"This would never have been possible without the incredible generosity of so many people."
Hope Chamberlain, a Benedictine scholar, reflects on how Saint Martin’s values have shaped the course of her future.
William Butler Yeats once said that, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Over the year and a half that I have attended Saint Martin’s, I’ve had the opportunity to see the truth of his words lived out. Beyond giving me practical skills and knowledge, Saint Martin’s has helped me to more fully realize my dreams and to provide me with both the passion and the direction to pursue them with my whole heart.
This unique, Benedictine environment, which so many students such as myself would never be able to afford without extensive financial aid, fosters student dreams. It sounds cliché to say it, but it’s absolutely true. We at Saint Martin’s have something unique to drive us, challenge us, and inspire us: our Benedictine values. I see them in every part of my life, from the hospitality of the professors who greet me with warmth in the halls and welcome my questions and friendship, to the people like all of you, who give of themselves to help students engage with the reason of Saint Martin’s academic programs and the community built of students, faculty, donors, staff, alumni, and so many others. I see it in the way that I have found myself connecting with the value of respect for persons, and making it a part of my plans for the rest of my life.
After I graduate from Saint Martin’s I plan to pursue a teacher certification and to teach ELL, or English as a Learned Language, preferably in the United States. For me, this is a way of serving others, inspired by my own experiences with my family. My grandmother was born and raised in Mexico. Many of the members of my family on my mother’s side either moved to the United States from Mexico or speak Spanish as a first language. I’ve seen the professional barriers that low English proficiency can pose, preventing people from becoming gainfully employed and prolonging the cycle of poverty. By helping them to gain greater control over English, I can both provide them with the tools to better their lives in a concrete way through employment.
Just as importantly, I can help to break down barriers between people separated by nothing more than a lack of understanding. I’ve also seen the personal barriers that a language divide can pose. My great aunt escaped from Mexico, fleeing pain and abuse, and emerging with the sort of love that comes from deep personal strength. But, young as I was and speaking no Spanish, I didn’t realize how incredible she was. I didn’t understand what she’d managed to leave behind, or the love she tried to impart each time she called me, “mi corazón,” which is Spanish for “my heart.” To this day, I regret the opportunities I lost to connect with my great aunt, almost entirely because she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish.
This is my fire: to help others learn to speak English so that another little girl won’t miss out on all the memories that I could have had.
This would never have been possible without the incredible generosity of so many people, including those of you sitting here today. Without you, I would not have been able to afford to come here and be a part of this incredible community. It has allowed me to explore my interests and to find out what I have to offer to others. It will allow me to change my future and to change my world. Thank you so much for the fires that burn brightly today because you helped to provide them with a spark.