2018 Success Stories

Kerry Hayes, B.A. in English Communications

Looking back on the past four years, I could never say, “Everything went smoothly.” I could never say, “It was easy.” But what I can say is, “I did it.” When I faced personal struggles within friendships, I reached to the supportive community of people who I now call my best friends, my gal pals. For anyone struggling to find their way, I would tell them to look around them; there is an entire community of support and love throughout Salve Regina, and your will find your people.

For anyone struggling transitionally, academically, I would tell them that asking for help doesn’t make you less intelligent or less capable, it makes you human. Throughout my academic struggles, I turned to the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). Their help and support allowed me to see the academic potential in myself that I had lost. When I nearly failed out and was left feeling desperate and incapable of success, ACE supported me in every sense of the word. Once I was out of the hole, I found my light and my passion in the Department of English and Communications. The diversity of the department and its courses allowed me to explore different fields through an internship at Lucy’s Hearth, expand my creativity through writing for Mosaic student news, and develop as a writer through coursework.

This August, I will be moving to Dublin to work for the University of Notre Dame and the House of Brigid program, in partnership with the Irish Catholic Church. I found out about the program through my cousin, who I visited on a backpacking trip around Ireland following my semester studying abroad in London. Upon completing the program, I plan on applying to law school, with my eventual end goal of working in sex crimes. My passion for advocacy and ending sexual assault violence came from a personal connection along with the research that I conducted during my senior thesis, which focused on the representation of crimes of sexual assault on primetime television.

My four years were not “typical” and were anything but easy. Throughout my freshman year, I struggled transitionally and academically and nearly failed out. My sophomore year was filled with interpersonal struggles and difficulty with dorm life. My junior year, I was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to take time off from coursework and defer my intended study abroad experience until the following semester. Each year, I reworked the plan. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned throughout my college career was the ability to accept change and the ability to “weather the storm.”

I know that not many college students will have the same experiences that I did, but I can almost guarantee that they will all have their own storms, and that they will make it out alive. My advice? Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you human. You don’t need to know what you’re doing 100 percent of the time. In fact, you should be proud of the 10 percent of time you do. You can never stop learning about yourself or getting to know yourself. Try to accept the change that comes, because while you cannot control what happens in life, you can control how you handle it.