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‘Don’t Give Up on Yourself:’ Professors, Students Talk Resilience

Julia Bogiages, MCAS ’18, faced rejection her freshman year. She told one of her mentors that everything was perfect even though she had been rejected from 14 clubs.

“That was a flat out lie, and she called me on it,” Bogiages said.

Her mentor shared a quote from the Ignatian prayer “The Slow Work of God.”

“Don’t try to be today what time will make of you tomorrow,” Bogiages said, quoting the poem.

At the Bounce Back BC: Stories of Resilience panel on Wednesday, seven members of the BC community answered this question in their own ways through stories of adjusting to college life and finding meaning in overcoming obstacles. The event was held in Devlin 221 at 4 p.m. and was sponsored by the Office of Health Promotion.

Bogiages is now a Residence Assistant and an Orientation Leader, something she never would have imagined she would be doing three years ago. She encouraged students to reach out to their peers for support.

For Thomas Harwell, assistant director of Career Services, resilience meant accepting rejection.

When Harwell was in college, he was so determined to join one men’s organization that he applied twice. Both times, he did well in interviews but was rejected.

Hartwell was devastated and decided to reflect on what he really wanted from the organization. He valued the connections and relationships his friends formed and set out to accomplish just that.

“Resilience to me is understanding that challenges will come, and how you respond to them is what impacts how you move forward,” Hartwell said.

For Chris Anselmo, BC ’16, that was as simple as asking someone to carry his backpack.

Anselmo has Miyoshi Myopathy, a form of adult-onset muscular dystrophy. Through asking his friends and professors for help, he found trust and support.

He also said that it was important to keep a clear goal for what you want out of life.

Knowing that all he did was for a greater purpose helped him overcome challenges and achieve his long term goals, Anselmo said.

Bethany Candage, MCAS ’18, also told students to open up to others.

“Staying silent isn’t always the answer,” she said. “Reach out because people are there, and people will listen.”

“Staying silent isn’t always the answer. Reach out because people are there, and people will listen.”

Bethany Candage, MCAS ’18

Candage had experienced anxiety and depression since high school and felt alone as a freshman. A University counselor suggested she try a new therapist at home. Her new therapist convinced her to return to BC for sophomore year.

“Don’t give up on yourself,” Candage said.

Community was also essential for Frances Hartnett, MCAS ’20.

Hartnett has Crohn’s disease. This fall, she was hospitalized and had to return to her hometown of Chicago for several weeks.

“My entire vision of what would happen in college was completely shattered,” Hartnett said.

Her family reflected on why she wanted to return to a university that was hundreds of miles away. Hartnett thought back to her new friends and facilitators from the Emerging Leader Program who had visited her in the hospital. She said that while academic opportunities were widespread, the people who cared about her made BC unique.

She defined resilience as “doing your best to be yourself,” despite circumstances you cannot control.

Finally, David Storey, professor of practice in the philosophy department at BC, and Becky McGeorge, MCAS ’19, talked about how their communities helped them lighten the load of being overcommitted.

As a new professor, Storey said yes to everything: teaching commitments, helping students, and volunteer work. He told his fiancée his life was fundamentally disordered.

Both Storey and McGeorge realized that the urgent was clouding the important.

After getting involved in too many clubs and focusing less on school work during her freshman year, McGeorge changed her lifestyle to prioritize the organizations that were most meaningful to her. She also focused on her health by sleeping and exercising more.

She described resilience as a continual process rather than a one-time solution.

“I’m continuously looking for this balance, even now, and even when I stumble,” she said.

Storey also reduced his commitments and focused more on what made him happy in his personal life after his fiancee told him it’s okay to scale back.

Ultimately, all the speakers said they hoped to end the culture of perfectionism at BC and encouraging the audience to seek support. Their stories will be posted on the Office of Health Promotion website, along with other resources and contacts for students.

Anselmo hoped that sharing his own story of resilience could empower others.

“If I could be that [support] for somebody else, even for one person, then I’ve done my job,” he said.

Featured Image by Kyle Bowman / Heights Staff

November 10, 2016