I Heart My School: Siena College

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To give you the chance to tell the world why you love your school — and help you pay for it — we offer the I Heart My School Scholarship essay contest. Recently, we announced our fall 2017 winner: Trina Abdulnour, from Wayne State University

This week, we wanted to share an essay from one our finalists: Sarah Wunderlich, from Siena College.  

Scroll down to see Sarah’s pictures and read about why she loves Siena College so much.

If you love your school, you can learn more and apply for our upcoming fall scholarship here.

I almost didn’t look at Siena College. It was the last college on my list to visit and I was sick of the college search process. I only looked at it because I knew I wouldn’t hear the end from my parents, and I am so glad I did. Siena College is a small Catholic Franciscan liberal arts institution in Loudonville, NY, and is also an incredible place to earn an undergraduate degree. At Siena, I am a senior biology major going to veterinary school next year. I have had a tremendous undergraduate experience and here are the top five reasons as to why:

S — “Smallbany”
Siena is located right next to the state capital of New York, Albany. In fact, all it takes is a free, five-minute bus ride to be at the heart of state capital. Not only is Albany an incredible place to go on the weekends, but the location provides great educational experiences from internship involvement to leisurely museum exploration. However, it’s the area outside Albany that is truly wonderful. The surrounding towns of the capital are incredibly tight knit and it is a community that greatly takes care of each other. I have often heard the area Siena is in referred to as “Smallbany” because of the way people are involved with the community. Having a community with connections beyond the classroom, has enriched the education of a lot of my classmates.

I — Interactive Learning
Nothing about Siena stays in the classroom. Sure, there are white board lectures and power points, but there is always an effort to apply what is learned in the classroom to the real world. In the School of Science, undergraduates are allowed access to high-tech science equipment like electron microscopes and 3D printers that wouldn’t be available to them at larger institutions. In the School of Business, students trade stock on an actual stock-trading floor. These opportunities allow students real life experiences that make them competitive on the job market after graduation. Siena also strives to help students get involved outside the academic environment by offering service trips and programs that are all over the world. I have friends who have been to Ghana and Nicaragua on these service trips and have always said it was the highlight of their Siena experience. The interactive focus helps students gain an understanding of the needs of people in the workplace, in the immediate community, and even the world.

— Energetic Friars
Have you ever seen a Franciscan friar do a headstand? I have. Siena is a Catholic Franciscan school and it celebrates that unique identity. The Franciscan tradition was founded by St. Francis and St. Clare and emphasizes many positive values such as Student Life’s DORS values of diversity, optimism, respect, and service. The Franciscan tradition is implemented in the classroom with core Franciscan classes that teach students the importance of the Franciscan values in daily life; however, the many, energetic Franciscan friars who live on campus model the values. Friars are men who have dedicated their lives to following the teachings of the Catholic Church and St. Francis. These men are actively involved with students, live in the residence halls, have lunch with students in the dining commons, teach classes, and truly love being in a college environment. Having friars involved helps broaden a students understanding and appreciation of the Franciscan Tradition and what it means. In the friars, students can see the school’s mission statement in action.

N — Noble Nature
There is something truly beautiful and serene about the campus at Siena College. Because it is in New York, all four seasons can be experienced. The views around campus are always changing from the bright greens of late spring, to the crisp whites of winter, and the brilliance of autumn. Trees, overly friendly squirrels, beautiful landscaping, and more make Siena beautiful and shows another Franciscan value of nature preservation.

— Academic Support
At the heart of every college experience is academics, but at Siena they are done a little differently. You are not a number in the Siena classroom, and professors know you by name, face, and personality. The typical maximum class size is 22 students which allows professors a real chance to get to know their students. It is not unusual for a professor to have students make flash cards with personal information about themselves on the first day of class, and by the second day of class, know everyone’s names and interests by heart. This lends to an environment with a lot of academic support and help. Further, because class sizes are small, you get to know your classmates who are more than friendly and willing to help. Learning at Siena is not only interactive outside the classroom, but a true community experience within. Students, teachers, deans, and even the president all want to see you succeed not only as a student, but as a person.

My time at Siena has been characterized by all the above and more. It has been an incredible place to call home the past four years. I have achieved more than I ever thought I could academically, made better friendships than I have ever before, and have experienced real community. All that I have left to say is don’t take my word for it, experience it yourself. I know I’m glad I did.