Shouts of “Welcome to Hawk Hill!” greeted us as we drove into the Hawks’ Landing parking garage the morning of Orientation. The unusually gray June weather didn’t dampen the Red Shirts’ enthusiasm as they sent my son, Jack, my husband, Dave, and me on our way up Hawk Hill.

Along with other families on campus for Orientation, we soon approached a fork in the path near the Campion Student Center.

“Say good-bye!” called out an SJU staffer, much too soon. “Students go to Villiger and parents to Campion!”

I hardly had time to give Jack a quick hug, whisper the parent mantra, “Make good decisions,” and take a hasty pic of him and a friend before he headed off in a different direction.


Jack Harty on his second day of Orientation.

I wondered, Was he ready for this? Would SJU be the right fit for him?

Dave and I followed the other parents into Campion to begin the parent part of Orientation. As we expected, the day’s sessions were informative. But I won’t lie. It was also a bit overwhelming.

Time management. Academic advising. Laptops. Activities. Double majors. Double minors. Career tracking software. Internships. Co-ops. Housing selection. Meal plans. Hawk Cash. Hawk Central. Hawk Hosts.

All the while, I was thinking, What’s Jack doing now? Did he figure out how to pick classes and what Math Beauty is? Did he get into PSIP? Does he like the other students in his group?

At lunch, an eager student wearing a black SJU shirt stopped at our table to check in with the parents. We peppered him with questions about academics, club sports, the Greek system, the co-op program, the best residence halls, the social life, and on and on. He was ready for us. More impressive than his knowledgeable answers, though, was how evident it was that he absolutely loved being a Saint Joseph’s student. He didn’t have to say it. I could see it. I could hear it in his voice. There was nowhere he’d rather be.


Redshirts singing Saint Joseph’s alma mater in the Chapel.

I learned a lot more in the afternoon sessions — not only how to pay our bill but that Jack didn’t have to give us access to his grades (and bills!) if he didn’t want to. That the Hawk Wrap, a cafeteria favorite, has 1,200 calories. That having shared a room with his brother since birth will help Jack adapt to residence hall life with a roommate. That being the room on the floor with the gaming system may not always be a good thing. That already knowing how to do his laundry will always be a good thing.

Finally, it was time for Mass in the Chapel of St. Joseph, where I knew I would get to see Jack. The chapel was full, so we took seats in the balcony. Looking over the railing, Dave spotted him on the other side of the altar. In keeping with Jack’s description of me as “the least chill” of his friends’ parents, I jumped up and started waving. I wanted to be sure he saw me.

He did.

He looked happy and relaxed, and even smiled at us.

Fr. Daniel Joyce, a graduate of SJU, celebrated the Mass, and at one point, the Red Shirts surrounded the altar and sang the University’s alma mater, arm in arm. It was a beautiful and emotional moment.

And as Fr. Joyce concluded the Mass, again sending the students in one direction and the parents in another, I knew that Jack had made the correct decision to attend SJU. He was ready. And he was in the right place.


– Molly Harty  

Mother of Jack, Class of 2020