Why They Chose Ave: Mackenzie Tourville


Why They Chose Ave

Futhering Her Faith

By Maria Milstead

One of the most common things I get asked about Ave is why I chose to go to a tiny school in southwest Florida right next to nowhere. I mean that’s not usually how the question is worded, but that’s what they mean, right? What was it about this small, Catholic school in the middle of a swamp? Who ever heard of a core program? And what is the deal with St. Mother Teresa anyways?

Mackenzie Tourville is a sophomore from Maryland who is used to getting these questions. She, finds it very difficult to pin point exactly how she ended up at Ave. It’s not that no one knows why they came, but more a feeling of being chosen by Ave instead of choosing Ave. “I came for my faith” Mackenzie says, but definitely agrees with and feels more as if Ave chose her instead of her choosing it.

Having recently converted to Catholicism in high school, Mackenzie knew that she wanted to go to a school that would help her to continue to grow and develop that faith. After visiting, she knew that Ave was exactly the place to do that. From her very first visit, Mackenzie knew that coming to Ave would be a no brainer. She describes the entire feeling of the school as being authentic and positive with an excellent education. “The teachers have a real presence in the classroom” she says in a true appreciation of the way they try to specially connect and engage Ave Maria scholars in their academics. She feels that both the professors and the leadership of the university leave plenty of room for students to develop their own talents and that such a strong encouragement of student initiative won’t be found anywhere else. The fact that practically all of our campus’s events and numerous service projects are student founded, organized, and run is truly amazing and speaks to what a unique school we are blessed to have. At Ave Maria we strive to model the university’s patron saints, John Paul II and recently canonized, Mother Teresa of Calcutta both in their devotion to Mary and serving the poorest of the poor through love. There is certainly an abundance of areas specializing in student leadership (through Student Government positions, Residence Assistants, Students for Life, and the Student Activities Board, to name a few) as well as servant leadership (mainly, although certainly not completely, provided by the Mother Teresa Project which offers numerous service projects and mission trips weekly and throughout the year) that students can chose to participate in if they wish. “I am becoming a better person at Ave; I am becoming the person God wants me to be,” Mackenzie says.

Having been a part of the Student Government Association last year, as well as the women’s Lacrosse team and being a Mother Teresa Scholar, Mackenzie feels that there is certainly no shortage of things to do around campus. She has found that being on a team has both built a sense of community and also challenged her discipline in managing her sports and academics. Although keeping that balance can be time consuming, it’s a challenge that Mackenzie welcomes as she actively tries to live her life the way God wants her to live it. She believes it’s the unity that is found among the people here at Ave; it’s the dedication and devotion to St. Mother Teresa that can’t be found at any other school that develops such amazing leaders and opportunity to become those leaders. “Something about Ave”, Mackenzie says, “feels like home –it’s like everyone is a big family.”


Author Biography 

Hello there! My name is Maria Milstead and I am a senior at Ave Maria University. I am originally from Maryland but don’t mind the warmer weather! I am a psychology major with a family, gender, and society minor. I love cats, the Boston Red Sox, and the TV show Friends. However, I also love spending time on the various service projects Ave offers, playing intramural sports, and teaching Sunday school!