Mia Marroquin | Friday, May 21, 2021
“Don’t blink,” — my mom, circa move-in weekend in 2017.
May 22, 2021 — graduation day
May 23, 2021 — moving day
May 24, 2021 — first day of work
These three dates have been marked on every calendar and a countdown has been etched into my brain for months, and now they’re here. Against my mom’s advice, I blinked and the past four years have flown by. Despite everything that has happened in the past year, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I’ve been putting off writing this column for the longest time, probably because I still haven’t fully acknowledged that this chapter of my life is coming to an end. I’ll be honest, I never really loved college. Now don’t get me wrong — I’ve loved the sisterhood I’ve joined, the thought-provoking classroom discussions, the walks down The Avenue and Sunday brunch in Noble Family Dining Hall, but I’ve never really loved college.
I’m lucky to have found my communities at Saint Mary’s, whether it be with the girls from my section in McCandless Hall during first-year, the rag-tag group of passionate student journalists in the basement of South Dining Hall or struggling through communication theory with fellow majors in Trumper until 2 a.m.
But I still felt like something was missing. It wasn’t until I finished my senior year remotely from my physical home that I realized that this missing piece I was searching for was not tangible. But rather it was the summative experiences and emotions that turned Saint Mary’s into my home during the past four years. It was the exchange of smiles walking across campus with a fellow Belle from your first-year seminar, the way the dining hall workers would tell you to have a “blessed day” on your way out the door and so much more that made Saint Mary’s feel like home. And much like my parent’s home, I’m confident that no matter how much time passes it will always feel (and smell) like a safe place.
I realized that loving college meant loving every moment no matter how mundane or challenging. All of these collective moments are what form this chapter that cannot be rewritten. Once I stopped comparing my college experience to “normal” or “good,” was supposed to be I fully allowed myself to fall in love with the life I was living in South Bend, Spain, Chicago and everywhere in between.
My friends and I recently made a collaborative playlist on Spotify called “SMC Rewind” where we have compiled nearly three hours worth of music reflective of our last four years. The playlist is somewhat of a mosaic of our time here whether that be driving down the Avenue with the sunroof down singing “All Too Well” at the top of our lungs or walking to Notre Dame football games singing “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”. Each song if played alone is just another fun tune, but the memories associated with them have turned them into my favorite sounds.
During my senior year of high school whenever someone asked me where I was going in the fall I always responded with, “a small women’s college in Indiana,” rather than saying Saint Mary’s and being met with blank stares and polite smiles.
Four years later I’ve grown to recognize that Saint Mary’s is far more than just a small women’s college in Indiana. It is a place of growth, of discovery, a lot of tears and priceless memories.
It’s where I met my best friends — the ones I’ve watched grow from timid, cheap vodka drinking girls and guys to strong, motivated articulate men and women.
It’s where I gained the confidence to move to a Spanish speaking country for a semester despite never having taken a Spanish class in my life. Studying abroad allowed me to travel to countries and cities that I’ve only ever dreamed of, alone.
It’s where I’ve continually been amazed at the passion our faculty and staff hold for their positions and our students — whether it be in holding students to a caliber of work they know they’re capable of, or reaching out with kind and supportive words in a time of illness.
So finally — thank you. To my parents who made this dream possible and instilled in me the values of a Catholic education and stepping out of my comfort zone four years ago, and everyone I have crossed paths with along the way.
And always go Smicks, go sisterhood.
Mia Marroquin is graduating with a degree in communication studies and minors in public relations and Spanish. Following graduation Mia is packing her bags and moving to Chicago to work for The Bozzuto Group as a sales and marketing associate. You can contact her at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.