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Spirituality changes for new college students

For most freshmen, college means a new phase of life and a slew of changes. For those who had curfews, their time is suddenly their own. For those used to home-cooked meals every night, they’ll have to settle for the dining hall. But college also brings many more significant changes. College can change a person in a lot of ways, good and bad. It can affect many facets of someone’s life, and spirituality is one of those facets.

Freshman childhood studies major, Anastasia Wroblewski, said her spirituality grew when she came to Bonaventure through her involvement at Mt. Irenaeus, an off-campus, Franciscan retreat located about 20 miles from campus.

“I went to a Catholic school ever since kindergarten, but I never actually practiced it myself. I went to church just to go through the motions, but I never actually got into it,” she said. “After I started going to the Mountain I noticed I’m more in tune with it. I’ve always known what to do at Mass, but now I’m actually getting to know what the meaning is.”

Wroblewski said it’s the freedom of college that’s affected her and helped her to grow so much.

“It’s something I want to do,” she said. “If I don’t wake up at 10:30 (for Mass) or if I don’t have time at 7:30 (for Mass), it’s okay.”

Wroblewski also said she doubts she’d be experiencing these changes had she gone to a different school. She said the others she applied to were Catholic but didn’t have the service opportunities Bonaventure had.

“Coming to Bonaventure (changed my spirituality),” she said. “The opportunities that we have, they interconnect. Every (service) program we have somehow connects to another program. You can be part of all of them.”

Wroblewski also said a big part of her personal growth is due to some very influential people she’d met on campus. One of those people is Father Dan Riley, O.F.M., a friar who lives at the mountain but serves the students daily on campus.

Father Dan attended Bonaventure as a student from 1960-1964 and returned in 1971 as a friar. He said his own spirituality grew here through the beauty, peace and reflection the campus and community offered to him. Now he works with freshmen every year and watches them grow.

“I find there’s a real interest in personal and spiritual growth among our freshmen,” he said. “What really keeps me involved with students is student interest and the possibilities of their growth, not because we want them to but because they really want to.”

Father Dan also said he is continually grateful for the special presence freshmen bring to the university each year and that he believes Bonaventure provides the kind of atmosphere conducive to meaningful, spiritual growth.

“Growth is different in each one of us,” he said. “It’s fundamentally what it is to become human, but each of us go about it differently and have different backgrounds for the possibility of coming so much more alive. I think we know here that learning is, as it always has been, more than book knowledge … wisdom is very important - the love of life and the desire to learn about how to live - is really foundational in being a human being. The university is a good, healthy place for people to explore being human.”

Freshman Sam Spinelli, environmental science major, agreed with Father Dan and said that’s one of the main reasons he decided to attend Bonaventure.

“I definitely wanted to go to a place where you could be openly spiritual - a place that just offered spiritual growth as one of its purposes,” he said.

Spinelli said Bonaventure lived up to that standard and more. He also said that while he’s only been here a short time, he could see himself growing in his four years here at Bonaventure and said that’s largely due to the kind of spiritual community Bonaventure offers.

“I definitely like the values (the University) holds,” he said. “Everybody can be accepted here. Whatever part of their spiritual life they’re at, even if they’re not pertaining to the same religion. Any stage of their development in that regard … they’re all accepted, and everyone can learn together and from each other.”

Jennifer Dempsey, a freshman chemistry and math double major, said she feels that same sense of community. She said she feels it most when she’s at Mass.

“It seems there really is a sense of community that’s different (from other schools),” she said. “I like (the Masses) a lot more here. It’s more personal. At home it just feels like (the priest) is a mediator more than anything else. Here we have group discussions, and there are several people who participate, and there are more perspectives that way.”

Dempsey said that communication and group participation has helped her to grow in her spirituality as well as her religion.

“You get to experience a lot of new things. You get to talk to other people about your religion rather than being talked at. It changes things.”

Spinelli agreed that if a student is willing, Bonaventure can offer a great deal of change.

“Going to a school where spirituality is encouraged, if a student goes with an open mind, they can definitely grow a ton, but if a student were going to a school where that type of growth is encouraged, but they‘re not open to it, then they could remain closed off to it. It‘s up to them to decide that they want to grow spiritually.”

-Alexandra Fioravanti
Class of '10


Looking for holiday gift ideas for your student?

College students can be particularly hard to buy gifts for because, face it, they don’t want stuffed animals or blocks any more. With the holiday season fast approaching, finding that perfect gift for your college student can be quite difficult. Here are some suggestions to satisfy your student’s needs:

• A new cell phone: Your student wants to keep up with improving technology. Verizon, one of the major carriers in the area of the University, has introduced the new BlackBerry Storm. The Storm offers a touch screen; multimedia capabilities like texting, instant messaging and e-mailing; a camera and video recorder; and a built-in global positioning system (GPS). Many cell phone carriers have special holiday deals on phones like “Buy One, Get One Free,” especially with a new contract.

• Sweaters, sweatshirts, hats, gloves and scarves: Winter has already arrived in Western New York; college students need as much cold weather gear as they Bona hat.can get. Warmer clothes and Bona gear can be obtained at the University Bookstore or at area stores such as Studio 4 East in Allegany and The Sports Locker in Olean.

• An iPod or other MP3 player: College students are attached to their MP3 players. If they already have one, they probably want a bigger one for their growing music collections. An iPod is perfect for working out, walking to class or studying.

• Computer accessories: Your student may have a desktop or laptop computer, but accessories like a wireless mouse and keyboard could make it that much better. Other computer-related ideas include USB flash drives and external hard drives, which allow your student to backup and save files to another source. That is especially handy if the computer gets a virus or crashes.

• Wii console with Wii Fit: Nintendo Wii is the hottest new video game console with wireless controllers that detect motion in 3-D. Many games are available for Wii, including Wii Fit, which uses a balance board to challenge players to do fitness activities like yoga, skiing and running. Students who work out while using a video game system may feel they’re not actually having to work to keep fit. The Wii is a bit pricey, but perfect for keeping off the dreaded “Freshman 15.”

• Cleaning supplies: Originally, students heading to college assume they will never have to clean after they leave home. Eventually, they realize they do have to do something to keep the room a bit tidy. Providing them with things such as vacuums, Swiffers, all-surface wipes or brooms allows them to clean immediately once the impulse hits. If they only clean a few times per semester, these items will last a while.

• Gift certificates to local merchants: Chances are your student needs things while he’s here at school. Gift certificates for an oil change, pizza or Chinese food delivery, salon services or local grocery store should be useful to him. An easy way to accomplish this is to purchase an Olean Area Chamber of Commerce Gift Certificate, which is redeemable at over 200 local merchants.

And if you’re still a bit stumped, consider this: A dose of home cooking and some time to relax will brighten the holidays for any college student.

-Liz Witter
Class of '11

A map of the world.

Patience key as your student readjusts to living at home

When you sent your student to college four months ago, you knew a lot about her – how she reacts to things, what is important to her. You and she knew what rules were enforced at home and how those would affect her.

All of that is about to be different. Readjusting to home after the first semester of college can be hard for both students and parents. Your student will have grown up, a lot or a little, and he might be different than the person you brought to school in August.

One major thing to consider: Your student has become comfortable being independent and being on her own. She is operating in a setting where she can establish many of her own rules, including how late she stays out at night. That can be among the biggest conflicts when students return home.

Chris Brown, associate director of residence life and director of orientation, deals with many issues that students have throughout the year.

“In the fall semester, the student grows up and parents might not realize just how fast they may have grown up,” he said. “They get used to an independence they have never had before. If this independence is not something the parents are prepared for, there will be tension.”

The first step, he added, is to expect change.

Brown suggested starting to talk about the changes even before the start of Christmas break. Parents should ask questions – not too many, but it is important to revisit the changes that have occurred in the last four months.

Parents, he added, will need to start all over again explaining what it means to live at home.

One resource for those conversations is the parent/student calendar that each family received at orientation, Brown said. Its December page centers on the theme “Expecting Change.”

Roger Keener, director of the University Counseling Center, said it is important to lay some ground rules for the student.

“Opening up communication is essential. Parents and students have to lay down each of their expectations. The old rules may have to change,” he said.

Keener explained that students will definitely show independence while defining their wants and needs.

“Students and parents must become reacquainted with living with one another,” he said, “and maybe the students will show, in a positive way, how much they have grown up.”

Both said the main goal of parents and students is interdependence. If your student was responsible before leaving for college, he will not stop being responsible when he comes home.

Parents and students should concentrate on compromise, even if giving a little more leeway is hard. Life does not have to change totally at home just because your student has returned from college. But things have changed and compromise can help everyone deal with that change.

-Lauren Guerrieri
Class of '11


Resident assistants help students adjust to campus

St. Bonaventure faculty are not the only ones watching freshmen move through changes during their first year of college.

Their resident assistants (RAs) also enjoy watching the growth and change during the first year.

“My favorite part of being an RA is getting to know people’s personalities and seeing their transition from high school to college. It’s very interesting,” said Amy Button, an RA for the third floor of Robinson Hall.

Button is a junior psychology major who plans to graduate early and attend graduate school.

Lisa Aeschbacher, an RA for sophomores in Doyle Hall, agreed.

“The best part about last year was you had a floor where you’re assigned to so many different people, and this year they come to visit. It’s rewarding seeing them grow into awesome people,” said Aeschbacher, a junior English major.

The primary duties of RAs are to act as authority figures to their hall mates and to help guide their fellow residents. RAs are responsible for watching over their floor mates and helping them whenever possible.

An RA’s role varies with the population of her floor, and whether she is working with another RA.

“You have to sit duty at least once a week, and sit a weekend once a month. You have to do two active programs and one passive program,” Button said.

An active program requires residents to be present and involved in the program. Movie nights would be active programs. A passive program is educational; posters, bulletin boards, fliers and pamphlets are all examples of passive programs.

Both kinds of programs are designed to meet two major goals.

“An RA’s job is to help build a community and make sure everyone is comfortable on the floor,” Button said.

If your student is interested in becoming an RA, encourage him to watch for the interest meetings that will be scheduled.

Prospective RAs go through an application and screening process. That process consists of two interviews, including one at which a residence director and a current resident assistant are present.

Only about 40 students are chosen to be RAs.

“Most RAs start their sophomore year,” Aeschbacher said, adding it would be rare for a freshman to become an RA.

For students who are chosen, the job isn’t always easy.

“Sometimes people make extremely bad life choices and that’s when we have to deal with them. We see firsthand how dumb people can get, but I don’t regret doing it at all,” Aeschbacher said.

Still, she, like most, feels the job is worthwhile.

“I am fascinated by people’s different stories that make them who they are,” Aeschbacher said.

Button agreed.

“I had a really good relationship with my RA as a freshman and I wanted to be like her. I have no regrets. I’m applying to grad school but if I can I will most definitely be an RA again,” she said.

-Shana Hurley
Class of '11

Students participating in a recent blood drive on campus.

Grades: What does it all mean?

Your student’s grades will be available via on Dec. 18. But what do those five or six letters mean to your student’s academic career?

St. Bonaventure uses a grading system that ranges from A to F, with quality points allocated to each of those grades. Faculty members may add a plus or minus to each of the letter grades (except there is no plus for A and no plus or minus for F).

Grades and the quality points allocated for each are as follows:

A: 4.0 B-: 2.7 D+: 1.3
A-: 3.7 C+: 2.3 D: 1.0
B+: 3.3 C: 2.0 D-: .7
B: 3.0 C-: 1.7 F: 0

A calculator to compute expected grade point average (GPA) can be found on the University Web site at Even before your student sees her actual grades, she can use the calculator to get a sense of what her GPA might be when the grades are posted.

The University expects all students to maintain a 2.0 cumulative average and a 2.0 in their majors. For students in elementary or physical education, their programs require GPAs of 3.0. Other programs and financial aid awards have different GPA requirements.

Any student whose overall cumulative average falls below a 2.0 will be automatically placed on academic probation.

Some students failing to meet certain academic standards will be liable for academic dismissal. Students facing dismissal at the end of their first semester at St. Bonaventure may be offered placement in the Academic Restoration Program. Under that program, the student must agree to complete certain requirements, including weekly meetings with staff at the Teaching and Learning Center. Additional information may be found in the Undergraduate Catalog.

Students earning a GPA of 3.25 or above will be named to the Dean’s List.

You may see two other grades in your student’s grade reports. A W means the student withdrew from the class without academic penalty. An I means the student did not complete work in the class. He will earn no credit and receive no quality points until the work is completed and a grade is issued. The deadline for finishing that work is three weeks before the last day of classes of the following semester.

Remember, grade reports are only sent to parents if the student has signed a waiver of his rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.


Festival of Trees an opportunity for students to give back

St. Bonaventure celebrated the season and some members of its local community during the annual Festival of Trees, held Dec. 3 in Doyle Hall.

The Festival of Trees is sponsored by Bona Buddies. At the celebration, local families get donated gifts and a chance to receive a decorated Christmas tree.

Della Moore, director of Bona Buddies, said the Festival of Trees is a way to bring the campus and the community closer together.

“The Festival is a good way for the University community to show support for the community,” she said.

At the end of the night, families have the chance to win a Christmas tree for their home, Moore said.

“We ask the University community to donate $25 for a tree,” she explained. “Then, at the end of the party the trees are randomly given to families who otherwise may not have had them.”

Bona Buddies and other campus groups can “adopt” a child and donate money to get them a gift they want for Christmas.

“We get help from university clubs, students, organizations, teachers and the whole campus community,” Moore said.

Moore says the Festival of Trees has shown the spirit of Bonaventure students.

“I’ve seen firsthand the way students go into their own pocket to donate money and ‘adopt’ children and I think that’s way cool,” Moore said. “I think it shows the giving spirit of the Bonaventure community.”

-Lauren Adams
Class of 2011


Upcoming events on campus include:
Friday, 12/5 - Last Day of Classes
Saturday, 12/6 - Reading Day
Saturday, 12/6 - Midnight Mass
Monday-Friday, 12/8-12 - Undergraduate Final Exams
Thursday, 12/18 - Grades available for students on
Saturday, 1/17/09 - Residence halls open for returning students at 1 p.m.

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