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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

A Sign of the Times

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(5/2014) Itís been an amazing three years so far here at Mount St. Maryís. Maybe itís the fact that Iíve been busy with a million different things or working hard on my schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, but it still seems like it was only just yesterday when I began my adventure to the mountain beyond the horizon. While itís been a wonderful run, and I still have one more year left to squeeze all of the adventure I can out of the Mount, itís hard to look at the end of my junior year without a twinge of fear in my heart. You see, Iíve based my entire life around this campus. I know its ins and outs, its hidden secret places, and its funny little flaws. After three years I still consider Pangborn Hall my home away from home, and Iíve grown accustomed to interacting with my peers and the faculty here. The beauty of a place like this one is how much it can start to feel less like a school and more like a home. One of the amazing things about the Mount (and something that it shares with Emmitsburg) is that in a lot of ways, both places are small, tightly knit communities that depend and thrive on one another.

Now, with my journey almost at an end and on the cusp of another adventure, I wanted to think back on what brought me to Mount St. Maryís in the first place, what that taught me about the person that I wanted to become, and the people I wanted (and still want) to surround myself with.

Admittedly, Mount St. Maryís University was not my first choice for a college. I had grown up only 40 minutes away in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, a small town most famous for the two family-owned restaurants that dominated our local economy. I had gone to Catholic elementary and high schools, spending most of my formative years learning the finer points of the Catholic faith alongside science, philosophy, and literature. I had even flirted with existence at the Mount in the form of weekend religious retreats like Mount 2000. However, no matter how much I liked the campus and no matter how much I enjoyed the years I spent in private school, I was convinced that my future belonged as far away from this area as humanly possible. It was familiar to me, and thus the antithesis of the things that I wanted to do with my life. I had great ambitions that I thought could only be satisfied if I went as far away as I could while still getting the kind of education that I wanted. To that end, I found myself on a sojourn to Bronxville, New York, and a college called Sarah Lawrence.

While most people are familiar with Sarah Lawrence because of its appearance in the popular Shakespearean adaptation Ten Things I Hate about You, I was familiar with the school because of my love for the famous poet Thomas Lux, one of the collegeís prestigious alumni. As soon as I found out where he went I couldnít apply fast enough. I read all their emails, pored over every letter they sent me, and when I realized how expensive the school was going to be, my heart physically sank a little bit. To me, Sarah Lawrence represented everything that I wanted. It was thrust in the beating heart of New York City, which came with untold chances to explore a wild urban biosphere so different from my little country town. The curriculum was infused with a love for the bizarre; everything from the student-run productions to the way that class was taught had this alien air to it that I found both intimidating and yet undeniably attractive.

When I thought that I would not be able to attend I was crushed. However, almost in the same moment as I thought I was defeated, I got a letter from admissions saying that 90 percent of my tuition had been paid for. It was official; I was going to be a Griffin.

Or so it would have been, had I not decided to go on an overnight visit to Sarah Lawrence. It was an event that I thought would herald my arrival. I would get the chance to sit in on actual classes, interact with the people I would go to school with, and finally experience something outside of the small town that I thought I wanted to leave. I was nervous but excited when we arrived on a Friday afternoon, my bags packed and my eyes wide. Then, a funny thing happened. It just didnít fit.

It wasnít that I didnít love the campus (it was gorgeous), that the classes werenít up to par (they were brilliant), or that the students werenít welcoming (the student body was incredible); there was just something off about the way I felt. I couldnít explain it if my proverbial life depended on it. Even though everything was going my way, it was just plain off. By the time the weekend was over, I felt even more dejected than when I thought I couldnít attend at all.

This is the part of the story where fate turns out to be a pretty funny thing. Originally, the Mount was supposed to be my last choice. There was absolutely no part of me that wanted to attend Mount St. Maryís University, so when I went for an orientation weekend at the Mount, I was hesitant. If my top pick had fallen through then would I ever really find a place where I wanted to belong? Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong if I had tried. Over the course of a few days I found that I loved everything about the campus. I made a fast group of friends that roamed around the Mount with me until the wee hours of the morning, and I realized that the last place I wanted to be was in fact the only place I could see myself.

Over the past three years Iíve had the chance to prove to myself that I made the right decision a million times over. Iíve found mentors and friends, love and heartbreak, and so many new opportunities that I would need to take the entire newspaper to describe them to you. Despite it all, the fact that I wound up in the strangest of places serves to illustrate the biggest lesson that I learned in the last three years: never expect anything. Sure, you may think that you know exactly where youíre headed right now, but the truth of the matter is that on any given day you could wind up in some strange city, surrounded by people you donít know, doing something you never thought you could: and youíll love every second of it. So, hereís to three years of never knowing where I was going, and six semesters of just pretending like I had a clue about what my next move was. And hereís to many more years of that. Whether youíre leaving as a senior, starting your sophomore year, or thinking about exploring the lovely world around us, enjoy the fact that you have no idea where youíre going. As a wise man once said, the path of least resistance never leads beyond your doorstep. Iím Kyle Ott. Wonít you sit and read for a while?

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