Justine Carra: Behind the Scenes

Chances are you’ve seen Justine somewhere around campus smiling and waving to one of her countless friends; maybe you’ve seen her working hard to promote the Up ‘Til Dawn campaign, maybe she was giving you Eucharist at church, or maybe she was even your orientation leader. Whatever the occasion, you’re sure to find Justine there with bright, contagious enthusiasm.

Despite being an ambassador preparing for her first official tour, a member of Autism Speaks and Teachers of Tomorrow, a board member for Campus Ministry, a peer mentor for freshmen, an orientation leader, an executive board member for St. Jude here at Marist, participating in weekly community service, and being a full-time student she somehow never misses a moment to make everyone around her feel special and loved. When talking about why she got involved, Justine said, “Even though it’s a small school there are so many people you can learn from and help and just meet.”

Speaking of meeting new people, I remember when I met her freshman year one of the first things I discovered about her was that she’s always and I mean ALWAYS friendly to you, whether you’re a stranger holding the door for her or you run into her in the cafeteria or you’ve been friends for 3 years. It doesn’t matter, she doesn’t discriminate in who she shines her light on and if you’ve ever told her your name, you can just about guarantee that she remembers it and still says hi to this day, even if you only talked once for 5 minutes. In fact, when I sat down with her and asked her a few questions she told me her advice for freshmen (well really for anyone) would be to “bring your own sunshine” as she likes to say. She went on to add, “Some days are rough and it’s good to count on other people to help you out, but sometimes you’re gonna need to stick through it and just do things that will make yourself happy.”

The next thing you’ll learn about her? Only the fact that she loves Disney and has been to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL a mere 10 times (11 after this summer). Impressive, right? She cites Walt Disney as the person, dead or alive, that she’d most like to meet and after our chat, she even picked up a children’s book on her dresser about important lessons that we can take away from the magic of Disney and proceeded to read the entire thing to me. Something tells me she’ll make one heck of a teacher which, conveniently, is exactly what she wants to do after obtaining her 5 year Psych/Special education degree in 2018 from Marist.

Despite her love for Marist, though, there’s one other thing missing that she’d love to see here: a sock drive! Getting excited she told me, “I love socks so much and there’s all this stuff about homeless people and like how everyone donates food and things but they don’t have simple things like socks… like it sounds silly but there are people in Poughkeepsie who don’t have enough money for that, so I think it’s like a small thing that is kinda humbling to think that people don’t have it, so I would like to start something here.” And, yes, she really does love socks, making it a point to mismatch her socks every day, but not in a totally random way – oh no – there is a method to her madness, believe me.

After telling me about the time she read the entire Harry Potter series in one week the summer before 8th grade, we laughed and discussed the many quotes and books she loves to reference to keep her (and her friends) energetic and upbeat despite the chaos of life. With a room chock full of quotes and uplifting pictures, she finally decided her favorite was “Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too” – a fitting quote for anyone who has ever had the pleasure to meet Justine.

Though I am just the storyteller in this case, I have a favorite quote from this interview, too. A classic Justine quote; when asked to present a random fact about herself, Justine mentioned that she’s seen the Disney movie “Enchanted” over 160 times. 162, to be exact. That’s approximately 161 times more than the average human being, but what really brings it all home is when she looks at me as we both start laughing hysterically and goes, “Is that weird?”

No, Justine, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.