The UD experience, as told by five seniors

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As graduation quickly  approches, five seniors reflect on their UD experiences. 

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a college athlete.  I watched college athletics on television and was enamored of the extraordinary talent.  I worked very hard in the hopes of becoming just like Olympic softball players Crystal Bustos and Lisa Fernandez.  However, these hopes were dashed when I severely injured my hip my junior year of high school.  After two surgeries, the doctor told me that my chances of playing were slight.

I refused to let that stop me and came to the University of Dallas in order to play Division III softball. I worked with the athletic trainer the entire fall semester doing intense physical therapy.  He was relentless and always pushed me past my limit, but by the end of the semester I was walking pain-free.

I would love to say that it was smooth sailing from there, but unfortunately, that was not the case.  I am a Spanish major with a pre-med concentration, so my class load was always taxing, especially when we had practices every day and games on the weekend.  I was usually tired and my social life was practically nonexistent.

To top it off, for my first two years, the UD softball team struggled. We constantly had people quitting and we lost significantly more games than we won.  By the end of my sophomore year, my chances of playing the next year were slim to none.

It was at this point that a new coach was hired and I decided to give it one more year.  She pushed us hard and always expected more than we thought we were capable of.  She brought our team together so that we became a family.  We began to play better than we thought possible and the wins started to follow.  I began to enjoy softball again.

This past year we tied the record for the most wins in a single softball season at the University of Dallas. It was something I never thought possible in my first three years here, and it gave me an extraordinary sense of accomplishment.

Despite the hardships that I faced during my time at UD, I do not regret a single second. This school gave me the opportunity to fulfill the dreams that at one point may have been shattered.  I was able to do what I love while receiving an invaluable education, making incredible friends and making memories that will last a lifetime.  It was hands down the most difficult, exhausting, painful, scary, exciting, satisfying, profitable and rewarding experience of my life – one that I hope can inspire others to persevere and achieve their own dreams.

– Ashley Pickert 

Senior Ashley Pickert recalls her softball career at UD, noting all the challenges as well as all the cherished moments.  -University of Dallas Photo
Senior Ashley Pickert recalls her softball career at UD, noting all the challenges as well as all the cherished moments.
-University of Dallas Photo

As a graduating senior economics major, I am pleased to write this short reflection on my experience at the University of Dallas these past four years. Within hours of first stepping foot in Madonna Hall, I knew I had made the right college decision. As friendships in the dorm quickly formed, I began to see glimpses of the unique and beautiful culture that flourishes on this campus – a culture of diversity, unity and faith. Unfortunately, it is often easier to identify problems than to give credit to the exceedingly positive aspects of campus life.

Diversity may be the most overlooked quality of the UD culture. I believe most students here agree that the wealth of conversations available at any moment with students and faculty is one of the most beloved aspects of our culture. Many of our students do come from similar backgrounds: Catholic school, home-school, large families, etc. But the diversity of thought offered by the Core curriculum enables so many insightful and educational conversations. As the “Catholic university for independent thinkers,” we are able to study a variety of subjects aimed at seeking truth. The breadth and rigor of our Core curriculum prevents UD students from graduating with a boring, one-dimensional knowledge base. I am forever grateful for our university’s diversity of thought, united by the Core curriculum and guided by faith.

– Will Remmes

There is an old saying, “Home is where the heart is,” and trust me, I think it sounds as clichéd as you probably do. Yet, as corny as it sounds, I found a home at University of Dallas because I fell in love with the people that make up its community.

It is difficult to reflect on four arduous and rewarding years at UD and summarize my time in a concise manner. I have fond memories of friends and basketball my freshman year, going to Rome as a sophomore and working for the Office of Student Life during my junior year. All of these experience and many more culminated in a wonderful senior year that I will never forget.

These experiences are united by the simple fact that UD’s community has loved and supported me every step of the way. I was lucky enough to become friends with a spectacular group of guys as a freshman, I went to Rome with most of them, and today our ranks have swelled to include some of the best men I know.

My personal and professional maturation was assisted by many of the faculty and staff at UD. I owe an extreme debt of gratitude to Dore Madere, Dr. Charles Sullivan and Dr. Jonathan Culp for their constant supervision and advice both inside the classroom and outside of it.

Lastly, I was extremely blessed and fortunate to meet my fiancee, Annie Walterscheid, who has been with me through many ups and downs and constantly challenges me to push myself and become a better man and Christian.

During my time at UD I have grown tremendously because of the support system around me. Without my friends, twin sister Kathryn, professors and supervisors my UD experience would have been radically different. As I reflect on my time at UD, I cannot help but feel immense satisfaction about what I have accomplished and excitement about what lies in my future.

It would be imprudent of me to think that I am the sole creator of my successes. The people of UD made my experience life-changing, and I am forever thankful to them. If the old saying is true, and home is where the heart is, then my heart resides at UD because of its people, their characters and the love they have shown me.

– Ben Gibbs 

As an underclassman, I was very focused on coursework, papers and grades, and always held myself to a high academic standard. I love knowledge. I have a passion for debate, and intellectualizing is my favorite pastime. Nevertheless, my greatest regret from these past four years is studying too much. I say that because my academic success has always come at the price of excessive stress and worry.

It is easy to become obsessed with studying, especially at an academically rigorous school like the University of Dallas that demands a lot of its students. When I first came to college, I put too much pressure on myself to live up to those standards. By the time my sophomore year rolled round, I was overworked, depressed and looking to transfer out of UD.

When I was in Rome, I read in “The Confessions” how St. Augustine came across a drunken beggar in the road and was struck with a sense of despair and futility at seeing the contrast between the overworked academic and the happy bum. I don’t recommend a career as a drunken beggar to anyone, but that image made me reflect on the proper place that education should have in my life. Academics are important, but obsession, even over supposedly good things, is never healthy.

Once I came back from Rome, I tried hard to stop obsessing over academics. Instead of pursuing grades, I pursued my interests – I started taking boxing classes, I joined a dance team and spent my weekends with friends instead of textbooks. Nevertheless, it has always been hard for me to find a good balance between my schoolwork and everyday life.

If I could offer one piece of advice to underclassmen, it would be to strive for a good balance in your college life. Don’t let an unhealthy obsession with academics continue under the false guise of a work ethic. Instead, find the things you love to do and the people you love to spend time with and work hard to cherish them.

Knowledge is important, and education qua education is always a good, but don’t be afraid to put down the books and go have an adventure. At the end of the day, the friends you make and the times you share together in school will enrich your life so much more than any grade ever could.

– Greg Pimentel 

It is the end of four years, the end of something that is completely different from what it was at the beginning. We cannot imagine what life may hold for us, because we do not know what God has prepared for those who love Him. A word to the younger generations of University of Dallas students, and to the faculty and staff who live and work here: this is a very special community that you are a part of. Perhaps you are already aware of this. If you are not, I encourage you to cherish the time that you have been privileged to spend in this place and with these people. I had virtually no idea what I was doing when I chose UD, as a missionary kid from a Protestant home in Africa deciding to attend a Catholic school in Dallas that I hadn’t even visited, and knew very little about. But God had it within His will and I am eternally grateful for the Holy Spirit’s promptings, which led me here. During my blessed time here I have learned many things, but here are a few highlights.

I have learned that it matters not so much what you do in your life, but it matters so much more how you do those things, and even more so, that you truly live. I have learned that far surpassing the papers and the tests and the classes that you have to take in college, are the relationships that you have the honor (and responsibility) to develop and maintain. The people you meet are hands down the most important part of your life, besides your relationship with God. We are all here to help each other grow closer to Christ, and the loving relationships we strive to foster are a way that we can come to know God. Our love for our friends and family reflects our love for God. It is in this way that our relationship with God is inextricably tied up with our love for others. I have learned that the love, grace and mercy of the Lord are so much more incredible and beyond understanding than I could ever know or comprehend. I have learned that God is in control more than we can comprehend, and our acceptance of that truth is mysteriously bound to the freedom God has given us to choose Him. I have learned that seeking the Lord is the most worthwhile and rewarding pursuit that you can ever dedicate your life to. I have learned that the love of Christ shown and displayed in His children toward Himself and each other is absolutely and positively one of the most beautiful things in this world, and I have seen more beauty in this place and among these people these four years, and especially this past week as a result of Andrew Esherick’s death, than I could ever possibly express in words. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the first and greatest commandment. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to my friends, to the UD community, to Andrew and most of all to our God.

“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 John 3:23-24)

-Isabel Dubert

Senior Isabel Dubert gives thanks for the UD community and the relationships fostered.  -Photo courtesy of Isabel Dubert
Senior Isabel Dubert gives thanks for the UD community and the relationships fostered.
-Photo courtesy of Isabel Dubert

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