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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Looking Ahead - The best is yet to come

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(2/2013) Have you ever tried to learn a language? Most of you have probably had a taste of Spanish or French in your years of high school or college. Such beautiful, fluid languages are always popular among to the majority of people, not to mention their practicality as we see an increase in Americaís Spanish-speaking population. I took two years of French myself when I was in high school. The French teacher, Mrs. Wood, was one of my favorite teachers. She was full of life and sarcasm, wasnít afraid to call you out and embarrass you, and had a love for teaching that always made her classroom a fun place to be. Mrs. Wood was also the schoolís librarian, which meant French class was held in the library Ė my favorite room in the entire school.

That library introduced me to two of my favorite novels: Pilgrimís Progress by John Bunyan and Man Oí War by Walter Farley. Of course there were many other books as well which sucked me into their pages, into worlds of fantasy and danger, of history and mystery. Reading had always been one of my greatest pleasures, but before I had to go to the public library to find what I wanted. Now the school was able to fulfill my need, feeding my curious mind.

That curiosity never really went away. I realized this just this week as I was watching television. Not able to fall asleep, I turned on the TV and flipped to the Discovery channel, which was airing a program about elephants. My mind soaked in the information like a sponge. Did you know other animals follow elephants, trusting their leadership to find water? I almost felt childlike while I watched in wonder as a herd of African bush elephants lead buffalo and plains zebras through the dried Okavango Delta to a watering hole. I hadnít felt that curiosity for a while and it was refreshing. It gave a reminder of why Iím really at the Mount Ė for leadership, community, discovery, and faith.

For the rest of my time here at the Mount I want to make sure Iím achieving these four things to my fullest ability, so in a very Benjamin Franklin-like fashion, I decided to analyze what Iíve done so far to determine where I need improvement.

Leadership. I have a couple positions of leadership on campus. I am both the managing editor of the campus paper, The Mountain Echo, as well as a resident assistant. Just because I hold the positions, however, does not mean that I am a strong leader. I asked myself: How does one become a good leader? I think the first step towards betterment is recognizing oneís own weaknesses, so I have arranged to sit down with my supervisors at both jobs for some constructive criticism.

Community. Anyone who read my last article knows that I was recently offered a volunteer position at the 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program of Carroll County (TRP). This program provides horseback riding lessons for the physically, mentally and emotionally handicapped and has been struggling to maintain reliable volunteers. I volunteered there for four years throughout my high school career, but coming to the Mount forced me to give it up Ė until now. Now, I am training for the position of volunteer riding instructor, a job which requires thorough testing to gain certification.

While TRP is no small task and contributes to my home community, I think of what I have done for my Mount community, and the answer, Iím sad to say, is not much. All of the service trips and opportunities to give back are so prevalent on campus, but Iíve never gone on them. Iím ashamed to say that emails from the Office of Social Justice often go ignored with the claim of, "I donít have enough time," or something similar. How could I have been selfish enough to think that college was all about taking the knowledge for myself and not giving something back in return?

There is a phrase which I carried away from some book whose title I have long forgotten. "Equivalent exchange." It is the idea that in order to obtain, one most give something of equal value. Of course, this is easily explained with the example of purchasing milk. You gain milk by giving the milkís equivalent worth in cash to the grocery store. I realize it may sound a little strange to apply this to life, but why shouldnít I? Of course, Iím not saying that we should only do something nice in expectation of a reward, but wouldnít it be a more generous world if we always gave something in return to those who have benefitted our lives? If our only concern is receiving without giving anything back, then eventually our society will wither like a field that has not been fertilized. If that field does not receive the nitrogen and nutrients it needs, it will not produce crops. Likewise, our society needs generosity in order to function and remain healthy. A world without charity is a world with suffering.

In my case, the Mount has given me an education, friends, opportunities and experiences unavailable anywhere else. Now Iím determined to give back to the community that has given me so much. Iím not quite sure where to start Ė perhaps just signing up for a service trip can be the beginning of a more benevolent me.

Discovery. There is so much to discover at the Mount, and in the three years that Iíve been here, I feel as if Iíve barely scratched the surface. Each class brings a new question or topic to explore. Who was Emily Davidson? Do animals have souls? What are kangaroo words? Could we ever revert to living without robots? These are the questions Iíve faced today alone.

But I learn just as much outside of the classroom and mostly through my friends. I am constantly inspired by them to learn and try new things. My friend Olivia has inspired in me an interest in history, a subject I used to hate. Now, I see past the memorization of dates and see the events, time periods, and people involved. I see a story just waiting for someone to read it.

Another friend of mine, Lisa, is what one might call a "free spirit," and thanks to her, Iíll be going on one of the greatest adventures in my life. Weíll see Chicago, Denver, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Atlanta on a two-week-long transcontinental train trip across the United States.

I think I have Discovery pretty well covered.

Finally, thereís Faith. As a Baptist attending a Catholic university, I honestly didnít think there would be a lot of room for my spiritual growth. I had been raised in a small community of like-minded individuals, and I was afraid of some of the opinions I might face once I left my church. I was so comforted by how many people believed the same things I did at the Mount. It took me a while to learn, but Iíve realized that you donít have to believe the same thing as someone in order to get along with them, but it sure helps! While there are certainly differences, I was amazed at the similarities between Catholicism and Baptism. Itís showed me that no one form of Christianity has all the answers.

While Iíve certainly grown in all four areas Ė leadership, community, discovery, and faith Ė I know I can improve. My goal this semester is to begin my own Four-Pillar Journey and enhance my experiences in these four areas of my life. I have a renewed excitement to see what the Mount can teach me, and I look forward to the well-rounded person I will become.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones