By Delilah Scrudato
Walking towards me, Michele Beach looks at me with her bright blue eyes. She smiles and says, “Hi, I’m Michele!” She is relaxed yet confident in her posture. Looking away, with her chin up it is clear Michele is thinking of something exceptional. She turns back to me, twirls her long brown hair with her fingers and looks me in the eyes. To introduce her story Michele starts with her favorite time of year, summer, and her proudest moment, graduating high school.
The year prior to graduating Washingtonville High School, Michele saved up every penny to buy whatever her little heart desired for her upcoming trip to backpack round Europe. Shortly after graduation she traveled through three different countries with a few of her fellow peers. When I ask if she regrets spending all of her savings in Europe, she replies, “No, not at all. It was a great experience and I wanted to be able to live in the moment.” Michele takes whatever opportunity is in front of her and embraces it.
Two weeks later Michele returned back home with the feeling that summer was almost over. It was mid July and she was to set off to St. Thomas Aquinas College in early September. Most importantly, Michele would miss her family and friends. She felt as if it was their last summer together. Going away to school for any upcoming freshman, is one of the biggest transitions of his or her lives, and not an easy one to do by oneself. Although Michele was out of sorts about leaving, she remained confident in herself. “I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let anything distract me or get me down, because the first year of college is the most important,” she said.
During Michele’s first semester at STAC, she wasted no time making friends and getting involved on campus. Within a few weeks she had joined several clubs and was even running for student government. Talk about driven! Shortly after, Michele was elected secretary of her class, which really got her involved in campus news and events. “It changed my whole perspective of campus life. It wasn’t just about the activities but how I grew as a person,” she reveals. Michele became even more confident. She received a work-study job in the Communications Department, where she met her new friend and mentor Bridget, her boss. Bridget encouraged Michele to try out for the school musical and to no surprise she landed the role. After all of her hard work, Michele is happy with the decisions she’s made. When I ask, why? Michele smiles and says, “It’s changed me into the sophisticated woman I am today.”