Michaela Woodward – Staff Writer
It took Senior Abbie Doran awhile to figure out her college path, but the patience and self-reflection paid off in the end.
“I love the quote ‘we rise by lifting others’ and I think that was something I saw Gustavus doing. Students uplifting other students, that was really important to me,” said Doran.
Originally from Washington state, Doran now calls Rosemount Minnesota home. She originally knew of Gustavus through her sister, now an alumna, but did not initially think it was the path for her.
“[My sister and I are] complete opposites in every way, especially when it comes to what we’re interested in, the way we learn, the way we think. I saw her going to Gustavus and I was like ‘That’s great for her, but obviously because she and I are the complete opposites, that’s not for me.’ It took me awhile to look at all these other schools, explore my different options. These other schools were very focused on success in a very personal and individualized level. And that is great for some people, but I was looking for a place that I could grow in my community with others, and it was definitely a shift in what I really was looking for. It took me awhile to understand but I realized… I want to go somewhere that cares about not only the individual success but also the success of the community as a whole,” said Doran.
Now, this Gustie Greeter enjoys welcoming new Gusties to the home that she has found on the hill.
Upon coming to Gustavus, Doran also found that her previously intended path of study was not necessarily what she had anticipated. As a Mathematics and Computer Science double major with Dance and Economics minors, pre-med was originally the track she planned to follow before she found where her passions lied.
“For my first semester I was taking a computer science class for my math major and I really enjoyed it, and so I was like ‘Oh, wait, this is a lot of fun.’ Because what it really involved was a ton of problem solving, and really it’s just all puzzles, and it was just so fun for me in a way that biology hadn’t been before,” said Doran.
Having values focused on service to others, Doran had planned to be a doctor before realizing that what she enjoyed most could still be used for the greater good.
“I’ve worked for the past two years as a software engineer at a medical imaging company, and so I still see how my work goes to those hospitals. It goes and helps those physicians advise patients on what their options are, helps point out concerning areas in patients and so, I had to take a step back before I could realize how all these different things that were super interesting and super fun for me could intersect into a possible career,” said Doran.
In regards to her Dance minor, Doran sees it as a way to keep herself accountable in nurturing her creative side. She also participates in the Gustavus Dance Company, the Gustavus Choir, and has been involved in Christmas in Christ Chapel in both music and dance. Doran has also danced in the Nobel Conference and served as a Student Host. She is a Student Leader in the Sunday Worship community, assists in the Chaplain’s office, and is a TA and Tutor in the MCCS Department.
“It’s so exciting when I get to work with students and see how I can bring some joy, some energy into some subjects that aren’t seen as the most enjoyable,” said Doran.
Additionally, she serves as the Technology Chair for Student Senate, working to make technology resources more accessible to the student community.
In 2020 she was crowned St. Lucia.
“I’ve always loved the term of being a light, of spreading the light to others. That was very meaningful to me because it was very affirming of the things I find myself striving to be, and one of the best things about St. Lucia is sharing that light with other people and also gathering that light from other people all across campus. Everyone has this special fire, this light inside them that is so special and unique to them… that I think is so great to share and draw from,” said Doran.
“I couldn’t have been more honored and more blessed to be with the court,” said Doran.
Fellow Gustie Greeter Junior Ellen Callender reflects on Doran’s commitment to her peers and involvements.
“[Doran] is one of the most hardworking, genuine, and thoughtful people I have ever met, and I feel lucky to call her a friend and a fellow Gustie greeter! She dedicates herself wholeheartedly to everything she does, and balances all of her involvements with grace and positivity,” said Callender.
Director of Campus Ministries Maggie Falenschek has witnessed Doran embody Gustavus’ values over several years.
“I’ve known Abbie for four years now and she is one of the most genuine, compassionate people I’ve met. I love watching her interact with her peers– she treats everyone with respect and will always take time to listen,” said Falenschek.
Doran shared some advice for fellow seniors anxious about the future like her, the new first-years arriving on campus, and all returning members to the Gustavus community.
“We’re in a new school year… It’s a scary time, trying to plan for your future whether you’re a first year trying to figure out what major you want, if you’re a senior going into possibly grad school, the workforce, taking a year off. I think just having strength in this community, having faith and knowing that no matter what you do next it’s going to be the right step… and just having the courage to maybe explore something you hadn’t thought about or take that class in that department you’ve never been a part of,” said Doran.
“Be all of who you are. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just know that no matter what you do, you’ve got us supporting you along the way,” said Doran.