Alma Mater (Latin: alma “nourishing”, mater “mother”). In contemporary usage, the Alma Mater is a school or university an individual has attended, or a song or hymn associated with that school. According to its original Latin, Alma Mater translates literally to “nourishing mother”. The source of the term’s current usage stems from the first use of the word alumnus, denoting a university graduate, a word that directly translates to “one who is nourished”. Though the term’s contemporary application is allegorical, it’s usage in academia suggests that a school assumes a maternal role and provides intellectual nourishment to it’s students.
The role the Alma Mater accepts the moment of Matriculation is indeed one of a nourishing mother, one who has a “hands off” approach to parenting. There is an expectation of academic success, but a tendency towards forgiveness. Nobody completes all of their readings. Nobody wakes up every day on time. Majors change and so do perspectives, and somewhere in-between ODY and Dana brunch you realize there is a lot more to be learned here than Shakespeare or statistical analysis.
The natural culmination of a college experience is yes, an enhanced intellectual understanding, a slow transition towards becoming “one who is nourished”. College itself is the process of becoming, a four-year long layover en route to the real world. There are few moments in life where you are free of any outside responsibilities, where your best friends live two doors down. We define our grades by those facts we retain; we define ourselves by those memories we cherish. Graduation is a contradictory process, conscious that we can no longer change our majors, but, in the same instant, aware we can still start over. We leave behind the world we built within these 1,000 acres, but we by no means leave it the same as we found it.
Each step we take forges a new purpose for the stone we walk on, and for every story we share two new traditions take place. St. Lawrence is an Alma Mater that provides something paramount to academic nourishment- a safe place to emotionally mature. When tasked with creatively re-writing the alma mater, I dug out my old class notes on meter and rhyme and set out to put a voice to the St. Lawrence experience, and found it’s no small task to encapsulate four years in 14 lines. The Alma Mater is more then a hymn: it’s the spirit of a place I call home.
Alma Mater, Old St. Lawrence
This poem is for thee
From Herring-Cole to Rebert South
This campus creates memories
Pub cookies have healing powers
Even for finals week blues
And when amber leaves
Fall from their trees
You'll feel the magic of SLU
Four years sounds like a lifetime
Yet somehow, It's not enough
The candles we hold
May change hands when we go
But their flames will never burn out