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Mountward Bound Provides a Jumpstart on College Experience

Nicole Patterson

Mountward Bound feature

Incoming members of the Class of 2025 have the opportunity to connect with other students, enjoy outdoor activities, participate in events and trips, acclimate to campus, find mentors and make lifelong friends—all before the first day of classes. Mountward Bound offers incoming first-year students four distinct programs to engage with their classmates in specific areas of interest including faith, diversity, music and gaming.

Enrollment for each program is limited. Participating members move into their residence hall rooms early and have additional time to become familiar with the campus before other students arrive. Reserve your space today and register at


eas-chapel-.jpgFaith moves mountains! The Mount is home to many sacred spaces. The Center for Campus Ministry encourages students to explore their faith as they embark on a new journey at the Mount. Students are invited to walk in the footsteps of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, spend time at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and learn about Blessed Stanley Rother, S’63. 

“It is student led, so the freshmen can ask questions to current students,” said Campus Ministry Coordinator Theresa Magg. “Our program prepares students for the Mount by using games and tools such as scavenger hunts to get students acquainted with campus. We take them on tours to find their classrooms and introduce them to all the chapels on campus.” Everyone, regardless of religious background, is welcome. 


mountward-bound-unity_1.jpgThe Unity program is for individuals interested in expanding their self-awareness and appreciation for cultural diversity. Students can share their stories and experiences with others and discover the ways they intersect and unite.  

“You belong and matter,” said program coordinator Areli Aguilar-Hill, assistant director of the Center for Student Diversity. “We are here to provide all the leadership opportunities you deserve.” Students will also take trips to some of the region’s most popular cultural attractions.  

Shahanaaz Soumah, C’22, led Unity in 2019 and will be involved again this year. The conflict, peace and social justice major participated in Unity as an incoming freshman. “It was the best experience ever. I was able to better acclimate to the campus and form relationships with upperclassmen and other first-year students,” she said. “I was able to uncover the activist within me and explore what it means to be one.” Soumah is a Peer Educator and Advocate for Campus Equality (PEACE) leader in the Center for Student Diversity and assists the Office of Residence Life with various events addressing diversity, equity and inclusion topics.  

“Cultural competence is critical to personal development and growth!” she added. “Knowledge of one’s experience and the experience of others enables us to navigate any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in. At the Mount, if we don’t begin to explore and understand the experiences of our diverse community members, we cannot stand in solidarity as a community, let alone defend and preserve the life and human dignity of our community members.” As one of nine siblings, Soumah has learned a few lessons about unconditional love, and she looks forward to meeting more students and their families this academic year.  


singing-students_2.jpgThe Harmony program is where students can hone their musical skills and get to know members of the musical performing ensembles. Singers, percussionists, and wind, brass and string players can join with returning members of the chorale, wind and string ensembles. Since 2018, this popular program has acknowledged the value of students’ strengths as musicians, players and leaders.  

“It gives them a chance to get to know both freshmen and returning students in their programs as well as ensemble directors, the musical ensembles culture and the literal lay of the land,” said Associate Professor of Music Mark Carlson, D.M.A., who leads the program with Professor of Music Andrew Rosenfeld, D.M.A. 

Students will enjoy a guest artist recital, movie night and an afternoon trip to Frederick, Maryland. Harmony program participants will also share some music at the Mount’s opening ceremony for orientation on Thursday, August 19. Carlson adds: “It’s always rewarding to let students know that ensemble directors, their new peers and the audience value and appreciate their skill and artistry.”   


mountward-bound-esports.jpgNew this year, the Plugged-In program invites students to start their college experience by connecting through a variety of video, board and tabletop games all aimed at building community and using games as avenues for personal growth.  

“Besides meeting other gamers and building a friendship group, they’ll play some D&D, learn about campus resources and work on the sorts of skills that college students need to succeed—like critical thinking and communication,” said Director of Esports Russ Hamer, Ph.D., who leads the program.  

Students will also go on hikes, meet faculty gamers, participate in other social activities and feel more prepared for their time at the Mount. “I hope that my students use this opportunity not only to enjoy themselves and develop a sense of themselves at the Mount, but also to grow as individuals who all love a shared activity,” Hamer added.  

Nicole Patterson