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Senior Spotlight: Emma Krusz's Global Journey

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Emma Krusz feature

When Communication major Emma Krusz, C’20, left her home in Tidewater, Virginia to come to the Mount four years ago, she had no idea how much of the world she would see. Now that all classes have moved online, she’s back where she started, finishing her senior year in Virginia. “It’s just different being at home,” she said, “I’m working on my honors project and managing the Mountain Echo so I only have two regular classes.” But she spoke positively about finishing and the depth and breadth of her Mount journey.

emma-k-atop-untersberg-austria-in-text.jpegHer first stop was Mountward Bound, a voluntary program that helps entering students bond while they experience key elements of the Mount’s values. Emma chose the “Serve” program, sponsored by the Office of Social Justice. “Everyone told me that I wouldn’t keep in touch with those I met at Mountward Bound,” Krusz said, “but those students remain my best friends.”  

Before long, her Mount experience extended well beyond campus. After her sophomore year, she took a summer semester in Salzburg, Austria, led by Mount Professors Michelle Patterson, Ph.D., Andrew Rosenfeld, DMA, and Mark Carlson, DMA, with about 14 other students. “Our professors were so involved,” Krusz stated. “We had our classwork from 9 to 12, and then we all began exploring. The professors were so knowledgeable about different locations in Austria. They took us to places where the locals went – not necessarily tourist destinations--so we were able to be immersed in the culture.”  Krusz especially enjoyed taking the course “The History of Beer and Brewing” and seeing both Austria and Germany from the summit of Mount Untersberg. 

During her junior year, Krusz experienced Prague on a semester-long trip organized by Theology Professor the Rev. Jim Donohue. “The two trips were very different,” Krusz recalled. “There were over 40 students, and we lived in separate apartments so everyone had an opportunity to do their own thing. One group might focus on day trips; others would travel to different parts of Europe on the weekends; others spent most of their time exploring Prague.”  Taking the initiative, Krusz organized a weekend trip to Oktoberfest in Munich for five people, and then she helped other Mount students join in. Another highlight was when Donohue divided the Mount students into three groups and had them to his apartment for a home-cooked meal. “Father Jim cooked spaghetti for everyone the first night but then got overwhelmed and ordered pizza for the rest!” she said. “Still, everybody got a great feel for the Mount community.”

Before they went to Austria, Krusz and her friend and fellow communication major Kelley Northam, C ’20, were thinking of ways to document their trip. “You get a lot more out of it,” Krusz said, “when you’re able to reflect on what you’ve done.”  They met with one of their professors, Mary Catherine Kennedy, Ph.D., who suggested they develop a Mount St. Mary’s study-abroad blog. Working with the university’s marketing and communications department, they chose an Internet platform and welcomed Grace Bovard, C ’19, and Haley Phelps, C ’20, to the team. The travel blog was a hit, so Kennedy created a course to continue the blog in Prague and then set up an internship program for Krusz and Northam. Even though the two remained on campus this year, they coordinated, edited and oversaw blogs coming from students experiencing this year’s programs in Dublin, Ireland; Cuenca, Ecuador; and Florence, Italy.

emma-k-dublin-in-text.jpegKrusz became so passionate about study abroad that she made it the focus of her senior honors project. She wanted to investigate how it impacted students and the extent to which they found it valuable. After conducting a literature review on the topic, she developed a survey and interview questions, focusing on the intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual effects of studying abroad. After submitting a proposal to the Mount’s Honors and Study Abroad Programs, she obtained funding to join Mount students in Dublin so she could conduct interviews on site. Her honors project mentor, Assistant Professor Kennedy, joined her. “She has taught me so much and I am so thankful for her guidance,” exclaimed Krusz.  In conducting her research, Krusz discovered that studying abroad most positively impacted students emotionally and socially, making them likely to be more outgoing, self-confident and open to new experiences.

While traveling and learning about other cultures and countries is Krusz’s passion, she’s been active in many other ways.  She served as a staff writer for three years on the student newspaper, The Mountain Echo, and this year is its managing editor. She and her colleagues have even found a way to keep the paper going during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to her travel-blog internship, she’s held on-campus internships with the Career Center and the Admissions Office. Speaking of the Admissions position, she recalled, “I did email communications and learned what it takes to work in an office. Everyone was so kind; I enjoyed selling the Mount.”  Krusz’s on-campus work helped her secure internships off campus. Last fall, she served as a social media intern at L’Arche in Frederick, Maryland. Previously, she worked as a communications intern for a summer camp run by Jacob’s Ladder in Urbanna, Virginia. Looking ahead, she’s interested in graduate school but believes she’ll test the job market first. Many of the companies she’s applied to have placed their recruiting efforts on hold because of the coronavirus.

When asked about finishing her senior year off-campus, Krusz admitted, “It’s really hard, really sad, but we all understand the situation.”  As they complete their work, she and her classmates are staying in touch through FaceTime, Zoom and email. They’ve also been communicating with Mount administrators about planning an alternate graduation. The way she’s ending her senior year is not ideal, but Krusz is undeterred. She believes the Mount has prepared her to handle any situation, and she’s logged the miles to prove it.

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts