Experiencing the West While Going to St. Lawrence: Big Sky and The Grand Tetons
As some of you may be wondering from the title, how on EARTH could a student at St. Lawrence University, a school in the Northeast, claim that some of the most rewarding experiences she had while attending SLU took place nearly 2,000 miles away from campus? Well, I suppose I have some explaining to do.
As a girl who grew up rarely leaving her home turf of New England, I knew that I could perhaps be elevated to new and diverse experiences once attending St. Lawrence. I had heard stories of Outdoor Program trips to La Grave, in France, canoe trips to North Carolina, or even Habitat for Humanity excursions in states like Georgia or Alabama. I knew I wanted to be a part of one of these types of field trips, and so I dove headfirst into the incredible opportunities that came my way.
As an avid skier, I remember attending the Outdoor Program's meeting for a winter break trip to the Grand Tetons, where students would get half a credit taking a Snow Science course while getting our Avalanche 1 certification. All I had to do was put my name in the hat, and hopefully get chosen to partake in this dream of mine. Trust me - growing up, I covered my bedroom walls in SKI magazine rip-outs of tall peaks and tiny neon skiers exploding down them in perfect figure-eight shapes. Much to my surprise, I ended up being one of eight students chosen to go to the Tetons. As a freshman, I knew absolutely no one else going on the trip and flew to Jackson completely blind – meeting everyone the moment I walked into our shared condo for the week. I was quickly able to chock this week up to one of the best I would ever have while being a SLU student. I became AVALANCHE CERTIFIED, which is something that I am incredibly proud of, and I managed to build connections with St. Lawrence students that I may have never met or interacted with in the same way. Not only was I able to build meaningful connections and earn course credit, but I was given the opportunity to experience a place that I knew would blow me away physically.
Fast forward to one year later, when I made my way back out West over a winter break - this time to Big Sky, Montana. After I heard that there would be a SLU Connect-Mountain States, I had to be a part of it. The skier in me had always dreamed of moving to the West to explore the possibilities of a longterm career, and I ended up leaving Montana with a number of connections and a budding internship. This opportunity, complete with skiing at one of the most amazing places in America and creating awesome friendships along the way, made me realize that with SLU's help, I can achieve anything in this world. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that this school has afforded me, and I am sure to never take anything for granted. As a senior, I know that my time here is running out, and in writing this, I have a newfound appreciation for this school. My life has been shaped by this place in unimaginable ways -- whether it be small moments on campus, at Whiteface, sitting in class, skiing steep lines in Big Sky or dropping in at the Teton Pass. Thank you, SLU. And for you kids out there who have big dreams - I guarantee you that SLU will help you achieve them, you just have to take the first step and pursue 'em!