At our End of the Year Banquet last week, we allowed students to give speeches or final reflections. One of our fellows, Caitlin, asked if she could share a few words. Mansfield Hall Fellows are a unique aspect to our program. Fellows are traditional college students and volunteer to spend a year living and participating in the community. Our fellows participate in all aspects of the program and provide social support, role modeling, and authentic natural support. Many people focus on what our fellows bring to the community, however, we believe that this relationship goes both ways. Caitlin agrees, here is her speech:
Becoming a fellow this semester was a very last minute decision. I decided after Christmas, in the beginning of January, to come in for an interview to determine whether or not I wanted to commit to a completely new living situation, entirely new community, apart from all of my friends and peers on SMC campus for my senior year. I took a big risk. Accepting the fellow position was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been at Mansfield Hall for only four months, and feel like I’ve been a part of the community for four years. I’ve never been a part of a community where I felt so readily welcomed, genuinely cared for, and truly admired for who I am. Mansfield Hall is a family, and a proud new aspect of my identity. I came to Mansfield Hall to help others, to be a student-mentor. In truthfulness, I feel Mansfield Hall has truly helped me; I have changed. I have become more authentic, deliberate, and intentional in my expressions and behaviors. I have learned a healthy balance of honesty and kindness, a mere reflection of the friendships I have established, friendships that encompass a purely rich quality and that are entirely permanent. I feel no need to modify my character and who I am around my new friends. If I’m doing something wrong, or something right, they will let me know with their honest words. I have never had such a group of cheerleaders who I know are always providing me with honest feedback, encouraging me to achieve a goal I didn’t believe I could do, and who look forward to seeing me every day. I have inevitably taken on a new perspective that I was previously blind to just four months ago. The Mansfield Hall community has set me free. I know that with whatever decisions I make, whatever I choose to aspire, I am supported, cared for, and unconditionally admired. Thank you, all.