Marching Right In

Marching Right In

Don't tell senior Chelsea Chalk that she hasn't been at Saint Mary's for four years. True, she transferred to Saint Mary's from another college halfway through her sophomore year, but she feels like she's been here all along.

Making friends quickly helped ease the transition. “I love the atmosphere here, and I love the warmth you feel on campus—it's just so welcoming,” says Chelsea. She says she moved to Saint Mary's because she wanted to grow socially and spiritually as well as academically.

As a communication studies major, it didn't take Chelsea long to find absorbing classes. One was History and Criticism of Public Address with Professor John Pauley, where students analyze public speaking and its political and social context. “He is really an amazing professor,” she says of Pauley. “The class is so hard, but at the same time, I love professors who know our limits and push us to our limits.”

Chelsea is pursuing a minor in religious studies “just for fun” and because she wants an opportunity to explore her faith. At Saint Mary's, “I can have really meaningful conversations in and out of the classroom that are helping me grow,” she says.

Playing clarinet in the Band of the Fighting Irish, which performs across the street at Notre Dame football games, has made her immersion complete. “It's been a great experience,” she says, but admits that last year, “I wasn't going to try out at all. I thought, ‘I'm not good enough, I haven't played in band since high school, and I'm a junior now—they're not going to take a junior.'”

At her mom's urging, Chelsea auditioned and got in. Now, along with other Saint Mary's and Notre Dame marching band members, she can't imagine life without rehearsals, pep rallies, and home games. “The other senior clarinets just accept me as one of them,” she says. Following their lead, she's taken a first-year Saint Mary's clarinetist, Tracey Chuckas, under her wing.

After a whirlwind four years, Chelsea will graduate in the spring. She plans to look for her first job in public relations, but whatever the assignment, she'll jump in headfirst.

“I haven't looked back once since I made the move,” she says about transferring to Saint Mary's. “I've become such a part of the community and the campus … it feels like home.”