This past weekend was my ten-year reunion from college. As we drove down the tree-lined road that leads to Saint Mary’s campus, The Avenue as we call it, it was hard for me to believe that I graduated ten years ago since it seems like just yesterday I was checking into McCandless Hall freshmen year, begging my parents not to leave me there. Four years later, I was begging them not to make me leave.
I would imagine that most people loved college. And I was definitely in that majority. I made lifelong friends that I would do anything for whether I see them once a month or once every five years. If they called me and needed something, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And I believe they’d do the same for me because being a SMC chic is something that bonds us for life.
I was reminded of this bond as we sat at our banquet Saturday night, a dinner that we were whining about going to, remembering it only as a boring night of speeches. I had completely forgotten what made it so special the first time we had been there. The room was full of amazing women, women who had inspired me when I attended school there, women who inspired me five years ago and women who inspire me today.
For example, the class of 1961, celebrating their 50th reunion, had 18 members of their class there. When they were introduced, they stood up, waving their napkins in the air and all I could think of was how I hoped that was going to be us in 40 years. It was this sense of unity, community and love of Saint Mary’s that made me remember just what I loved and love still about Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s taught me to believe in myself. I had professors that helped me find my strengths and encouraged me to take those talents and make a career out of them. Even though I’m still working on part of my life, I know that they were right and while I didn’t pick the easiest to define career path, I’m still plugging away at it, hearing the echoes of their encouragement as I write.
Saint Mary’s taught me that it’s important to look beyond myself at the greater world and how important it is to be altruistic.
Saint Mary’s taught me just how awesome it is to be a woman. A strong woman with her own beliefs, her own talents, her own voice.
The Avenue always leads you home.
That’s what our reunion T-shirt said on the back and it could not be truer. Saint Mary’s is home for me, a second home that I love coming back to. A home that I sometimes forget, until I’m there, just how important it is to me and the person I’ve become.