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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Taking the Shepherdís Staff

Kyle Ott

(9/2012) Itís almost impossible to believe that the New Year has already begun. For the college student the ritual of the New Year does not include time square and raining confetti. Instead the New Year starts with next year of college and all the challenges, trials, and opportunities that arise.
The idea of beginning anew has been met with mixed reactions by yours truly. This time packing every single belonging I owned into the back of minivan did not seem nearly as soul crushingly brutal. I can still distinctly remember the exact way the van was packed when I began my freshman year. The rack of t-shirts tucked neatly on the left side by the window, the boxes which held everything from plastic cutlery to the stuffed chicken lovingly named ďHugginsĒ who I had bought just for Freshman year. I remember looking at the back of the van and everything that I could want or need for half a year and thinking how it all just seemed so very surreal. The experience was made even more unusual when I arrived at my residence hall. There I was surrounded by a group of people who I did not know and who had no idea who I was, on top of a mountain, on my own. Compounding that was the fact that I was not only encouraged but expected to be a fully functioning adult by the end of orientation.
Just when I thought I was going to be overwhelmed, caught in a tidal force of textbooks, meal plans, and responsibility; I met Drew Spriggs. Drew, was the RA of the third floor of Pangborn hall, and one of the biggest role models for me my freshman year. It was Drew, who valiantly led Pang 3, with a leadership style that was simply unique. Rather than shout in our faces or drive the idea of community into our heads, he sat back and manipulated things from the shadows. Whether it was getting us interested in a program we thought weíd never go too, or simply sitting in his room waiting for someone who just needed to talk; Drew subtly developed a community that forever altered my freshman experience. The brotherhood that Drew shaped became the backbone of my life at Mount St. Maryís. It was the foundation that I would rely on whenever I couldnít weather the storms of college life on my own. When I was having a horrible day, it was my hall mates who sat in my room and comforted me. When I performed in the Delaplaine Performing Arts Center as Don Juan last spring it was my hall mates who decided to surprise me by attending the production, taking up an entire row of the theater for our matinee performance. Moments like that made me realize that the things I did here at Mount St. Maryís werenít wasted, and that no matter what I could always depend on the people I lived with. This idea that my community was something I could depend on was a gift from Drew.
This year when I packed up my belongings it seemed less like a massive shift in the way I conducted my life, but as something that was normal even second nature. Everything was packed away in precisely the way I needed it. Certain things received emphasis: notebooks for class and doodling, and the six fans that I would need to survive the heat. Other things like jeans and long sleeved shirts would be left at home and retrieved later, when the cold of winter semester returns to rear its frigid head. Yet despite my happiness at reaching a peaceful fusion of excited and prepared itís not packing that leaves my stomach in knots. Itís the fact that I will be following in the footsteps of the Great Drew Spriggs. It will be not only my job, but my personal quest to forge a brotherhood out of nervous new freshmen and to create a sense of stability in the ever changing world of college.
Part of me is absolutely terrified by this prospect. How am I, a person who just recently started figuring their own life out; supposed to help 23 new students navigate their lives? What happens if I donít do a good job? Or worse yet, what will happen if I fail my residents, people who will come to trust and depend on me? All of these doubts and fears linger in my mind, nibbling away at the edges of my brain.
Despite these fears, I canít help but be inspired and enthusiastic about this new opportunity in my life, this new horizon to explore and world to discover. Last year, was about discovering who I was as a human being and the direction I wanted to take with my life. This year is all about passing on that strength of purpose to a whole new generation of Mount students. Yes, I am terrified about helping them navigate the murky waters of college life, but plunging into the muck was part of the fun my freshmen year. People didnít tell me where to go; they just took my hand and lead me to the coolest places to swim and let me find that path for myself. In that same vein I hope not to be an instructor of my residentís futures but a sounding board for their ideas and a focus to lend their thoughts, power and direction.
As for doing a good job, I have no idea what kind of job Iím going to do, but in my mind I have a creative direction for what I want my residence hall to be and what I want to pass on to the young men that have been put under my care. All I can do now is to charge straight ahead toward the goal that I have set and give everything I am to that. If everything I am cannot accomplish this task then at the very least I will be able to rest peacefully knowing I laid all I am and have on the line. Those new freshman will come to depend on me (whether they know it or not), I believe Iím most prepared for that and I will not fail them. I donít know them well but my goal will be to know them and to act as the friend and guardian to all of them, and with that quest in my heart, I donít think I will be able to fail.
Now with all the frenetic movement of orientation weekend in full swing, the responsibilities are beginning to weigh heavily upon me. I think back to the immortal words of the RA who wanted me to be an RA. His last words of sage wisdom were: ďYou should never think of this as a career.Ē Heís right, because at the end of the day itís not about the perks, or the financial aid, or the snazzy polos; itís about being there for people who need you and thatís what Iím looking forward to. Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you read for a while?

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