Mount St. Joseph University

ONLINE EXTRA: Mount Friendships Make Strong Support Systems

Mount News: alumni magazine

Group photo of small children.

For 2003 graduates Danielle Harris Simpson, Megan Stojakovich Baughman, Stephanie Gfroerer-Honebrink and Julie Rigling, friendship has evolved into a true support system.

“We are all stronger and better people because we have had the love and support of each other through the years,” says Simpson, a physical therapy major. “Nearly every one of my funny stories from the past 14 years of my life has one or more of these girls in it.”

Gfroerer-Honebrink, says at first she “was terrified to go to college” because of not knowing anyone. That quickly changed as the group shared classes, played soccer, cheered on the Mount’s squad and roomed together.

“It wasn’t hard to meet people at the Mount and I found friends there that will be a part of my life forever,” says Rigling, a physical therapy major.  “I was fortunate to meet people who love me for me. Not who I could be someday, but who I was then and am now. There was no judgment, just acceptance.”

As an annual Christmas tradition, the alums meet every December for a girls’ weekend. This past year was special as they traveled to Nashville, TN to celebrate their friendship. “We joke that our trip to Nashville this year was our own small Christmas miracle,” says Rigling.

Though the annual meeting is a way to come together, the women’s support for one another over the years is truly the glue in their friendships.

“We have had boyfriends, marriages, divorce, loss of parents and unfortunate loss of babies and through it all we have become even more close then when we first met in college,” says Gfroerer-Honebrink.

Baughman, Graphic Design, says the friendships she gained at the Mount are the closest, strongest friendships she has ever formed.

Rigling says the group has  “supported each other through it all and will continue to do so when it’s needed.”

Now the alum’s friendships continue through their own children. The women regularly get together to attend events with their kids and every January they meet for a photo shoot of all of their children together.

“I will always be thankful to the Mount for being the place that I met so many wonderful friends that bless my life,” says Rigling.