Alumni Profile: Mary Aragona
1. How long were you homeschooled through Seton, and what did you like about the experience?
I was homeschooled mainly with Seton from kindergarten through my Senior year of high school.
Sometimes my family tried other curricula, but we always ended up coming back. There is something really special about the Seton curriculum, especially how central the Catholic faith is to all of the subjects that it offers.
One thing that I really loved about the Seton experience was growing up with the same curriculum as my younger siblings. Some of my favorite memories are still the excitement of opening a new box of books each school year with my sisters.
Now I enjoy helping them with the same courses that I took, especially in high school; we sometimes compare completed assignments.
2. Where did you go to college, and what is your degree?
My freshman year, I started at Ave Maria University as a theology major. I still love theology, but eventually I decided that God was calling me to do something else.
My sophomore year I switched to Florida State College at Jacksonville, where I received my Associate’s Degree, and then I transferred to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where I graduated this May with a Bachelors in Communication Sciences & Disorders.
3. How did your Seton education help you navigate the college experience?
It helped me in many different ways. First, I think the level of academic rigor that Seton demands from their students was beneficial to me in choosing classes and professors where I really got the most out of my college experience, at all three of the colleges that I attended.
Also, the level of independence that Seton demands from their students helped me make the initially scary decision to switch to a completely different field.
This was also really important to me after leaving the Catholic college setting, because I had to learn a lot about what the Church teaches on heavy subjects that came up in class, like bioethics and philosophy, on my own.
Seton also prepared me to succeed academically in college. In particular, Seton’s English & Literature courses helped me to gain excellent writing skills; I had no trouble adjusting to college-level expectations for papers.
Also, Seton’s history and religion courses are incredibly information-dense, which taught me how to learn difficult material really well.
4. What are you doing now?
This August I will begin studies at Vanderbilt University in the Speech Pathology Master’s program, which is the professional degree for speech therapists. I hope to work in a medical pediatric setting while earning my independent license, but I am excited to explore many different settings in clinic this semester.
Getting ready to move to Tennessee is taking up a lot of my time, but I am also finishing a research study I started my Senior Year at USF. It looks at the mutual contribution of fathers and mothers to childrens’ early language skills, which some emerging literature suggests is complementary.
I love this area of research because it is very much in line with the belief of the Catholic Church, which teaches that both a mother and a father are important to child development.
My team and I are still collecting data, but we hope to publish results by the end of the summer.
5. What gives you passion or motivation in your current occupation?
My current field of study has really opened my eyes to the sufferings of people who have difficulty communicating. The way that they and their families respond to these situations with so much perseverance and hope is really inspiring to me.
Likewise, the incredible people working in this field have really provided me with role models and peers who make me want to be a better person and clinician.
My Catholic faith is another strong motivator. Personally, I have been amazed by how much God has revealed Himself to me during the past four years, especially while I was attending a secular college.
I had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, incorporate my Catholic faith into research studies, etc. I even discovered that Thomas Aquinas wrote on my linguistics thesis topic! I hope to continue finding God and bringing Him to others in graduate school.
6. Any advice for current Seton High-Schoolers?
Be open to God’s plan and his timing for your life. I fell behind a year in high school, partly because of bad migraines, and then I also took a gap year before college, neither of which was in my plans. I wanted to be a religious in high school, a theology teacher my freshman year, and now I am going for speech therapist as a graduate.
I never would have imagined myself where I am today when I started high school, but looking back I am amazed at how He has blessed me even in difficult situations. So don’t give up, and remember that you can receive help for any problem at Mass and Adoration.
Seton is wonderful preparation for whatever you discover that He is calling you to do!