By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 13, 2010
As Emily Saunders reflects on her four years at Marist School, she smiles and laughs as if she’s talking about an old friend. She has learned many life lessons through class and extracurricular activities and looks forward to bringing those valued lessons with her as she moves on to college in the fall.
“I was very blessed and lucky to be able to attend Marist,” said Emily, who is grateful to her parents, Walter and Peggy Saunders, as well as alumni, for the financial and emotional support they gave her as she began there in ninth grade.
When Emily began her Marist career, she wasn’t quite sure where she fit in. She made friends, played soccer and went to football games but didn’t know what she wanted to do with her time at the school.
During her sophomore year, at the school Activities Fair, Emily heard two students talk about Mosaic, an extracurricular club devoted to issues of diversity. Mosaic offers students the chance to recognize and discuss “the beauty and intricacies of cultural diversity within the Marist community and the world.”
Emily, who is a member of St. Thomas More Church, Decatur, attended meetings. In her junior year, she became more active and involved with the activities and discussions. She took on a leadership role for the group her senior year and credits Mosaic with expanding her own cultural horizons while giving her the chance to help others do the same.
She said that Marist School, through her classes and her work with Mosaic, has taught her the important lesson of “self-challenging.”
“We often find ourselves sitting back … and sometimes becoming indifferent,” she said about herself and her classmates. “When you get too comfortable, you can kind of lose track of what you are trying to do.”
Emily feels that pushing yourself to move forward in those situations is a lesson that she will be able to apply to various aspects of her life, especially as she prepares to go off to college at High Point University in North Carolina.
She first visited High Point when a friend suggested she take a closer look since it had a beautiful campus and pleasant atmosphere. At the time, she had no intention of applying.
“I got there and … he was right,” she said laughing, also noting that the campus wasn’t the only attractive aspect about the school. “When you talk to the students and hear the president’s philosophy, you find out it is all about the students.”
Emily is interested in studying business management or marketing at High Point, with hopes of one day owning her own business, possibly an inn or restaurant. She feels that might be a good way of incorporating her interest in management as well as her desire to work directly with people.
She has had plenty of experience working with people during high school and especially as a soccer coach for youngsters outside of Marist. She began playing soccer herself when she just a little girl, but named the coaching experience as one of her proudest high school achievements.
“I’ve always loved working with little kids,” said Emily, who also babysits and teaches vacation Bible school to children during the summer. She said coaching soccer was a difficult job at first because she had to learn how to earn both the kids’ love and their respect—a lesson she will cherish as she leaves Marist.
“I learned how to put those both together and it was a big accomplishment for me,” she said.
Working with others is something Emily has done throughout her high school career. Whether it was playing sports, coaching soccer off-campus or getting involved with the school’s diversity club, Emily has formed a strong foundation on which to build.
And though she is excited to move on, she knows there will be new challenges to face next school year.