shimmer in anticipation. Bagpipes harmonize, their sound rising
with the heat. Professors parade in velvet robes. Students and
parents gather, waiting for the beginning to
mark an end.
Matriculation and Commence-
ment at St. Lawrence are nearly
identical ceremonies. But
while a St. Lawrence
student participates in each
only once, I enjoy both a
few times a week as I show
prospective families around
As an admissions ambassador, weaving traditions into tours is an
expectation of my job. I enter Gunnison Memorial Chapel ex-
plaining the 100th Night ceremony; I allude vaguely to the joys of
the Quad Experience and SpringFest while trekking up the lawn;
Peak Weekend gets a shout-out in the theme house category; and
the 5 o’clock chapel bells are an excellent filler for any downtime
as I concentrate four years into 65 minutes.
I barely mention Commencement on tour; the capstone of
college is, after all, a lifetime away for the average 17-year-old.
But I have a little more to say on the topic than most student
tour guides. As an eighth-
semester senior in fall 2012,
I’ve both hugged my parents
goodbye at Matriculation
and hugged the real world
hello with a firm handshake
from President Fox at Com-
mencement. I “walked” in
the 2012 Commencement
ceremony last May, the
job market looming beyond
blurred memories of Senior Week. And yet I’m back at St.
Lawrence this fall, brushing North Country snowflakes from my
books one last time.
Not all college students complete their degrees in eight consecu-
tive semesters. I took time off to care for my mother as she lost
her battle with colon cancer, a difficult summer that stretched
into a semester I would never trade for a May 2012 diploma. I
returned to campus older but somehow stronger a long year later,
after a spring of siesta therapy with St. Lawrence in Madrid. I
used that strength, unexpectedly, to plead for my eighth semester.
Excess AP and summer credits capped my St. Lawrence career
at seven semesters, I was told; my last government major
requirement was waived, and I was free to go. But I did not
feel free to go. Maybe it was Mom telling me to hold fast
to my due, or me insisting I still had more to give. After
walking at graduation, I returned to campus in August
with a whole semester’s possibilities ahead.
There are caveats to having an “Exp. 05-31-2012” on my
student ID card. I can attend a networking dinner with the
trustees, but only with a Class
of ’13 nametag. I can borrow
a library book, but only
with a blue form reserved
for “special cases.” But
continuing as a senior
after my classmates
have moved on to
loan repayment and
rush hour is nothing like stay-
ing in a theater
after the ushers have come in to
sweep up the popcorn.
It’s like catching the last chairlift up a mountain I imagine our
Snow Bowl once was: I’m among the lucky last of my class to
glide toward the lodge, and I’m enjoying every powdered
I’ll have retired my red admissions nametag when you read
this, and headed home from my final tour. But the cycle of
traditions at St. Lawrence means my footprint will never
really leave. One student’s Commencement is another’s
Matriculation, as one’s first Candlelight Service is another’s
final Moving-Up Day. Our traditions provide tidy book-
marks in an inimitably less-than-tidy four (or more) years
in Canton. But the purpose of a bookmark is to preserve
a moment in time. I relive the moments marking my time at St.
Lawrence with each tour I lead, as I will as an alumna each time
I revisit the traditions tying me forever to the place I will always
call home.
Molly Lunn wrote this essay while serving as an intern in University
Communications last fall. She graduated for real in December.
byMolly Lunn ’12