Why I Love to Call Georgetown “Home”

In the past six months, as I have approached graduation from Georgetown, I have taken time to reflect on what has made the most impact on me during my time here.  My education at Georgetown is inclusive of both academics and spiritual formation.  I am thankful that my learning here has pushed me to live in constant reflection of who I am, who I want to be, and what my God-given gifts are.

The Chaplains-in-Residence at Georgetown have shaped my Georgetown experience in a unique way, and they are the epitome of all the reasons why I love to call this place “home.”

Upon arriving at Georgetown, the environment challenged me; it took some time for me to feel at home on campus.  My first experiences of feeling truly at peace at Georgetown were with meetings with my Chaplain-in-Residence, Stefanie Chappell.  My freshman year, I met with Stefanie on a regular basis and took time to reflect on difficulties, celebrate accomplishments, and focus on what I wanted to spend my energy on. Stefanie led me through a lot of challenging times during a crucial year in my life.  Stefanie showed me how powerful it is to have someone truly listen, hear my story and encourage reflection, healthy questioning, and steps toward finding my place here.  I am forever thankful for that first interaction with chaplains at Georgetown.

Entering my sophomore year at Georgetown, I was one of Village A’s RAs.  This experience greatly enriched my life at Georgetown and my personal development.  My position with Residential Life opened up an entirely new world at Georgetown.  I became very connected with student services across campus while working to foster community in Village A.  As an RA, I worked even more closely with multiple chaplains, but especially with Luke O’Connell.  Luke and his family opened up their home and reached out to students individually, through group dinners and programming opportunities in Village A.  Luke and his daughters came door to door, even during the busiest of times, and reminded us of the power of the innocence of children’s joy as we shared time with them.  Luke offered powerful messages, words of prayer, and calls to action during our weekly RA meetings.  Every week, I walked away with something interesting to think about to reaffirm my commitment to our Georgetown community and to loving others more deeply.  These interactions during sophomore year showed me even further that Georgetown is a university with a heart.

I studied abroad my junior year and did not have the same opportunity to connect with chaplains, but I used a lot of the skills that Stefanie and Luke taught me about reflection and exploration during my time away.   Upon returning my senior year, I have had the joy of getting to know Michelle Siemietkowski.  Michelle and her family are so special to me.  Not only have my friends and I absolutely loved her delicious milkshakes every Thursday, but we have also gained so much from taking the time to be in a community with her and her family week after week.  Michelle has taught me most about intentionality.  In small conversations, and in specific reflections, Michelle has shared with us some of her experiences of friendship, love, academics, career pursuits, and faith.  Through her words, I have found a lot of peace.  During a time of transition in our last year at Georgetown, when everyone is at very different stages, Michelle finds a way to connect with everyone.  Her words are always comforting, she challenges us to reflect, and most of all, she encourages us to be intentional – intentional in how we spend our time, intentional in our words, and intentional in our pursuits.  This advice has helped make our last year at Georgetown much more meaningful; intentionality begs patience and slowing down, it begs compassion and reflection.  Michelle has taught us how development is a life-long process, and while it is important to think about long-term goals, there is an importance in easing away from the busyness surrounding us to appreciate “right now.”

I think Chaplains-in-Residence at Georgetown have shown me time and time again how Georgetown cares about each student as an individual and as a member of our community.  They demonstrate that our Jesuit values are taken seriously, and the Chaplains–in-Residence work hard to help each student feel at home while growing academically, in faith, and in life.

Thank you to all of our chaplains, for helping us to find and become who we truly are and to continually pursue whom we want to be.  Thank you for helping make Georgetown our home.  I cannot put into words just how impactful you have all been during my time at Georgetown, and I am forever grateful for the work you do.

Jenna Fredrickson, NHS’15