Editorial- The Mount: It’s Not Where Our Journey Ends

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Picture courtesy of istockphoto.com

The end of the year, as you may have surmised, is upon us. While many are unconditionally happy to find the year coming to a close, I must admit that for me personally, the year ending is bittersweet. It’s sweet because finally we won’t have the endless piles of homework and papers to do, I could not be more overjoyed that the year is ending.

However, it is also very, very bitter. As you may or may not know, I am graduating this year after two years as the Forum editor, which means that this is my final editorial in the Echo. While I know this is a crushing blow to my audience (all three of you), the truth is that I will most definitely miss my mountain home. And I’ll miss all of you.

I have been so blessed to have been a part of the Mount St. Mary’s community for four years. The people here welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I was part of a second family. That’s the thing that has surprised me the most about this university: how much people care for each other. I don’t mean just skin-deep care either, I mean total compassion and care. I think that’s what I’m going to miss most while I’m gone: being part of that family. So, to the university administration and to all the students of this university, I want to thank you for welcoming me into your lives.

One of the things I’ve often wondered as a student of history and an avid peoplewatcher is whether there is something about the Mount that attracts the sort of caliber of the people here or if the people themselves are responsible for defining the ethos and culture of this university. So many of the people I have encountered here seem paradoxical. Many of the faculty here come from prestigious educational backgrounds and could easily have procured jobs at equally prestigious universities. Likewise, many of the Mount’s students, including, I assume, many of you, had options going into college. And yet we all chose the Mount. But the Mount isn’t where our journey ends.

In the Mount’s undergraduate mission statement, that thing in the plaque in all the classrooms that none of us have ever read, there’s a line that states “Mount St. Mary’s strives to graduate men and women who cultivate a mature spiritual life, who live by high intellectual and moral standards, who respect the dignity of other persons, who see and seek to resolve the problems facing humanity, and who commit themselves to live as responsible citizens.” Well now, thanks to those who’ve helped us, we’re here, charged to go out and be responsible citizens. So what does that mean? What does that mean now that being responsible citizens has to stop being an academic liberal arts ideal and has to start being a reality? Many of us are moving on from the Mount very soon, and that prospect is both exciting and terrifying, but taking the road ahead of us undeniably leads us away, in some way or another, from those who matter to us here.

We’re finally entering that real world thing that people have been talking about since freshman year. And there’s a temptation to let the fear of the unknown overpower us. How could we possibly act as responsible citizens if we have little idea what the future holds for us?

The real answer lies in the people who have taught us to think. What the Mount has taught me is that being a responsible citizen doesn’t mean implementing global change. It means changing the people around us. If those who have been in our lives at the Mount can cause such a change in our lives, if they can be such a good influence on us that we are able to achieve what you have, then think how much change we could make in the lives of those around us if we were able to able to be that good influence for them. This is no time for hesitation, no time for caution. We must be responsible citizens and begin being that good influence in others’ lives immediately. We must make the people who have brought us here proud. And no matter how far our paths might take us from this place, from these people, and from these fleeting moments of time we’ve had together, it cannot be denied that we have been forever changed by our years here, that the Mount and those who were here with us will stay in our hearts wherever we go.

There are many I owe a debt of gratitude here at the Mount. Not the least of these is the staff of “The Mountain Echo,” who have been close colleagues and, dare I say, friends for the last four years. But there is another party to whom I owe thanks. And that is you, dear readers. Thank you for giving me your time while I was here. Know that I will miss you. Please keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mind.

Thank you, and good night.

John-Paul Heil

Forum Editor of The Mountain Echo

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