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June Alumnae Spotlight, Margaret MacLaren, Sioux of 2017

Margaret "Meg" MacLaren ’17 was selected as the 2017 Cor Unum Award Recipient by the Ursuline Alumnae Association. The award is given to one senior each year. Candidates are judged solely on their love for Ursuline Academy and their honest expression of what the Academy means to them.

In what ways do you feel your Ursuline education has prepared you for the world in which we live?
Sitting in a desk in my classrooms for the past five years, I have been taking notes. I have spent hours with flashcards. Pouring over textbooks, I have fallen asleep with trigonometric functions on my mind. Entering high school, I hadn’t yet grown into my uniform and I was completely disorganized and unprepared. With oversized shoes and an embarrassingly long skirt, I lacked the work ethic and drive that I now have today.

At times, I am overcome by the strong bonds I have been able to form with my teachers at Ursuline. As a close-knit community, Ursuline has allowed me to connect to my teachers in a very personal way. Before entering high school, I was confident that Ursuline was the school for me; however, I am eternally grateful that I made this decision. My high school experience has shaped me to be the person that I am today.

Looking back on my high school experience, my teachers shine above almost all of my memories. Academically, my teachers have allowed me to develop into a strong student, which I will carry with me as I enter college. Yet, some of the most valuable qualities I have gained were not through academics. I have learned much more than what I could have gained from a powerpoint or lecture. Ursuline has allowed me to express my passions and emotions without the fear of discrimination.

Throughout high school, I have been given an environment where it is safe to voice my own opinions, even if I may not stand with the majority. Growing up, I found that my personality was unique, but at Ursuline, I was gifted with classmates and teachers who value individuality and embrace differences. I’ve learned that one can only live up to their fullest potential if they are comfortable in their own skin. I’m thankful to have spent the last ten years in a school that does not enforce homogeneity, but, rather, teaches us to take advantage of your uniqueness and to never be afraid to show your authentic self. The world needs difference and complexions in order to enhance and develop- an important message that Ursuline has always encouraged.

Above all, Ursuline’s repeated motto of “serviam” has taught me countless, vital lessons. It has instilled within me the importance of empathy and showing compassion for others. I truly believe that this is one of the most important messages that I can take with me as I enter the next chapter of my life. Our world needs more people who genuinely care for others and wish to see others succeed; furthermore, this is something I have witnessed in the faculty at Ursuline. I hope that wherever my path leads me that I will always remember the importance of compassion that Ursuline has embedded in my heart and my soul.

What one word describes Ursuline and why?
Swirling and mixing colors together, painting with bright colors has always been one of my favorite hobbies. As a painter, I have always been attracted to bright and vibrant colors. Various shades of red and deep hues of blue are used to give a painting more life and emotion. In a similar way, I see different colors at Ursuline, which contribute to make it the unique place that it is. The first words that comes to mind when I think of Ursuline is “colorful.”

As soon as I cross the threshold at Ursuline, I am greeted by bright bursts of color. Like a sunshine yellow, I am told good morning by bright and smiling faces. Walking through the hallways, I see faces of different people- some familiar and others unfamiliar. Each face, chattering or reading over quietly, becomes the subject of this painting and contributes to the lively and spirited aura.

As I sit in English class, I can feel the different shades of red. Filled with passion and emotion, I am consumed with crimson, wine, and vermillion and I am reminded of its significance to the painting as whole. Similarly, it is the strong emotions and the fiery passion of Ursuline’s students that make it the novel masterpiece that it is. English class has consistently been a place throughout high school that has empowered me to express my thoughts and also explore different perspectives. It has been a class that has added much color to my life.

For even on my bluest days, it was hard to remain down while in the math wing. This region is buzzing with life and excitement. Energetic and bold, the math wing is painted with green colors. Although math has never been my favorite subject, there is no denying the life that is brought to Ursuline through this department. I am reminded of the importance of positivity and creativity. The bright and green glow has left an indelible mark on me.

Throughout my time at Ursuline, I have learned to not think in black and white. There is so much life and color at Ursuline. The unique traditions that Ursuline celebrates, the empathetic faculty members, and the compassionate students have made my Ursuline experience as vibrant and colorful as possible. Moving on to the next stage in my life, I will always keep in the back of my mind the special picture that Ursuline painted in my life. I know that even when I am not near to Ursuline, the colors from State Street will always be in my heart. From deep blues to bright yellows, Ursuline has shown me a variety of colors and created an artistic composition that I am happy to call my high school experience.
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