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Saint Mary’s seniors share highlights of collegiate experiences

| Friday, May 15, 2020

Despite great uncertainty and sudden changes that cut their senior year short, the Saint Mary’s class of 2020 had no shortage of great memories to share about their college experience as they reflected on their time as Belles. 

For business administration major Maggie Cloud, her favorite Saint Mary’s memory happened during her first week of freshman year. 

We would play card games every night that week, and that is how I met my best friends,” she said in an email. “Since that first week, we have been inseparable, and I always remember that week as the first time I really fell in love with Saint Mary’s and it became home.”

These were the moments that solidified her friendships and contributed positively to her experience at Saint Mary’s.

“It was small moments like playing cards on the floor of my dorm room with my friends that really shaped my entire experience at Saint Mary’s, and I am forever grateful for that time,” Cloud said. 

Rebecca Strom, a humanistic studies and English writing major, said in an email that her favorite memories of college include both her earthly and supernatural college friends. 

The ghost in our Le Mans dorm, Paul, liked to play Cards Against Humanity with us,” Strom said. “Sometimes, he even won.” 

The pandemic is not the first unprecedented circumstance the senior class experienced during their four years.

Psychology major Olivia Rake’s favorite memory took place during the temporary cancellation of classes during the Polar Vortex of 2019.

“It was so fun just being able to spend all that time with my best friends,” Rake said in an email. “We were living in Le Mans at the time. We spent a solid two days binge-watching shows, laughing and eating way too many snacks. It was great.”

Rake said her time at Saint Mary’s was made special by the amazing people she met. 

“Having these close friendships has enabled me to have a ’family’ at school, and I think that’s what I will miss most,” she said. “I can’t wait to come back for football games and see all my friends again.”

In addition to the extreme cold, warm weather has also contributed to many great memories for students.

History and political science major Molly Donegan said in an email that her favorite memory is playing frisbee outside Le Mans.

One of my most favorite memories at SMC occurred the spring semester of my junior year,” she said. “One of my friends had a frisbee in her backpack, and it was such a beautiful day, so she suggested we go throw it around on Le Mans Green. We made our way to the iconic side of Le Mans and just threw it in a circle for a couple of hours with not a care in the world.” 

Donegan said experiences like this one and the welcoming community made Saint Mary’s feel like a second home for her. 

“The friends I’ve made here are lifelong friends,” she said. “I truly feel I am somehow a part of this giant extended family. I am going to miss barging into my friends’ rooms to see what they are going to wear on a night out and our late Steak n’ Shake outings. Most of all I’m going to miss living right down the hall from my best friends. This tight-knit community is what I’m going to miss the most.”

Despite all of the changes that occurred this semester in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional hooding ceremony still was a highlight for chemistry major and engineering student Andrea Ruiz-Montoya. 

“My favorite memory is the hooding ceremony,” she said in an email. “Even amid a global pandemic and having it virtually, the people who I cared about were there and that was enough for me.”

Ruiz-Montoya spoke on behalf of her class, stating that experiencing this virtually helped provide her with the closure she needed. 

“I was able to speak on behalf of the class of 2020 and express our gratitude towards the people who made this possible,” she said. “Although it was last minute, I was happy to see it resonated with many people. There was something about putting my feelings into words that gave me the sense of closure a live ceremony probably wouldn’t.”

Biology major Kassidy Jungles said in an email that her time at Saint Mary’s was defined by moments that made her understand what it means to be a Belle. 

I have so many special memories of Saint Mary’s, but I will never forget walking over with fellow Belles to attend Domerfest,” Jungles said. “A few hours earlier, I remember saying tearful goodbyes to my parents and in a matter of hours, I felt so welcome and as though I truly belonged at SMC. When we walked past Le Mans, juniors and seniors opened their windows to display SMC posters and shouted, ‘Belle Yeah!’ to the first-year students below. In this moment, my entire college journey existed right before my eyes and I would do anything to be able to experience it all again.”

Becoming a resident assistant and participating in the Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders (SUSI) had had a positive impact on gender and women’s studies major Genesis Vasquez’s experience, she said in an email. 

“I was a RA 2017-2019 and in the SUSI program summer 2018,” Vasquez said. “I met amazing people and some of my best SMC friends that have been with me through a lot of different phases in my college career and personal life. They have shaped me into the person I am today, and I thank them a lot for really having my back.”

Abigail Seubert, a psychology major, said in an email that she will miss the wonderful people she has met during her time at Saint Mary’s.

“The friendships I made in the first weeks of my freshman year that have become my lifelong friends,” Seubert said. “From Domerfest and dorm parties to spring breaks, sleepovers, holiday gift exchanges, wine nights, 21st birthday celebrations, all-nighters studying for exams, you name it … I’ve had my best friends by my side. I will miss living with my best friends, but I know the relationships I have formed during my four years at Saint Mary’s have foundations to last us a lifetime.”

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