Senior Class Orator
Persevering and Growing Through Hard Times
Theresa Bertini came to Spring Hill College not intending to study abroad, but her experiences with the Spring Hill College Italy Center helped her through a difficult time and impacted her entire life.
Bertini dreamed of attending school for Theater and planned to go to school in the North East. Growing up in Chicago, she visited her grandmother in Fairhope yearly, and her mother convinced her to tour Spring Hill College as enrolling in a Jesuit college was important to her after attending Saint Ignatius College Prep for High School. She knew immediately that she could call Spring Hill home and only applied here.
“We worked alongside each other, these 25 Spring Hill students and random strangers that I did not know yet in this program. It made me feel humble and much more human. It made me realize that this was why I came to Italy. I didn’t go to travel (though it was a plus). I came to find myself and help others along the way.”
“I walked on campus and suddenly felt completely different about Mobile,” she said.
After arriving on campus, she realized that a Theater degree was not her ideal path. She began to think about what she loved more than anything in the world, and realized she enjoyed working with children, so she pursued a degree in Elementary Education. Along the way, it became apparent to her that this was what she wanted to do all along.
“Four years later, this place has changed my life. I joined a sorority (Phi Mu) and became Vice President, which I never expected to happen in a million years. I started to sing again with a group that is making a huge impact on this campus (Upper Room A Capella),” Bertini said.
During Badger Connection in the summer before her first semester at Spring Hill, her mother paid the deposit for her to go to the Spring Hill College Italy Center in Bologna. Bertini wasn’t fully convinced she wanted to go, but her mother, who works as a flight attendant, knew her daughter needed to spend time outside of the United States. Bertini relented and went to Italy during the fall semester of her junior year.
She described the approaching semester, and spending 100 days in Italy away from everything she knew, as frustrating and scary, but arriving in Italy changed everything. While there, she worked with immigrants and a group of young boys, using music to help them relate.
“We worked alongside each other, these 25 Spring Hill students and random strangers that I did not know yet in this program,” Bertini said. “It made me feel humble and much more human. It made me realize that this was why I came to Italy. I didn’t go to travel (though it was a plus). I came to find myself and help others along the way.”
Before leaving for Italy, Bertini lost her best friend to depression. Her experiences at the SHC Italy Center and time talking with Todd Waller, the program director, helped her through her grief and allowed her to rediscover herself without her friend.
“The Italy Center truly changed my life and I am forever grateful for the program,” she said.
Bertini was named Senior Class Orator for 2018 and will address her classmates during the graduation ceremony. After graduation, Bertini hopes to get a job working with Spring Hill College because she wants to give back to the school that she said is a part of the best four years of her life. Her long-term career plans include singing professionally and then becoming a music teacher.
“The emotions that this school has led me to are some that I may never feel again,” she said. “I have found my closest friends here, and through them I have found love and respect, things that were difficult for me to find before. I am so sad to have to leave The Hill in May, but I know that I won’t be gone for long.”