Portrait of a Graduating Senior: Mary Kate McNally

Mary Kate McNally, Honors English and History Major, Women’s and Gender Studies Minor

What is your best Detroit Mercy memory?

My best memory at Detroit Mercy was attending the Civil Rights travel course. The summer before my junior year I spent a week traveling around the South visiting different Civil Rights landmarks. I do not have the words to express what an amazing experience this was. Learning about this period was often extremely emotional, but I gained a deeper understanding of the Civil Rights movement than I ever could have through a textbook. I cannot recommend this class enough. If you are a history major or just someone interested in the Civil Rights movement, it is an unforgettable experience.

What is one class you took or book you read that you will remember when you are 70? Why?

I will never forget my unyielding efforts to convince the English department to teach a class on Jane Austen’s works. I never did get my class, but one day while I was in Dr. Harrison’s office, she told me that she was teaching a Writing About Literature class and Pride and Prejudice was on the reading list. It was a fantastic class, made more so by the fact that I got to read and write on my favorite novel. 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your high school self about how they should approach college?

When I graduated high school, I was not excited to start college. I did not approach it with an open heart. I remember leaving for orientation with such a feeling of dread. Looking back, I am embarrassed that I had such a bad attitude. I spent the entirety of the summer trying not to think about starting college and I missed out on a lot of joy and excitement. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to focus on everything that could go wrong, but of all the great, new opportunities that were in front of me.  

What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word?

My favorite word is “ardently”. I like it best when used in the following manner: “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” My least favorite word is “really.”

What are you proudest of in your college career?

My proudest achievement was the defense of my undergraduate thesis. I did not realize how important that moment was going to be to me, but it was exhilarating to discuss two years’ worth of work and research. Because of the COVID-19 crises, I had to defend my thesis online at home. As a result, my entire family was able to be present. The completion of my thesis was a daunting task, and finishing it gave me a sense of accomplishment I have never felt before.

What is your favorite quote/motto?

“I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied fields of hope and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils”

–Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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