Name: Madeline Mustin

Fields of Study: English major with minors in Drama and Media Studies

Graduation Year: 2023

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.

Why did you choose to attend Catholic University? Besides the ideal location and strong English Department, I was particularly drawn to Catholic University’s overall commitment to embodying and celebrating Christianity on a local, national, and international scale. By promoting its mission to intertwine faith and spirituality with reason and dialogue, I think CatholicU emphasizes unique values, curiosities, and passions that lend themselves to individual and communal strengthening of character, and I wanted to challenge myself with these facets throughout my four years of undergrad. Additionally, as I considered my different options for higher education, I liked that CatholicU has a “medium-sized” environment — one small enough to provide intimate, individualized attention, but simultaneously large enough to forge wide-ranging connections. Overall, I felt that CatholicU would help me holistically thrive, both personally and professionally, and I was able to envision myself as part of the community.

What activities have you been involved with? I have been involved with Orientation staff, Notes of Kindness, Campus Ministry service projects, and CenterStage Theatre Company. This coming fall, I will also join the student editorial board of the Vermilion arts and literature magazine. 

Favorite course? It has been such a privilege and blessing to enjoy so many wonderful courses throughout the first four semesters of my academic career, but I especially loved ENG 330 Memoir with Dr. Taryn Okuma. Our class read excerpts and full works from a wide variety of memoirists, and while their backgrounds, stories, styles, and themes were vastly different, their levels of authenticity, emotional complexity, and commitment/connection to audiences remained the same. The course really enhanced my understanding of the genre and caused me to more profoundly consider the art of writing, the amount of truth in reading, the meaning of vulnerability, and the power of tone and personability. I really appreciated having the opportunity to combine my love for creative writing with my aptitude for performing close-reading, editing, and discussing literature, and (although via Zoom), I was able to learn from and connect with a fantastic group of people, who were all equally invested with the storytelling and self-reflection that the course inspired.

What are your goals for the future? I’m constantly thinking/daydreaming/wondering/worrying about my future, so I will definitely be the first person to say that this question is equally exciting and terrifying! In general, especially for the latter half of my time at CatholicU, my overarching goal is to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The resultant empowerment, ambition, and motivation can only extend to all of the more concrete things that I aspire to do, such as completing more internships, traveling, and exploring the arts and media scenes in Pittsburgh and D.C. In this day and age, there are so many connections to be made, conversations to be held, and opportunities to be had, especially by college students; the essential first step is to take initiative, and I never want to be the one who holds myself back from taking that first step.

What do you like most about Catholic University? I once watched a movie that included a quote along the lines of, “It’s not where you are that makes life enjoyable. It’s who you’re with.” When I first toured Catholic, I encountered a somewhat inexplicable, yet ever-present, sense of genuineness and warmth between the members of the university — one that put me more at ease and made me feel welcome. Since then, I have shared experiences, memories, and conversations with some of the most caring and friendly people I’ve ever met, and they have consistently helped me feel like the best version of myself. Coupled with the smaller-scale nature of the university, this dynamic really enhances the overall cohesiveness and sense of trust that I perceive and especially like here at Catholic. 

Have you received any special recognition during your time here? This past semester, I felt honored and excited to see one of my original poems chosen for the online and print editions of Our Voices. Especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and racial tensions/injustices that unfurled during the 2020-21 academic year, the student-run publication, aided by the Center for Cultural Engagement, was established as a means for contributors to creatively and honestly explore themes of identity, purpose, and belonging. To be part of such a new, successful, and collaborative project that educated, united, and inspired the CatholicU community at large was so rewarding for me. Partaking in something much larger than myself brought me a genuine sense of joy, humbleness, and liberation, and sharing the accomplishment/recognition with my fellow students was an extremely valuable experience.

What are you most proud to have accomplished at Catholic University? In short, I am proud to have persevered. It’s certainly no surprise that this past academic year brought some of the toughest, perhaps most devastating, challenges and disruptions to students — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m proud of how I handled the abrupt changes and stresses. I’m proud of how I overcame the “lowest of the lows” and simultaneously thrived with the “highest of the highs.” I'm proud of my academic successes, the jobs and opportunities I acquired, the creative interests I pursued, the relationships that I developed/strengthened, and the overall optimism that I maintained. I’m proud of how I connected with others, despite the circumstances, and of how I myself grew as a person.