About Bridget Sica '16

Bridget Sica ’16 is an English major from Laconia, New Hampshire. Bridget is an active member of the Meelia Center for Community Engagement and has participated in Campus Ministry sponsored trips. It would not be hard to find Bridget on campus – she is often on the sidelines at athletic competitions, cheering on the Hawks.

Relay for Life

This past Friday was the 7th annual Relay for Life at Saint Anselm College. Last year I was unable to attend, but this year I made sure my Friday was free and I put together a team from the Meelia Center. In case you don't know what Relay for Life is, it is a national fundraiser that brings communities together to fight back against cancer. At St. A's, Relay is held in the Carr Center (the big gym). Teams are given areas to put their stuff on the floor of the gym, and students bring anything from blankets and pillows to TV's and couches. Around everyone's stuff there is a"track" for people to walk around throughout the night (hence, "Relay").The event runs from 6pm on Friday until 6am on Saturday morning and during the long night there is a ton of activities! Music is played all night long, there is a musical-chairs competition, a talent show, a dance-off, the Limbo, a hair-donation (where girls actually get their hair cut in front of everyone to donate for wigs) and plenty of food. There is also a one-hour period called the "Luminarium Walk." During this period everyone is asked to walk for the full hour in complete silence. The lights are turned off and the only lights are those from the luminary bags placed around the track. On each of the luminary bags are names that students have written of family members or friends who have been affected by cancer. While the community is walking in silence together, a list of names of people affected by cancer is read aloud.

Before the Luminarium Walk, I heard people start to  whisper  that this was their favorite part of the evening. I did not realize until afterwards that I completely agreed with them. The hour in silence and solidarity was an extremely powerful moment for me. Though no one was talking, I felt the strongest connection to my Saint Anselm community that I have ever had. People were walking together, some holding hands, some crying, some comforting. But everyone was together for the same reason. I saw students reach out to people they did not even know. The Luminary Walk was a perfect display of the love that is alive in the Anselmian community. And I failed to mention earlier that over 825 students showed up for this event. That is nearly half of our student body. It was amazing.

Yesterday in class, one of my English professors who was recently diagnosed with cancer, took time to thank the members of my class who attended Relay for Life. She said to us, "I had never been to Relay for Life before this year. I know you were not all there for me, but I want to thank you for being there. It meant so much to me. It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life, and I plan on going every year now until I retire." Her words sent goosebumps up my arms. Cancer is an awful tragedy that can strike a family at any time and I would not wish it on anyone. But on Friday I saw how tragedies can bring together communities in the best of ways. I too plan on attending Relay for Life at Saint Anselm College until I graduate.

Skiing

This past Monday marked the best holiday of the year. Saint Patrick's Day. Although I am told Saint Patrick's Day is actually not that big of a deal in Ireland, I like to play the ignorant American card and celebrate my heart away. And that is just what I did on Monday. Despite the winter chill that still lingered in the air and the mounds of snow that covered campus, I vowed to make the day exceptional. Fortunately, I only had one morning class on Monday and had the rest of my day free. And even better, my older sister, who goes to Plymouth State University (and loves the holiday just as much as I do) was on spring break. Therefore, we decided to go on an adventure.

What does a Saint Paddy's Day Adventure look like for two exuberant Irish girls on a wintery day? Yup, you guessed it…skiing! Waterville Valley Ski Resort in northern New Hampshire was selling all-day ski passes for only $17 in honor of the holiday. So not only was our adventure spontaneous, it was also affordable! The weather in Waterville was chilly but sunny and the ski conditions were phenomenal . There were no lines at the lifts and we were able to get in a bunch of runs. After a refreshing day on the mountain my sister and I drove back home to end the perfect day with the rest of our family.

Of course, my dad was already blasting Celtic music throughout the house and my mom was making a traditional corned-beef dinner. Fortunately (because I don't eat meat) I really like potatoes and cabbage so I was lucky. Although my day "off" was short, it was sweet. And to make it just a little bit sweeter, my mom sent me home with some Irish soda bread for my friends and I! Overall a wonderful Saint Paddy's Day!

 

Pre-Registration

Yesterday was nearly life-altering for me. Something BIG happened. I pre-registered for my first semester of JUNIOR YEAR. Alright, maybe this doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but when I sat down in Professor Bouchard's office to select my courses for the Fall of 2014, I suddenly felt old. Time is flying by! Perhaps I sound like a melodramatic 20-year old, but junior year is sort of a big deal. It is the 3/4 mark. But this isn't entirely bad for me. It actually got me excited for everything that I have left during my time at Saint A's. Next year we are switching to a 4-4 curriculum, so I will be taking 4 courses instead of 5, which will be a change (I think for the better) and next year also brings with it my time to study abroad…I wish I could tell you where I am going but I change my mind every day. Today it is South Africa. Tomorrow it will probably be London. Regardless, I have a lot to look forward to in just the upcoming year.

We also received our housing lottery numbers this week (which is always quite an ordeal) so I am looking forward to a change in scenery for next semester (I'm hoping for the new dorm)! Thinking about all of these things after pre-registering, also made me realize that I need to savor my time here on the Hilltop while I still can! Although I am only halfway through, I have to say that the past two years have flown by. I have made friends that I feel I have known my entire life. And sometimes looking back just to freshman year seems like years ago. But at the same time it feels like just yesterday. So, here is to the next two years and making them the best ever!

Valentine's Day Dance

The Special Needs Valentine's. Commonly know as "The Best Day of the Year." At least that's what the guests and volunteers tell us. The 23rd annual Valentine's Dance was held last Saturday in Cushing. The Meelia Center sponsors the dance and invites people with special needs (all ages) from the Manchester community, and then tons of volunteers from clubs and organizations throughout campus join together to help make the event run smoothly. And let me tell you, it runs more than smoothly! With over 150 guests, nearly 200 volunteers, hundreds of paper hearts, piles of cookies and cupcakes, and endless popcorn and music, everyone walks away full, enthused, and happy.

While working at the snack table last Saturday, a young man named Mike came up to me. "Can I tell you something?" he whispered discretely, "Of course!" I replied. "Well I love this dance. It is my favorite day of the whole year. Thank goodness I didn't have work today. But guess what? Even if I did, I would tell them I needed the day off. Because nothing is worth skipping the Valentine's Dance for!" Smiling, Mike walked away from the table. His comment also put a smile on my face. Even when you can guess that everyone is having a good time, it is always nice to hear words of confirmation like that.

Forget the people who moan and groan about Valentine's Day. You don't need a boyfriend or girlfriend to have fun on February 14th. The Special Needs Valentine's Day Dance allows everyone to have multiple Valentines, all ranging in age and gender. So next year, if you're looking for fun, chocolate, music and a special-someone…make your way over to the Cushing Center for the 24th Valentine's Day Dance.

Foster Parent's Night Out

Painting hands during Foster Parent's Night OutFoster Parent's Night Out (FPNO) is an event that is hosted on our campus on the last Thursday of every month. From working at the Meelia Center, you'd think I would know what this is all about and assume I was a regular attendee…however, the program just started last semester when I volunteered at an off-campus site during the exact time that FPNO was hosted. But this semester, my schedule is a little different and I was able to go to FPNO last week for the first time.

Foster Parent's Night Out is pretty self-explanatory in its name. It allows foster parents to have the evening off while volunteers from Saint A's take care of the foster children. But let me assure you, this is not your typical babysitting session. There are activities and games galore! Last week there was a cookie decorating station, grilled cheeses made to order, finger painting, g0o-making, minute-to-win-it games and plenty of blocks, hula-hoops, and crayons to keep kids happy for hours. Oh, and if the kids got tired, there was a screening of "Tangled" and lots of popcorn in one of the lecture halls.

Being a part of this event was fun, humbling, and rewarding. To me, hanging out with kids is like therapy so not only was the evening fun for all the kids who attended, it was also a nice break for me. Being able to brighten the day for the foster children that attended was a great feeling. At the end of the night, with children yawning, some still giggling from too much sugar, and others begging to stay, I walked back to my dorm with paint-crusted hands and a warmed heart. I love knowing that the Saint Anselm community can touch the lives of so many. Although it was only a night, FPNO made me realize that something as small as a paint-covered hand print can change a child's day. Needless to say, I will be there next month.

Summer Internship

Parable magazineNow that we are into the spring semester there seems to be only one thing on my mind: Summer. I'm only half-kidding about that; of course there is a lot for me to look forward to this semester, but I can't help but think we only have three months until it is officially our summer vacation. Although ice-cream, concerts, and the ocean are usually my priorities, I have also been thinking about summer internships this year.

I know it is not totally necessary for students after their sophomore year to intern, but I figured a little experience won't hurt me. Thus, I was thrilled when my academic adviser recommended that I look into interning at Parable magazine for the summer. Parable is the magazine put out by the Diocese of Manchester and distributed at parishes, schools, and colleges throughout the state. The magazine brings together community and faith stories, and is extremely enjoyable and interesting to read. So, after Dr. Bouchard's recommendation, I contacted the editor of Parable, sent her my resume and she arranged an interview with me. The interview was yesterday afternoon, and I am happy to say it went extremely well! I was immediately offered the summer position, and gratefully accepted.

That is one thing about Saint A's that I have come to love. The community is so tightly-knit, that not only Career Services, but also professors are always willing to help students expand their academic endeavors into the real world. The opportunities are endless!

Winter Break Alternative

Saint Anselm College students on Winter Break Alternative in Washington D.C.
I was lucky enough to leave the arctic region of New Hampshire and go south for the last week of my winter break. Well, I'm kinda kidding about that. Yes, I did go south, but it was not warmer than NH by any significant degrees. On January 4th I was seated on a plane with 13 other Saint Anselm students (all wearing matching shirts, a little embarrassing) heading to Washington D.C. However, we were not a traveling sports team or a politics club as many people assumed. We were all going to the same place in order to do a week of community service. Saint A's Winter Break Alternative (WBA) program sends students throughout the country for the last week of Christmas vacation to spend time performing service and living in solidarity with the ones being served. In my group's case, we were en route to an international hostel and had plans of spending the next seven days working with the homeless and hungry of the city.

During our week-long stay we were able to work with both young people and the elderly, homeless people and volunteers, lonely people and community service program directors. I can certainly say that I left NH expecting to have a fulfilling week, but I left D.C. feeling more humbled and blessed than I could have ever imagined. One of the most meaningful and genuinely honest encounters I had during the week was with a man named Steve. Steve was one of the many people that attended the free community dinner that our group hosted at the Youth Service Organization Program. After sharing many details of his personal life, including his aspirations, worries and struggles, Steve said to me, in complete non-judgmental-innocence: "I think it's great what your group is doing."

SERVICE & SOLIDARITY: Read more about the program on the Service & Solidarity blog
CAMPUS MINISTRY: Explore other programs and services offered by the Campus Ministry office

"One day, when I have enough money, I hope I can help people too. I bet it makes you feel good." This statement, though brief, hit me hard. Service is something I believe many people do, perhaps subconsciously, to make themselves feel good. We want that feel-good rush that comes along with helping someone in need. However, oftentimes service is simply a band-aid. Perhaps you did provide a meal to someone who was hungry, or listen to someone who was living in loneliness, but that is temporary. This WBA trip, with great thanks to my conversation with Steve, taught me that community service is a blessing. I can't honestly say that I don't like the happiness it gives me to know I am helping someone else, but I discovered I should get my priorities straight. I think now, my new goal is to help people feel like they can make a difference, regardless of their situation. Service is something I want to make attainable to everyone.

So yes, I guess that's a big goal to just throw at you on a Thursday afternoon. But it's something to think about. Why do we do service? And how can we spread that feel-good vibe to those we serve? I can not describe how much fun I had on WBA and what a wonderful experience it was. It is something I would recommend to everyone at St. A's. Happy spring semester!

Hawk Spotted at the Meelia Center

Saint Anselm MascotAs we reach the end of the semester at Saint A's, the tension and excitement is palpable. Everyone's schedules are packed with activities ranging from the gingerbread contest, papers, senior theses, the Christmas Feast, and finals. It's a wonderful and crazy time of year.

One of my favorite aspects about the end of the fall semester is the beginning of hockey season. Many of my friends play hockey and it's always fun being able to attend the games and cheer them on. One character who is often at the hockey games is our school mascot…the hawk! A Saint A's student dressed in a hawk costume will parade around the arena encouraging cheering from the crowd. However, this afternoon I ran into this hawk elsewhere…at my work in the Meelia Center; and the face under the furry mask was none other than my boss, Dan Forbes. Dan had borrowed the costume to make a promotional video for our site (coming soon to our Meelia Center website!) Seeing Dan dressed up as as hawk was certainly entertaining, and more than anything it brightened my day. It was a friendly, and unexpected reminder of school spirit. Go Hawks!

Volunteering

It isn't rare to hear someone say that when they volunteer or do service they are "giving up their time." I don't like this. I'm a firm believer that service work is some of the best spent time. There is no sacrifice involved. However, I completely understand the lack of motivation that sometimes comes along with volunteering. Once in a while (especially when its dark and freezing cold outside) it's hard to get yourself up out of your warm comfy dorm room and out into the real world to help people. But it's worth it.

Every Thursday evening, from 6-8:30 p..m. I volunteer at Manchester Adult Learning Center (MALC). I help to teach English to a classroom of eager adults, ranging in age from 18-75. I love this part of my Thursday evenings. It is almost always the most rewarding part of my week. The students are so grateful to have me there to help them, and I always leave feeling very humbled and privileged to be able to teach them. The students come from all different countries throughout the world and take these classes in order to assist them in adapting to America and learning the native language.

Well, this past Thursday I was experiencing one of those not-so-motivated moments. I had just had dinner with my friends and all I really wanted to do was join the girls from across the hall in their Ben and Jerry's party. But I had to go to MALC. I had missed the previous week's class because of car trouble so I hadn't seen my students in a while. So, grumpily, I left my dorm and drove over to MALC. I was so happy I made the decision not to skip. That night the class was putting on a Thanksgiving skit and it was the most entertaining thing I have seen in a while. All the students were getting a kick out of themselves and teasing each other about their mispronunciations. And I had the honor of being an audience member. It was the first time I had seen a "First Thanksgiving" play with a Chinese narrator, an African Squanto, a Haitian Indian chief and pilgrims from Greece, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Colombia. The diversity in the classroom really came to life through their skit and it was awesome! Plus, my students were so happy to see me! I got lots of hugs and my friends even saved me some Ben and Jerry's for when I got back! Overall–great night. So I encourage everyone to get out there and volunteer. Don't do it because it's a sacrifice, do it because it's fun!

New York City

New York City

Although I live in New Hampshire, I have not spent my entire life here. I was actually born in Manhattan, but because of my dad's job, my family moved to New Hampshire when I was three years old. So honestly, I don't really remember living in the city. But I think I sound tougher when I tell my friends that I'm originally from NYC…I usually exclude the fact that I moved when I was only a toddler and was barely old enough to even eat a slice of pizza. However, I do visit fairly often and I have family in New York, so I have a pretty decent sense of what life is like in the city, and I love it there. Thus, early Saturday morning I found myself on another excursion off campus to NYC!

The humanities program, along with the Multicultural Center, ran a bus-trip to the city that departed campus at 6:00 a.m. and left NYC at 7:00 p.m.. I had pulled together a group of my friends to join me for this adventure, and I was especially excited because most of them had never been to NYC, or had gone when they were too young to remember.

Our day started at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art at about 11:30, and after that we worked our way through the city in attempts to hit as many major landmarks as possible in the limited amount of time that we had. Following the museum, we journeyed on to Central Park, where we managed to get lost an inordinate amount of times…we ended up walking the same stretch of the park back and forth three times before we finally got back on track. We brushed this first mishap away like it was nothing and carried on towards the Plaza Hotel. In the Plaza we pretended we were elite guests, up until the point when one of the security guards asked us for proof of our room key and we had to admit our true identities.

After leaving the Plaza we hit up 5th Ave (where we made a small scene when we pretended to have seen Kanye West), and then reached Time Square. At this point we were very tired from walking and decided that it was appropriate to reward ourselves with a late lunch. So we stopped for pizza at John's Pizza…honestly the world's best pizza you will EVER eat. I have held to this fact since the age of three when I was able to first comprehend the sentence from my family.

Seeing my friends (who had never been to NYC before) in Time Square  was like watching a little kid eat ice-cream for the first time. They initially seemed a little overwhelmed and alarmed, but in near miliseconds these emotions turned to complete eagerness. We walked around the bustling epicenter of the city for a while, practiced haggling with some of the street vendors, and took pictures with a crazy number of people dressed up as Disney and cartoon characters. In fact, there were so many people dressed up as action figures that I heard a little boy ask his mom, "Mommy, why are there so many cars in Disney World?" I couldn't have agreed with him more.

We wrapped our day up with a trip to Magnolia's Bakery for a piece of carrot cake and we stopped by Rockefeller Center. Then we made our way to Saint Patrick's Cathedral where the buses were picking us up. The five hour trip went by very fast, seeing as how we were all beyond exhausted. But honestly, I was so happy that we decided to go. My friends and I had so much fun and it was awesome being able to be with some of them for their first trip to NYC. My friend, Jackie, is already planning a return trip before Christmas time!