Where Are They Now: Victoria Aquila

Megan Travers, VOX Reporter

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va horizontalVictoria Aquila shares with VOX what life is like for a MODG graduate at University of St. Thomas, a Catholic liberal arts college located in Houston, Texas.

 

How has your Catholic formation helped in college life?

Being raised Catholic has helped me in many ways during my college experience. College poses many physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual challenges. Being able to always turn back to my faith for the guidance and stability that it offers has gotten me through many of these challenges. In my experience, my faith is the reason that I am still striving to reach my scholastic goals. Last year I failed one of my courses that determined whether or not I would be accepted into the nursing program. During that time I was on the verge of accepting defeat and moving on to another major, but once I had taken time and brought these decisions to prayer I realized the importance of truly following my vocation. Even though I was terrified to re-apply to the nursing program that I had just been rejected by, my faith gave me the hope and encouragement that I needed to face this fear and answer God’s call. I have been re-accepted to the program and will start nursing school this summer.

How has it been, adjusting to attending a brick and mortar classroom rather than a virtual one?

I actually found attending a classroom environment to be an easy adjustment. UST’s classrooms are very much discussion-based, making it easier to interact during class rather than just being lectured at for multiple hours. The most difficult adjustment was learning how to take efficient notes, but by the end of my Freshman year I was able to identify the important aspects of each lecture and take notes that were effective for my studies.

How have you found living on your own; what are the pluses and minuses?

Living on my own has been an eye-opener to how much my family, especially my parents, did for me on a daily basis. Making sure I woke up on time, grocery shopping, and doing my laundry are just some of the things that I really took for granted while living at home. Living on my own, though, has helped me to become more responsible and disciplined because there is no one to ensure I wake up in good time and finish my homework. If you are going to be successful in school and live on your own, you really have to learn to make responsible decisions when it comes to things like sleeping in and missing class or going out with friends instead of studying.

Was college a big culture shock?

No, I have always been a very social person and involved in sports and co-ops, so I would not have considered myself very sheltered before going into college.

How did you decide on your major? Is it what you thought you’d be doing when you were in high school?

I have always been drawn to the medical field, but I never knew exactly in which part of the field I wanted to work. However, the summer before I started college my older sister developed a case of West Nile Virus, which later developed into meningitis. I spent the majority of the week that she was sick with her, tending to her in the hospital. During this time, I realized that everything I wanted to do in the medical field was included in a nurse’s role: I wanted to interact with people, learn more in-depth about the human person, and provide service to those who were in great need. The nurses who were assigned to my sister’s case were able to help her through the emotional, mental, and physical healing processes. The nurses comforted and assisted my sister to the best of their abilities, as well as comforted and assisted my family. After this experience, I realized that being a nurse is something I could do well. More importantly, I discovered a passion.

What surprised you most about the people (professors, students, etc.) at your college?

What surprised me most about the people at my school was their willingness to help and support me through my college ustlogoexperience. The professors at my college are always willing to advise me in my scholastic endeavors and they  really care about each individual student’s success. As for the students, it was encouraging to encounter people who

had different views than I did but were still willing to listen to other people’s views respectfully. I have met some of the most inspirational people at my college. The wisdom they have passed on to me over these past three years will follow me and guide me through the rest of my life.

How much and in what ways have you developed as a person since you’ve been in college?

I have learned that no matter what you do in your life, at some point, you will run into roadblocks along the way. The true test of a person’s character is what they choose to do when they hit those roadblocks. There are two options: lie down, roll over, and accept defeat or pick yourself up, wipe off the dirt, and break through the wall. My roadblock on my journey to becoming a nurse was that I did not pass Pharmacology last semester. From this experience, I have learned the importance of hard work and dedication as well as doing my work with humility so as not to assume that everything is owed to me. If you truly want something you must be willing to work for it and not just have it handed to you on a platter.

How did MODG curriculum help prepare you for college?

When I started taking the core classes at University of St. Thomas I thought I would be intimidated by the course load. UST is a liberal arts school and has an intensive core curriculum consisting of many Theology and Philosophy classes. At first I was intimidated by these courses since they were not fields of study that I planned to pursue, but since my high school education was grounded in a strong curriculum consisting of Latin, religion, and philosophy I was able to successfully take on the core classes at UST.

What is unique about your college?

As I mentioned before, UST is a liberal arts school, which in itself is a unique quality. The aspect of UST that I value most is the intimate community that I would not have been able to experience at a larger state school. The small classroom sizes make it possible for students to get the attention necessary for them to succeed in their courses. St. Thomas also has a strong core curriculum that has given me the opportunity to explore areas of study that I might not have ventured into on my own. When I first started my core courses, especially my philosophies and theologies, I grumbled about having to take courses that I could not apply to my career. However, now that I have completed most of my core classes, I realize that I can apply these concepts, not only to career, but also to my own personal growth as a person.

What advice do you have for MODG seniors just starting the application process?

The earlier you start the better. Make sure you have enough options and do not place all of your hope in one school accepting you. If you already know what college you want to apply to that is good, but things do not always turn out how we plan and so it is very important to have various options. When I was applying for colleges it was important for me that I applied to schools that would help me cultivate many skills, and that is why I chose a liberal arts school. The four years that you spend in college play a huge part in shaping you as a person, so I strongly believe that you should look to schools that are going to foster values and philosophies that are in line with your own convictions as a person.

 

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