With our long walks across the graduation stage fast approaching, there’s a growing sense of urgency among my class of 2016. We’re all wondering: where will we leave our mark on St. Lawrence? How will we be remembered? What is our legacy?
Some writers have our names forever archived in editions of The Hill News; our athletes may appear in photos lining the walls of the Augsbury gym; still others will have their honors theses cataloged in the University libraries for future students to skim. We’ll be remembered, certainly, but in this fluster to forge our college legacies, we’ve overlooked the obvious counterpart: St. Lawrence’s legacy in us.
In May, we’ll have come and gone, each altering this school in some unique way. But our four years at St. Lawrence will have had an even greater impact on each of us as individuals. In my sophomore year, Professor Oakes explained how memories are most easily formed. Memories stick best, we learned in Introduction to Psychology, when associated with a single sense– sound, touch, sight, taste, or smell.
On May 23rd, as a fresh St. Lawrence graduate, I’m certain that I’ll reflect with a fierce nostalgia for this school and the people who make it so special. The emotions linked to our college years are often so indescribable; I can’t fully explain how it’s felt to form such deep friendships, explore my academic passions, or dip my toes into adulthood. But, I can describe the taste of a Pub Cookie or the smell of fresh mac and cheese bites at Dana brunch.
I can’t be sure, because I’ve not reached the finish line quite yet, but I have a feeling that some characteristically-SLU things have forged their own legacy in my memory. Next year and always, I expect I’ll think back to St. Lawrence when my memory’s triggered by each vibrant sense I’ve felt here. Even after I’ve left campus, I can’t imagine that these small SLU legacies could leave me.
Sound: From now on, when I hear church bells chiming from a chapel in the distance, I’ll check my watch to see if it’s 5 p.m. on Creasy Commons and I’ll listen closely for the Alma Mater.
Touch: When my nostrils frost over and prickle from the freezing cold, my mind will jump back to winter walks on campus, bundled head-to-toe in a floor length down jacket and snow boots.
Sight: At sporting events, when I notice the scoreboard ticking down to one remaining minute, I’ll fight the urge to shout aloud my contempt for a certain rival school.
Taste: At any future feast, if a delicious bread stuffing is served, I’ll mentally compare the spread to Canadian Thanksgiving at Dana and cross my fingers for a side of poutine.
Smell: Every morning, when the scent of fresh newsprint wafts in the air, I’ll check newsstands for the weekly copy of The Hill News to enjoy with my Friday Pub coffee.
Next month, as we spread across the world in search of our next adventures, we’ll keep these memories tied to us. I can’t be sure when they’ll spark that fierce nostalgia, but I’m certain that I’ll feel it when they do. These tiny pieces of our college experience are embedded in our memories now; their legacy is a part of us.
Our signatures will forever be listed in the 2012 convocation book. We came to St. Lawrence and (fingers crossed, pending graduation) we conquered. Our own legacies won’t soon be lost in the college archives, but the St. Lawrence legacy in each of us will flare up, perhaps daily, for the rest of our lives. This school will stick with us forever, I’m sure of it.