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A Mountain Perspective

A Changed Person

Chelsea Baranoski

(May 2010) With my graduation from Mount St. Mary's University quickly approaching, I have engaged in numerous conversations with my roommate regarding the uncertain future and how the Mount has changed us. I know that I am not the same person who entered Pangborn Hall in August 2006 with a hundred pounds of luggage and a bundle of nerves. One look at my student ID card will show that my physical appearance has changed a lot since freshman year. I have traded in my long dark hair for a shorter cut with highlights. And I have definitely gained a few pounds thanks to eating too many chicken tenders and fries from Patriot Hall. But Mount St. Mary's has given me much more than a physical change. It has changed me into an adult, one who is ready to conquer the working world.

When I entered my freshman year, I was an incredibly shy individual. Though I am still somewhat shy around people I don't know, the majority of my shyness has melted away. During my freshman year, I never would have thought that I would later become a Mount Ambassador, one who gives tours to prospective students and their families. I also never would have thought that I would get involved in so many campus activities. When I was a freshman, I was only involved in Campus Ministry. Although I still have strong ties to Campus Ministry, I have broadened my social circle to include working on the Mount's literary magazine, Lighted Corners, and even starting an organization of my own: Ranger Rosaries. Ranger Rosaries is a group that makes rosaries for our troops overseas and for those about to deploy.

Through my involvement in these activities, I have learned to shed my shyness and make more friends. Perhaps the biggest test of my shyness was my decision to become a peer mentor the summer before my sophomore year. As a peer mentor, I was responsible for shepherding the incoming freshmen during their summer orientation. This meant answering any questions they may have about life at the Mount and directing them to buildings throughout campus. Since none of my close friends were peer mentors, I really felt that I was on my own. I broke away from my usual crew so that I could help the freshmen adjust to their new home at the Mount.

Mount St. Mary's has changed me into a more independent person. I remember thinking that my ideal college was one close to home, one that I could commute to every day. I never imagined that I would be going to school an hour and a half from home, just under the Maryland state line. I never thought that I would grow so attached to the Mount that I would only go home on breaks. The Mount has taught me that I can survive on my own, without my family constantly by my side. I have also learned that I can do things apart from my core group of friends. During my beginning days at the Mount, I did not want to do anything unless I knew that my friends were going to be there. Now, I willingly go to Zumba class by myself and join activities that my close group of friends are not involved in. I go to Eucharistic Adoration without my friends in tow and I work on the Mount's literary magazine on my own accord. By moving outside of my social circle, I have met new people and remained true to my own interests.

Furthermore, the Mount has changed my perspective on life. During the first semester of my freshman year, I was so intent on studying that I did not spend much time socializing. I remember turning down a trip to get ice cream in favor of studying in my crowded, stifling dorm room. My time at the Mount has taught me that studies are important, but they are not everything. This is why I always take time away from my schoolwork to talk to my loved ones on the phone and to catch up with my roommates. Though I always try my best on my schoolwork, I realize that I must have a healthy balance between school and my social life. Without going out on the town and hanging out with my friends, I honestly think I would have lost my marbles by now. The tragic passing of some of my fellow Mounties has also made me realize that life is precious. I must live life to the fullest -that means escaping the piles of books and seeing what the world has to offer! This means spending time watching movies with my roommates and dancing at the Ott House! This means finding time in my busy schedule to talk to those who have left footprints on my heart!

The Mount has also strengthened my spiritual life. Before attending the Mount, I never experienced the power of Eucharistic Adoration. I enjoy going to Eucharistic Adoration because it allows me to make time in my busy schedule to talk to God about anything that is bothering me. During my junior year, I went on a Kairos retreat that strengthened my relationship with God and my roommate. Kairos is a weekend long retreat held close to the Mount's campus. I will never forget sitting on one of the bunk beds and having a heart to heart conversation with my roommate. The Mount's seminarians have also provided an excellent witness to the faith. One seminarian, who was ordained to the priesthood last May, always encouraged me in my spiritual discernment. He always asked me if I still went to Mass and told me that God had a plan for me. Sometimes, I felt that he knew more about God's plan for my life than I did.

I have experienced a profound change in my academic endeavors. I feel that my writing has improved with every passing year. During my sophomore year, I took American Women Writers. I remember receiving a B- on my first paper and being so distraught. On the next paper, I worked harder and I received a B+. I have taken two subsequent English classes with the same professor and I have watched as my writing grades have gradually improved. I just finished the last English paper of my college career and I received an A! It may have taken four years to reach this point, but it was worth it. I know I have become a better writer as a result of my classes at the Mount.

Looking back at my days on Mary's Mountain, I realize that I have become a stronger person. I have overcome financial stress, academic stress, and heartache. My friends at the Mount have seen me through everything. They have listened to me complain, cry, and worry. During my sophomore year, I experienced stresses that left me so upset that my friends and I got shot-glass desserts at Fridays in Gettysburg and shopped at the outlets in an effort to boost my mood. On another occasion, I was very stressed out and my friends were there for me. My friends had planned to go the Ott House for college night, but they stayed in because they knew I was upset. They listened to me explain my stress and offered me advice. I felt a lot better after talking with them. I am very lucky to have a group of friends that accept me for who I am. They do not mind my quirks, my frequent worrying, and my corny sayings. They are the best listeners and the best friends I could ask for.

I remember that when I first came to the Mount for orientation, one of the speakers told us to look around - the people around us would be the bridesmaids and the groomsmen in our weddings. This is definitely true. When I get married, I know that my Mount friends will stand with me on the altar as I enter a new chapter in my life. Someone recently told me that the friendships I made in college are the friendships that will last. I firmly believe this. Even though my friends and I are separated by many miles, I know that we will reunite after graduation and continue to share in each others' successes and failures. The Mount has helped me to identify with Tracy Lawrence's lyrics, "You find out who your friends are / Somebody's gonna drop everything / Run out and crank up their car / Hit the gas, get there fast / Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far' / They just show on up with their big old heart." The Mount has taught me that true friendships always work, no matter the miles in between.

The Mount has definitely left a mark on my heart. I am not the same person who strolled across this campus four years ago. The Mount has shaped me into an adult, one who is ready to enter the world of work. The Mount has taught me to shed my shyness, become independent, and value my friends. I will always treasure my four years in Emmitsburg.

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski