Le Fer Hall

Through the years, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) has had countless students come through the front gates knowing something about the College. For Charles Dunson, learning of The Woods came from a unique and modern experience.

“I learned about The Woods through a friend, Joy Santiago, who happens to be an international student,” Dunson shared. “We connected through social media; she kept telling me about the school she was attending and how amazing it was and that I should visit it sometime.”

After some convincing from Santiago, Charles decided to take a leap of faith and take a campus tour of SMWC. He explained how different it was compared to other places he had visited. “The atmosphere was very welcoming and that only grew when I shared that I wanted to be a writer,” Dunson said. He then met with Josh MacIvor-Andersen, MFA, assistant professor of English. “Josh was so open and encouraging to me. I love the creative freedom we have in not just his classes but many classes here.”

Although college can be challenging, Charles said his transition academically and socially has been easier than he thought. “Everything has been fairly simple and to the point academically, which has helped me ease into the college experience. I’ve really enjoyed that I’ve been able to build relationships with my professors and classmates. I’ve had to adjust to the workload, but overall, the transition has been smooth. My professors are very accessible and available whenever I need them, which is helpful. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the few months I’ve been here and am excited to keep learning and growing as a person.”

In addition to appreciating the academic transition, Dunson explained the benefit of getting engaged at The Woods and how easy it is to do. “I’ve loved getting involved and making connections. The faculty and staff really allow us [students] to have a voice and we are constantly being asked what events and experiences we want to see on campus – that is what I love most about this place.”

Charles has also enjoyed learning about the history of the College. “It’s been amazing to learn about the founding of the College. It helps that we have so many historical factors right here on campus.”

“It’s reassuring to see that we [students] understand that we’re all from different backgrounds and that we get to share each other’s experiences while embracing the experience we are having at the College,” he explained.

When asked about words of advice he would give to students who might be considering coming to The Woods, he said, “Just make the jump. For me, that’s all it took. I was unsure of it [SMWC] at first but coming here was a great decision. Taking a visit here will change your mind about this experience. I genuinely feel like I’m heard, and I know that it is possible to make an impact here on campus.”

At a loss for words to elaborate on his experience, he shared one final statement that several Woodsies can relate to, “It just feels like home here.”