L.M. Montgomery: Thank You for Helping Me Find the Best Kept Secret | St. Lawrence University

L.M. Montgomery: Thank You for Helping Me Find the Best Kept Secret

Eleanor Napoli
2020

Twelve college applications submitted and endless road trips later, the summers going into my junior and senior year became a time where I had more questions than answers; questions such as, do you want to go to a small or large school? Are you trying to play sports in college? Are you interested in a city or a little more remote? The list was endless; I wanted the questions to stop and the answers to come.

The answer came the day I heard that the star of my favorite movie and book, Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert Blythe) in Anne of Green Gables had passed away. Feeling sad and wanting to take a trip to Avonlea, the place that captivated my heart and childhood, I decided to re-watch the movie. I remember falling in love with the story all over again and feeling at ease that a place so wonderful existed. Then I did the most ridiculous thing. Feeling like I was actually in the story, I started thinking of ways that I could live vicariously through the fictional characters to make my dream become a reality. I hit the internet and found myself researching colleges near Canada and low and behold, St. Lawrence University appeared.

At this point, I still didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I did start piecing together that I wanted a place with four distinct seasons, a traditional campus, and a location that would take me out of the anxious suburban city life. I started reading about this small liberal arts college in Upstate New York and saw that everything was perfect; there were farms (I have always been a horse girl at heart), Division III athletics, mountains, and so much more to be discovered (an elite study abroad program, personable professors, etc.). At the time, I was being recruited across the East Coast for athletics and I was exhausted from the back and forth communication. The stresses of choosing a school based solely on sports was wearing, but St. Lawrence didn’t make me feel this way because all the other factors that the school had seemed to make these issues evaporate.

I went to my guidance counselor and asked if she had ever heard of this utopia that I had become fascinated with. She said that she had heard of it and no one from my high school had applied to St. Lawrence in more than seven years. That changed. I applied and then, coincidentally, I found out that Jeff Rickey (previous vice president and dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at St. Lawrence) was coming to Wilmington Friends School as a college representative. I went home and dragged my mother to the meeting and both of us left knowing we just had to visit this place that had so many wonderful qualities. Embarrassingly, as mothers do, my mom went up to Jeff Rickey at the end to make sure that he knew who we were (I was mortified).

September 2015 came around and we had a family event to go to in Saratoga Springs. Because we were in the area and didn’t want to wait any longer, my family took a detour up north to St. Lawrence University. It torrentially downpoured and I loved it. The campus looked beautiful, the grass looked so lush and the pavements glistened. Not only physically was it beautiful but the people I met were extraordinary. They were people I wanted to spend my time being around – as Anne would say, they were kindred spirits. After my interview, Jeff Rickey knew I was coming and wanted to personally say ‘hi’ to me – I couldn’t believe he remembered me (thanks Mom for forcing your friendship on another person)!

I went back home and couldn’t stop thinking about the place I had just been. I finally had an answer to the pestering “Where do you think you’ll go to college?” question. Every time I mentioned St. Lawrence, people either hadn’t heard of it, got it confused with Sarah Lawrence, or had heard of it and raved. These people who raved about it couldn’t stop talking about the connections it had and how everyone who went there was obsessed with it. This was the place I wanted to be, a place that I could, at any moment, walk around campus and know I was in the right place. Similar to how Anne would imagine living on Prince Edward Island, I used to imagine I would one day live in a place where I also found so much joy. Yes, there have been hard times, but as L.M Montgomery writes, “You can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” Ms. Montgomery, through story, Anne and Gilbert’s words and actions, I have made up my mind and know I will continue to love my time at St. Lawrence because I, too, have found my home. You never really expect that the perfect place exists, but then it does and it truly is wonderful when your imagination comes true.