Annabelle Dando McCormack ’00

When I was a junior at Mount de Sales, I had a life-changing moment. It wasn’t something I thought of as life-changing at the time. In fact, it took almost twenty years for me to realize it.

I started writing novels when I was in seventh grade, and it quickly became my favorite hobby. I scribbled down volumes in the notebooks I carried everywhere but only ever shared with my sister. Then one day in English class during my junior year, one of my friends asked to read the book I was writing. One friend quickly became three.

That moment was, unknowingly, the start of my pursuit of publishing and a career in the arts. Though I loved my creative hobbies, I always envisioned going to medical school someday. Yet those Great Books and English class discussions and the many, many hours I spent hanging out in Mr. Fritz’s room and acting in the plays gripped me in a way I couldn’t shake. So, despite graduating with a degree in biology from UMBC, I started working in film and television after college and joined The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) as an actress. I later enrolled in Johns Hopkins to get my masters in writing. I quietly pursued publishing, finding only discouragement and an uphill battle.

To others, I might have seemed a little unrooted. But my time at Mount de Sales gave me more than just a seedling desire to have a career in the creative arts—it gave me the fertile ground of faith. With Christ at the center of my formation as a student, my education prepared me to understand that trials aren’t something to flee, that persistence perseveres, and that living joyfully in God’s love is enough when challenges seem overwhelming.

Working in film led me to photography. My career as a wedding photographer blossomed. Over the years, I had the unique privilege of shooting the weddings of many Mount de Sales alumnae at my old stomping grounds. However, after my own marriage, my family grew to five children, and I chose to scale back on my photography business to focus on motherhood.

All the while, I continued to pursue writing and publishing. Twenty-three years after I first received that nugget of encouragement from Sailor friends, my debut novel Windswept will be released this September. My time at Mount de Sales gave me the courage and faith to chase my goals, relying on Jesus to get me through the times when the path is not clear. The friendships I forged continue to be some of the closest in my life, and the cheerleading I have received from my schoolmates is still a constant source of support. MDSA gave me wings to fly in pursuit of my dreams—but in its amazing community and traditions, it also gave me roots.

Mount de Sales Academy

Academic Excellence in the Catholic Tradition