An independent Catholic school for young women in grades 7-12

Taking A Chance: Making Connections, Gaining Confidence

Taking A Chance: Making Connections, Gaining Confidence
Carly Carté '20, Communications Intern

If you asked me two months ago what made my junior year at Ursuline unique, I’m not sure I could have told you anything specific. In truth, it was at times such a total blur of intense studying and a hectic social life, that I was not aware of the deep impact my dedicated teachers and eager peers made on me. But with several weeks between me and the most stressful period I have thus far experienced, and with the college selection and application process looming ahead, I have been struck by how much I feel I have grown in such a short time. 

To give an example that may resonate with other students or faculty, this year I took AP U.S. History, a course I was not only excited about but felt a great deal of pressure to do well in coming from a family with two U.S. historians. And though the whole year was pretty great, our end of year project was a totally open assignment and was my first experience choosing a portion of history I found fascinating. With very little input from my family, I decided to do a report on Nell Donnelly Reed, America’s second female self-made millionaire who built a fashion empire that shaped the way middle-class women felt and expressed themselves in their clothes. This became something I was extremely interested in, and though I have been sewing since elementary school, I had never studied the correlation between fashion, history and social change before this project. And of course, I had no idea at the time that what I was learning actually related to the real world. 

In July, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, which was putting on an exhibit on Gender-Bending Fashion from the past century, which happens to include the period during which Reed was most impactful. I spent thirty minutes in a reasonably sized, three-room exhibit, completely immersed in the content and completely oblivious to the crowds and desperate urges of my younger brother to move faster. 

I was lucky enough to have visited the museum with my American historian of an aunt. To much of my personal surprise, I was able to have a truly interesting conversation with her on why the exhibit was so fascinating to me, and it was because of the connections I could pull from my end of year assignment. I realized I had discovered an area of study totally unique to anything I had been exposed to before that deeply intrigued me, and this freedom of thought allowed me to become completely immersed in the thought in the real world. This is what has made my junior year so special: I not only grew in my confidence to handle a heavy workload, but also in the belief in my external intellectual pursuits. Especially as senior year gathers steam and college applications are to be sent off, this confidence has given me a renewed excitement about furthering my education and discovering what other areas of study will redefine the way I view and interact with the world.