Seniors Katherine Mihaliak and Gracie Smart have been bringing animals to campus events since their freshman year.
Both girls’ upbringing contained a menagerie of animals. Smart grew up in Illinois on a 160-acre farm with a horse, barn cats and three dogs. Mihaliak grew up across the country in Connecticut with a horse, goats, sheep, dogs, cats and chickens.
In their freshman year, the girls, who were both involved in multiple clubs and campus organizations, resolved not to let their student government events consist of boring pizza parties.
“We were trying to come up with a really innovative, fun event, something that hadn’t been done before,” Smart said.
Naturally, Smart and Mihaliak decided to roast a pig in the spring of 2013. The event went well, though not on such a large scale as was first imagined.
“We were talking about hunting for wild boars and things, but we ended up just getting it catered,” Smart said.
Then in the spring of their sophomore year, for Lazy Faire, they brought in “Mikey the Monkey.” The monkey was a success, but the two girls had bigger dreams at the time.
“At first we were trying to get an elephant,” Mihaliak said.
Due to the Dallas Zoo’s exorbitant elephant prices, the two opted for a monkey instead. The animal was a sensation.
“The line was endless,” Mihaliak said.
Last winter, Mihaliak and Smart helped organize the first live Nativity, which was the third time the two brought animals to campus.
“We found a great deal on Nativity animals,” Mihaliak said.
For under $300 per hour, they were able to get one llama, two sheep and a donkey, as well as bales of hay. This year, the two plan on having just as many animals at the Nativity, including, perhaps, a zebu, which is a type of exotic cow. The live Nativity serves as a gentle reminder that the Christmas season is upon us, despite the anxiety of finals week.
“There is not that much going on for Christmas here, because everyone is so stressed out,” Mihalik said. “Everyone just wants to go home and see their parents before they think [about] Christmas.”
However, Mihaliak emphasized the importance of Christmas during this time.
“We’re a Catholic school, we should be thinking about Christmas a little bit more,” Mihaliak said.
Junior Anna Schnoebelen, who is playing Mary in the Nativity scene, shared her excitement.
“Back home we used to always have a live Nativity at a church nearby my house,” Schnoebelen said. “To see the Nativity come alive in person — it makes it a lot more magical and a lot more memorable.”
The live Nativity will be one of the last times Mihaliak and Smart will collaborate to bring animals to school, and it will not be an event to miss. The girls have brought not only animal life but lively spirit to campus.
The live Nativity is sponsored by Student Foundations, Student Government, Students for Veterans and Spanish Club. The event will take place Friday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. on the Mall.