As a senior in high school, I was wide-eyed and confused by the college process. I visited school after school, hoping to have that “aha” moment, the moment I would know I had found the perfect fit. I went on countless tours and sat in on innumerable info sessions. I went to the bookstores and bought bumper stickers to commemorate the visits that, in turn, sat in my desk drawer gathering dust as I continued to search. I focused on all the strange inessentials I was told would give me the secret insight into the personality of the school: “Look at people’s shoes, you’ll get a feel for the campus by the shoes the students wear.” I made lists of all the important factors I wanted in a college, checking them off as I roamed a campus. I never had my “aha” moment.
That is, I never had my “aha” moment while a prospective student. From my first visit to Canton, I liked St. Lawrence. The campus was breathtakingly beautiful, the people were incredibly friendly and attentive, the classes excited me. But would I love it? Would I thrive here? I had no idea. The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to gauge a campus by spending simply one day walking its sidewalks and visiting its many buildings. St. Lawrence is a complex place full of opportunities and diverse perspectives. I am in my final semester and I am still discovering new things about this wonderful place every day.
I took a chance on St. Lawrence and committed, albeit indecisively, to continuing my search for my “aha.” This time, it would be as a student here.
I often am asked what my favorite thing about St. Lawrence is. After almost four years here, it is difficult to pinpoint just one thing. There are so many wonderful aspects of St. Lawrence that have made it such an important part of my life. Yet if I have to pick just one, it is the community that everyone who has a connection to SLU creates that shines the most.
On campus, everyone is so incredibly passionate about St. Lawrence. It creates a positive, inspiring energy that I love being around. But, it also extends far beyond Canton. The friendliness and passion of the St. Lawrence community is not confined to the physical walls of our campus. St. Lawrence follows me everywhere. When I am at home in Maine, I see St. Lawrence t-shirts on passersby when I am walking my dog, hats on the heads of parents at local sporting events, and bumper stickers on the cars in the grocery store parking lot. The passion that St. Lawrence incites in those of us who have a link to it means that we wear it proudly and carry it with us everywhere we go.
This passion transcends roads and waterways, national and international borders. In the August before my junior year at SLU, I was driving back to campus from Maine, eager to begin another year. I looked over to my left at one point, and my gaze was met by a frantic wave in my direction from the passenger of a passing car. At first, I was confused. I didn’t recognize either of the people in the car, nor the car itself. When I looked back over, the girl in the passenger seat was holding a piece of notebook paper plastered to the window in my direction that said, “I love St. Lawrence.” She and the driver continued to wave in my direction. I started laughing and waved back at them in response. As they passed me, I saw the “SLU” sticker stuck to the sedan’s back windshield that matched the one fixed to the back of my own car: an emblem of passion and association stamped onto our vehicles. It was a small but amazing connection to complete strangers on the highway, and it symbolized so many interactions I’ve had with SLU people, both on-campus and off. We all share a common connection to and passion for this place.
It was my perfect “aha” moment.