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A Change of Plans

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At Monroe Catholic High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, I was extremely involved.  It was a small school so there not as many people as some of the bigger Fairbanks schools, but we had no shortage of opportunities.  I wanted to be a part of everything.  Sports, student government, service clubs, National Honor Society – I loved being busy!  When I graduated, I planned to go to SMU and coast through my first year.  I would be living in a new state, I would have a new track team, and I would have to make new friends and have new responsibilities.  I did not know what to expect so I did not want to get involved until I felt like I had a strong grip on my new environment.   This year has not gone at all as I had planned it…

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Picture day for the SMU Track and Field Team – January 2016

My first semester had a very redundant theme: home.  Seventeen-hundred miles away from home I was learning how to be comfortable with living somewhere new.  I’m not one to be nervous about new experiences, but there sure was a lot I was thinking about, even if I really was just excited to be here.  I had to figure out the campus, the meal system, time management, new friends, keeping in touch with old friends, community events, homework, cross country practices (including 6AM workouts), and lots of other little things.  One of the strengths that I do have is the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, until I am able to work out whatever it is that I need to do.  How did I get over these stresses?  I stayed positive and took every challenge as an adventure, and through that, I discovered that every other first-year was going through the same struggles.  We were able to get through everything (or at least the first semester) with a little help from our new friends.

The first floor of the Spangler residence hall is home to the Norcia community.  I so strongly believe in this embodiment of one of our Benedictine values of community, that I am currently in the process of becoming a Norcia mentor for next year.  This is just another way I am trying to give back to Saint Martin’s, and another way that this year had surprised me.

One of my teammates, who happened to be the editor of our school newspaper, The Belltower, mentioned writing for the paper.  I declined, trying to stick to my plan of simplicity I had set for myself, but it was so easy to imagine me writing for the paper.  I had always loved writing, and so I finally gave in and submitted my first article about my transition from Alaska to Washington.  It was around this time that I had also heard about Social Squad.

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Andrew and Andrew at the WSU Open in Pullman, WA – January 2016

I had a history class with Christine Towey, and I asked her about the Social Squad and the Marketing department.  It had piqued my interest because it sounded like the direction I wanted to go with my studies and a potential career.  I had an interview just before Christmas break and was notified that I had the job just before the second semester started!  So here I am, in February 2016, and I am not where I had planned to be in my first year of college…and that’s a great thing.  I had planned not to get involved outside of school and sports and here I am with two jobs and planning to take on a leadership role next semester.  At a university that stresses giving back to the community and provides me with so much, it’s difficult to not find a way to give back.  This makes me think about what other goals I have for the future, and what else I want to do with the seven semesters that I have left.

I want to become a Norcia mentor and provide to future first years what I was given this year.  There is a lot of strength and confidence in experience and there is a lot you can learn from those who have been where you are now.  I want to work more with The Belltower to have it distributed to more Lacey and Olympia businesses, and also have more businesses have their ads in the paper to give a better feeling of community in our paper in connection with SMU.  I want to be an orientation leader my junior year, giving myself another outlet to let new students feel welcomed into the next big adventure of their lives.  Ultimately, I want to be a role model, and someone people can look up to.  When I think of role models, I don’t think of celebrities or superheros.  I think about when I was growing up, and the people who helped me become who I am today.  These are my friends, my family, my teammates, my teachers, and my co-workers.  These people are the ones who I saw overcome daily struggles, and stayed strong when they were feeling weak, and simply stayed positive and smiled when everyone else seemed to have a frown.  That is the kind of person I want to be seen as in my life.

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Mariners Caravan event at SMU with fellow Social Squad Member, Lauren Diuco – January 2016

While sometimes it may feel impossible to roll out of bed, or to finish that hard workout, or finish that article for work, it is important to remember that no matter what, you are going to make it to the end of the day.  Think about where you are now, and where you want to be in the future and know that the future is coming, ready or not.  Find out what you need to do so that when the next day comes, you have done something to have a result that is a reflection of that work you have done.  It is in this way, that we can live one day at a time, and still have the future in mind.  It is in this way that we can improve ourselves, and learn to live for others.  It is in this way, that we can step back from our lives, and see the lives of everyone around us to give back what has been given to us.

Thank you for reading,

-Andrew