VOX recently interviewed former MODG student Mary Hammer, a freshman at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Mary was the Editor-in-Chief of VOX during both her junior and senior years of high school and also started the most popular blog on VOX, the Writer’s Quill, of which she was also editor for three years.
VOX: How has your Catholic formation helped in college life?
Mary: My Catholic formation has helped me develop and value having strong principles and to understand why I do what I do. Now that I’m on my own and making decisions entirely for myself, I have to choose to be studious, to stay healthy, and how to care for myself physically and spiritually.
V: How has it been, adjusting to attending a brick and mortar classroom rather than a virtual one?
M: Honestly, the adjustment was very easy. With MODG, I had certain times each week I needed to be in classes and the rest of my time I had to manage to do all the work necessary for the classes. It’s very similar in college.
V: How have you found living on your own; what are the pluses and minuses?
M: I have loved living on my own, personally. The pluses are being able to make all my decisions for myself, experiencing new ways of life in new places, learning my own routines, and being able to embrace my extraverted, social ways daily. The biggest minus is probably that I, personally, spend far more on food than I thought I would.
V: Was college a big culture shock?
M: Yes and no. On one hand, growing up in a Catholic homeschool community out in a rural area and then going to a college in the middle of DC was definitely a little more than a change in scenery. But I went in expecting things to be different, and maybe I’m too calm, but there was no “shock.” Getting to know people with diverse lifestyles helped make me feel as though the ways I chose to live were my own, (rather than “just what everyone this this bubble does”).
V: How did you decide on your major? Is it what you thought you’d be doing when you were in high school?
M: Right now I’m majoring in business, but coming into college I was also considering communications. Throughout high school I was considering several majors, from biomedical engineering to architecture, psychology to journalism. I took an introduction to business class first semester (along with an intro to communications class), enjoyed it for its management and leadership aspects, the creativity and problem solving required for business, and its practical application.
V: What surprised you most about the people (professors, students, etc.) at your college?
M: What probably surprised me most was the different types of professors. Some are the best and you know they want to help you do your best to succeed, and I absolutely loved them. However, the surprise came when I experienced the type of professor who seemed not to want to help students, or even to be teaching me in the very first place. (Thankfully, they’re in the minority).
V: How much and in what ways have you developed as a person since you’ve been in college?
M: Since I came to college I’ve changed and learned so much about myself. Being uprooted from home to a place where I don’t know anyone, I learned to be even more independent, to put myself out there more and embrace my extroverted ways, and I’ve grown more confident. I was also able to take full ownership of my faith and learn how to grow it and my relationship with God best. Pardon my being as cliche as it gets, but college really has helped me to “find who I am,” which in turn helped me know myself better so I could actively use my strengths to their greatest potential and grow as a person.
V: How did MODG curriculum help prepare you for college?
M: I definitely think that having the virtual LS classes helped me get into a rhythm similar to college, having classes at certain times and managing my time outside of class to do the bulk of my work. Further, MODG helped me learn how to write quality papers so that when I was flooded with all my college papers I felt well prepared.
V: How do you feel your experience in VOX News has helped you in college?
M: First and foremost, working for VOX for three years, especially as Editor in Chief senior year helped me figure out in what field I wanted to work. Through my experiences I was able to learn that I thrived in environments where I could lead, organize, plan, find new effective and efficient ways to reach our target audience, even design graphics, etc. Additionally, working with and creating content for people all around the world gave me an understanding of the importance of seeing things on a global scale, (which is growing increasingly important as the world is becoming “smaller.”)
Where did that lead me? Well, I’m currently considering either a marketing or international focus for business, and will be looking into acquiring graphic design skills.
Additionally, I gained experience working with programs such as WordPress, Google drive, SNO FLOW, which are very valuable in this age of technology and the internet. (In one of my classes we spent several weeks simply learning how to use WordPress, which I had already mastered thanks to news production in high school).
And last but not least, organizational and communication skills. These are essential life skills, in my opinion, and invaluable in college, whether it’s between you and a professor, in group projects, clubs and organizations, jobs, or even simply outings into the city with large groups of friends.
Honestly, that’s just scratching the surface. Working for VOX: MODG News throughout high school was an opportunity that has helped me so much and gave me valuable skills that I use frequently, for which and am very grateful. Highly recommend the experience to other MODGers! (And before you ask, no, I’m not being paid to say this).
V: What is unique about your college and why did you choose it?
M: There are three things I love most about The Catholic University of America (CUA):
Its location in DC is my favorite thing. In DC where there’s so much history, opportunity for internships, and so much to do just a metro stop away. And while it’s a city school, it has a beautiful campus with so much green! Not to mention, the basilica, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is right nextdoor and their masses are beautiful.
CUA is a pontifical university, whose establishment was directly approved by the Holy See (in 1904). It holds fast to its Catholic identity, especially in its faculty and staff.
The events are the absolute coolest! Every week there’s something fun and either free or super cheap to do. (i.e. free pottery-painting, mini-golf, $10 for fright fest at Six Flags, on and off campus dances, concerts — we had MisterWives this year, movies on the lawn, and more).
V: What advice do you have for MODG students when they start the college application process?
M: First, when you visit colleges schedule appointments to talk to faculty who work in the departments of your major. They’ll give you a sense of what the school prioritizes, what their academic programs and style of teaching are like, etc. (Tours are nice, but they don’t show you fully what it’s like to be a student at the school).
Second, please brag about yourself on your applications. Be yourself, be friendly, but this is not the time for modesty.
Third: Not sure what you want to major in? Or are you up in the air and torn between a few? That was me applying to college, I fully admit. Wherever you are, the best advice I heard when thinking about college degrees was from my uncle, who said to keep in mind three things:
What do you love to do?
What are you good at?
What will give you the lifestyle you aspire to having? (work environment, income, living location, etc.)
If you can find something that encompasses these three things, then you’re more likely to enjoy your career.
Fourth, don’t stress. No matter where you end up, you’ll love your college and it’s very common for people to change majors or even do work they didn’t major in. The experiences you’ll have in college will mold you more than your classes, so be excited, you’re starting an adventure!