Ever to Excel: A faith-based journey

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What shapes one's faith? How does it impact our experiences? Through the Ever to Excel Program at Boston College, high school students have the opportunity to spend a week in the summer examining this very question. Boston College describes the program saying, "guided by the wisdom of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Ever to Excel Program allows students to learn more about the world and engage in Spiritual Exercises to reflect on who they are, discover new interests, deepen faith, make friends from all over the world, and have fun!" This summer, two rising juniors at Mount Alvernia High School, Sophie Brennock and Jalene Saint-Eloi, were nominated to participate in the Ever to Excel Program and reflected on their experience after spending a week this summer at Boston College.

Sophie stated, "Starting my Ever to Excel journey, I was excited to get a taste of the college experience and to explore the religious elements of the program. As I begin my junior year of high school, the idea of starting the college process is daunting. Ever to Excel was a place to prepare myself to pursue continued education after high school and to gather with a group of my peers to learn and pray together. It allowed me to listen to others' ideas and perspectives on religion and how it plays a role in their lives. Throughout the week, we listened to keynote speakers and then met in small groups to discuss the thoughts of the lecture, which provided me with a more intimate setting to share my thoughts. As the week progressed, I became more comfortable sharing my opinions with the group and became more vulnerable with people I had met just a couple of days prior. This was one of the aspects of Ever to Excel I loved the most. On Sunday, everyone had just met and most were quiet and reserved and on Thursday, at the last candlelight Mass, people were crying while saying goodbye. Ever to Excel taught me to give grace to myself and others around me and I am thankful for the friendships that were developed and for my mentors who were a huge reason why I enjoyed my time at Boston College."

Adding to Sophie's experience, Jalene shared some personal details of her experience by stating, "I participated in this program with Sophie, and even though we are classmates and saw each other a lot, we also made new friends. We even saw the program itself in different ways.

The week I spent at BC was jam packed with many fun activities, incredible speakers, and every night ended with candlelight Mass. On Sunday, our first day, we celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius and got to meet with our small groups to get to know each other. My small group members were from Galway, Ireland; and Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire and I was one of the only people who lived in the City of Boston. I was pleasantly surprised because I was expecting there to only be students from towns near Boston. Events throughout the week included a traditional Irish breakfast, fireworks, tours of the campus, lawn games, a boat ride around Boston, and a walk to the museum for dinner and a concert by Juice. I loved watching people who aren't from Massachusetts see what this state has to offer.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Ever to Excel. I loved meeting new people from all over the world and being able to stay in the dorms because for someone like me who is nervous for their college experience, living on such a large campus helped turn those nerves into excitement. My favorite part of the program was making a lot of new friends and being able to grow my faith in God by having help from a community who wants the same. I'm grateful that I got to participate in this program and would like to thank Ever to Excel, my head of school, Ms. Jillian Boudreau, and my parents for their support."