when I got back from Ireland, everything started to fall into place. I finally opened myself up to all that Saint Mary’s has to offer, and here I am now, a week from graduation and I never want to leave.”

Dyga’s favorite memory is grounded in friendship and hours of work and time spent in the Cushwa-Leighton Library’s basement computer lab, the Trumper Computer Center, she said.

“During November of my senior year, I was basically living in Trumper, spending upwards of 10 hours per day in there completing the grueling process that is the senior comp,” she said. “There was a night that my comp girls and I were all super stressed, so we took a study break and drove to Taco Bell at 2 a.m., laughing and singing along to music. It was then that I knew I could get through anything as long as I had them.”

It is these experiences that create the lasting friendships Dyga said she will keep after leaving campus. This “sisterhood” is what senior Kate Zurovchak said she will miss the most.

“I’ll miss the sisterhood and the environment — you know, seeing my friends every day and being able to walk down the hall and say hi to them and ask them about their day,” she said. “Well, I’ll be able to do this through text, but just to be there in person and hear about their day, share stories and laugh.”

Zurovchak said her favorite memories revolve around outings with others, whether it be a sporting event or a 7-Eleven run.

“I really enjoyed going to football games and tailgating with my friends,” she said. “For tailgates, a lot of my immediate family and extended family would come in, and then a lot of my friends and I would walk over to Notre Dame and spend the whole day together. That was really nice. Two of my friends and I would go on Coke slushie runs to 7-Eleven. We used to do it more sophomore and junior year, but those are really good memories.”

Saint Mary’s provided Zurovchak with more than lasting memories and friendships, she said. The College has also given her a sense of purpose in her future occupation, nursing.

“I think specifically with nursing, [Saint Mary’s has given me] a sense of empowerment and the desire to advocate for other people and the patients that I come into contact with,” Zurovchak said. “I feel like that’s been a reoccurring thing. Professors always stress that you have the power to do the good that you want to help other people.”

It is lessons like these that Burnett said she will embody after graduation.

“Saint Mary’s has taught me so much about myself,” she said. “Since day one, I have been uplifted and encouraged and empowered. I have learned how to carry myself as a confident woman in the world past my time here. SMC has taught me my self-worth and how to approach the real world from that confident perspective. I will hold all of those lessons near and dear to my heart for the rest of my life.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

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