Senior retreat prepares students for life after college

Morgan Hazel

Second semester means that there are fewer than four months until the end of the 2015 school year. But for seniors, the countdown to the end of the year means much more than summer vacation. “Real life” sets in as soon as graduation is over and the anticipation is often overwhelming. Fortunately, this past weekend the senior class had the opportunity to reflect on the impending situation of “real life” and on their past four years as Villanovans at the Senior Retreat.

This year’s Senior Retreat was held on Long Beach Island, and was led by faculty and staff including Rev. David Cregan, O.S.A. and Rev. Joe Mostardi, O.S.A. Eighty-five seniors attended the retreat this year, which focused on faith, friendship, the worry that comes with graduating college and other aspects of senior year that can cause stress and uncertainty.

Emma Crisci, a senior political science major, attended the retreat and had nothing but good things to say about her experience. “I wanted something to really solidify the beginning of the end of my senior year,” Crisci said. “I wanted to be able to take a weekend without my phone or social media and really just focus on senior year and what that meant for all of us graduating.” At the retreat, seniors were able to relax, talk openly about their fears, confide in friends and take a break from the craziness of school. They also had the opportunity to attend Mass and receive reconciliation from Father Joe or Father David.

 “My favorite part was definitely the down time we had to spend with our friends,” Crisci said. The retreat provided an opportunity for seniors to take walks on the beach, sit quietly with friends and otherwise relax in a comfortable environment. Seniors were able to talk to each other about their plans for the future and discuss their worries and doubts about leaving the security of Villanova. This valuable time with friends also gave the seniors a chance to reminisce on the past four years together and trade stories about the fun times they have shared.

In addition to being able to bond with their classmates, the seniors also participated in muchneeded conversations that were often ignored in the rush of senior year back at school. “We had multiple discussions that focused on our fears after graduation, such as: if we picked the right career, how we would feel moving back in with our parents, how we would keep in touch with our friends following graduation, how we could stay the person we have become and we have learned to love these past four years and how to stay spiritual following graduation,” Crisci explained. The retreat also featured discussions led by JJ Brown and Ralph Gigliotti, both staff members at Villanova, who reassured the students that even if after graduation you are unsure of your career path, it is never too late to find something you love to do. These conversations comforted seniors with the knowledge that they are not alone in their fears and questions about the future.

One of the many activities that stood out to Crisci was journey dancing with Father David. Journey dancing is a form of spiritual dancing intended to help the dancer let go of worries and insecurities and simply forget about his or her surroundings. “The dancing allowed us to step out of our comfort zone and actually not even think about what everyone thought of us,” Crisci said. “And Father David can literally move his hips like no other.” As if the chance to talk to fellow Villanovans about life after graduation wasn’t reason enough to attend, the thought of journey dancing with Father David makes the Senior Retreat a weekend no one wants to miss.

This retreat occurred at just the right time for seniors and it provided comfort and valuable lessons for Villanovans worried about the future. “I have learned even more so to live in the moment and not stress about the future,” Crisci says. “What is going to happen will happen, and as cliché as it sounds, what’s meant to be will be.”

Crisci would one day like to move to Washington D.C and get a job on Capitol Hill, but for now she is embracing what she learned on the Senior Retreat and is appreciating the last few months before officially becoming a Villanova graduate.