It’s hard to believe that my junior year at Saint Vincent College has come to a close. It has been a while since I last posted, which goes to show just how busy I have been. This year has probably been one of my most successful so far, only because I have learned so much about myself and my fields of study: communication and graphic design.
Let’s start with the reason I am here and what is fresh in my mind: this past semester’s classes. Besides, I just finished all of my finals! I made sure to fill my course load this semester with 19 credits. Here’s a brief overview of my classes and what I learned:
- I became a forensic scientist in my Chemistry and Crime class/lab and learned many valuable life lessons about how easily evidence can be misinterpreted. All I know is that if I ever have to serve on jury duty, thanks to Dr. Bettie Davis, I’ll be more prepared in making a just decision.
- I was able to bring out my inner photographer in my Digital Photography and Post Production class. This was my third class with Mr. Joseph Materkowski, who has taught me a variety of different techniques that will always be helpful to know and understand, especially in my future career. The best part of this particular class was trying to find people who were willing to be photographed and have their picture shown to a class full of students. I think the award goes to my niece who actually let a salamander crawl on her face when I asked her to do it in order to get a funny photo:)
- I learned more about the many types of art in my Art History II class and conceptual art was my favorite to talk about. I think it is so interesting, because it makes you think, even if it doesn’t make sense or seems weird, and it challenges what art is all about. I also learned that my professor, Mr. Ben Schachter, is not only a painter, but also creates some amazing sculptures and works of art with electrical pieces. How cool is that!
- I enjoyed learning different drawing and painting techniques in my 2-D Design class. Br. Mark Floreanini taught me last semester for my Stained Glass class, and he has always been helpful and supportive of my talents. Check out this interesting and colorful self-portrait of mine that is composed of hundreds of dots of color and another drawing I created of the Saint Vincent Basilica window with a hatching technique.
- I became a public relations specialist in my Writing for Media class and composed a portfolio full of valuable writing samples related to Elk County Council on the Arts, a non-profit organization close to my home town that I worked at for two summers. These writing techniques and tools will definitely be valuable for the future, and Ms. Beth Michalec really helped me to develop my reasoning behind writing and encouraged me with kind words throughout the semester.
- Most importantly, I conquered my fear of reading in my Children’s Literature class! Since I have such a creative mind full of distracting thoughts, I have never been much of a reader. I want to give a shout out to Dr. Marybeth Spore, who really inspired me to overcome my apprehensions and, because of her support, I was able to successfully read 14 books; some in less than even two days. I would say that’s a pretty big accomplishment!
I was able to vividly remember and express my positive thoughts towards my teachers and my professors this semester because it is fresh in my mind, but I want to thank all of my wonderful teachers who have been so inspirational in my journey so far at Saint Vincent College. The best part of attending college at such a small campus is the special bond created with the professors, who truly care about and become invested in their students. I could not be happier with the progress I have made because of these amazing individuals.
Next, I’d like to mention my opportunities for work on campus. I’ve been working with Campus Ministry since my freshman year, and it is always so rewarding to get involved with the Catholic campus in such a special way. I am able to meet so many different students and invest my time into the planning and promotion of activities that bring the community together. Secondly, I work for the Marketing and Communications department, which involves many fun and exciting projects that have been the most effective in providing me with hands on experience in my fields of study. I started off in the fall knowing very little about the Adobe software and a program called MailChimp, which I use to create the School of Social Sciences, Communication and Education newsletter every month. However, with encouragement and help from Simon Stuchlik and Suzanne English, I have been able to blossom and learn so much in so little time.
One of the biggest projects I completed recently was the school outcome brochures that get sent out to prospective students. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am to everyone who works in the Public Relations and Marketing and Communications department who have been influential in my growth as the design intern on campus. Also, back to the newsletter, I am very fortunate to be able to work with a fine group of ladies and Dr. Spore on the SSCE newsletter, where my main role is to use my design skills to turn the text and photographs into a visually appealing masterpiece for all to read and enjoy. I also can’t forget to mention a very special person, George Fetkovich, who was recently hired as the graphic designer on campus. I have the privilege of working next to George, who has played a pivotal role in teaching me the ins and outs of graphic design. Every little bit of new information counts and I am so blessed to be able to learn new things every day beyond what I gain from being in the classroom.
Now, it’s actually 1:20 a.m. and I’ve been writing this for quite some time, but I can’t seem to stop. Besides, I’m headed home in about 12 hours and, by the time you read this, I will already be home enjoying my first few weeks of summer. This brings me to my summer job. I am very pleased to announce that I will be interning with Generation Life, which is an amazing missionary organization that mainly works to spread the messages of chastity and respect for human life to high school and college students. I will have an opportunity to do some traveling and work with the organization’s communication department, starting in June. I am so excited to be able to gain experience by investing my time into a mission that I care deeply about and try to uphold through my position as vice president for the respect life club on campus.
Another person who has contributed to my growth spiritually is Fr. John-Mary Tompkins, O.S.B. who generously meets with me weekly to discuss matters of the faith. I have become a stronger person because of his advice and am able to live out my faith more fully on campus because of his continued prayers and support.
There are just so many people who have touched my life in these past three years and chances are, if I know you, then you have touched my life in some way, shape or form. Thank you to all of you who share your smiles and laughs with me and show me how blessed I am to be surrounded by people who care. Whether you are a friend, family member, teacher, mentor, boss,... you have made an impact on my life, and I thank you for sharing part of your journey with me.
Well, I could go on and on about how special Saint Vincent has been for me so far and how amazing the students and faculty are, but all good things must come to an end. I could talk to you about my crazy roommate who I grew up with since kindergarten, but I’ll save that for next time. I've got to prepare to enter my senior year of college! (YIKES!)
Oh! and on a completely random note, I tried deep fried ice-cream for the first time last week at Don Patron, a new Mexican restaurant in Latrobe. Talk about a great way to celebrate the end of a great semester!
After weeks of anticipation, long plane rides, warm weather, over 1800 pictures, and time spent with amazing sisters and beautiful children of all ages, spring break in Brazil is one experience that I will never forget. Please enjoy this breakdown of my trip and how it helped me grow spiritually and learn how much more meaningful life is when God is involved.
Day 1: (Friday)
A small group of students, along with Fr. Killian and Fr. Jean-Luc, left campus on Friday, Feb. 28, to spend spring break in Brazil for a mission trip that was coordinated by campus ministry. We rode in vans to the Pittsburgh airport and waited eagerly as we received our boarding passes, checked our bags and walked through security. In the main area of the airport, we all ate lunch and waited to board the plane. We received news that our flight would be delayed for a few minutes because they were checking the brakes on the plane. We weren’t really worried at this point, because we had a layover in New York, where our connecting flight would take us to Brazil.
Finally, we heard the signal to board the plane and walked to our seats. The door closed, instructions were given and after buckling up, we were ready to go but...not so fast! After waiting longer than normal in our fastened seats, an unexpected announcement was made. The pilot exceeded his limit of hours for the day and we had to de-board the plane. One thought went through all of our heads: “Are you kidding me?” We were forced to wait longer in the airport by our gate until we could figure out other arrangements. We all sprawled out on the middle of the walkway while we waited in line. We were hoping for the best but the delay set us back too far and we ended up having to stay at the Sheraton hotel in Pittsburgh overnight and fly to Atlanta the next day. This was not the best of news, but we all tried to remain positive and while in the shuttle on the way to the hotel, the song “I Will Survive” played on the radio. We all laughed and appreciated an enjoyable meal and a good night’s rest in the comfortable beds of our own hotel rooms.
It all ended up working out, especially because we had a student who appreciated the extra night to overcome an illness and another student who was a day behind us because of Visa issues. We got to know each other better and geared up for our second attempt at leaving the Pittsburgh airport. Today I learned the importance of patience and trusting God’s will by knowing that everything happens for a reason.
Day 2: (Saturday)
Today, we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel then left the Pittsburgh airport for Atlanta. It was a pretty short flight and at the Atlanta airport, I had a cup of Starbucks coffee and a Nathan’s hotdog for the first time. Then, the group boarded the plane for the long trip to Brazil. This was the first time I ever had a meal on an airplane, and let’s just say I would be happy if I didn’t have to eat that kind of food again for a while. I sat beside a complete stranger who only spoke Portuguese and it was hard to find a comfortable position to sleep. Luckily, the invention of television screens made the time go by a little bit faster. I also didn’t realize that my seat reclined until we had about an hour left of the flight so I couldn’t wait to land. The traveling wasn’t as bad as I expected but I was glad to finally be in Brazil. Today I learned that the journey isn’t always easy but there’s always a destination to look forward to.
Day 3: (Sunday)
It is now early morning and we finally made it to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This begins the feelings of anxiety while everyone around us spoke a different language. The air was warm and the sun was out. I definitely was not missing the snow at home. We were received by two monks, Br. João Marcos and Br. Alexandre, and rode a bus to the place where we would be staying for the week. The hour long ride was breathtaking. We rode by beautiful scenery which included palm trees, a bright blue sky, tall buildings, colorful houses, and interesting graffiti everywhere. After arriving at our destination, a gate opened and we were welcomed at the convent of the Sisters of Christ. I could not believe how calm and peaceful it was. The girls and I made our way down to our sleeping area, which was one room with beds lined against the wall and 2 bathrooms. There was a door that led outside with a view of the scenery and it was just so incredible to be in another country and soak up an entirely different atmosphere. Mass was celebrated in the chapel and then we had our first meal in Brazil that was prepared by the sisters. I had rice with chicken and a mango and some really delicious fruit juice. There were also baked beans, but I decided to skip those.
Then, we all relaxed on the porch for a bit and were introduced to Samuel, a young man who would be translating for us for most of the week. After resting for a bit, we took a bus to Veneto and visited the Sao Bento Monastery that is connected to Saint Vincent. We had an opportunity to see parrots and monkeys that live on the grounds. Then, we walked a short distance to a replica of the Christ the Redeemer stature and took our picture. We had an amazing view of the city and visited a small museum that was attached. We then headed back to the monastery, and the altar in the church was designed just like the one in the Saint Vincent basilica. We sat while the monks said vespers and even though we couldn’t understand them, it was still really beautiful to see and listen to what they were saying and see how similar the process is. We ate pizza for dinner with the monks and then headed back to the convent where we were staying and played Taboo, which pretty much became the game of the week.
When I went back to the room, I found an unexpected surprise. There was a cockroach in my shower bag that I left open on the bed! I may have given a little shriek, but I was able to dump it outside. Luckily, this was the first of only a few creatures that showed up unexpectedly throughout the week. We were all settled in and ready to begin a new day. Today it was incredible to embrace the beautiful landscapes in a different country, experience a different culture, and visit the monks who openly welcomed us into their home.
Day 4 (Monday):
We woke up early and had our first breakfast in Brazil, which consisted of bread, lunch meat, fruit, and really good tasting coffee. Our group split up to help the sisters with odd jobs throughout the morning. We would have normally spent time with the kids at the schools, but the schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday because of the Carnival of Brazil taking place. Two of the girls and I helped the sisters sort clothes into different piles to be used in a second hand store that they have for needy families. For lunch, I had rice with chicken and gravy and tried papaya and a chili pepper for the first time. I am a pretty picky eater but I tried to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit and luckily, most of the food was more than satisfying.
After lunch, I helped to sort some books in the library with a sister who didn’t speak any English, so it was interesting trying to figure out what the books said while trying to understand where to put them. Then, I sat down and helped to sort receipts that that sisters have to organize each day. These small tasks seemed somewhat tedious, but it was rewarding to help the sisters in even the smallest of ways and become part of their everyday routine while feeling like a part of their community. We said vespers together as a group and had mass and a little reflection about our day.
After eating dinner and trying a soda from Brazil that was similar to ginger ale, we all walked a short distance to the mall to find a money exchange. There was a band playing music inside and a tree that spread through an opening right in the middle of the mall. We got ice cream and it was some of the best vanilla ice cream I have ever had. Samuel’s cousin and his wife came with us and they were so friendly and nice to talk to. On the way back, we stopped at a supermarket where I bought a shirt and some coffee and candy to take home. I was also excited when I found German chocolate eggs with a toy inside that I used receive when I was a child. It was so nice to walk outside in shorts and enjoy the beautiful weather.
That night while getting ready to shower, a little lizard came out of nowhere and scared me. I’m not sure why I was being targeted by all of the little creatures but I screamed really loud and one of girls captured it and took it outside for me. I was ready for another day. Today I learned the significance of helping with the smallest of tasks and witnessed true hospitality.
Day 5 (Tuesday):
Today after breakfast and Morning Prayer, the group traveled to Mae Magnificat, which is a home for the homeless and abandoned elderly that was started by a 24-year-old man named Amarillo, who is now just 31 years old. We had an opportunity to listen to his beautiful testimony and how he started his journey by attending to homeless people in the streets by cutting their nails and hair. With a call from God, Amarillo accepted the task of taking in the sick and elderly on the streets and even had to beg in their place. He said that most of his inspiration came from the Gospel in Matthew 25 where Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” It was so humbling to see a young man trusting in God enough to give up his personal plans in life and accept the challenge to help others.
We had some time to visit with the residents and even though we couldn’t really speak to them clearly, the joy in their eyes was evident. These men and woman now have a safe home to live in where they are clothed and fed, all because of one man’s sacrifice and the help of several volunteers. After lunch, we visited one of the best wineries in Brazil with the sisters and it just so happened to be a place that was visited by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. After dinner, we had a great opportunity to visit the home of our translator’s sister and her husband and see how a typical working couple lived. The house was very small, clean and modern and we had to walk down steps from a garage next to the street to a lower level where the rooms were. There were only three rooms and it was pretty bare with little decorations, much different from our homes filled with clutter in America. There are no screens in the windows and the doors are always open to let in the warm and fresh air. We were welcomed by such great hospitality and enjoyed spending time with some of their family members while eating some Brazilian snacks.
Today I also remember Sr. Luciana, a younger, hardworking sister in the convent that spoke some English and also translated for us throughout the week, say, “My work is prayer.” She was such a great role model for what it truly means to surrender one’s life to God and do good works for others. I learned that serving others is a sacrifice, but as long as it is for God, there will be a great reward.
Day 6 (Wednesday):
This morning we listened to a human trafficking presentation by a woman who started an organization to help people who are facing horrible circumstances. The sisters also showed us how they are involved in the movement and go through extreme conditions to help others. They are even planning to build a house for children who need a safe place to stay. These amazing leaders risk their lives every day to save others from destruction, and they are a target and could even be killed for their selfless efforts.
After lunch, another student and I spent time with a few kids and played games with them. I was actually pretty easy to interact with them, especially because most of them were learning a little bit of English in their school. Then, a large group of smaller kids and their teachers came out for recess and played musical chairs. It was satisfying to give attention to the kids and learn ways to communicate to them through simple words and hand gestures. One little girl even gave me a kiss on the cheek when I left.
After another delicious dinner, our group from Saint Vincent traveled to the city of Jundiai and participated in the Ash Wednesday mass that was celebrated by the Bishop. The church was beautifully decorated and the music was unlike anything that I ever heard in a church. It was also interesting that ashes were sprinkled on top of the head when we were used to having them placed with the sign on the cross on our foreheads. This notion that they accept in Brazil corresponds to the Gospel that states how we should not boast about our prayer or fasting but keep it hidden.
After mass, we all got a group picture with the Bishop, who stood next to me and kissed me on the cheek after joking with me when I shouted to the sister who was taking the picture to tell her where the button was. We ended the night playing games as a group and sharing in more laughs and fun. Today I was happy to share my joy with the children I met and I saw the beauty of celebrating mass in a different culture that has unique traditions but still practices the same Catholic beliefs.
Day 7: (Thursday)
Today our group spilt up and half of us went to a school close by while the other half stayed at the school connected to the convent. I went to the other school first where there were different age groups of children. When we first arrived, a group of kids were in gym class and as soon as they saw us, they ran to us and grabbed onto us, especially Fr. Killian who attracted them like magnets. We spent most of our time playing with the younger 2-3 year olds and they were so full of joy. I held a little girl who kept crying because she missed her mom and she was so sweet and loveable. She even reminded me of one of my nephews at home which is why she stole a special piece of my heart. This same girl fell asleep while Fr. Killian held her and then I tried to feed her lunch but she didn’t want it.
All of the kids took a nap in a room filled with little rod iron beds, almost like it was out of a movie. In the afternoon, I helped served lunch to some of the kids and then played outside with some of the older kids. They enjoyed getting their hair braided and playing jump rope. For dinner, we were taken out to a surprise dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse where they walk around with all different types of meat. It was delicious and unlike anything I ever experienced and it gave our group a good time to bond and reflect on our week. Today I learned how attached I could become to young kids who were basically strangers and that we can all communicate as children of God, no matter where we come from.
Day 8: (Friday)
Today we passed out toys and stuffed animals to the kids at both schools that we collected and brought with us to Brazil. The kids really appreciated these gifts and were full of excitement and energy. While our group was taking a break in the afternoon, a bunch of kids came in herds and gave us hugs on the porch and it was a great feeling. In the afternoon, we went to the city of Sao Paulo and visited the monastery where the two monks lived who translated for us and provided us with transportation throughout the week. The building and the church was beautiful, and there was even a room marked off where Pope Benedict had once stayed. It started pouring down rain but we had an opportunity to do a little bit of shopping for souvenirs.
We concluded the day by visiting a local mall and, luckily, we had a translator to help us order our dinner. At one of the places, a cashier asked us if she could take a picture with us because we were the first American she ever saw. It was pretty interesting to hear but we all joyfully participated. Today I learned the importance of giving and how small acts of kindness can mean the world to someone.
Day 9: (Saturday)
After we packed and cleaned the room we stayed in, we all had a farewell meal with the sisters. After lunch, we sang a thank you song in Portuguese and played a little bit of music with the sisters. We all took group pictures and enjoyed being in each other’s company. Some of us took a last minute trip to a local supermarket and I was surprised to hear Shania Twain’s song “You’re Still the One” over the intercom. It was bittersweet to think that our time in Brazil had come to a close. We left for the airport and took the long trek home. Today I really appreciated my time spent in Brazil and was truly thankful for the hospitality and generosity that surrounded our group the entire week. We were served while we served others, which was a beautiful dynamic to experience.
Day 10: (Sunday)
We finally returned home and it was definitely hard adjusting to the colder weather and trying to get back on a regular sleep schedule. It seemed strange to hear English regularly again and I wanted to blurt out Portuguese words everywhere I went. Classes started the next day and it seemed like spring break never happened because it went by so fast. There was so much preparation and it was over in the blink of an eye. However, the memories and experience from this trip are something that I will carry with me forever and I would definitely not be opposed to going again next year. Being able to offer my time and love to others who are less fortunate is so remarkable and I felt at peace the entire week.
Overall, I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible, especially those who donated money, sent their prayers, and coordinated the trip. This was my first time out of the country and I am so happy that I decided to overcome any inhibitions and attend the trip. Our entire group meshed together well and we became friends rather quickly. My faith has grown stronger and I hope to apply the lessons I learned every day of my life by growing closer to God.
It’s been a little while since I’ve written a blog because of the energy I have been dedicating to school and work, but I want to take the time to share what I’ve been up to! I finally have time to recap my Christmas break and give and update on the Spring 2014 semester. It’s hard to believe that I am already over half-way done with my junior year of college. People aren’t kidding when they say college flies by in the blink of an eye!
Give me a break! Never mind...that was already over 2 weeks ago!
Before I dive into new details about my life as a current college student, I want to give a quick overview of my Christmas break and how I spent my time at home. So what did I do for a whole month?
1) I spent time with my family and had a chance to catch up with some of my high school friends that I haven’t seen in a while. Needless to say, I enjoyed playing with a bunch of little rascals, creating new memories, and eating plenty of restaurant food and home-cooked meals!
2) I spent most of my days working at a factory coating, sanding and checking small parts. It really wasn’t my idea of fun and I thought I was going to dread it every day, but I actually learned a lot about my work ethic. I was assigned different tasks each day and I found myself trying to get everything done as quickly and efficiently as possible. The people I worked with were very friendly and pleased with my hard work. Although I can’t see myself ever wanting a factory job in the future, I learned that it really wasn’t THAT bad or as terrible as everyone says. Besides, I was also able to fill my pockets with a little extra cash. I learned a valuable lesson: There is always something positive that one can learn in any given situation and mine was that every opportunity teaches me something about myself and my capabilities.
3) My boyfriend took me indoor ice skating in Meadville, which is something that I always wanted to do. It was so much fun but after skating for a good while and dodging around small children, we left rather quickly. I just happened to take a few hard falls and my boyfriend decided that he didn’t want to risk having to take me to the hospital ;)
4) Did you ever have a gift as a child that you really wanted for Christmas but never got? Did you think about it years later and become sad at the fact that you never got it? Well, as a small child, all I ever wanted was Baby Born. I saw this doll on TV commercials all the time. She cried, you could feed her, and you could even change her diaper. I fell in love with this doll and wanted her to be mine but…year after year she never showed up under the Christmas tree. However, as a 20 year old, I happened to mention this sad story to my parents and wouldn’t you know that I ended up opening an unexpected present this year! Hopefully, if I have a daughter one day, she can now play with the doll that I dreamed of having as a kid.
5) One of the highlights of my break was...wait for it…buttons!!!! Something you probably don’t know about me is that I love buttons. I know it sounds a little crazy but I recently started collecting colorful, vintage, antique, and interesting buttons. I went to an antique store and after some bartering; I was able to turn a $35 jar of buttons into a $5 purchase of handpicked buttons from the bunch. I basically filled up a mason jar and doubled my collection. Talk about a deal! I just love searching for the buttons and observing how interesting they look. I am going to be using them for something somewhat important soon. I will share more details about that in a later post. For now, look at how beautiful they are:
(If you have old buttons lying around or ever consider throwing them out or giving them away….consider passing them on to me as their final destination).
The wheels on the bus go round and round…
For the past few months, I have been working with the Respect Life Club on planning the trip to the March for Life this year. As secretary of the club and soon-to-be vice president, I was very pleased with the turnout of students that traveled with us from St. Vincent to Washington, D.C. this year. 20 students traveled on an overnight trip. They unfortunately had a rude awakening to a fire alarm at 4:30 a.m. and then had to continue the day with very little sleep. However, we were able to join thousands of other students from all over the states to celebrate mass in the Verizon Center. We joined a bus of 55 students the next day and had to survive the brutal cold for a few hours as we marched the streets and stood up for a right to life, but it was well worth it! We are so thankful for everyone who showed their support and made this event a success.
Pictured above is me with Stacie Sikora and Kathryn Klawinski. We all work on the School of Social Sciences, Communication, and Education monthly newsletter together and participated in the march this year.
This semester is stacking up: Why so many books??
My course load is pretty full this semester. I am taking Art History II, Chemistry and Crime, Children’s Literature, Digital Photography and Post Production, Writing for Media, and 2D Design. I love my classes and in just 2 weeks, I have learned so much and I am so confident about my field of study, which is Graphic Design and Communication if you didn’t know. My biggest challenge is going to be overcoming the pile of books for my Children’s Literature class. I have never really enjoyed reading growing up but I hope that this class challenges me to want to read more and be able to transform it into an enjoyable escape. My teachers are all so helpful and kind and I appreciate all they do to help me succeed and pave the way to my future.
More to come…
In a little over a month, I will be spending my spring break in Sao Paulo, Brazil on a mission trip with Campus Ministry. I am really looking forward to this trip and hope that I can change at least one person’s life in a small way.
On another note, did I ever mention that I have known my current roommate, Anna, since kindergarten and we only live about a mile away from each other when at home? I will have to share some of our interesting and entertaining bonding stories and how we survive together in the same college dorm room. We are definitely a unique pair and to prove it, Anna once tried to sell me by posting a sign on our door. Luckily, all of the offers fell through!
Keep an eye out for more posts in the near future. Feel free to comment below, ask questions, or propose an ideas for future blogs.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “There are many ways of going forward but there is only one way of standing still.” Stay positive and don’t forget to smile!
College is a very memorable time for most students and often considered the most precious years of one’s life. It’s a time to learn, make friends, explore new interests, and bring ideas and dreams to life. Some people are able to attend college without any financial concerns, but let’s be honest; there are also many who work really hard to make ends meet. Whether you are a college student or not, I’d like to offer some advice for how to save money for something special.
It turns out that Pinterest is not just good for great craft ideas and inspiration; it also contains great tips for how to organize your life and improve budgeting habits. Over a year ago, I saw an interesting pin about a “5 Dollar Savings Plan”. The idea is to save 5 dollar bills whenever they come into your possession. The trick is to put them aside whenever you receive them as change and vow not to spend them no matter what. It takes dedication to follow through with the venture, but it is definitely worth it.
As I mentioned, I came across this 5 dollar savings idea and started to follow it last August when I returned to college for the fall 2012 semester. Since then, I have tried my best to set aside my 5 dollar bills, knowing that they would be put to good use some day for something that I really want or need. It turns out that since then, I have been able to save $500 dollars. It is amazing how well this concept works. So, if you are one to carry cash, I highly recommend trying this savings plan.
One reason that I thought to share this idea with you is that I found it ironic that the day I reached my $500 milestone was this past Monday, November 11, the same day that my $500 deposit was due for a spring mission trip to Brazil. Saint Vincent College Campus Ministry hosts this trip ever year and I have considered it ever since I was a freshman. Some fundraising efforts will be taking place, but it helps that I can have some of the financial burden lifted by having the extra money that I was able to set aside because I saved 5 dollar bills. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to attend this trip next semester and serve others in different country.
I have to be honest; I was a little hesitant to attend this trip at first, mostly because it requires traveling to another country and stepping outside of my comfort zone by experiencing an entirely new culture. I wanted to be sure that this was something that God was calling me to do. This trip to Brazil will definitely be a sacrifice in many ways, but I look forward to the ways in which it will touch my life as a result of reaching out to others in need. I have been blessed with a burning love that I cannot wait to spread to all of the people I will encounter. Please keep me and the others that will be attending this trip in your thoughts and prayers.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner but, if we truly want to live meaningful lives, every day should begin and end with thanks. It is easy to appreciate the beauty of the fall season as the leaves change colors and crisp aromas fill the air. The SVC campus has so much character that it is hard not to walk anywhere without wishing I had a camera in hand to capture the scenery. Having a peaceful atmosphere allows the mind to wander and the imagination to stir up mounds of endless ideas and creativity. Life can feel overwhelming at times with work, classes, chores, jobs, activities, etc. and it is easy to forget about what is important and be thankful for what we do have. Below is a powerful quote that struck me when I read it:
We often get caught up in the whirlwind of our daily lives, forget to step back and smell the fresh air, and fail to recognize how blessed we are to live so comfortably.
As a college student, I know how easy it is to spend time focusing on the future and what is coming next, without cherishing what I do have in each present moment. This leads me to another powerful quote:"Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it's called the Present.” Can you image what life would be like if we could savor ever moment and stop worrying so much about the past and future.
A mentor of mine recently told me that the more I worry and dwell on why I am being distracted in certain situations, then the more distracted I become. I think this is a great lesson to all college students and anyone for that matter. Looking at life through the windshield instead of the rear view mirror and cherishing every moment as it comes along seems to be the best approach to living a fulfilling life.
I am personally thankful for all of the people in my life that have ever made me laugh or brought a smile to my face. I am thankful for my family, friends, teachers, and even strangers, who have impacted my life in some way and have led me to where I am right now. Every word and every action has the ability to change someone’s world.
I'll leave you with a link to a beautiful song about blessings:
At this very moment I am wondering: What happened to the fall season? It seems as if our climate wants to make a point by shocking us with abrupt temperature changes. I stepped outside after class on Thursday and IT WAS SNOWING! Living in college dorms rooms that are surrounded by brick walls and waiting for the heat to be turned on certainly doesn't help. It's a good thing that there are many other ways to find warmth on campus (and I'm not just talking about the the heated blanket that my roommate so graciously let me borrow). There is an inner warmth that can often be found in daily interaction with others. There are many students, faculty, and staff that make a memorable impact in the lives of others through their kind words and actions. One person that comes to mind when I think of kindness is....Veronica!!
Veronica works in our cafeteria and has a gift of making every single person that she encounters feel special. She is the true definition of beauty and her smile can light up a room. There is no doubt that almost everyone on campus knows her by name. Veronica is typically seen in the cafeteria serving meals or, more commonly, in the hallway swiping student ID cards. She turns a tedious task into a memorable experience for students because she calls each one by name and by the the end of the year, she doesn't even have to look at the card to get it right. This simple action shows students that she truly cares for them as individuals. Not only does she greet hundreds of students, but she engages in conversation and invests her time and energy into their lives. Veronica is a true role model and a great example of how to treat others and give them the positive attention that they deserve. Veronica warms my heart every time I see her and the small things that she says each day have a large impact on my life.
This past week has been one of my busiest weeks this semester and even though I have been overwhelmed with classes, work, and meetings, it is not hard to recognize the people who add that little bit of warmth to my stressful days. It's easy to dwell on the negative aspects of life, but there is so much good in the world and on the SVC campus. The next time you are feeling cold or disheveled in your mind and actions, remember the times that others have brought warmth into your life and try to be that warmth for others.
"Sometimes it's the small things that count"
I often wonder what it would be like to have gone to a larger school, but I know now that I never would have attained the experiences and atmosphere that I cherish every day here at Saint Vincent College. There is so much beauty and simplicity that surrounds the campus and everywhere I go, a feeling of peace and tranquility fills the air. Luckily, my transition from high school to college was an easy one because Saint Vincent feels like an extension of home.
When I was recently home for fall break, I visited my high school art teacher so that I could frame a drawing that I created in a class last semester. It was definitely strange being in the art room with younger students as they went about their regular school day routine, and I couldn’t believe that it had already been 3 years since I graduated from there. However, being in that art room again was a great feeling because that was the one space that I always felt comfortable and the most happy. A part of me is literally still there because a ceiling tile that I painted my senior year still hovers over the room.
When I started college, I felt that part of me was missing because I focused on other areas of study and did not have the time to focus on art. Then, I realized that I could take what I loved and turn it into something meaningful. Last semester, I had my first drawing class on campus and being in the art room changed something inside of me that I could not ignore. Since then, I declared graphic design as my second major and I am able to take a variety of different art classes. I feel that I am back to that place where I feel complete because I can finally let my creativity shine through and be the person I want to be.
This semester has been the most fulfilling for me because every class involves art in some way, shape or form. My classes currently include: Art History, Chemistry of Art, Printmaking, Black and White Photography, Stained Glass, and Electronic Media. All of these classes have been so rewarding, but the one that I am most enthusiastic about is Stained Glass. I decided to take the class as an elective, even though I already have a heavy course load and do not need it to graduate. It has always been something that I wanted to do, so I just took a leap into the dark and registered for the course. I am very happy about my decision and have accomplished more than I even could have imagined. In less than a month, I was able to create this masterpiece (with the help of Br. Mark Floreanini, of course)!
My advice to any current student or perspective students is that yes, obtaining a job after college is very important, but your education is not going to mean much if you don’t explore it to the fullest, engage in every opportunity, and do what you truly love.
It was nice going home for fall break and visiting my family, but it is hard to believe that half of the fall semester is already over. I definitely feel that this semester has been my busiest, especially with working 2 jobs and taking 19 credits. However, I seem to keep telling people that “it’s a busy semester, but in a good way.” I am learning so much about myself and my career this year and, in less than 2 months, I have gained so much knowledge that will only continue to benefit me in the future. I am starting to feel the pressure of having 2 majors, but I know that it is all worth it because I finally feel like everything is falling into place.
"Home is where the heart is."
My name is Sara Krug and for the time being, my home is right here at Saint Vincent College. Some may call me crazy, but the only college that I sent an application to is Saint Vincent. Although this is against the norm, the moment that I stepped foot on campus, I was confident that this is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. Right now I am a junior majoring in both communication and graphic design and each day is a new adventure for me. I may be a typical college student, but my passion, faith and creativity inspires me to be the best that I can be. I want to share my everyday experiences with others, in the hopes of capturing how the college has shaped me in the smallest and largest ways and how every aspect continues to guide me toward a successful future.
A little bit about myself...
I was born in the small town of Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, home to the Straub Brewery and the first Benedictine convent in the United States. I attended a Catholic school all of my life and graduated from Elk County Catholic High School in 2011. Faith has always been an important part of my life and it became even more real for me when I started getting involved with my school, church and community by volunteering, attending mission trips and teaching younger students. I am presently a work study student for Campus Ministry and enjoy using my gifts and talents to help others. I try my best to trust in God and allow him to guide me and direct me through all of the challenges and obstacles in my life.
I am a proud aunt of three nieces and three nephews and I am blessed with the joy that they bring me each and every day of my life. Those little smiles and laughs never cease to amaze me. This past summer, I became a Godmother and it is an experience that I will cherish forever, because I am now responsible for guiding a tiny little girl to the Catholic faith. I am currently the secretary for the Respect Life Club on campus because I have such a deep passion and love for the beautiful gift of life that God provides.
When I was seven years old, I had my first debut as a singer performing Shania Twain’s “Man I Feel like a Woman,” at a local talent show. I loved singing and would leap at every opportunity to get behind a microphone. My dream was to become a famous country singer. Growing up, I performed in a few more talent shows, sang the National Anthem at town events, and became a member of my church choir. There was something about standing in front of a crowd of people that was exhilarating. When I started high school, I also began taking guitar lessons and although I am not an expert, I am now able to share my talents with others. My priorities are changing as I grow older, but music has taught me to reflect on certain situations and express myself in an entirely new way. I feel blessed when I can share my gifts with others and make a positive impact in their lives. Music is very powerful because it can transform the world through simple words and rhythm.
If I could describe myself in one word, it would be “creative.” I always loved art as a child and could not wait to create something new and take it home for everyone to see. In high school, I had a very talented and inspirational art teacher whose class involved mostly independent work, and I was able to develop my skills in a variety of different mediums. I found an interest in abstract art and realized how unique and expressional it was. When I first entered college, I wanted to get involved with art but it did not seem very practical at the time. I started with majors in theology and communication. However, I could not resist the urge to express myself through art. I enjoy thinking outside of the box and I try to fill every moment of my life with color and positive energy.
I am currently a graphic design and communication major and I love every minute of it. I am working as an intern for the Marketing and Communication department this semester, where I am able to design and edit online newsletters and create brochures and other materials for prospective students. This experience is very fulfilling because it allows me to indulge in all of my passions and interests.
Now that you know a little about me, I hope that you will join me in the journey of discovering the array of influence that Saint Vincent College has in my life. Every random encounter, activity, person, teacher, class, opportunity and so on, provides me with a spark that keeps my flame burning during these formative years in my life.