By Michelle Siemietkowski, (C’92, G’98), Catholic Chaplain and Resident Minister to off-campus students.
Residential Ministers live in university residence halls and apartments to accompany and support undergraduate students of all identities. Part of our ministry includes hosting weekly open houses. As one of the resident ministers to the more than 1200 students (mostly seniors) who live off campus, I have had the privilege of hosting our seniors every week for bagels and coffee as well as homemade banana chocolate chip muffins.
The impact of the weekly open houses is significant. They provide a space where students can form relationships and break down barriers. I keep a notebook by the buffet in my dining room and ask students to write their names down each week so I can learn their names, and because I develop a relationship with them over time, making muffins and serving bagels week after week, the students feel comfortable talking with me about anything – from hardships or concerns to the joys of getting into graduate school or landing an exciting post-grad opportunity.
This year, at my final open house of the semester, I was overwhelmed by the cards and flowers the students brought me to say thank you. Some students even made me cookies! They said, “The fact that you open up your house to us all every week and take the time to learn all of our names and hear all of our stories shows how deeply you care. We definitely felt that care during every conversation at bagel breakfast this year…. Thank you for providing us with a sense of home each week.”
Some people ask me if it’s hard to say goodbye to the seniors every year. While of course goodbyes are not easy, my overwhelming feelings are gratitude and joy – gratitude for the gift of Residential Ministry at Georgetown and gratitude for our students and graduates whose stories are beautiful and sacred – each and every one.