A Heart of Gold

By Caroline Berens, The Dartmouth Staff | 11/14/14 5:00am

Although your four years in college will likely be some of the best of your life —especially at a place like Dartmouth — it can be tough sometimes, especially in your freshman year. You’re in a new place, surrounded by strangers and feeling lonely at times is inevitable. So, finding someone with whom you instantly connect with early on — someone who you can go for guidance, advice or just to talk about your daily life — can be pretty special.

Such is the situation that Chiara Santiago ’15 found herself in when she first came to the College. Her freshman fall, Santiago was running errands at Stinson’s Village Store when she met Mary, one of the employees. She immediately noticed that Mary was someone who upperclassmen seemed to have an especially close relationship with.

Santiago said she envied the bond Mary had with students, and vowed to maintain contact with her herself. She said she would talk to her whenever she went into Stinson’s, and by the end of her freshman fall, she and Mary had already developed a close, “symbiotic” relationship.

The two continued to share a connection throughout Santiago’s sophomore and junior years. This fall, when she returned to campus, Mary was the first person she said she went to see. As the two were talking, Mary delivered a devastating blow — over the summer, she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Santiago realized that Mary was extremely sick and had expensive bills to pay, so she said she decided to set up a fundraising page.

Originally, Santiago said she was just going to keep her donations confined to Panarchy, the undergraduate society with which she is affiliated, but realized that many others on campus would want to help.

Santiago added that every time she goes to Stinson’s, there are “at least five other people in line buying things who also want to talk to Mary.”

On the fundraising page, she noted that when students found out about Mary’s diagnosis, people started dropping by just to say hello and Alpha Delta fraternity sent her flowers as well.

Mary, who Santiago describes as a “beautiful, selfless sage,” is clearly a beloved friend and mentor at Dartmouth. Read more of her story and donate here.


Caroline Berens, The Dartmouth Staff