My time at Scranton was the best four years of my life.

Margot Royer-Johnson


I learned humility. I learned how helpful the Red Cross is. I learned how embarrassing judgmental I was. And I learned who my friends truly were.

I was a gifted athlete my whole life, including during my four years at Scranton. I was always part of the popular crowd. Academics came easier to me than most. I came from a good family. I always had a lot of friends. I was blessed in many ways.

My time at Scranton (to this day, I still say it) was the best four years of my life. I was a member of SJLA at Scranton - one of 22 who graduated in my class. As an athlete and part of the in-crowd most of my life, I felt superior to my SJLA classmates because I saw them mostly as "nerds," save a handful. They were not my crowd. They thought I was the dumb jock of the group anyway - But in SJLA, we had at least one to two classes per day with the same 22 people so I HAD to tolerate them, because I wanted to graduate from the prestigious program at the U.

In April of my senior year, during a final presentation, there was a knock on the classroom door.  My presentation interrupted by the knock, I looked to the door to see my housemates outside. Not cool, I thought - they knew I had a presentation! Turns out, my off campus house was burning down.

429 Quincy used to have a big three story house instead of a parking lot on it.  I left class early and we ran the four blocks up the street to see the third floor (where my three housemates and I lived) engulfed in flames. Actually, we didn't have to run the four blocks to see it - we could see the flames from four blocks away. We lost pretty much everything.

Within 5 minutes, the Red Cross was there offering assistance and money. To this day, every major tragedy I see happen where the Red Cross is present, I get online and donate money to their relief effort. They truly are amazing.

Within an hour, everyone on campus knew of our plight. Depressed over losing everything, I didn't want to face my campus community. I suppose I didn't want the attention that something like this brought. It made me feel poor or needy - not something I ever felt in any capacity. Luckily for me I could be off campus - Coach Mike Strong offered me his home to live in - a gift I will never forget.

A few days after the fire, I had to go back to class. I had to go back to campus to face my reality that I did not have everything I had a week ago.

I was approached on campus by Fr. Ron McKinney, director of the SJLA program and a professor I had had for a number of classes. He said that he had something for me. He said that my SJLA classmates all donated money to me so that I could get some essentials for myself that I had lost in the fire.  I was mortified! I told him I didn't want it. I wasn't poor! He calmly replied with something that I will never forget. He said to me - "Please accept it. You are being selfish. This money is more for your classmates who care about you and want to help in any way they can than it is for you." Crying, I accepted it. Though I never thanked my classmates or Fr. McKinney, I have never forgotten their gift. The gift they gave me was the ability to see how wrong I was to judge them. It is one of the best gifts anyone has ever given me. They made me a better person.

Today, as a college coach, I have taken the gifts that my Scranton classmates, professors, and coaches taught me and have been a better mentor for my student athletes because of it.