This spring Maura Newell ’19 trekked along the Great Wall in China, met some elephants in Myanmar, visited Taj Mahal in India, and explored seven other countries during her study abroad semester.

A long-distance gift

After exploring four continents this spring, Maura Newell ’19 discovers something new about ‘home’ and the reasons why Belles give back

By Maura Newell, Class of 2019

As I sit on a ship in the middle of the ocean nearing the end of a study abroad program that took me to 10 countries on four continents this semester, I realize how excited I am to go home.

I also realize that home is no longer only where I live in Alexandria, Virginia, but it is also at the end of The Avenue at Saint Mary’s College.

Growing up I always told my mom, an alumna, that I would never attend Saint Mary’s. I did the “all-girls thing” in high school and, while that was great, I did not need four more years of it. Wisely, she allowed me to make the decision on my own — a decision that, to this day, is the best one I have ever made.

While I love studying abroad, I am excited to return to my “home sweet SMC.” Saint Mary’s has given me so much: from the scholarship that makes it possible for me to attend, to the opportunities I’ve had to grow academically, socially, and spiritually in the past two years.

This is why, from half a world away, I’m looking forward to joining with other Saint Mary’s women to give back during the 24-hour Donor Challenge on Thursday, April 6 (Saint Mary’s time, of course).

I’ve come to realize why my mom continues to give (she’s co-chair of her Reunion Gift Campaign committee this year, go Class of 1987!). She wants to support the place she loves, the place that was her home, so that I can have the kind of amazing experiences and friendships she still has 30 years after graduation.

What makes Saint Mary’s my home? For me … it is the hours I spend with my friends joking around when we should be doing homework. It is sledding on the first snow before we freeze for months to come. It is running to your best friend’s room and not even knocking before you walk in. It is the amazing brunch (and awful hours) the dining hall has on the weekend. It is the midnight breakfasts and dancing on tables with the president.

It is also the knowledge, support, and direction we get from administrators and professors. It is the ongoing engagement and constant encouragement to participate and self-advocate in class and in life. It is the excitement of running into another woman wearing a Saint Mary’s ring or a French cross. It is the beauty of The Avenue and the feeling you get when walking down it every time. It is the friendships we know will last a lifetime. It is the code of “Belles take care of Belles” no matter what.

Belles near and far, and from all generations, can all bond over the love we share for our “home away from home” at the end of The Avenue.

No matter how long we are gone (50 years from graduation, a semester abroad, or even a one-week break), Saint Mary’s will welcome us back with open arms, wonderful memories, and the greatest people we know.

This is why Belles give back.