The Butterfly Effect - How St. Lawrence Spreads Its Wings | St. Lawrence University

The Butterfly Effect - How St. Lawrence Spreads Its Wings

Hana Bushara

You may be familiar with the Butterfly Theory, or maybe the 2004 psychological thriller The Butterfly Effect, which popularized it. If not, no need to fret. The theory essentially states that a change of any size, no matter how small, in the initial state of a system can lead to a significantly different outcome at the end of the chain. In simpler terms, even the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can have copious effects throughout the course of our lives; the smallest things can have a huge impact on who we are and where life takes us. Crazy, huh? What I think is even crazier is this effect, this theory, is what I think landed me here at St. Lawrence.

Next year I will be living in Commons College, one of the many theme houses on campus. Because I am living in the house next year, I was invited to a barbeque with the graduating seniors and their parents two days before graduation. I mention this because one of the conversations I had made me rethink my entire journey to St. Lawrence. Grace King, who was the house coordinator, kindly introduced me to her parents and we exchanged the usual small talk questions before the meat of the conversation began.

“This is one of my friends, Hana, who will be living in Commons in the fall… She’s from Bermuda.”

To which her parents replied, “We love Bermuda! We’ve been there a couple times.”

Now, when people say this, I get really excited and usually ask where they have stayed on the island. I replied with eagerness when I recognized the name of their hotel, but Grace’s mom abruptly stopped me mid-sentence. “Wait a second,” she mustered. “We’ve met before.”

I was confused. She continued, “Two years ago when we were in Bermuda last, you were on the ferry going home and we were taking it into Hamilton. When you saw us, you started talking to us about Bermuda and things to do. It made our day.” In that moment, I remembered Grace and her family, that ferry ride home, and how wonderful I thought our exchange was. Here I was, two years later at a barbeque celebrating Grace’s graduation, about to live in the same house as she did for three years of her college experience. Two years ago on that ferry, I had never heard of St. Lawrence. I was about to finish my final year of high school at the United World College in Italy, and I was set on pursuing my university career in Europe.

Frankly, I didn’t want to come here. I didn’t want to come to the U.S. I was scared when my only viable option for university became St. Lawrence. I sometimes feel guilty and embarrassed because the first chapters of my St. Lawrence story were not prompted by legacy or a stellar tour of campus. A culmination of my circumstances and some inclination in me decided that I would be okay studying at SLU for the next four years of my life. I am not a strong believer in coincidences, and I could probably have someone calculate the odds of something like this happening. Despite this, meeting Grace’s family for a second time reinforces my belief that I am supposed to be here. Some special force, whether it be the force of probability or something much greater than myself, wanted me to be a Laurentian. I think of all the people I have encountered, all the people who have impacted me, and perhaps the people who I have influenced through sharing my stories and myself. The thought of how impactful we have the capacity to be is such a beautiful thing to contemplate.

Here I am, one year into my college experience at SLU, and I cannot imagine being anywhere else. There are so many people here that have challenged me, supported me, and inspired me; so many people who have fluttered their wings and made a lasting impact on the course of my life. When I think about my journey to SLU, it has become increasingly difficult to explain how I got here. Maybe it was my grave indecisiveness and my applications to universities I thought had interesting names. Maybe it was the email I received from my university counselor about St. Lawrence two days before the Common App deadline. Maybe, it was Grace King.