Matt Garamella ’13 Returns to Share College Knowledge

Matt Garamella ’13 Returns to Share College Knowledge

The Saint Mary’s High School AP Environmental Science class welcomed Matt Garamella, a 2013 graduate of St. Mary’s, recently to speak about “College 101.” Mr. Garamella, who just graduated in the top 15% of his class at Boston University, completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four and a half years, concentrating on energy and the environment.

In addition to taking questions about class sizes, dealing with roommates, and studying abroad, Mr. Garamella focused his presentation on how best to make the transition from high school to college, talking to the students about how to balance academics, wellness, and social life. “I think they’re the three pillars of how to transition,” he noted. Regarding social life, “the best advice is to get out there. Be friendly, try to meet new people, and find people who have common interests with you. One of the things I found daunting at first is, what are people going to be like? Am I going to have to drink and party? What I found is that no matter what your personality is and no matter what you want to get out of school, you’re always going to find people like you who like the same stuff as you. So never feel pressured to change yourself into something you don’t want to be. You’ll always find people who will vibe with you and not force you to become someone you don’t want to be.”

He continued, “whether you go to a big school or a small school, you’re going to meet people from all over the country, all over the world, with very different backgrounds. It’s important to keep an open mind, to not presume that everyone thinks just like you do. You get more out of college and life when you keep an open mind about what other people think.”

When it comes to academics, he noted, “It’s not like high school. You won’t get academic detention” if you don’t do your work or go to class. “You’ll just do poorly, and if you plan to go to grad school, your GPA matters.”

Mr. Garamella also suggested to “take a lot of stuff. It’s good to take classes that will give you practical skills, which will make it easier to get internships and jobs, but at the same time, try to take some fun stuff, too. I know people who took rock climbing or vampires in literature. There’s just so much to choose from at college. Follow your heart.” He also recommended making friends with classmates to have someone to study with and taking advantage of professor’s office hours for extra help. “But it’s also good because it helps you get recommendations later on. Eventually, you’ll want to get internships and to know your professors who can give you a reference and say you’re a good student, that’s very important.”

In terms of wellness, “balance is key,” he said. “Eat well, sleep enough, stay on top of your work. It can be tricky in college. It can get kind of intense. But set aside time and have some fun.”

Last but not least, he reminded the students to “keep your friends and family close. Keep in touch with those people who mean a lot to you who you can talk to. This is especially true if you’re going away to school. Make sure that you’re calling your folks or calling your friends back home, seeing what they’re up to, stay in touch. Keep those relationships strong. It can be really scary going into a new situation like this, so having that connection to your home can be really good.”

Anne Tomlinson ’84, who teaches the AP class, noted that since Mr. Garamella had been her student, “studied the subject in college and was the type of student who spoke well, I thought it would be beneficial for the seniors, especially, to see that some of what the teachers try to tell them of what to expect in their next academic adventure is true. He did a wonderful job” speaking from personal experience about handling the difficulties and stress of transitioning to college but reminded the students in her class “to remember that you are not alone.”

After spending time with the seniors in class, Matt traveled across campus to reunite with the Music Club, of which he fondly remembered in a conversation with Eileen Symmons ’86, director of communications for St. Mary’s. “One of the things I enjoyed the most during my time at St. Mary’s was Mr. Linder and Mr. Mangiacapre’s Music Club. Music is something I am still very interested in, and I play with my band regularly each week.” Garamella settled right in and jammed with current students along with Mr. Linder. He plans to make this a regular visit back to St. Mary’s in the hopes of inspiring current students to pursue their talents while striving in academics.

We look forward to hearing more from Matt shortly and wish him much success in landing his job fresh out of college!