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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Graduation? But it feels like I just got here!

Katelyn Phelan

(May, 2011) When I reflect on certain periods of my life, I nearly always jump to the conclusion that the time seems to have flown by. But when I slow my reflection down, I realize that day by day, the time passed slowly. Then I get confused, which is it? Slow or fast? Well, itís both, I suppose.

It almost seems as if these past four years at the Mount have moved by like a blur, in the blink of an eye. But then I remember all the nights I stayed up until 3 a.m. finishing my reading, the weekends I spent writing four or five papers, the exams I studied for, and the classes I went to, and I remember how at times, the days and weeks seemed to drag by. I remember my countdowns to the completion of certain classes or until break. When youíre in it, you never think it goes quickly. Only afterwards do you realize how fast itís gone by.

When I think back to four years agoómy when I was preparing for my high school graduation and entrance into collegeóI have many of the same emotions as I have today. Iím excited for the future, but also apprehensive. Iím a little unsure, but confident that Iíll figure it out. Iím ready to leave, and yet hesitant to do so.

Though I feel similar, in some ways, to my younger self, I am also quite different. Iíve changed and grown a lot in my time at the Mount, though I didnít realize it at the time. As Calvin says to Hobbes, "Know whatís weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon 'everythingís different." And itís true. I didnít notice myself changing, but here I am, at the end of my college career, noticing that everythingís different.

One of the most important ways Iíve changed over the past four years is in confidence. Iím more confident in myself, both in what Iíve done and what I know I can do. This confidence springs largely from the tasks I accomplished at the Mount or experiences I had here. Iíve had challenging courses, but have learned new material and skills in order to succeed.

Because of the hundreds of pages Iíve written for classes, Iím confident in my writing. Because of the oral presentations Iíve given, Iím confident in my speaking skills. Because of research Iíve done, Iím confident in my ability to find the answers. And, perhaps most importantly, because of my interactions with professors, contact with my peers, and my time spent abroad in Italy, Iím confident in myself.

Iím also confident with the decision I made four years ago to attend the Mount. I havenít spent a single day here where I wished I attended a different university. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Mount in the first place was its small size. Iíve never been one to like huge places with little personal contact, so for that reason alone, the Mount was perfect.

I have certainly not been disappointed in that regard. I actually owe one of my majorsóFine Artsóto the collegeís small size. Fall of my freshman year I took a painting class because I loved art and needed to fill a space in my schedule. Because of my work in that class, my professor encouraged me to major in art. Without her support, I never would have pursued that major on my own. This individual support and encouragement would likely not have happened if I was at a large university.

My art professor is one teacher Iíve grown close to in my time at the Mount, but Iíve also had the opportunity to work closely with many professors at the Mount, an opportunity I probably wouldnít have gotten at a big school. Iíve done several independent studies, and through them have worked closely with professors and developed close relationships with them.

I have also benefited from the Mountís extensive list of required courses. The Mount has a 'core' set of classes; students must take about 60 credits of specific courses over their four years.

Many students have balked at taking certain required courses, myself at times included. But having completed all 60 credits, I have found nearly all of them to have been beneficial in some way. Even courses that I hated have given me a foundation in the subject and helped develop important skills, like writing. The core has encouraged me to try new subjects and to get a little taste of many courses of study.

My favorite core course was the non-west requirement. This requirement can be filled through a number of different departments. One could take 'World Religions' through the theology department, 'Stories of Islam' or 'Latin American fiction' through the English department, or any number of political science or business options. I liked my non-west course so much that I decided to take another one. I think itís important for everyone to be exposed to different cultures and ways of life, and the non-west course helps to do that.

I also chose to expose myself to culture through study abroad in Italy, and that was one of my most influential experiences in college. It was unbelievable to see the art that I had studied in a Mount St. Maryís classroom, hanging on the walls of a world-famous gallery, or to walk to same streets that Dante Alighieri knew when he wrote his Divine Comedy. I was hesitant to go on this trip at first, but am so glad I chose to go.

Another decision Iím happy I made was to study hard and take as many courses as I could. There were semesters I took 21 credits, 2 classes over the average course-load. I took more than required because I wanted to get the most out of my time in college. I asked myself, when will I ever have to opportunity to take these courses Iím interested in again? Probably never. Thatís one of the things I will miss most about being at the Mount, the opportunity to take a variety of classes and constantly explore new topics and learn new things.

Iíll also miss my friends. Of course Iíll still keep up with them and see them, but weíll never live together again or go on spur of the moment Sheetz trips at 2 in the morning. The Mount has allowed me to get a great education, make wonderful friends, and continue to grow into the person Iíd like to be. Iím ready to leave the Mount, but hesitant to leave. At this moment, it seems like I started my freshman year just yesterday. Despite the times when the days seem to drag by, Iím amazed that in a few weeks Iíll be receiving my diploma and leaving the Mount as a college graduate. Time really does fly.

Read other articles by Katelyn Phelan