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Looking Forward

Natalie Torta, C'24

Hey Mounties! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve already endured a week and a half and it’s only Wednesday. Just one of those busy weeks, I guess. I am certainly looking forward to the sweet relief of summer break, where my only worries are the UV index and the impending doom of the next school year, though the latter doesn’t come until August.

This summer will look a little different than my usual arrangements allow. Though I don’t anticipate being as busy as I am now with my course load and work schedule, I also won’t have a lazy summer void of all responsibility. After experiencing both extremes, I think I’ve created a plan that finds a happy medium between the chaos and monotony. First, against my summer attitude’s recommendation, I will be taking an intermediate Spanish course at my local community college, Harrisburg Area Community College. Though taking a class during what’s supposed to be a break from academia makes part of me want to cry, I’m also excited at the opportunity.

Last semester, I had to withdraw from intermediate Spanish at the Mount just a few weeks before finals. Foreign language is not my strong suit, but I had taken Spanish throughout elementary and high school and tested into intermediate, so I was feeling confident in my Spanish -speaking abilities. Once we got to the fourth verb tense, I was utterly and completely over it. I felt stupid for trying to take the easy way out and get the language requirement done as quickly as possible, even if it meant stretching thin my knowledge and abilities. I was also taking five other courses that semester, so I didn’t have the time and energy necessary to scrape by in that class. Instead, I supplemented failing quiz and exam grades with perfect homework scores, which resulted in a painfully slow decline in my average over the course of the semester since the examinations were weighted only slightly more than the homework assignments. This worked for honestly too long, until we reached the deadline for undergraduate withdrawal requests, at which point I decided that my grade wasn’t realistically going to be any better next week than it was this one. Withdrawing was ultimately the best decision for me (and my GPA…yikes), but I was crushed after having persevered through the entire semester just to have it all erased, especially since I had essentially wasted the free sixth course offered through the honor’s program. The opportunity to re-earn those missed credits was one that I had anticipated since the day I withdrew, so I am excited to finally make up for wasted time.

Another reason I am excited about taking Spanish at HACC is because it’s an brand new environment. Though the course is entirely online, I will still get to interact with a new professor, classmates, and administration. The excitement reminds me of the college search in my junior and senior years of high school. When I was looking at the specific Spanish course I’ll be taking this summer, I saw that there were three sections available to me. All were three-credit, online, intermediate Spanish courses, but one was taught by one professora and two by another. I panicked a little at first because I wasn’t expecting to have options. I assumed there would be one section available and that’s what I would sign up for. Not knowing anything about either of the women, I was suddenly nervous about my choice. What if I chose the one that’s stricter, or who gives twice as much work? What if she gives daily assignments that I can’t turn in on time because of my work schedule? What if I can’t learn foreign language online, just like last semester? My anxiety about this Spanish class suddenly jumped from a 1 to an 8.

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I can honestly say that, before this day, I had never used RateMyProfessors.com because I thought that it was biased and the reviews were ultimately subjective to the type of learner the student was (my views haven’t necessarily changed, but many reviewers provide legitimate justification for their ratings – very helpful!). However, I decided to search both potential professors on the site. I ended up only finding one of them online, Professor Claire Knowles. Her average difficulty rating was listed as 2.7, which seemed a little higher than I’d like, but still manageable. As I began reading individual reviews from past students, my worries were instantly soothed. 100% of the students who took the time to write reviews also said that they would take her class again, which I think is a pretty impressive statistic. They went on to say that Prof. Knowles “wants to see her students excel”, “is very caring and provides extra credit opportunities”, and “made taking a language online doable” – everything that I was worried about! I applied as a guest student yesterday and received an acceptance this morning, so all I need now is to be accepted for SPAN 201 registration. Prayers are appreciated!

looking-forward-hersheypark320x613Outside of academic responsibilities, I also have some exciting opportunities lined up for work this summer. Currently, I am employed at Keystone Candle, a small, Christian, family-owned candle business that I grew up going to. It’s literally a two-minute drive from my house, they have a “store security cat” named Wicks who keeps me company at the register, and I smell like Bath and Body Works 24/7. My days consist of assembling tealight candles and wax melt bags, helping customers create candle arrangements for their events, and decorating display tables. How does it get better than that? I will continue my employment there throughout the summer, as well as continuing to fill my position as an entertainment foreman at Hersheypark for their upcoming summer season. Hersheypark was my first job as a freshly-permitted member of the workforce and I’ve continued my employment with Hershey ever since. It provides so many opportunities, most notably the ability to help create priceless memories for visiting guests. As a costume character and guide, I feel that I can fill this responsibility in particular by communicating the magic of the Hersheypark experience, especially to the younger guests. Working there is incredibly fulfilling and I can’t wait to be back! On top of that, I am hoping to volunteer at my parish throughout the summer and shadow the wedding planners there. I want to pursue a career in event planning or coordination after graduation, so this will not only be an opportunity to give back to my parish, but a chance to experience the daily operation of what could be my future career.

All of that sounds like all work and no play, but, somehow, I have still carved out some time to meet up with friends, spend time with my family, and just relax. I already have a trip to a local lake in the works with a few friends from high school once we all return home after finals. I am really looking forward to a return to the familiar, even if only a little bit at a time. This remote semester has provided me the (mostly) wonderful opportunity to see my family more often and this summer will be the wind-down of that little adventure, so I want to milk that for all its worth. Though I will definitely miss them come fall, I am so excited for all of the fantastic and exciting opportunities that next semester promises. I’ll give you a hint: lacrosse, fourth floor, drums, London! For a full dive into all these upcoming adventures, be sure to check out next week’s post. Until then, Go Mount!

Natalie Torta, C'24