What all Marian girls need: the gift of grit

By J1 Reporter Olivia Sullivan

“It’s rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work even when you could do something easier… even if you could give less, you give your absolute best.” This is how Katie Liske, a sophomore, describes grit.

If she could, Ms. Rochelle Rohlfs, assistant principal and athletic director, would give the student body the gift of grit, which is defined as courage and resolve; strength of character.

“I think [they need] a little bit more of it,” said Mr. Mark Koesters, a theology and Latin teacher. “I think grit is needed now, because you have honors kids who fall apart when they get an A minus. Grit is also the ability to bounce back when a person does not succeed.”

Although Marian girls need more grit in their lives, they are not completely lacking in it. “I see it in sports a lot. I see it in student’s dedication to their clubs a lot, campus ministry. I see it a lot in students when they are studying for science more than anything,” Koesters said. Many areas of life need grit. “[It’s] not just with education, it’s with exercise and health and everything, [including] relationships.”

“I see it in the way… young people look at the world and see a way they can make it better. I think that’s a trait that fosters grit,” Mrs. Laura Gelecki, one of the counselors, said.

Although Rohlfs believes Marian girls could use grit as a gift, it is not something that can be simply given. To be full of grit is not only a character asset but a skill that requires work and practice. Much like confidence, it is something to work on, or something to strive to strengthen. It is already scattered throughout the school. In the eyes of staff members, Marian girls possess grit, but many understand that other students are lacking in it. This shows the importance of grit.

“A successful person has failed in the past and changed the way they do something to be successful. Some of the brightest, richest, most intelligent people have had setbacks in the past and they are successful, because they learned from those setbacks and moved on,” Gelecki said. “You don’t learn if you do everything right the first time. You only learn by making mistakes.”

This relates to the idea of students “falling apart” when they don’t meet their expectations. It is necessary for Marian girls not only to fail but to learn from their mistakes. If not already, they must become gritty. This can be done simply by not letting setbacks stop one’s progress. Instead, one can focus on achieving the goals and dreams one sets for oneself. It is done through working tirelessly for what one wants.

“Especially for women, there is a history of us being underestimated in different arenas: professional, political… it’s not as easy as it is for women as it is for men, especially for people of color. Women as a whole, have it harder than men and being able to stay true to you and work for what you want is super, super important,” senior Zoe Zier said. She also recognizes grit’s significance. With grit, students will be able to perform better in their studies, sports, activities, and overall life goals.

Plenty of role models for students are right here at Marian. One is Mr. Koesters. “I wanted to be a language teacher. From the time the principal told me I could teach Latin to the time I actually started was almost 15 years, but I never gave up. I kept studying it and took some courses. It was just something I was going to do.” His story of grit can be an inspiration to everyone who wishes to accomplish a challenging goal.

Other role models exist outside of Marian. “The word grit always makes me think of John Wayne, and he was in a movie called ‘True Grit.’ It makes me think of him, because he was that kind of person. When someone says you can’t do something, you try to find a way… to let them know that; that is not going to be something that deters you,” Gelecki said.

“I think Ms. Rohlfs is right. [Grit is] the ability to look at what’s in front of you, figure out a way, and not let it discourage you,” Gelecki said.

“Grit is just an absolute determination to not give up… you set your goals and you just work toward them,” Koesters said. “Because then you determine your own direction and you are not swayed by other people. Your own goals become more important than what the teacher or the coach is setting for you.” This is something that all Marian girls can strive for. Confident, independent leaders inspired by faith can be full of grit.

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