I go to a small Catholic liberal arts college (in the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame) called Notre Dame College, also known as NDC, which is twenty minutes away from downtown Cleveland. It sounds like it’d be an easy choice, right? Not so much. I actually needed divine intervention to make the decision to even come to Notre Dame College. Nobody knows about that part of the story, and it’s definitely worth telling.
Before I applied to any colleges, I wanted to enter the convent. Yes, I wanted to become a religious sister straight out of high school at the age of eighteen. That’s the reason why I was so slow at making a college choice. It took me until December, when everyone else was hearing about acceptances, to even go to the guidance office and get my transcripts sent out. Yes, I was kind of a slow bloomer. Or so they say.
So, you’re waiting to hear my college story. My story’s not something super crazy, like going on campus for the first time and having a completely life-changing experience or falling in love with it or something like that. At first, I resisted the thought of going to NDC. I think part of me knew I was home, but I wrestled with that feeling, saying “I really don’t like it here.” But as time went on, it really started to grow on me, and I decided that I would go for two years to get my general education requirements done, and then transfer to Franciscan University of Steubenville, my first college choice and the other school I had been accepted to, and study Theology.
I would often tell myself “If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans!”. God must have been having a good laugh, just as He always does when I make plans.
It was late March into early April when it, the big breakthrough and decision happened, just a few weeks after my eighteenth birthday (March 13). I decided to start a novena to St. Therese, the Little Flower. The Rose Novena. I have a devotion to her, and I figured she’d be the best person to tell me if I was on the right path. I told her, “One rose, and I’ll stay for two years.” On the ninth day of the novena, I was on a retreat with my home parish’s youth group. This retreat focused on the Blessed Mother. Usually, when my youth group was on retreat, we would split into a men’s session and a women’s session, and would never really interact with each other. So that retreat, we decided to show the men how much we really appreciated them. Well, that night, we planned on doing something special for each other. The men went all out. They gave all the women roses. I immediately knew what was happening. St. Therese was about to say something, and it was something big. When I was being escorted into the room, there was some slight confusion, and I was given not one, buttwo roses. That night, the Little Flower told me that I was going to be at NDC for all four years of my college career. It was really no use arguing with it. And in the next week, I wrestled with what St. Therese told me through the roses, but to no avail. The Little Flower was more stubborn than I.
I made “my” decision during my tenth period study hall on April 8, 2014, that following week. There was enough silence in that room during study hall (a surprise considering that my high school was around 2,500 in student body size), and I just focused on things that were weighing me down. Then, I just came to terms with it. I was going to NDC. And I felt better. I told my aunt that I had chosen NDC, filled out my enrollment form, and sent it in the mail. The moment the form, in its envelope, was put into the mailbox was the moment I became a Falcon. I came to NDC just once before coming to school. That was for my freshman orientation. My aunt knew what I was thinking, and when I got into the car to leave campus, I confirmed it. I said “I’m home.” A month later, I came back to start my life as a college student; a Theology major.
That year wasn’t an easy one for me, because of all the transitional things that were going on. I was slowly learning to be an adult, and I was frustrated with school sometimes, because it, too, was an entirely new experience. When the idea of a transfer was presented to me, I honestly began thinking that I was wrong about staying at NDC for all four years of my college career. So I began considering the two year route again. And that’s when God decided to pull out all the stops.
I began praying the novena to St. Therese again, this time out of sheer frustration. Her sign to me wasn’t a flower this time, but my desire to read a book she wrote called ‘The Story of A Soul’. One day, when I was stressed about something, I had to write my full name on a form: “Ana Rose Plumlee”. That just blew my mind. Every time I wrote my name, I was receiving a rose. “What if I am one of St. Therese’s roses?” I thought. The thought calmed me enough to get through that day. Then, she and God brought an amazing professor into my life; a professor who taught me so much, and encouraged me to write, to play to my strengths. What really did it for me, though, is that no matter if a professor has me in class or not is that they care about me. The fact that everyone, including the college president, cares that I have dreams for my major and wants to know what’s happening in my life, and will take the time to sit down and ask about my life and goals (That happened to me close to the end of the school year last year, and truly made my entire day). At NDC, they care for and about me. I learned one day about what one of my professors truly sees in me, and I was stunned to learn that he sees a different me than what I see. Which has not only been huge in my deciding not to transfer, but has helped me become a lot more confident. It has helped me see myself in a better light.
Now, I’m beginning year two. And I’m not planning to transfer, or enter a Religious Order. Actually, I’ve almost completed my Philosophy minor, and I am declaring my second major soon. I’ve decided to pursue both English and Theology, because those are my strengths. I have a writing internship with Life Matters Journal. I write for Catholic365. I run three different blogs (one of which is my personal website)*. Not to mention that I’m involved in campus ministry, went on an immersion trip to Guatemala this past summer, I’m in Chamber Choir, and I’m in Philosophy Club (a new addition to the list as of this year). Without NDC, I wouldn’t be in this place. When I joke about how NDC ‘stole’ me from the convent, I mean it as a good thing. I was too young for that decision. And now, God is working in so many different and radical ways in my life.
My name is Ana, I am a Falcon for Life, and this is my story.
*the other blogs I run are as follows:
imago-amoris.tumblr.com: In the Image of Love- Reflections on life and random inspirational things.
the-fat-friar.tumblr.com: Harry Potter and Catholicism- How Harry Potter and Catholic stuff do, indeed, connect. For fans of the Potter series, and for the curious.