There's Something About This Place

By: 
Kara McDuffee
Class of: 
2015

Whenever someone asks me about my time at St. Lawrence, I say without hesitation that I absolutely love it. More than just love, I’m obsessed with it. And it is an obsession – how else would I come to own over 60 articles of SLU apparel? (Being on the women’s basketball team helps, but still.) Yet it’s difficult to truly express the sentiment in words. What about St. Lawrence makes me love it so much?

There’s something about this place that makes you enjoy what you’re doing. I showed up freshman year without a direction. I decided to major in English because I enjoyed writing, and then I added another communications major somewhere along the way. I’ve genuinely enjoyed the classes that I’ve taken. Now I’m able to combine two of my passions – writing and athletics – in a senior honors project. I’m doing things that I love.

And it’s not just me. The people around me enjoy what they’re doing, too. I have a friend who loved her semester in Kenya so much, she is now living in Africa leading a community organization (a mother even named her child after her). I have a roommate who constantly relates the things she learns in psychology class to our conversations, because it actually interests her. I have a former teammate who is paving her track to med school with internships and innovation grants.  I constantly find myself running into inspired people, and they inspire me.

There’s something about this place that makes it easy to make friends. I don’t know if it is because everyone is so welcoming, or just good-natured, but we want to meet one another. My first year I lived and took a class with 40 other young and diverse first-years. The instant exposure gave me a very easy opportunity to befriend new people. Five of us from my First-Year Program are now living together in a senior townhouse.

I also quickly got to know the girls on my basketball team, and through them, I met a slew of their friends and other athletes. As my confidence and familiarity grew over the years, I began to understand how unique of an opportunity it was to be able to interact and make friends with so many diverse individuals. St. Lawrence breeds this sense of community in which you not only respect and accept each other, but you support one another.

There’s something about this place that allows you to connect with everyone. I was once surprised by the networks around campus, but now I have come to expect that someone I know through one organization will know and be friends with someone I spend time with through something else. My friend is the CA for my teammate. My fellow tutor is my roommate’s lab partner. My classmate is on my friend’s volleyball team. At a school of 2,400 students, I am confident you could draw a web connecting me with every single person through some mutual friend, classmate, or activity through fewer than six degrees of separation. It’s funny how soon our paths cross, creating social circles that are endlessly intertwined with St. Lawrence string.

The people at St. Lawrence constantly break stereotypes for me. Even as a senior, I am still learning lessons about not limiting myself through preconceived notions – whether that means doing something I’ve never tried before, or spending time with someone I never thought that I’d have anything in common with. The students here are so different, so unique from each other, and yet we still feel so universally bonded with each other through our home at SLU. I’m so grateful that St. Lawrence has exposed me to so many beautiful, unique individuals.

There’s something about this place that allows you to fail and still succeed. I don’t want to say that my time here at SLU has been perfect, because that wouldn’t be true. I have gone through the growing pains that everyone must go through at some point in their life. At one point, struggling to find myself emotionally and mentally, I questioned everything– my actions, motives, fears, desires, beliefs, and regrets. Faced with insecurities and doubts, I shed tears on many occasions.

As my time at St. Lawrence went on, however, I came to view these struggles in a positive light. Instead of wishing that they never happened, I embrace the fact that they did. Because, surrounded by an unbelievable and inspiring support system, I understand they are part of my growth as an individual. And as I continually make more amazing memories with my friends, teammates, and fellow students, any negativity quickly washes away. St. Lawrence allowed me to grow and fail and learn, at times getting lost along the way, but always helping me to find myself in the end.

Because of these qualities, there’s something about this place that makes you never really want to leave. I’m dreading the day of my graduation, because it means I have to move away from this place and these people. My fellow seniors and I always joke about staying here for another year. We’re ready to move on to the next step in our lives, but it’s bittersweet to say goodbye. I’m worried that I’ll never experience this type of community and support anywhere else.

But then again, I think there’s something about this place that makes it so St. Lawrence never really ends. The older I get, and the more friends I interact with whom have already graduated, the more I see that SLU doesn’t stop on campus. I might be leaving this beautiful campus, but the relationships, the lessons, the memories, and the impact they’ve had on my life – that won’t ever go away.