On a humid August afternoon, just days before I was scheduled to move in for my freshman year at St. Lawrence, I noticed a small envelope from the University on my kitchen counter.
After assessing my academic and extracurricular achievements in high school, the director of Career Services personally encouraged me to take advantage of the distinguished St. Lawrence network and alumni connections by joining the inaugural class of the LINC program. LINC, otherwise known as Laurentians Investing in Networking and Careers, is designed to match first-year and sophomore students with St. Lawrence alumna and alumnus mentors. The yearlong program provides the structure for sustaining a long-term mentoring relationship and networking skills.
After opening the letter, I found myself filled with a mix of intimidation, shock, and excitement. I thought to myself, why would St. Lawrence take an interest in me before I had even matriculated as a student? After all, my greatest concern in that moment was to take advantage of the present and enjoy my last remaining days before I was a college student.
I had a hard conceptualizing what the opportunity would lead to, but as the deadline neared, I realized that this was not something that I should let pass by. It turns out that LINC would be one of the many unique opportunities St. Lawrence offers that I would take advantage of during my time at SLU.
As the leaves began to change and the first months of freshman year flew by, I began to recognize the true value of this opportunity. Nearly three and a half years later, as I reflect on my time at St. Lawrence and begin to plan for the future, it is clear that joining the program was one of the best decisions I had made during my time at SLU.
The LINC program matched my career interests perfectly with a alumna mentor who has guided me over the last three and a half years. She has provided me valuable advice and has continually encouraged me to make the most of the opportunities at St. Lawrence and to set short term and long term career benchmarks for myself.
The program also instilled within me the value of networking and career planning very early on in my St. Lawrence career. So much so that when the opportunity arose to attend a LINC networking trip in New York City during the spring semester of my freshman year, I jumped at the chance. Meeting St. Lawrence alumni demonstrated how impactful the alumni network is and illustrated the plethora of opportunities that are available to SLU students.
Ultimately, the LINC program guided my St. Lawrence experience by instilling within me the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities St. Lawrence has to offer. In some cases, it will seek you out and personally invest in you as an individual. In other cases, the opportunities are out there, but you need to show the initiative to obtain them.
This mentality compelled me to apply for the SLU Connect DC program, which exposed me to St. Lawrence alumni that work in a variety of career industries in the Washington, D.C. area. Over the course of the five-day program, one of the valuable alumni connections I made led to a summer internship at the World Bank Group. Through the Career Services office, I received an Internship Fellowship, which allowed me to pursue my unpaid internship and to spend the summer in D.C. Not only did I gain hands-on experience at a renowned international institution, but I was able to build upon my academic interests and hone my writing, communications, and professional skills.
Beyond networking and career oriented experiences, St. Lawrence offers so many other opportunities for personal enrichment. During my junior year, I took advantage of the nationally recognized study abroad resources at St. Lawrence by applying to study in Rome, Italy, and for a CIIS travel grant to travel to Munich, Germany to study the refugee crisis. Thanks to the grant and additional funding, I was able to explore a continent that I have never visited before and connect with my familial roots in Italy. The world became my classroom and I began to see all that spans beyond St. Lawrence. After being exposed to different cultures, languages, and environments, I returned to the United States a more empowered and self-aware individual with more clearly defined career ambitions.
I feel humbled to be one of many students who have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by SLU in a unique and personal way. St. Lawrence levels the playing field by making these experiences affordable and attainable for all students. This school is different than others; it goes above and beyond to personally invest and provide opportunities to its students. If you show initiative, you too can enrich yourself through on and off campus experiences.
After pursuing LINC and soaking up all the opportunities that I could throughout my four years here, I feel equipped and prepared to enter the real world and begin life beyond St. Lawrence. I am not fearful of whatever comes next. After all, SLU has allowed me to realize the power of my potential, it has exposed me to a lifelong network of dedicated Laurentians, and has prepared me both academically and professionally for whatever awaits.
But most importantly, St. Lawrence has instilled within me the value of stepping beyond my comfort zone and soaking up any available opportunity because of the personal growth and enrichment that may lie on the other side. And for that, I am forever grateful.