Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Halfway done and counting

Shea Rowell
Class of 2019

(1/2018) From the middle of my winter break in my Virginia home, book and mug of tea within reach, I am ready to kiss last semester goodbye. Final papers and final exams have been taken, turned in and graded and been posted, for better or for worse. The semester is over and I, along with most of my classmates, am very grateful for the reprieve. I’m enjoying some overdue family time, running errands, and catching up on much-needed sleep and relaxation. It is, however, important to pause for a moment and reflect on the past semester to see where it fits in the ever-lengthening narrative of my career at Mount St. Mary’s.

The Fall 2018 semester was the most difficult yet. This is my report after every semester, true, but it is always the truth. This was the first semester in which I was able to really focus on classes in my majors, English and music, and each of my classes challenged me to grow in some way: sometimes in ways I did not expect. Each of them—through music, literature, and faith—has taught me that I am participating in an ever-changing culture that is much bigger than myself. My only core class, theology, was the most challenging course I took this semester. You might think, as I did, "I’ve been Catholic my whole life. What could a core theology class really teach me?" The answer, as it usually is to such questions, is that I knew much less than I thought I did.

Every catechism answer I learned in my long years of religious education has a history of religious exegesis and debate behind it. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and in this particular theology class, I found this out the hard way. My professor assigned readings from a variety of theologians and opened each class with a group discussion. My classmates challenged each other to think deeply, proposing possible solutions to difficult problems. As difficult as it was, this class gave me a new perspective into the history and origins of my faith, and as all great classes do, left me with more questions than answers and a genuine desire to learn more.

This semester also challenged me to increase my skill in my fields of study. Literature and music study are both built on history, theory, and performance. In previous classes, I’ve studied the music and literature of the past and present, and their constructions. The most difficult aspect of literary and musical study, however, is the increasing demand to improve performance ability. Each day, my professors raise the bar. I am expected to play a little better, read a little more, and write a little more skillfully each time. There is no room for regression or laziness. Each week during my trumpet lesson, I leave with a new stack of music to work through. Each literature class sends me off with a new text to read and a new assignment to write. My professors constantly guide me in the right direction, helping me to improve every time. And with their help, I have improved. While there is much yet to learn, I have left this semester playing and writing better than I ever have before.

This semester, however, has challenged me in more ways than academics. I have, finally it seems, learned a lesson in the fine and delicate art of time management. As I progress in my Mount career, I find more and more ways to get involved in the community. Between my work study position in the Mount Career Center, leadership in the Mount Music society, membership in music ensembles, and involvement in Campus Ministry, my schedule has become increasingly daunting. I have learned this semester that quality is truly more important than quantity, and that, occasionally, it is ok to say "no". To ensure that the things I commit to are well-executed, I must limit my commitments. Additionally, over-extension has a high personal cost, and there are many things—faith, family, health, friends, etc.—that are equally, if not more, important to nourish in life. Balance is everything.

Self-care, as it turns out, has become much more important this semester than it has ever been in the past. This is the first semester I have been off the Mount’s meal plan, as I am currently living in an apartment with a kitchen. This means, I add cooking, cleaning, and shopping to the daily or weekly schedule. This experience has been empowering, as I feel I have taken one more step toward independence, small as it may be, and I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed it. Cooking has become my way of taking some time off. When I am stirring a pot of soup, I am not thinking about the paper that’s due next week. Instead I am wondering whether I should add another pinch of salt. When I am making a grocery list, I am not worried about that English test tomorrow, I am planning creative and healthy meals to get me through the week. Food shopping is a way to step off campus for a while with my friends and roommates; we blast music in the car and forget about the week’s worries. Overall, the experience is time-consuming but fun— I’ve even made some recipes of my own!

Overall, this semester gave me many opportunities to grow. The new challenges my professors and supervisors gave me each inspired me to raise the bar, and looking back, I can see the improvement all that hard work has incurred. This semester, my passion for literature and music has only grown, and my desire to learn and improve myself has increased accordingly. As I start new classes next semester and the end of my junior year approaches, I will aim to keep grinding and keep growing. I know the challenges will only increase, but with a little bit of hard work and dedication, I know I will come out of it a better version of myself.

Read other articles by Shea Rowell