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Student Spotlight: Debra Dunham

A conversation with one of Carmel’s stand-out students

Grace May, Editor-In-Chief

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It’s no secret that Carmel’s halls are filled with unique kids. Student Spotlight is an effort to highlight some lesser-known individuals that don’t always get their time in the limelight.

In the first installment, I sat down with senior Debra Dunham. Debra is known to be extremely dedicated to her faith and a bit shy but extremely kind. She’s involved in campus ministry and the math team.

Grace: Has as your senior year been different than other years?

Debra: Not really,  I mean, there’s more about college but that’s really it. I’m either going to the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, Fairfield College, Stonehill, or Xavier University. They’re all Catholic colleges. In college, I want to be involved in campus ministry. I’d also really like to sew, but that’s impractical because I can’t bring my machine with me. So instead, I’ll just do whatever small crafts I can.

Grace: You make a lot of your own clothes, right?

Debra: I don’t make most, but definitely some. I’ve made/decorated most of my folders and notebooks that I use this year. I like making anything, really, and just using my creative energy.

Grace: It’s obvious your religion is really important to you.

Debra: Definitely.

Grace: Has religion always been a huge part of your life or is this kind of a new thing?

Debra: It always kind of has been. I grew up with a friend who’s really strong in her faith as well, and I think she was a big influence on me. I haven’t always been really involved in my church though; it wasn’t until high school and I was on my own that I actually took my own steps to become involved in the church.

Grace: So then how many times a week would you say you go to mass?

Debra: That depends on the time of the year and what’s going on [laughing]. Here at school, I usually go to the Monday and Friday morning masses and the Wednesday after-school one too. I go every Sunday, but there are times when I go multiple times on the weekend if something’s going on at my Church.

Grace: What about that veil that you wear? What’s that for?

Debra: Well, a long time ago, women had to cover their heads at mass. But for me, there’s a symbolism behind it. Nowadays people look at it in different ways, and obviously, it’s not required, but I think that it helps me focus on our Lord and remember that He knows what’s best for me and that He loves me.

Grace: Do you ever feel like, because of the ways you celebrate mass differently, people are singling you out or treating you differently?

Debra: There are times when I do feel a little uncomfortable, but those times pass, especially because I wear the veil. I remember that what I’m doing is for the Lord and not for anyone else.

Grace: I feel like you’ve sort of come out of your shell this year. Would you agree with that?

Debra: It’s true. I started talking to a new friend towards the end of the first semester, and she helped me to be more open to talking about myself and not trying to keep everything bundled up inside of me. I feel like she helped me to feel more comfortable talking to people now. She was there for me and helped me through some tough times.

Grace: How’d you guys meet?

Debra: Well we were in the same English class, and then one morning before morning mass, I was asking her about the book we were reading and I just happened to say something about my personal life. I knew I could trust her when she didn’t make fun of me or judge me for what I told her.

Grace: What do you think held you back from opening up sooner?

Debra: Definitely fear. I have a very vivid imagination that tells me things that aren’t necessarily true, and I always figured people wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me. I still feel like that sometimes, but now I feel it less and less. I trust in who I am more.

Grace: What’s your favorite part about Carmel?

Debra: I’d say the community. Even though I’m a bit strange and different in my own ways and stand out, I never feel as if I’m truly alienated. I always feel like I belong.

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Student Spotlight: Debra Dunham