Student Profile

Stephanie McConnell

What brought you to St. Mike's, and how did you make your decision?

I really liked that it was a small campus, and that it's also really beautiful. A got the sense that the professors really cared about you when I came to tour. When you go to the academic fairs during open houses, they get really into what you want to study and get very personal with you.

What's one incredible memory or experience that you've had during your time here?

It was actually this semester, in one of my education classes. As a class, we went to Camp Ta-kum-ta, in Burlington on the Lake. It’s a camp for kids who have cancer. They get to go there for free, and kids who are in remission get to come back as counselors.  The story of the name is really cute – they were doing interviews with kids in the Childrens' hospital when they were creating the camp, and they asked "what kind of camp would you want to go to?", and a little girl said "I just want a camp to come to", so that's what they decided to name it. We went there as a class and volunteered for a day, and decorated their cabins for the Halloween party. It was so much fun and helped us to bond as a class, and it was also just great to give back. I would say that's probably one of the most incredible experiences I've had in my life, besides just my time at St. Mike's.

Have you had a favorite class so far?

I really liked my costume lab class. I took it my freshman year, and we made all of the costumes for the mainstage production of "The Crucible". I'd say that was probably the most valuable class I've ever taken, as well. I completely learned how to sew, and how to fix things, and I’ll have those skills for the rest of my life.

What about a favorite professor?

I really like Professor Bedell from the Education department. She actually just became my advisor, and she's very encouraging. She's been helping me develop my academic plan, because I have to do a ninth semester for student teaching. She's super accommodating, and has been a great resource for figuring out what my options are. She'll explain, "you could do this, or you could do this, I’ll support you either way, but from my experience, this is probably the better option". She's been incredible to have as both an advisor and a teacher. She really cares about everyone.

Has your experience at St. Mike's been different at all than what you were expecting?

I wasn't expecting to love everyone as much as I do. In high school, everyone just kind of sticks to themselves – you have your friends and your group, and that's who you stay with. The most surprising thing to me is that here, everyone can talk to each other. Even if you've only ever had one class with a person, you can run into each other in the quad and have a conversation. It’s gotten to the point where I can't walk through the quad without stopping to talk to someone. People really do seem to want to talk to each other, as well. I never get the sense that people are just forcing friendliness to be polite.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I really like to Kayak, but obviously I can't bring my Kayak here. I like to act a lot, and the great thing about St. Mike's is there's always something to act in. Plays for the senior seminars happen every semester, so there are always senior shows that you can be in, on top of the two mainstage productions per year. The drama club does some of its own productions, too. There's always a way to get involved with drama, which is great for me because that's how I destress.

Why did you choose to major in education and history?

I always knew that I wanted to teach, but I originally came in as an education and theater double major instead of history. That's what I really had my heart set on, but we don't do an endorsement here for an education and theater double major anymore. I decided that I've always loved history, and I could major in that and be perfectly fine with it and love my job. Now, their redesigning the education program so that you can have room to do theater with it. I decided to still major in history and get the additional endorsement in theater, because that sets me up to do everything I want to do in the most practical way and with the most job security. Working with kids just makes me happy. I do middle school through twelfth grade, and the middle schoolers, who everyone says are the most difficult to work with, are actually the ones I kind of love the most. They’re so funny. My lead teacher that I'm working with is about 45, and they once asked me, "Are you his wife?" It was hilarious. I love working with them.

Do you consider St. Mike's your home away from home? How did it become that for you?

Oh, I definitely do. I call it home. It kind of happened really naturally. I feel like the more time you spend here, the more friends you make, the more familiar you become with the campus, something just changes for you. You realize that this is where most of your life is, and where everything you love to do is – I don't know, there's no definitive moment when you're like, “this is my home now". I think it’s just when you look back and you realize that this is where you want to be most of the time, and you miss it when you’re not here.

What was the transition into college like for you? How did you get through it?

I feel like I had a harder time than most people, just because at that point in time I still had a lot of ties to high school. I considered my best friends to be the people I went to high school with, and I wasn't as open to making best friends here. I was also still in a relationship with someone from my high school that didn't go to St. Mike's. I had hard time realizing that I needed to live my life in the present, and that it was okay to grow and create new ties. As I made more friends here, I realized that those relationships weren't replacing the ones I had from high school, and It was okay to have my old home life and my new home life. By the time sophomore year rolled around, I was one hundred percent adjusted, and I didn’t feel like I needed to go home as much. As soon as you join clubs and find your people, it becomes much easier.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I would say definitely open yourself up to new experiences. Don't be afraid to try something that you haven't tried before, and don't be afraid to get out of your shell and talk to people that you don't know very well. One of my best friends was in my orientation group my freshman year, and I did not think of her as someone that I would ever be friends with at the time. I thought of her in somewhat of a negative light, actually, which she knows and we both laugh about now. It was a moment where we were both complaining about something we had to do when we both realized, "oh, you could actually be my friend", and now we've been best friends for years. So yeah, don't be afraid to mingle with new people.

What's a fun fact about yourself?

One time, in a play in high school, I had to sing and dance in a fat suit, which was a really fun experience.

What's been your biggest challenge during your time here, and how did you overcome it?

I think just overcoming the homesickness the first semester of my freshman year. I actually went to the Bergeron Wellness Center, and took advantage of their personal counseling services. They're a great resource, even if all you're looking for is someone to talk to. Maybe you feel like your friends here don't know you well enough to talk about personal things with yet, and you don't have time to call your family as much as you would like. They're great, non-judgemental people that you can talk to, and they'll give you really helpful tips. I can't say enough good things about Bergeron, it's a great resource to have on campus.

What's one thing that you've learned during your time here that surprised you or inspired you?

As an education major, I've learned that there are so many different ways to learn, and I think St. Mike's is really good at that. In our education classes, we talk about how there are visual ways to learn, experiential ways to learn, and it just depends on how you learn the best. Thinking about all the different classes I've taken here, and how many different types of learning I've been exposed to, I realize that over my three years here I've experienced so many different ways to gain new information that I don't think I would have experience anywhere else.

What are some important goals that you have for yourself?

Besides graduating and getting a good teaching job, a big goal that I have for myself is just to be happy, and I feel like St. Mike's has set me up well to achieve that. They have given me all the necessary tools that I need to be a successful educator, as well as long lasting friendships with people that I know I can call when things are going wrong. I also have professors here that I know I can call once I am set up in my own school, If I ever get a little lost and need advice about something. St. Mike's has given me all the resources I need to go out into life and be successful and happy, which is all I'm asking for.

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