I first heard about Saint Ben's when I was a junior in high school. CSB/SJU sent me a lot of mail during that time, and I remember one of the mailings mentioned something about a "FREE T-SHIRT!" that caught my eye. I also had a few friends who were seniors that were going to go there for college as well. My senior year came in a flash, and I did not know where to apply for college. One of my friends, who was a Bennie, encouraged me to apply to Saint Ben's, and so I did.
When I got my acceptance letter, I was so excited! In fact, I was accepted to all the colleges that I applied to. Around this time, I still had no idea where I was going to go yet. I was waiting to see which college would give me the best financial aid that way I could narrow my options down. I was down to two college, Saint Ben's being one of them. Decision day was just three days away and I still had not made my decision yet. I soon gave up on my other choice, so Saint Ben's was my final decision (they gave me the BEST financial aid package). Another problem came up, I needed to make a $300 deposit, but my family did not have the money at the time. I reached out to my admissions representative, Jillian Hiscock, and she was able to waive my enrollment deposit.
Here is another twist to my story. I had NEVER EVER seen Saint Ben's before. The first time I saw Saint Ben's was a month before school started in August. I came to visit in July with my Upward Bound counselor Ciara Houston '06, who is also a former Bennie. When she turned left onto County Road 159 and I saw the Abbey church from afar (I visited Saint John's first), I knew that this was it. Seeing Saint Ben's afterwards reassured my decision even more. It was definitely love at first sight, but it was a bit hard to adjust to my new surroundings and environment. I came from a place where I was not the minority to a place that I am so it was a big change for me, but I eventually became comfortable enough in the Saint Ben's and Saint John's community.
I am now a sophomore majoring in sociology, after changing my mind multiple times. In the long run, I want to work with refugee resettlement here in the states. I am the treasurer Hmong Americans Involving Student (HAIS) and work at Clemens Perk, which is a coffee shop on the Saint Ben's campus. Next semester I plan on running for the Club Auditor position for CSB Senate. During the fall of my junior year, I plan to go abroad. I am taking advantage of the opportunities Saint Ben's and Saint John's has to offer and getting inspired by courageous, strong, and bold Bennies along the way.
Coming to CSB/SJU is one of the best decisions in my life so far. Every day I am reminded of why I love Saint Ben's. The scholarships and financial aid I receive every year makes it possible me to continue my education here. I took a chance by coming here and I do not regret that decision. Also, shout out to Jillian for making it possible for me to attend Saint Ben's, and to Ciara for taking me to see my second home!
Padra X. '18 | Saint Paul, Minn.