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The Graduate

Inside the Emmitsburg News-Journal
Years and years at the Mount: why the Four Years at the Mount column?

Kelly Conroy
MSM Class of 2012

(9/2012) Freshmen often wear their Mount lanyards around their neck (making themselves easily distinguishable) until one of the upperclassmen graciously shows them how their Mount cards can fit in their wallets. Seniors at the Mount often live in apartments and occasionally set off the fire alarms because of their dabbling with some of momís recipes. For those of us at the Emmitsburg News-Journal, "Four Years at the Mount" is one of the column headings in the monthly paper that lets us give just a small glimpse of lifeóthe blunders, the achievements, and the growthóat the Mount.

Chelsea Baranoski, a Mount writer, compares reading the Four Years at the Mount section to watching a TV sitcom: "This sitcom has everything: comedy, drama, and adventure. The articles leave you with the Ďto be continuedí mentality: what will happen next? Will the student land the job? Will the student join activities on campus? Will the student make it through exam week without falling asleep in the Niche? Keep reading to find out."

The Editor of the ENJ, Mike Hillman, believes strongly in the purpose of the Four Years at the Mount section: "It allows us to showcase to the world the exceptional students who have come to the community of Emmitsburg. We, as a community, are better off because of the Mount students."

Hillman continues that people who live in Emmitsburg often wonder about Mount students. The ENJ gives a glimpse into the hearts and minds of students beyond the beautiful, sprawling green campus (Baranozski).

On the flip side, the Mount writers feel grateful to be welcomed into the community by the ENJ. We enjoy learning more about whatís going on in the town and feel more connected. We also appreciate the opportunity to work and develop our writing skills, and even make some money or use our time writing for the paper as a credit-based internship.

Itís one thing to study English or Communication Studies, and itís another thing to actually put that knowledge into practice. Itís one thing to put that knowledge into practice for a homework assignment, and itís another thing to put it into practice in a paper thatís going to press. Writing for the ENJ is a challenge, but a very welcome one.

Writing about our lives going through college gives us some time to reflect. Jackie Fennington explains, "Since my article detailed the many issues graduating seniors experience, I finally faced the fact that graduation and beyond were a reality and I would soon be leaving that perfect world on the mountain. The Senior Year column helped me weigh out many different options post-gradÖWriters have the opportunity to experience life's moments on a whole new level by writing it out on paper. It's that outsider looking in perspective that writers get from writing about their own lives."

Fennnington continues that Mount students can connect with and appreciate the Mount writers: "Whether you were a freshman dealing with a whole new world, a sophomore stressing about the increased workload, a junior trying to find an internship or a senior figuring out what to do with your life, both writers and readers found comfort in those articles. Readers found comfort knowing that someone else was going through the exact same thing and they weren't actually going crazy."

It may seem like the Four Years at the Mount section has been figured out. Or that itís always been easy to determine the role Mount students should play in the ENJ. That is not the case. The Four Years at the Mount section didnít always exist. It hasnít always been the same. The Four Years at the Mount section has a story. The Mount studentsí involvement with the ENJ has slowly evolved and developed. Each Mount writer became connected with the ENJ in a different way and played a different role. Itís not the end of the story either. Hopefully, more Mount students will write for the paper in the future and work to make the paper better and better.

 

In November 2010, Julia Mulqueen wrote a letter to the editor of the ENJ arguing that the new Emmitsburg law requiring bicyclists to wear helmets is "an infringement upon our basic liberties as human beings. Should we not, as John Stuart Mill argues, be able to pursue our own good in our own way? I firmly believe that if one wishes to act imprudently and ride a bicycle without a helmet, he should be allowed to do so. It does not seem proper to have the government interfering in matters that only concern an individual. Certainly for example, if my not wearing a helmet put others at risk, it would be more than appropriate to require me to wear one. As this does not appear to be the case though, it seems that the government should step back in this matter and allow us as citizens to make our own mistakes."

The Editor replied offering Julia a monthly column in the paper . . . and soon after, the Four Years at the Mount column began. Sam Strub, currently the senior writer, will be the first Mount student to write about her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year experiences for the ENJ.

Even with the Four Years at the Mount section in place, the paper and the Mount writers wanted more. One day, Mike Hillman received an email from one of the Mount writers, Katie Phelan. In addition to her senior year column, she had also included a pet article and a news article. She also told Mike that she was working on a write-up about a lecture on sweatshops in China. "The Mount students have a wealth of great stories to tap into," Hillman thought. And "tapping into" them began.

Chelsea Baranoski was the first creative writer. Her usual request was "am I able to send you more than one article at a time?" Mike says that her writing still "wows" him today. Perhaps you remember her "A Howling Good Christmas" story about pets at a pound on Christmas Eve? It is still considered one of the best creative writing stories to be published in the paper. Visit emmitsburg.net, look under "Article Archives," and then "Baranoski" to reread it!

In addition to the Creative Writing column, the Arts column was initiated by a Mount student. As a double major in Communications and Fine Arts, Kathryn Franke offered to write about the Arts for the paper. Since then, you have read about the Mountís production of "Urinetown," the showing of Shakespeare plays in Frederick, and a host of other artsy happenings.

The Mount studentsí interaction with the ENJ continued to evolve. In November 2010, Mike decided that he wanted an article written about Dr. Dorsey, the faculty advisor for the Mount writers for the ENJ. After sending an email about wanting the article written to the Mount writers, Mikeís inbox was flooded with responses.

Mount writers were doing more than offering to write the articleóthey were collaborating ideas to make it a great article! Sam Strub thought it would be beneficial to have quotes from all of the Mount writers about their experiences with Dr. Dorsey and how he had made them a better writer. Katie Phelan suggested that they gather information about his "life, why he became a teacher, his family, etc." because she thought it would give more interest if they had some background on him and that way it wouldnít just be "mushy" about their experiences with him as their mentor.

Jackie gave further guidance for the nature of the article. After her comments, Mike elevated Jackie Quillen to the position of Assistant Editor.

Up until this time, a woman named Pat Bell served as the English editor, and when she passed away, Jackie stepped up to the plate. The Mount students were able to keep the paper alive and running. The editor was able to sleep at night, knowing that the "English" was in capable hands.

Once, when Dr. Dorsey was out of town, Jackie had to take on additional editing. She edited some of the other Mount writersí articles and mentioned to Mike that there were some parts of an article that she didnít think were "Mount appropriate." Jackie stepped out of her role as just a grammar and English editor, and Mike appreciated it.

Mount writers continue to try to make the paper "better" by sitting down and really reading through the paper and giving Mike our honest thoughts. What do we like? What do we find missing? What would we improve if we were the editor?

By now, you might be thinking, if youíre a Mount student, "How can I get a job with the ENJ?" Iíll share a couple stories about how Mount writers landed jobs and perhaps you will find inspiration.

Samantha Strub, currently the senior writer for the ENJ, first contacted Mike Hillman when she was a freshman. She told him about her plans to be an English major with secondary education. She told him that she would love to write about "what itís like being a freshman at the Mount from Wisconsin," "move-in day at the Mount and the first week of school," or she could contribute three poems she had already written about horses.

Can you guess what got Sam a job with the ENJ? If you know Mike Hillman, you know that he loves horses. Sometimes landing a job doesnít mean sending in the perfect letter or resume. Sometimes it just depends on catching the editorís attention.

Again, you never know why you might get hired. Megan Kinsella and Kathryn Franke are both members of the Mount cross country team. One day, they ran past Mike Hillmanís house. Mike was outside and introduced himself and told them about the paper. Soon after, Megan attended a Mount writers meeting and Kathryn sent Mike an email and they both began to write.

The Four Years at the Mount column keeps students and the community from being limited to four years at the Mount. It can keep the Mount spirit alive to the Emmitsburg and broader community for years and years. So letís keep it going.

Read other articles by Kelly Conroy