Student Profile

Ariana Peña '17

How did you hear about St. Mike’s?

I heard about St. Mike’s through emails. I was one of those students who tried to prolong my college search for a very long time, so by the middle of my senior year of high school I had tons of college emails in my Yahoo account. I found St. Mike’s and I was interested in it. I liked that they had the “Happiest College on Earth!” because my family and I are huge Disney fans; I was like, ‘wow, the happiest place on earth and the happiest college on earth, sounds like a good correlation!’ So it led me to the St. Mike’s website and I just fell in love. I was on the website for 2 hours just like, ‘wow this is actually a really good school that I could see myself at!’

Why did you choose Saint Michael’s College?

I chose St. Mike’s because I loved the community. It was actually on my tour here. I came and visited with my mom and my sister over the spring break of my senior year. I came for Accepted Students Day and within 10 minutes of my tour, when we were by the Word Garden, I knew I wanted to come here. I don’t know why, it was just a feeling; I just knew this was a school that I needed to be at. Everyone was just so nice; Vermont was so beautiful, even thought I came during mud season, it was really just the people. How small it was, I could really see myself thriving somewhere where I didn’t have to walk 30 minutes to get to one class and didn’t have to struggle to get my professors to remember who I was.

How have you made it your ‘Home Away From Home’?

I did a summer orientation program and I think that was the key to me fitting in right off the bat and not going through that awkward transitional phase. I met my closest friends during that summer orientation program, so when I came to school I already had a solid support system with friends, administrators and faculty. I think that was the number one thing that kept me going when I missed home or hated being in the cold; it was just having that strong support system here.

I went on SOAR; it stands for The Summer Orientation for Academic Excellence and Retention. I’m actually one of the coordinators this year for the program; I’m really excited about that. I was a leader for it last year because I had such a great experience with it coming into school. This year I was selected to coordinate the entire program with two of my best friends who I met on SOAR when I was a freshman.

Looking ahead, what are you excited to do after graduation?

I am an MJD major with a business minor concentrating in marketing, so I plan to, somehow, combine all of those things to get into a corporation doing marketing or digital design. I actually just applied for an internship back at home at CBS for design. When I graduate I hope to get a job right out of college, save up some money then go to grad school to pursue my masters and go from there… that’s what I’m looking at right now. In terms of service, I’ve also thought about doing that because I know it’s a really great opportunity and also helps with your loans. I don’t know, I haven’t figured it out yet, but I have three different paths that I think I’m going to down that I’m pretty confident about.

What was your initial reaction of Vermont, coming from L.A.?

I knew that I wanted to go to school out of state. I had no intentions of staying in California, because I was born and raised there. I really wanted to venture out and grow as a person and I felt in order to do that I had to get out of my comfort zone. Originally I was thinking about somewhere in New York and do the “big city, busy girl” kind of thing, but when I saw Vermont – I had obviously heard of Vermont but I had never really – so it was an interesting conversation to have with my mom: ‘hey mom, I found this really great school that I love that I think is perfect for me, but it’s 3,000 miles away from home and I really want to go here!’ I guess I wasn’t too afraid to go so far because I already had the mindset that I was going to go out of state, and I didn’t know how far that meant, but it was definitely a culture shock. It’s definitely different here; with the weather, I can’t tell you how many dreams I had freshman year about the winters. I would wake up and call my mom like, ‘mom I don’t know if I have enough winter clothes, I’m so afraid’, but it wasn’t that bad. I got acclimated to the weather really easily.

Do you have anything that you want to add?

I just love this school so much, and whatever I can do to – I know we’re such a small school and not many people know about it. It’s funny because my sister goes to a really big university that everyone knows about and it’s really famous, and I go to this small liberal arts school, which I think is amazing but no one knows about, so whatever I can do to get people educated about St. Mike’s I will do.

What are your thoughts on the differences between a big school and a small school?

My sister goes to large school that is very prestigious; it’s a very good school. For the longest time I felt bad that I wasn’t going to a big school with this kind of prestige, but there was no way I could be as involved and as well-known on campus if I had gone to a school with over 15,000 kids. There’s no way that I could’ve gotten the same attention from my professors, my advisors, faculty and administrators if I had gone somewhere where there were so many students. I talk to my sister all the time and I once told her, ‘I feel bad that I’m not going somewhere that has the title’ and she said, ‘honestly; it’s not even about that. You’re going to graduate and you have all of these people who know you because it’s such a small school and they can get to know you; they can really help you’. She told me that if she could, she would’ve gone somewhere smaller so people could care about her as much as I’m cared about on this campus. She said that that’s something that you don’t find at a large school. I think I made a good choice in going somewhere so small. I wouldn’t have gotten the same opportunities and I wouldn’t be able to be on a website! The chances of me telling my story and how I found St. Mike’s would be a lot smaller if I went somewhere larger.

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