Sunday, May 18, 2014

Until We Meet Again...

My wonderful readers,

So... this is the blog post I've kind of been dreading. It's something that seems so weird to me- to say farewell to you, my wonderful readers. Everyone has been asking me what I was going to do for a last blogpost- go out with a bang? Do something mushy?

Honestly? I think I'm just going to wing it and let my fingers tap the keys on my keyboard to try to properly express what I want this last Life of a SMC Girl blog post to be about.

Since August 2010, I have had the privilege of being a SMC blogger. Like most people, the blogs were one of the main reasons behind me coming to One Winooski Park. Having the chance to be a part of the program that heavily influenced my college decision was like a dream come true. I still remember getting lost to my first blogger meeting in the Hoehl Welcome Center, being afraid since I was the only underclassman girl there with a bunch of people I didn't know (Thank goodness for Marci later joining me at the meeting) and writing down every single thing I thought I needed to memorize to be a "good blogger" in my two subject notebook. I still remember typing up my introductory blog in Joyce 410 (Thank you to Taylor and Liz for providing me a space to do so) and having everyone I knew (aka my parents) proof read it. I remember downloading Twitter, Blogger, and Google Analytics and having no clue where to start with them, since social media and I were just being introduced at the time. I started writing my blogs on Tuesdays because my best friend, Kate, used to get bored during work study and wanted something to read, even when I didn't think I had much to say. I still thank goodness for @bangs1192 (who later became my best friend, Megan) for being the first person to tell me they liked my blog even though I still hadn't technically met her yet. Or being so excited that actual prospective students at the time like Merrill, Rynne, and Lauren sent me messages that they had read my blog and became the first people outside of my friends and family to tell me how much myself and my blog influenced them back in 2010/11 and are now some of my closest friends

So... Four years later, here I am. One of my favorite SMC professors, Professor Purcell, once put it perfectly- no matter what age or stage of life we are in life, we are always becoming and always learning. I have learned so much these four years at Saint Michael's College, but it is only the beginning. I have a lot of learning and understanding ahead of me, but no matter where I go or what I do, I will always be that SMC girl. I will take all of the knowledge and appreciation I have gained at One Winooski Park and always know that it has made me the not only the best student, the best leader, the best friend that I can be, but most importantly, it has helped me be the best person that I hope to continue becoming the rest of my life.

Though, for these years, I have a great deal of people to thank.

To my Family: Thank you all so much for staying up late hours of the night listening to me complain or cry about everything under the sun and never losing patience with me. Thank you for being my biggest fans and for always making a special trip to the computer just to read my latest blog post or my quirkiest tweet. Your love, constant advice, grammar checks, and support have meant the world to me and I would not be who I am without you.

To my Friends: This blog has helped me meet so many people that I don't know if I would have otherwise. Thank you to my amazing GCA girls, who even after high school took the time to read about my crazy adventures and send me so much support all over the country. To my SMC friends, thank you who motivated and encouraged so many of my posts and encouraged me to vlog and blog all of the insanely crazy or extremely interesting things that were happening. You all made my four years here so special and will always be my SMC family.

To my SMC Professors and Staff: My educators and my biggest supporters in everything. In times of crisis or need of direction, it was you who I turned to so I could understand what was going on in my life. You were the ones who opened my eyes to so many doors and opportunities that I would never have considered otherwise and I thank each and every one of you for playing such a huge role in my growth at SMC.

To SMC Admissions: Without being a part of the Founder's Society or taking part in various Admissions opportunities, I would not be the same person I am today. Admissions helped me to find what I was passionate about and grow in it. Being able to have a part in a prospective student's college journey through tour guiding and being a student ambassador meant the absolute world to me and it's a feeling I will never forget. Special thanks to Mike Stefanowicz, Matt Seklecki, Kath Hackett, Carrie Pratt, Jeremy Brown, and Stephanie Noakes for always being the heart of Admissions for me and for always making my time in Hoehl so hysterically wonderful.

To my SMC Blogs Family: To Suze, Lisa, Miguel, Sarah, Ben, Lauren Kopchik, MP, Nate, MM, SL, MOA, Juliana, Emily, Brendan, Lauren Mazz, and the rest of the SMC blogs crew- You are all such amazing people. Your blogs have inspired me every day and the friendships I have formed with many of you make me so proud to be a part of this phenomenal group. Special thank you to my marketing mentors, Mallory Wood, Gabbi Hall, and Christian Camerota, who played a huge role in helping me to become the best blogger I could be. My most important thank you to my blogger partner in crime, Marci Wood, who I met at my first blogger meeting and messaged me with her phone number that night. Not only have you been by my side throughout my whole blogging career, you are my best friend, my biggest confidant, and my fellow lover of cats- I'm so thankful that the SMC blogging program started our friendship.

My wonderful readers, my biggest thank you goes of course to you. You have been through everything with me. You went through my moments of embarrassment, of adjustment, of trying out new things, of running around all over the place doing everything I could, of silly vlogs, and accomplishment. You saw me grow into the person I am today and see the person I could be. Most importantly though, you allowed me the true honor of getting to know you. To provide you with little glimpses into life at SMC, give some tips, answer some questions, and come along with me on the journey as I went along on yours. I would truly not be me without each and every one of you. As I've always said, this blog has always been about my readers. Whether you were a prospective or current student, a friend, a family member, professor, staff, alum, or just randomly found my blog and kept reading, you have become a part of my heart and will live on in this blog forever. 

Thank you for the extreme honor of being a part in your lives and for allowing me to share my story with you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your part in The Life of a SMC Girl

Until we meet again, all my love, hugs, and best wishes always,
Alex
Your SMC Girl 

Friday, May 16, 2014

PDay, Sunrises, OMG I'm Hot in this Robe, and Getting that Degree...

Happy Friday everyone!!

So, since we last spoke, I have made that transition from a SMC student to a SMC alum this past Sunday. 

Can you say SO CRAZY!!! I know I certainly am!! So, of course, being me, I documented it all for you :)

P-Day:
P-Day, also known as preparation day, was a little altered this year, as we had our Academic Symposium held that morning. I got up early to go support Po and Rynne in their presentations, which were absolutely phenomenal. Later that day, Marci, Megan, Mary, Sarah, and I went to Dunkin Donuts and Bagel Market to fulfill our P-Day breakfast tradition, got dressed in our special P-Day shirts, and were joined by Erin and Nick to head out for some free food and lots of fun!!
Love this pic!! From left, Nick, Megan, Erin, Marci, and myself (Thank you to Mary for the pic!!)

Marci and I heading out in the rain to the P-Day festivities!! (Thank you to Megan for the pic!!)

Breakfast time with the girls!! Sarah, myself, Mary, and Marci (Megan taking the pic :)

Po, myself, MM, and Liz!! (Thanks to Sarah for the pic :)

I Finished my Thesis!!
Looking tired and disheveled, but DONE!! Thank you to Marci for the pic!!

I was really nervous all semester about my thesis. Not only is it difficult bringing together so much of what you learned the past four years in your major into one paper, but it was difficult to believe that with this assignment, I would basically be done with my college career. My Senior Seminar was focused on the concept of human nature, so I decided to focus my thesis on the concept of altruism. With the help of my professor, Dr. B., and a lot of research, I finished my thesis and handed it in the Thursday before finals. It was titled, "Altruism: Innate Service to Others or an External Status Benefit?" My thesis was basically focused on the idea of whether or not we as humans can perform actions of kindness without seeking reward. Of course, when I finally read through it for the 500th time and went to print it... just my luck, I broke the printer!! Luckily, Marci was with me and when I came in screaming with my thesis all ripped up due to the printer jam and helped me to fix it. Once it was printed, I think I put my thesis in the bin outside of Dr. B's office a good five or six times before I actually left it there. It was such a momentous moment for me and I'm proud to say I got an A on it!! 

Studying for my Last Exams and Last VITA Events:
Me (The Princess of VITA hahaha!!) MM, and SL (otherwise known as Maura and Kate) matching!!

Biffle Slushie Tradition!! 

My other Alex and I selfie... I mean studying :)

On the last day of classes, VITA held their annual End of the Year Ice Cream Party. We got to indulge in delicious ice cream and watch the end of the year video, full of pictures of the many adventures and programs we had this past year. Once I got back home to 214, Sarah and I had our annual end of the year slushies at Cumbies and watched Mean Girls 10th Anniversary special with Megan. Even when finals week becomes very stressful, one of the best parts of it are the study sessions. I had my last study session with Alex, which ended up being more of a sob fest of how much we were going to miss each other and how excited I am for his next three years at SMC. Thankfully, exams went really well and with that, I was done with my undergrad career!! 

Senior Awards Brunch and Senior Week:
Myself with Nick, the Class of 2014 VP, and my wonderful friend, Gracie, our Class of 2014 President!! (Thanks SMC!!)
My Community Service Award!!
Po, Maura, and I!! (Thank you to Megan for the pic!!)
Once I had said my goodbyes to everyone, it was on to senior week. Senior week is basically a couple of days where the seniors have campus to themselves and enjoy lots of fun activities such as bowling, fancy meals, and great bands and DJs!! At the Senior Brunch, I was lucky enough to win the Community Service Award for my involvement in MOVE, VITA, and retreats within campus ministry and blogging and tour guiding for the Founders Society. It was so unexpected and I was a blubbery mess throughout it all. It was a moment I will always treasure and I'm so thankful to my classmates for nominating me for it!! 

Why Did I Wake Up this Early Again and Baccalaureate Mass
Hoodies, sunrise, and best friends :)
Since my first year at SMC and as long as I've been friends with Kathleen Katie Po McNally and Katelyn Kate Sassylady Whitman, we have always had this pact to go across Rt. 15 and watch the sun rise. The thing is though, in four years, we never did it. So, of course we remedied that by going during senior week!! Kate, Po, and I left for the view at 5:15 (5:17 if you ask Katelyn Whitman, since I was late looking for my shoes- hey, it was early and my closet was disorganized from packing, what can I say?) We found a nice rock to sit on and it was an absolutely beautiful experience (even though I was quite cranky that morning) and I loved being able to spend time with these two wonderful people who have been such a huge part of my life. 




Later that day, we had our Baccalaureate mass, which I was able to serve at as both a lector, Responsorial Psalm leader, and sing in the choir. The day was absolutely gorgeous, but to tell you the truth, I was super hot and my feet hurt a lot. Lectors were asked to wear their robes to mass and let me tell you, they were hot!! I also decided to break in my graduation heels, which until Marci gave me insoles to make my shoes fit properly, were hurting quite a bit (I was also afraid I'd fall flat on my face during mass, but I digress) Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch. I was especially thankful for my beautiful friend, Sarah Carilo, who kept me calm the whole day and having the chance to say good bye to some of my amazing choir community friends, Donna, Becca, Matt DeLuca, and the Osborns.
Sarah and I before mass!!

Campus Ministry!! Fr. B, Po, myself, Jay, Anna, and MM!!

The Big G Word... Getting my Degree!!
On Sunday, May 11th, 2014, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree. It's still so weird for me to say, but after four years of hard work, myself and my fellow classmates did it!!
The girl who has been with me, craziness and all, since day one- Bri!!
Mary Alice and I!!

My favorite classmate and best friend, Abbey and I!!

Got my degree on Mother's Day, so it was my gift to these two- myself, my mom, and Annie!!

Overall, it was a crazy wonderful week, something I will never forget. All of these wonderful memories culminated the perfect end to my senior year and last days at SMC. 

Well, there's one more blog post left to go, so please check back for a very special Life of a SMC Girl goodbye on Sunday!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Finding the Perfect Place for You... And some #Accepted2smcvt too...

Happy Sunday everyone (and to those who celebrate it, Happy Easter!!)

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend and enjoying this break. This year, since I'm graduating in about three weeks and having the family come up to explore Vermont then, I decided to stay on campus during this little break to get some work done as the home stretch of papers, finals, and presentations is coming up very soon. Thankfully, Marci staying with me this weekend, as ACPHS doesn't have off for Easter, so we've been enjoying some delicious garlic bread and study sessions together.

Today, I wanted to talk to my wonderful readers about finding the perfect place for you. Now, while my blog is mainly for prospective college students, as I once wrote in my blog bio four years ago, I write for everyone in mind- whether it be my friends from home, my family, alums, prospective and current parents, and of course for those future purple knights.

I think that no matter who you are and where you're going, you should find the place that is right for you.

We are all in different parts of our lives, all trying to look at the pros and cons of each situation that we enter into that will hopefully make us happy in the future. Yet, how do we know what we really want? Sometimes the answer is simple for us- we are able to step into an office or on to a campus and get that feeling of, "Hmm... this seems nice" or "Oh N to the O, this is NOT for me."

The greatest thing about getting into various schools, being presented different job offers, and even having twenty different selections of frozen yogurt options in front of you, is that you have choices- so many opportunities that will hopefully bring you great things.

Making a final choice, however... it isn't always that easy.

The toughest thing about having so many choices is that each choice not only has a different outcome, but has its own pros and cons as well. Each thing offers its own unique opportunities, its own ups and downs, and qualities that make it one of a kind. The thing is though, it has to be one of a kind for you.

My parents, with my college decision, told me these wise words, "You'll get a good education whatever school you choose. It's up to you though to decide to become who you are meant to be." Of course, at the time I was thinking to myself, "Wow, way to help guys, that helps me make a decision... JK!!" It's really true though- choosing a place to spend the next four years for college, graduate school, jobs, etc. will bring you experiences that you could never imagine- it's just about where you will be happiest making those experiences and having those opportunities.

Now for my prospective student readers, I'm not here to tell you to choose Saint Mike's. While I'd love you to come here, that's not up to me. Wherever you choose, I want you to be happy. I want you to love the place you go as much as I love Saint Mike's. I want you to have the endless array of opportunities, broaden your minds with the coolest subjects, go on adventures around campus or in the nearby city. I want you to choose a place where you can see yourself for the next four years growing to be the best student, leader, friend, but most importantly, self that you can be.

As we all know, wonderful readers, making decisions is tough because decisions lead you down different paths and make a huge difference in your life. Sometimes, we can get nervous or scared about the decisions we are about to make- should we adventure out of our comfort zone into something that may bring us great happiness or stay someplace where we feel we have control of our situation?

That is totally up to you.

See the thing about decisions- you're the one to make them. Not your parents, not your friends, not your teachers, bosses, or even me and your pet ferret (I thought I'd be a little out of the box here ;) It's you. We can do our best to help guide you along the way, but at the end of the day, it's you. You know you. You know if you want the big university where you can get lost among the crowds with the city as your campus or the small school where everyone knows your name. You know if you want the ten gyms on campus at your service or the small literary magazine where you can easily work your way to becoming a leader.

You know what you want. You have choices. No matter where you go, you will add to the list of experiences As tough as it is, make a decision which you know you can be confident about. That you know with your mind and heart that you can say, "Yes. This is it. This is what I need to do for me."

So, narrow it down, make that pros and cons list, and flip a coin. Most importantly, take time to think it out. Trust your gut feeling. I know it's tough. I know it's scary. I know it's a struggle, but I also know that you can do it. You can choose that perfect place and you can make the decision that is right for you.

Whatever you choose, know that you will be an excellent addition and that wherever you go, you will gain experiences that will help you to become who you are truly meant to be.

Now, on a less serious note, for those of you who weren't able to make it to an Accepted Students Day or want to relive the experience, I ended up vlogging the whole day (and edited and made fancy my first vlog- yay me!!) . It was my last open house ever at SMC and a fabulous one it was, something I'm so proud to have been a part of.




If you have any questions or just want to say hello, please never hesitate to send me a tweet on twitter, an anonymous question on ask.fm, or shoot me an email- I'd love to hear from you!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oh Hey, What's Up, Saint Michael!? A Tour of the SMC Chapel...

Hi everyone!!

Today on The Life of a SMC Girl, I wanted to take you on a virtual tour around a place that has been quite important in my life at SMC- the Chapel!! For those of my wonderful readers who don't know, I have been involved with Campus Ministry since I was a first year. Whether it's been helping volunteer through MOVE, serving at the 7pm mass, or being a Senior team leader of VITA, campus ministry has helped shape me into who I am today. It also means that I get to spend a lot of time in the lovely Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel and become known as the Princess of it (Hahahaha!! Just kidding- even though if there was one, it would probably be me with the amount of time I spend there :)

  
   
Top photo: the Chapel's front entrance (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/5904915) Middle: the Chapel at Christmas- my favorite!! Bottom: a prayer service in the back altar space with my friends, Nicole and Greg!!

The Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel was built in 1965, making it the largest Chapel in the state of Vermont. It seats 1000 people and is shaped like a cross, so there is seating in the north, east, and west naves, and another altar space in the back. The Chapel is a place where everyone is welcome, whether you identify with a different religion or don't choose to practice. I always come here just to de-stress or when my life seems chaotic, gain some quiet time to myself. What most people don't know, however, is that there is an Upper Room upstairs in the Chapel, which is full of comfy couches, pillows and blankets, a fully stocked kitchen and an alarm clock, in case you want to take a nap up there. It's where I usually go to study if the Academic Buildings or Library is really packed.


Thank you to www.sse.org for the picture. St. Edmund mass 2012, with all of the Edmundites!!
Of course, we can't talk about the Chapel without the Edmundites. The Edmundites were founded during the 19th century and settled in Pontigny, France. They were named after St. Edmund of Canterbury (who, fun fact, had his arm in the SMC archives for a bit, serving as a relic- how cool is that?!) and have been known for their establishment of Mont St. Michel and St. Anne's Shrine as a pilgrimage site, being leaders within the civil rights movement (Edmundite Fr. Maurice Ouelet actually was one of Martin Luther King's closest confidants!!) in Alabama, working within Latin American countries such as Venezuela, and establishing the first catholic school in Vermont... you guessed it!! Saint Michael's College :) The Edmundites still have a presence on campus (as you can see from the picture above :) and are probably some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. 
PS- can you see me in this picture? :) 

VITA team 2013-14!! From top left: Tim, Maura, Colleen, Emily, Kate. Bottom left: Kelly, Lauren Murphy, me, Po.
Being a part of VITA has honestly changed my life for the better. VITA, meaning way of life in Latin, is the peer ministry group on campus. A lot of the VITA programming meets in the Chapel to help students to relax and reflect. VITA offers a wide variety of programs, such as LINK, our large faith sharing group, Connections, our small faith sharing group, and Dessert and the Divine, our monthly dessert and reflection group. Coming in as a first year, it was VITA which helped me to get involved and my SMC mom and phenomenal campus minister/ VITA mentor, Anna Lester, who helped me to not be so shy and scared about the transition into college. I've been so lucky to work with an amazing group of people these past four years to not only help myself, but help others in so many different ways. What's so wonderful about VITA is that not only is everyone welcome in the Chapel, but to VITA as well. What I also love about VITA is how different everyone who comes in- whether it be various religions, backgrounds, or faith journeys, we are all so interested in learning about each other and seeing different perspectives on so many topics.


Jay blessing an animal in the Sanctuary!!
We also have events for the community, such as our annual Animal Blessing. Typically, this is celebrated on the feast of St. Francis, which falls in October. I've been lucky enough to help with this event all of my years at Saint Mike's, aiding the amazing Jason Moore, our retreat director and wonderful campus minster. My favorite thing, of course, is seeing all of the community members and dogs from the All Bread and the Greyhound shelters right down the road, getting blessed and having the chance to play with them afterwards. If you're far from home, you can always bring in a picture of your animal to have blessed as well!!


Po and Jerome at the lecturn
If you're ever interested in getting involved in serving at mass, I would totally recommend it!! One of the first ways I got involved on campus was by serving as a lector and a Eucharistic Minister at the 7pm student mass. There are usually two main masses on Sundays- 11am for the community and 7pm for students. If choosing to serve, you can do a wide variety of things, such as singing or playing in the liturgical choir or serving as a lector (reader) Eucharistic Minister, or Altar Server. There are also daily masses every day at 11:30am (and 4pm on Monday's) and other ways of worship, such as Adoration, Taize, and morning prayer in the Chapel as well. Typically to serve, you have to go through training, so that you're prepared for what to do when serving at mass. Of course, that didn't stop me from messing up one or one hundred times in between, but it's honestly been one of the best things I've done in my four years here. Up above, you can see my best friend, Po being helped by the hysterical Jerome Monachino, our liturgical choir director. Jerome controls the mics and sound system in the Chapel, so he always helps run lector training, giving some great tips when reading into the mic.

Welcome Back Social- perfect way to cool off and eat some delicious ice cream!!
One of my favorite things of all time to do is to get big groups of people together. Luckily, we host a lot of socials in the Upper Room of the Chapel, where we can get together to meet new friends or catch up with old ones. Constantly throughout the semester, we have various ice cream,cookies, pizza, and nachos socials with movies, games, and even sleepovers mixed in between. This picture was from our Welcome Back social this past August, which was filled with so much fun!!

LEAP Fall 2013!! From left: Alex, Amanda, Kerry, Mary, Marci, me, Emily, and Nicole.
Retreats one of the most intrinsic parts of campus ministry and depend heavily on the Chapel to serve as the setting to prepare for each semesters group. Retreats are held one weekend every semester at St. Anne's Shrine, geared to helping find what students need in their lives at the moment. LEAP, our community based retreat, and Emmaus, our Ignatian spirituality retreat, are our two most popular retreats, in which students give personal talks and experiences, planning for months to make the retreat a reality. Retreats are open to everyone of any faith and are extremely well attended. The connections you make with others on the retreats are priceless and have really helped me to find myself and my faith throughout my retreat weekends.    

This year's Way of the Cross group in the Chapel lobby!! From left: Shawn, Greg, Chris, Maura, Aaron, Allie, Chris, me, Alex, Caitie, Po, Allie, Tyler, Lucia, Kristen, and Lauren Loy. 
As I was mentioning before, we have a lot of events both for the community on campus and off. One of these events is Way of the Cross. Way of the Cross is a really awesome way of taking the typical Stations of the Cross during a Friday in Lent and giving it a personal touch, infusing personal narrative into each station. For the past four years, I have played Mary Magdala and it has been an amazing experience. So many students help out each March with this, practicing late at night in the Chapel the night before and we always get such a nice turn out!! 

Lit Choir at Catholic Central HS, Albany NY!!
While I've been involved in campus ministry all four years at SMC, one thing I had always wanted to do, but never had the courage to, was join the SMC liturgical choir. Led by Jerome Monachino, it is honestly the most talented and coolest group of people. Me being the scardy cat I am, I was too shy to join. However, my best friend, Merrill, was actually the one to give me the courage to finally go and Marci was the one to help solidify that as well. Being able to sing my heart out to some really great tunes each Wednesday for 6:30pm rehearsal and Sunday for mass on the risers in the Chapel is one of the best feelings in the world. The Lit Choir also goes on a tour each year to various churches and schools along the east coast. This year, we went to Albany, NY and I had one of the best times of my life. Even though I was late to the game, I'm so thankful that I was able to still continue trying new things, even in my senior year.


Phew!! I probably exhausted you all from our look around the Chapel- don't worry, we can take a breather hahaha!! Honestly though, the Chapel is a phenomenal place not only for reflection, but a place where no matter who you are or what you believe in, you can somehow find something special about it. It has really become my home away from my dorm on campus, as it's the place where I really was able to develop into the person I am today, something I'm extremely thankful for.

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What Makes You... You

Happy Sunday everyone!!

It's a very sunny day in Vermont today, a bit of a change from the cloudy and rainy days we've had for the past couple of days. Here at SMC, we had a three day weekend for President's week and while many went home for a much needed break, I decided to stay on campus and help out in Admissions with tours this weekend and get ahead on some homework for next week.

Meeting so many prospective students and families this weekend and getting the chance to talk one on one with them about a million different things really influenced my post today, as it's something I've been thinking about a lot.

As many of my readers are either going through or about to go through the college process now or have been through it before, we can all understand the stress that each one of us goes through. Whether it be common apps, interviews, recommendations, etc. it's all one big blah (I know, super eloquent of me hahaha!!)

Today though, I want to talk about what makes us different and unique. No person is the exact same as another and honestly, I think that's what makes us all special in our very own way. Constantly, on tours and via email, I receive lots of questions about whether or not students will feel accepted and supported for being themselves. Honestly, I think that is one of the best questions to be asked, not just on college tours, but in life in general. What's so amazing about college tours, however, is that you and the college are kind of doing the same thing. Weird, right? It's true though. You're trying to see what sets each college apart- the differences in academics, activities, and even food. At the same time, the college is trying to see what sets you apart from everyone else...

What makes you... well, you.

Everyone tells you to "Be yourself" or "It's college, you can be whoever you want to be!!" Yet, how was I supposed to be myself or be whoever I wanted to be if I didn't know who either was!?

In high school, I was involved in 10 different clubs, was an AP and honor student, blah blah blah. I can guarantee you'll find a bunch of people who have those same credentials. Looking back on it, I wasn't necessarily happy with everything I was involved with. One or two clubs I honestly just did because I thought I was expected to for college, that it would make me look better or seem like the "perfect student". When I came to college, I realized that being involved in so much wasn't a reality for me. For the first time, I had to actually seek out what I was really passionate about in academics, in activities, and just in life so I had some sort of path to go on.

When looking back after four years at whatever school you choose, you want to be able to say, "I had the best four years here. I got the opportunity to not only see what I was passionate about, but I also got the chance to explore various things to see if they were for me or not. I was able to become the best student, leader, and friend I could be, but being at this school provided me with the opportunities to find and be me." 

When you're on your tours or reading the blogs, consider these questions heavily. Don't hesitate to ask about support on campus, whether there are cliques, if you'll be forced to conform to something you're not, and of course, whether you will be accepted and find friends who are probably going through the same things that you are at that very moment. That's what tour guides, professors, current students, admissions, etc. are here for. We're here to help you step into the shoes and see what down the line life will be like for you. Give you the comfort you need during this really important time.

I love differences. I love seeing what is unique in someone and treasuring it. I love listening about different beliefs and cool ideas that are so different from my own. I thrive on making sure that people realize that the talent that they think is small or piece of writing, or hysterical laugh is so special and is unique only to them. It's about that support, that acceptance that you are able to find yourself. Having the room to try out different things that you're interested in, change majors five times, make mistakes, meet people who love the same shows you do, and be supported and accepted throughout that is what makes a place somewhere you know you can flourish.

My name is Alex Byrne. I'm a big nerd and passionate about helping people accomplish their dreams, both big and small. I love huge hugs and telling people I love them because of what makes them so unbelievably special. I am addicted to Ice Dancing, all BBC programing, YA novels, and Snickers. I can sometimes be overdramatic, use way too many tissues a day, and love having people come over to hang out in my pink room. I am super involved in all different aspects of Campus Ministry (VITA, retreats, and MOVE) and Founder's Society.

I am accepted. I am supported. Wherever you go or are going, you should always feel that way too.

Did it take me a bit of time to figure out who and where I wanted to be today? Absolutely. Was it easy? Definitely not. It's just about realizing that you can go and try out a bunch of different clubs and majors, but make sure to take into account what you like and what you think works for you. You can't do everything, but you can definitely do something- something that fits you the best it can.

My wonderful readers, as you know, I'm a big fan of "that feeling." I'm also a huge supporter of the idea that the college years should be some of the best in your life. Why not then choose a place where you can spend these years not only finding out what you're interested in, who you are, and where you want to go, but most importantly make your own unique difference?

At the end of the day, nobody wants to see someone who is overly involved in things they're not passionate in. Be the real you. Choose a place that will bring out what you shine in. Do what you want to do and be who you want to be so that at end of these years, you will come out the best person you can be- mistakes, fumbles, triumphs, successes and all. Discover your future second home by finding a place that will treasure that in you and I guarantee you will most certainly succeed.

If you have any questions or just want to say hi, never hesitate to get in contact with me via Twitter or email- I absolutely love hearing from you. For  any of my Class of 2018 readers coming up tomorrow for the Academic Preview Day, definitely stop me and say hi or get a hug!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Off to Albany!! Lit Choir Trip 2014

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!! Supposedly, VT is supposed to be hit with some snow in the next couple of days, so I'm taking advantage of this 30 degree weather (a heat wave this time of year!!) by wearing a dress (with a heavy sweater of course :)

As you, my wonderful readers, know, I joined the SMC liturgical choir this past year and it's honestly been one of the best decisions I've made in my four years here. While I've always been really involved in campus ministry, lit choir was one of the things I always wanted to do, but never really had the courage to. It was this year that my best friend, Merrill, pushed me to sign up since it would be my last chance to do so. While I definitely don't think I'm the best singer, Lit Choir allows me to feel a part of such an amazing group of people, led by our phenomenal choir director, Jerome, and sing my heart out to some pretty cool songs.

This past weekend, we went on our annual Lit Choir tour to Albany, NY!! Even though I'm from New York, I'd never been to the capital before, so I was excited to go. We left SMC at around 3:30 and headed off on the three hour bus ride. What I was super excited about was rooming the weekend with my best friend, Marci, who plays the violin in the lit choir, reuniting with my SMC Twinnie, Adrianna, who graduated this past year!! I was also so excited to have the chance to get to better know the lit choir members, who are just the absolute best group of people. We checked into the Latham Holiday Inn around 9pm after having a delicious dinner at the 76 Latham diner and passed out.

DAY 1
Friday was an extremely early day for us, with a wakeup call at 6am and reporting to the bus by 7:40. I When I woke up, I realized that I learned something that I hadn't known about Marci in our four years of best friendship and was surprised to find out.

Marci does not speak English in the morning. She speaks gibberish.
Ex. (Picture it- 6am)
Me: Good morning Marci!!
Marci: Shbbubbubb mlah bah (Translation: Morning Alex. I'll wake up when you get out of the shower)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Early morning mirror pic!!
Catholic Central brunch in the library- thank you so much!!




Marci and I got ready in the nick of time (and of course took a bathroom selfie to prove it) We boarded the bus and headed off to Catholic Central High School (alma mater of Mike Stefanowicz, Admissions Counselor extraordinaire and overall wonderful person) to sing at our first concert. It was really weird to be back in a Catholic high school, seeing everyone in their polos, khakis, and skirts- it was almost if I was transported back four years ago to my Catholic school days at Good Counsel Academy) It was Catholic Schools week, so many of the Catholic schools in the area, from pre-school to high school, came to hear us and they were too cute. Afterwards, we went to CBA or Christian Brothers Academy, for our second concert of the day. The boys were all so welcoming and really into the music. Marci and I got the chance to help at the Admissions table at both schools with Mike and meet so many students (shout out to Jonathan Woods at CBA, Marci and my new BFF who we had a ten minute conversation with about the difference in Marci and his last name and told us all about the different medal he had received from band) It still makes me feel so amazing helping lead someone on the way to finding their future second home and I'm so happy I got the chance to do so that Friday.

CBA!!

DAY 2
Saturday was our "Super Chill" day, which meant that we didn't have to be anywhere until 11:30. I ended up doing a lot of my homework that day and having breakfast in bed with Marci (aka cereal and coffee from the continental breakfast downstairs) We then headed to Cafe Italia for lunch, where we had a delicious authentic Italian meal of chicken and eggplant parm and penne. We also got to bond with Ernesto, our bus driver, who honestly was the most wonderful part of the trip. He was so unbelievably funny, gracious, and helpful to each and every one of us and I certainly miss him already!! We then headed to Mater Christi parish, which was absolutely beautiful and I loved having the chance to see Marci's family, who have become like a second family to me at SMC!! The mass went great and they served us dinner in the Church cafeteria. Everyone feasted on wings, pizza, salad, and chocolate chip brownies. Afterwards, my twinnie, Adrianna, wanted to go to Walmart to get a card for one of our choir members. Our new friend, Kathy, wanted to come too to find a souvenir from Albany, so we took a 10 minute adventure. We ventured into Five Below (aka the BEST STORE EVER) and I ended up picking up a new pink charger for my phones, a squirrel t-shirt for Marci, and a magnet for my wonderful friend, Sarah all for $13!! We then ended up going to the Dollar Store which I left laughing in stiches- let's just say it involved Kathy and a flying pig, which was just the funniest thing ever. When I came back to the hotel, Marci had delicious cheesecake for us to share from the Cheesecake Factory and for the rest of the night, we watched the Duke/ Syracuse and Knicks/ Heat games until we fell asleep.
Delicious lunch at Cafe Italia
My beautiful friends, Sarah and Anna!!
Marci and my mostly eaten cheesecake

Mater Christi Church
Outfit of the Day!!
My Woof Partner in Crime, Kelly!!
DAY 3
Sunday was our last day in Albany and also our earliest. We had another super early wakeup call, checked out, and had a two minute breakfast. The Lit Choir was set to do two masses at Christ the Light Church and both went fabulously. We then headed back around 2 to VT and got back at 5pm.

Hotel Room!!

My key!!
7:30 selfie on the bus- my typical cheery self hahahaha!!

Brunch at Christ the Light
Sleeper creeper photo of Marci!!


Overall, this weekend couldn't be more amazing. I cannot thank enough all of the members of the SMC Lit Choir for so warmly welcoming me and for just being the absolute best people. I'm so lucky to know you all and to have this weekend to play and sing for Albany. Hugs to you all!!

On the road to an amazing time!!
What I want to express to my wonderful readers in this blog post is that is never too late to take opportunities that are offered to you. SMC provides that and more in so many different ways, whether it be in our liberal arts classes, study abroad, clubs and activities, and so much more. Make the most of every moment and spend it doing something you're passionate about- it will not only make a difference in your life, but the lives of others.

Remember, please never hesitate to get in contact with me if you ever have any questions via Twitter and email!! I'm always happy to help in any way that I can!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Roommate Q&A with My Best Friend!

Happy Sunday everyone!!

This weekend, my best friend, Marci, and I wanted to do something special for our readers!! We decided to do a "Roommate Q&A" to answer some typical questions you may ask when rooming together and sharing about our experiences as roommates. I absolutely LOVED doing this with Marci and we're looking forward to doing more of these videos in the future!!