Two weeks ago, a group of Saints got off a bus in Seattle and made their way to CenturyLink Field. The Seattle Sounders, a Major League Soccer team, were playing their last game at home before trying to make the playoffs. All they needed was a win, and we were there because Campus Life put it together. The Sounders won 2-1, and since then have won the next two playoff games without allowing a goal. On October 1st, Residence Life took a group to go see the last home Seattle Mariners game. They had unfortunately been eliminated from the playoffs the night before, but they were one of the best Mariners teams in recent years, and Saint Martin’s was there to watch them.
The location of SMU is really incredible. Only an hour away from Seattle, and two away from Portland, events are never hard to come by, and SMU is great at getting you there. Saint Martin’s attendance at a Seahawks game may be many years down the road, that isn’t stopping anyone from throwing together their own residence hall, football party. These experiences are not limited to sports!
My American Immigration class, taught by Dr. Brian Barnes and Dr. Jamie Olson, took us into the Seattle Chinatown-International District. I doubt I would’ve made the trip there on my own, but now I’m sure I’ll go back. We were given a tour of the Wing Luke museum and the historical buildings in the area. We were also able to try some amazing food! Another example of an off-campus event would be discounted, or free tickets to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.
While it isn’t off campus, one great annual event that most students can get involved with is the Saint Martin’s Gala. The Gala can still provide as a fun distraction from studies and stresses while staying at SMU. This year, it will be Saturday, November 5th. The Gala is a fundraiser for student scholarships, hosting wonderful guests every year. This year, we welcome Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods, and Ligia Karazawa of Eataly Brasil. Last year, we were fortunate to host the cast of The Chew, including Iron Chefs, Michael Symon and Mario Batali. It’s amazing that we can get such incredible chefs, and personalities on our SMU community to help create scholarships. This will be my first year attending the Gala as a member of the Social Squad! If you would like to donate, but cannot attend The Gala, we would welcome a gift that you can give here.
We’re so lucky to have outlets provided by the school that get us off campus and let us see what else is beyond the Residence Halls and Old Main. We can spend so much time in study rooms and behind our textbooks that we can forget how important it is to focus on our own self-care, and watch a game, explore a new city, or meet new people.
Thanks for reading.
Eleven months and twenty-five days ago, I scrambled to throw my things in to my backpack. Usually, I would be getting the guys together so we could go get lunch at Speedy Subs or The Chowder House, but today was different. Today was a milestone that I would never forget, and one that would decide where my life was going after graduation. That day I sat down at a table in our school’s library, surrounded by family, friends, coaches and staff. Next to me was Jalon McCullough, the school’s star basketball player, and together we both fulfilled our dreams of competing in our sports at the college level by signing our National Letters of Intent.
I would bet that you can remember any of those milestones from your own senior year, or just life in general. Those moments where you thought “This is why I worked. This is why it took all of that time. Just to get to this moment and feel that even for a few seconds, it has all come full circle.” However, these moments do not last forever. I thanked all those who supported me and served as role models. I signed my NLI, hugged my parents, coaches, and friends, and it was over. By making my decision, I finally began seeing myself leaving it all behind. So because I had accomplished what I had set to do in the years before, I now had to give it all up? The “lasts” of my life started becoming milestones too.
Eleven months and twenty-seven days ago, I went to my last prom.
Eleven months and fifteen days ago, we had our last day with our kindergarten buddies (who are now first graders!).
Eleven months and nine days ago, I had my last day as Student Body President and swore in my successor.
Ten months and thirty days ago, I put on my cap and gown, received my diploma, and had my last day at Monroe Catholic High School.
Last. Last. Last. Last.
Seven months and thirty days ago, I had my last day in Fairbanks. Followed by my first flight to Seattle to get to Lacey. Seven months and twenty-nine days ago, I had my first practice with my new Saint Martin’s Saints cross country team.
Seven months and twenty-four days ago, I had my first service project at the Olympia Children’s Museum with all of the first-year students for Incipio, our orientation program.
Six months and twenty-six days ago, I went to the Washington State Fair for the first time.
Five months and fourteen days ago, I had my first article published in the school newspaper.
First. First. First. First.
The saying “when one door closes, another door opens” comes to mind. These doors were going to close and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to go out and find the doors that were opening, and that meant leaving home. If you are about to leave home in a few months, take in your lasts! You earned them! Then know that there are many firsts around the corner… maybe even at Saint Martin’s.
Nine weeks. The first twenty-seven are down, and I just have nine to go. This is the first day back after Spring Break. I feel right at home, but man, oh man, am I missing Fairbanks.
I had the three months of summer before I got on the plane in August, and I had a month for Christmas break. Two-thirds of this year have been spent in Lacey now, and that will be the story for the next three years. Here I am, putting numbers and statistics into my college experience. Why? To better understand what I am accomplishing here? No. That is not an accurate representation of what I am gaining from SMU. I will save the numbers for my economics and calculus classes, because I think of this year by all of the friends I’ve met and memories I’ve made.
Making the Dean’s List was fantastic news to me, and it reflected all of the hard work that I had put into my classes that first semester. When I think of this later, I will not think of every test and assignment, but rather what I felt when I went up to my door and saw my name on the certificate. That was a “need-to-call-mom” moment if I ever had one. “Need-to-call-mom” moments are an excellent way to think about college.
Mom is always my greatest supporter, and she has been with me every step of the way until this year. It should be noted that when I say “Need-to call-mom”, that includes dad too! I think that until this year, I didn’t realize what my family meant to me because they were always there. Now they are far away from me, including my two little brothers. “Need-to-call-mom” moments are important because it shows the moment was more important than a regular Facebook post, or tweet. It would have been something that you would want to celebrate with the whole family. Along with academic achievements, these moments included an exciting track meet, any time I would go and explore a new city, getting an on-campus job with The Belltower,
or completing an interesting project for a class. Mom isn’t just there for the good times, however. She is also there for the rough spots in life.
Recently, the leadership positions on campus were announced and I was greatly anticipating to be selected as a Norcia mentor. Unfortunately, I was not chosen, but was offered a position to be an Orientation Leader. I would have loved to be an OL, and hope that I can at some point, but the job requires me to stay on campus over the summer, so I had to turn down the position for now. Initially, I was pretty upset by the news, but I had to let it go. Nevertheless, it was a “need-to-call-mom” moment. By talking to her, I was able to visualize the big picture and see that not only had I already had a great year, but that I had many more opportunities to come. Just because I will not be a Norcia mentor next year, doesn’t mean I can’t be a leader in the Saint Martin’s community, and nothing is stopping me from applying for the position again next year.
It would be easy to start distancing myself from leadership programs on campus but that is not what this experience is supposed to do to me. I can see that the Norcia program is very tough to get into, but this is strengthening me. I will be improving my skills for another year and be ready to earn my spot next year. Until then, I will continue to work to find my place at Saint Martin’s, and give back to the community that is giving so much to me. Oh, and of course, update mom along the way.
Thanks for reading,
My status on the track team as a freshman sometimes makes me wonder if I will be competing week-to-week. Sometimes the meet is so exclusive that only three or four athletes will be able to attend. That is what I had imagined happening on Friday, February 5th, when it came to the High Performance Meet in Portland, Oregon. I knew a few things about the meet that made me think I wouldn’t be going. The first was the meet was on a brand new, 200 meter, banked track that they will be using for both the National and World Indoor Championships in Portland later in March. The second was that there would be Olympian Track Athletes there, and competing. The last thing, was just in the name: High Performance Meet. I perform at a high level, but I am no Olympian. Needless to say, I was thrilled when coach sent me the message that I would be competing that Friday!
We were able to finish the whole day of classes because the meet did not start until 5:30. However, since the meet was so late it meant that I would be running at 10:30PM! We left the school at 1:30 and bused down to Portland in two hours.
When the World Indoor Championships take place this March, they will be in the Oregon Convention Center. For now, the track is being kept in a Portland warehouse and is for now known as the Nike House of Track. Pulling up to the building didn’t really have an exciting feeling about it. They weren’t kidding when they said that it was just a warehouse. Nothing flashy about it and I began to have my doubts. Then we went through the front door.
I wasn’t sure what I had just walked into but it was like a living advertisement for Nike, and being the branding/ marketing nerd that I am – I loved it. The building was dimly lit aside from the track, where the green tread seemed to glow as bright as the looks on our faces. We claimed a spot in the bleachers and coach gave us our race bibs, where for the first time for many of us, numbers were replaced by our names – just like they are for Olympic athletes.
We got on the track for a few warmup laps and it was crazy thinking that every famous track athlete would be running on this same track, and some would be on it tonight! After my warm up, I only had to wait for 6 hours before I got to run, so I cheered on my teammates and then I saw my first Olympian arrive.
Fellow social squad member, and sharer of the same first name, Andrew Kier was also at the meet and walked over to me and said something like, “I just held the door for Allyson Felix, and she said thank you, and I’m freaking out!” Something along those lines. Allyson Felix has four gold medals at the Olympic Games, and another nine at the World Championships. Three of us collectively gained the courage to talk to her, and we surprised by how approachable and kind she was to us!
I was also able to meet a runner, Trevor Dunbar, from Kodiak, Alaska who had just graduated from the University of Oregon and is now running professionally for Nike. It was inspiring being able to meet someone from Alaska who is on his way to making it big in the track world!
Finally, I met one of my favorite track athletes, Andrew Wheating, another Olympian. Again, he was extremely approachable and I was able to have a really fun conversation with him! He was running the individual 800 about an hour later, and I was running the 800 in my relay later that night as well, so I asked him for a bit of advice to think about when my turn came up.
The meet was extremely well attended, and they set a capacity limit of 1600 people. Many of the athletes, including us Saints, had to move to the floor with our gear to make room for the other spectators in the bleachers. Still, many didn’t have a seat and stood along the outside of the track to watch.
I could tell that these spectators truly loved the sport of track and field, and their energy and excitement spread throughout the rest of the crowd and into the competitors. This energy is what topped the list of things that made this meet special. Along with the brand new track, the Nike influence, the higher performance competition, and of course the Olympians and other professional atheletes, I felt a bond with everyone in attendance through the energy in the building.
Oh, and we had a really successful meet on the track! Full results are on the Track and Field website. To close out the meet, my distance medley relay (DMR) team placed first with a team of all freshmen and one sophomore! It was a nice confidence boost for all of us to come away from that meet with a group victory. The four of us took in that moment before we boarded our vans to head back to SMU.
It was a different meet, and unlike any that I had been to before for sure. I’m thrilled that I met my first Olympians and I sure hope that I haven’t met my last! I think that it gave the team some positive energy before heading into the GNAC Championships, February 19-20, in Nampa, Idaho.
Thanks for reading,