If you asked me a year ago what I would be doing in a year, I would honestly tell you I do not have a clue. I could tell you my goals and aspirations of what could come next but I had no concrete plan for what was to come. I was in the process of applying to FVM, and when I say process I mean I opened the webpage for the application and filled out my basic information and was staring blankly at the questions posed before me. I was stepping into the unknown. For the first time in my life I was completely lost but I was never alone. As the questions glared back at me with conviction and contemplation, an email came through “Emma Edwards: Do you have any questions about the program?” “No,” I replied, “just discerning.”  I opened and closed the application at least twice a day writing some thoughts down but being completely unsure of others. Then a text message from Jay “Any progress? Do you need to talk?”. Again I pushed any anxious thoughts down. “No, I am okay, I just need to get through the application.” I said get through because I didn’t think I was strong enough for a year of service. Once I finally applied and got accepted, the support from previous and current FVMs didn’t stop. First, it was two previous FVMs Kelly and Clare who live in the area, they invited me to have lunch with them and talk. I was struggling to adjust and they comforted me. “It’s never easy moving somewhere new on a leap of faith.” They both had taken leaps of faith both fresh out of college like I was and following a different path, a path that led them exactly where they needed to be. Next was the FVM I would grow closest to as the year rolled on Leo. Every step I took he was right there making sure I was okay. “How is your spiritual journey going and how can I help?” “Have you eaten enough today?” “What are you being called to?” Always looking out for how he could help. 

While I was going over my year thus far and wondering what I was being called to, it became increasingly clear with each new FVM I met, I was being called to do a second year like so many FVMs before me. This time I was not hesitant, I was not stepping into the terrifying unknown, I was stepping into the family that had taken me in during the fun and exciting part of this year and during the hardest. My FVM family this year learned my expressions to an art form. Kacey knew with a look that I needed a hug even when I would never say a word. Brooke knew when I was tired and needed a break which often was impossible for me to admit to myself. Dan knew when I needed a laugh or a corny joke. Ricky knew when I needed to talk something out. Mikey knew when I needed advice that would stay with me. I understand after this year why so many of the alumni want to reach out and talk to the new FVMs. We have formed such amazing and unique bonds with our fellow FVMs this year and I would love to be able to help the next FVM class experience the same. Our small but united family has our best interest at heart and they want what is best for us like any good family does. 

Marissa Ryan, Durham FVM ‘21-’22 & Philly FVM ‘22-’23