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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Home away from home

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(5/2014) I was wearing a Froot Loops t-shirt and denim shorts. I smiled proudly while posing in front of the large stone Mount St. Maryís University sign, my short hair just brushing my chin. It was move-in day August 2010, and I was beyond excited to start college. I wish I had known then just how quickly four years could fly by. I am now less than 11 days away from graduation and staring grad school in the face. Where did the time go?

For four years the Mount has been my home. I have lived and learned here, building friendships, exploring new interests, and contributing to the campus community. All four of those years I have been blessed to meet incredible people who I am fortunate enough to call my friends.

My first friend at the Mount was a girl named Olivia Gorman, Livie for short. We happened to meet briefly at Accepted Studentsí Day, a campus event that allows accepted students to explore what the university has to offer. At one point during my visit, I became separated from my parents. Forgetful me had left my cell phone at home, and I wanted to meet my parents for lunch before we left. Enter Olivia. She walks up to me in a pair of Chucks and a shirt sporting anime characters that I recognized and offers me her cell phone. Apparently I looked as lost as I felt. On move-in day I discovered that Olivia lived only three dorms down. I walked in, sat on her floor, and started chatting about the karate class we were both taking. The rest is history.

I remember when I first started writing for the campus paper, The Mountain Echo. It was my spring semester of freshman year, and I had no idea what to expect. My high school had never had a newspaper or magazine for students to produce. My only experience was working on the yearbook. I walked to the basement of the Academic Center where I found six upperclassmen who were surprised to see me. Apparently writers didnít usually come to the meetings, only editors. I sat down anyway.

At the same time, Olivia was having a bad experience with a teacher.

"I just donít know what he wants. He hates everything I write, and I donít want to fail this class. Am I as terrible of a writer as he says?"

"No," I told her and encouraged her to come to my next Echo meeting. I thought it might boost her spirits if other students and proficient writers gave her some positive critiques.

Sophomore year we continued to work for the Echo. We were heavily involved writers, showing up to every meeting, taking any assignment they had. I attended campus events, interviewed fellow students and even the executive vice president of the university. Then one day, Olivia came back to our dorm with news.

"They asked me to be an editor! Thereís another spot open. You should ask about it."

I was proud of her but not all that convinced that I wanted an editing job as well. I asked Managing Editor Alyssa Huntley about the position anyway. The job? Assigning stories, editing articles, and laying out my section for print every Tuesday. The payment? A free meal and experience for my resume. When do I start?

Every Tuesday night since then, Olivia and I scurried down to the Echo office. We were roommates that year, so it was nice that I could come back from work at one in the morning and not have to worry about waking her up because she was right there with me.

Halfway through sophomore year I found a brochure on Oliviaís desk with bold blue text telling me "How to become a Resident Assistant." I read about the application and interview process, the responsibilities and benefits of being an RA. It sounded like a good idea, and I wasnít sure why it had taken Olivia applying to provoke me to do it. Some small innate competitiveness I assume, but I was genuinely interested. Several months later, Olivia and I were sitting in our room doing homework when an email came through.

"Congratulations, we are happy to offer you a tentative Resident Assistant position for the 2012-13 academic year."

Junior year I not only had a new job as an RA but was also promoted to managing editor of the Echo and was offered my position with this paper. As RAs, Olivia and I had single dorms, which meant we couldnít be roommates anymore. It was also the first year I didnít have any classes with Olivia, but she was still my right hand. She helped me manage the Echo staff and taste-tested my experimental cooking as I broke in my new apartment kitchen. We enjoyed long nights on RA duty together watching Doctor Who marathons and eating ice cream till 2am.

Senior year was crazy. Olivia was placed in housing far away from mine, our schedules did not sync at all, and I really bonded with my new RA staff members. We barely saw each other at all during our fall semester except for those Tuesday night Echo sessions. Then we had a bit of a dťj' vu moment. Olivia worked for the campus literary magazine Lighted Corners. When LC called for submissions, I submitted several poems and digital photographs, and I prayed something would be accepted. Another email came.

"We thank you for your submissions to Lighted Corners, but we regret to inform you that we cannot accept any of your poems at this time."

I was a little upset. I thought ending the year being a published author would be exciting, but Olivia found a way for my name to be in the latest edition of LC anyway.

"We have no idea how to work Adobe InDesign. Could you help us?"

Some intense reformatting of the magazine and several weeks later my name was published as the Lighted Corners Associate Editor. It wasnít a byline, but I was still happy. More importantly I realized that just because my talents are different from what I want them to be doesnít mean Iím talentless. It was the same lesson I had taught Olivia freshman year by involving her in the Echo. Funny how we had come full circle.

When I received my first acceptance letter to graduate school, Olivia was with me. We were in the theater prop room pulling some costumes out of storage for an upcoming play when I squealed.

"Ohmygosh! I got in! I got in!"

We jumped and screamed and laughed like five year olds, and as we hugged I realized just how much I was going to miss her.

Now weíre plotting our grad school paths, talking about financial aid, housing and campus visits. Sheís going north for school but hasnít settled on which program to accept, while Iím headed south to the University of Virginia for 7 semesters of studying speech-language pathology. Itís silly, perhaps, but I feel a bit like a freshman again, standing in the hallway without a cellphone, not knowing my way around campus and all the unfamiliar faces. I can only hope thereís another Olivia coming along to offer me her friendship.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones