Reflection on St. Madeleine Sophie Barat


At the May 17, 2024 Mass in recognition of the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, Woodlands senior Janel Ivy, President of House Barat, delivered the following reflection.

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat's focus was spreading the word of God through education, specifically by educating women. Today, I want to share with you all how my education here at Woodlands has impacted my life.

I’ve always been socially awkward, and people still tell me today that before they got to know me, they were afraid of me. “You don’t talk much,” or “You seem so over it all the time,” they would say. These two qualities combined made it difficult for me to make friends easily. So when I found out I was coming to Woodlands, I was afraid. Afraid because it had taken me eight years to find my best friends, and now I was leaving them. I was coming here all alone, and while I knew people who went here, the anxiousness I got from thinking about reaching out to them was too great for me to do anything.

My freshman year was fine. I talked to people at school, but I wasn’t really involved in anything else because the thought of being around so many new people scared me. I didn’t really talk to anyone from Woodlands the summer before sophomore year because, to be honest, I didn’t really consider them friends. I was just another person in the halls.

Everything changed when I decided to play volleyball in my sophomore year. I remember how nervous I felt on the way to tryouts—not because of my skills, but because I was going to have to interact with people I didn’t see on a regular basis. What would they think of me? Would they like me? I was so stuck in my own head about what people thought of me that I forgot one thing: I was here to play volleyball.

Volleyball is a sport that only works if a team is fully in sync—on and off the court. So, when I made the team, I was exposed to all the fun team bonding activities. The Starbucks runs before games, the loud conversations in the IC before practice, and the bus rides back to WA after late away games. Plus, doing burpees and down-and-backs with the same group of people for two months bonds you in a way that I can’t explain.

Through all of this, I made powerful friendships I will never forget. And more importantly, I found my voice.

I wasn’t afraid to join that club or raise my hand in class anymore. Even though I am a naturally quiet person, I know that when I do speak, it will be heard. I’ve been given the privilege to be the President of House Barat, and I’m so happy that our house has changed for the better. To know that I’ve played a part in that has shown me that I’ve had an impact on my Woodlands experience. And you can have an impact on your Woodlands experience too.

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s mission to give an education to young women wasn’t just about teaching them math or science. It was about teaching them to find their voice in a world where, at the time, they didn’t have one. I’m off to college next year, and the change is ten times bigger than the jump from middle school to high school. But this time, I know that my thoughts and opinions matter just as much as the next person’s. And I have St. Madeleine Sophie Barat to thank for that.