Thank you for all the experiences and memories you have given me. Coming in as a freshman, I was nervous and scared to be away from home. Little did I know, St. Andrews University would become my new home. My freshman advisor, Dr. Bushoven, was very welcoming and helped me figure out what classes would best fit me. I have always been somewhat of an introvert and, because I am quiet, the thought of being in a new classroom with people I did not know was somewhat intimidating. Quickly I found the small class setting St. Andrews had to offer really made me comfortable with professors and students. I quickly began to see the community St. Andrews had.
All the professors and coaches are supportive, whether students have joined a team or not. During the first semester of my freshman year, I was asked to run for the St. Andrews Cross Country and Track team. I had little experience running, but the coach did not mind that. He wanted a runner who was willing to work hard. He needed one more person to compete for the team, and asked me for my drive rather than talent. Through running on the team, I made some of my best friends, people who will a part of my life long after I graduate. The team members helped me grow as a person, and come out of my shell.
Along with attending classes and running on a collegiate team, I began riding twice a week at the equestrian center. I remember being so nervous to ride with others, because I rode in privates before school. My first instructor at St. Andrews was Emilee Wilson, a former graduate from St. Andrews. She made me feel comfortable and less nervous to ride in front of others. The lessons through the equestrian center taught me what it was like to ride with a team, though I did not show.
By the end of my freshman year, I was more than excited to go into my sophomore year of college. I wished my summer away. Soon, it was time to move in and I was excited to see what my sophomore year held. I remember I was nervous for my classes. I was taking horse science and my first business class was with Professor Nicholson. I remember, this semester really taught me how to study. I had always been a slight procrastinator. I learned the true meaning of all nighters. I studied like no one before, or so I thought. Along with learning to study again, I also learned how terrifying it was to give presentations. Every class with Professor Nicholson, I dreaded the possibility of being asked to go in front of the class and review the class discussion answers my group formulated, but without fail, every class we were asked to. At the time, I did not understand the need for so much public speaking, but I now can say I am grateful for the experience.
While riding during my sophomore year, I was able to see growth from my timid freshman year self. I began to enjoy riding in group lessons, and seeing how differently everyone rode. I never realized how many different opinions there was on a simple riding exercise, such as jumping a cross rail. How to approach and form of seat, and more. Not all, but some people had different views and opinions than what I was taught. I appreciated hearing the thoughts of others and learning from them.
My junior year at St. Andrews was one of my favorite years to ride. Finally, I began to see my improvements and was being challenged more than the years before. My confidence in myself grew each time I rode. Riding became even more of a joy than it had been in the past. I enjoyed the St. Andrews horses so much, I did my summer internship at Camp Seafarer where the St. Andrews horses help teach campers of various levels learn to ride and improve their skills. At camp, I taught lessons; which allowed me to see the horses I love bring joy to young riders.
The first half of my senior year brought many emotions, let me correct that, senior seminar brought many emotions to me. Professor Nicholson’s classes of my sophomore year did not compare to her Senior Seminar class. Senior Seminar taught me to be a group leader, better time management skills, and strengthened my public speaking. After going through the prior business classes, I was not as nervous and was more prepared for the public speaking Senior Seminar required. This class pushed me to strengthen those skills. My senior year began to lighten up, I was like a freshman discovering what classes to take. I was able to take classes I ignored so I could finish my degree, for example art classes. I am currently exploring music, drawing and design, and theater.
Finally, we come to horseback riding my senior year. I have created strong ties at the St. Andrews equestrian center. I love the coaches and I hope to rival the barn managers one day. Everyone has such kind personalities and truly cares for the riders. This year has really pushed me to become the strongest rider I can, and then strive to be more. I will be sad to leave the equestrian center when I graduate, but I believe everyone there has prepared me to succeed in the equine industry.
In all, St. Andrews has helped me grow as a person through its culture. The small size of this college does not hinder it, but strengthens it. I personally know I would not thrive at a larger college that is not as personable as St. Andrews. The dedication of the professors and all members of the St. Andrews community has made my four years at St. Andrews unforgettable. This college has helped me figure out who I want to be and has helped me figure out how to get there.
To that I say thank you,
Senior Grace Matonis