Written for Mosaic by Claire Latsko and Kitty Williams | Co-Editors-in-Chief
After climbing what seemed like an endless number of stairs up a twisting and narrow turret of an old white colonial house in Newport, we are finally greeted by Dave Fairchild at the door to his apartment. He welcomes us in with smiles, and excitedly jumps into giving us a tour of his humble abode. His skills as an on-campus tour guide shine through over the next few minutes.
The apartment embodies the classic Newport style, complete with framed maps, old rugs, cozy loft space, and rooftop deck with a view of both First Beach and the Pell Bridge. Fairchild finds so much happiness living in this space with two of his best friends. “I love this space,” he says. “It heals me.”
Fairchild lives in this apartment now only because he made an active decision to take control of his life over the past few months. Last year, as a Resident Advisor, he was required to live on campus. This year, however, Fairchild decided to step away from that role so he could live as a real Newport resident.
He was also elected to be President of SGA after running unopposed for the 2017-2018 school year. Fairchild decided to resign from that position early on this semester, though. Fairchild came back from summer vacation and had to be honest with himself about what he could handle. “I went a little overboard and decided to quit everything,” he says with a laugh, then pauses, adding, “I don’t feel regret for it.”
At the end of spring semester last year, Fairchild found himself going through a difficult time with his mental health. “I had been on this consistent down through college emotionally, even though I was on an exponential up in terms of my professional experience and academically what I was involved in,” he says.
While his mental health has been a sporadic struggle throughout his high school and college years, spring semester last year was when Fairchild hit a low that, for the first time, was a low everyone around him could see. “It was a very scary awakening for me, that people knew,” he says. “I didn’t want to be the person people worried about.”
He found that he needed to take time away from this pressure he was placing on himself and so he spent his summer at home in the Berkshires. “I don’t think people treat themselves well at all. I think we’re too busy to do it,” says Fairchild. “But the thing is, you can be less busy.” He began focusing in on music, photography, and nature- things he always said he was passionate about. “This is the reset button,” he reflects.
Fairchild would also make a point to get out with his camera at least once a week. “I’m not an artist by any means, but more and more I feel like creativity is one of the more important parts of my identity,” he says.
His summer job was as a program instructor and outdoor educator at the Berkshire Outdoor Center in his hometown. “It’s this wonderful little corner of Massachusetts where everything is different; slower,” says Fairchild. Here he was able to spend time in nature with those who had an equal admiration and fascination of the outdoors. “It’s all about teaching people about unity of self,” he says of his role there.
The positive and healthy choices he made this summer improved his sense of self and mental health. He credits all of these things for helping him rise from his semester of struggle. “I don’t think I had any reason to be bred an optimist but it happened,” Fairchild says. “I eat, pray, love the shit out of [life].”
Fairchild has formed a deep appreciation for Newport and Salve Regina. He is the only person in his family to not live in Massachusetts, and he is a first generation college student; both of which he is very proud of. “I remember going to orientation and wanting to cry,” says Fairchild. “Not from sadness or homesickness, but from this crazy realization that this thing I thought was just this stupid fantasy actually happened.”
Self-reflection is something Fairchild actively participates in. “I already kind of look back on my years in college,” he says. He notes the many changes he has gone through in college and how they have contributed to his growth.
Fairchild is confident his senior year will be a successful and happy one. “I’ve gone through a lot of growing pains and it’s resulted in this really consistent idea of who I want to be and who I can be.”