To the St. Lawrence Class of 2021

Brenda Winn
Class of: 

To the St. Lawrence Class of 2021,

Four years ago, I decided to come to St. Lawrence. And now, here I sit, with 33 days until Commencement. But I remember being in your shoes. I remember the feeling of sending my deposit into SLU, the excitement of finally getting to post that Facebook status…”St. Lawrence University Class of 2017!” I didn’t know what was in store but was just ready for a change, ready for college, and ready for SLU. Just as you are now.

Today I sit from the other side. Today, every thrilling moment of anticipation I had has turned into memories clad with bittersweet melancholy. If I met that girl from four years ago today, I don’t know if I would be able to find the words to tell her all that was to come. All that SLU had to offer to her. And I know that I could never express how quickly it would go. Everyone always says that college will be the fastest four years of your life. I never believed it. Well, let me tell you now that I do.

St. Lawrence is a truly magical place. I walk around campus and still see SLU with the wondrous eyes of the girl from four years ago. I pass by buildings, friends, professors, and the memories of fleeting moments that have all made St. Lawrence magical to me. I did not know then, but do now, that it is the small things that make SLU, SLU. It is the late nights in the library, surrounded with classmates, when you realize there is nowhere else you would rather be. It is the way that you are subtly reminded of the extraordinary spirt of St. Lawrence amid the times that you are stressed, overwhelmed, and ready to quit.  It is the moments of pure joy, laughter, and happiness that will fill my heart for years to come, and remind me constantly of my home in the North Country.

SLU has quite literally given me the world. I have traveled throughout Europe with SLU behind me, supporting me from campus and beyond. I have done research at top-tier laboratories, I have met countless alumni who will sit and talk for hours about “When I was a SLU student…” Almost every plane, train, or bus ride I have taken wearing SLU apparel has led to meeting someone with some type of SLU connection.  I have been invited to spend evenings having dinner at the homes of professors with their families. I have traveled across the country with peers and professors to attend national academic conferences. I have climbed Adirondack peaks, skated down the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, snowmobiled, ice-fished, and snowshoed in the dead of winter, and biked and ran the Canton countryside more times than I can count. I have seen dance, voice, orchestra, band, and musical concerts on campus. Because of SLU, I pushed my comfort zone wider and deeper than I ever thought possible.

The next four years will be full of these things, and more, for you at SLU. You will make the memories, and experience the subtle moments that are truly what make SLU. You will have the nights of stress, mounds of work, and frustration. You will never believe that you will miss these nights, but let me assure you, you will. With 33 days left at this place, you will negotiate with the world to take you back to those times. Because these nights lead to 2 a.m. “third dinners” with friends, sitting in a circle in a dorm room around a pizza box, laughing and talking. Not knowing that yes, someday, you will miss this.

The next four years are yours. To find who you are, to explore, and to grow in ways and dimensions you never thought possible. I know that I did. Open yourself to learn: to learn other people’s view points, to learn new ideas and things you never thought possible. Stand up for what you believe in, you have a voice for a reason, and that reason is to use it. Make friends, keep an open mind, and remember that college goes by a lot faster than four years, so do not waste it. Before you know it, you will be 33 days from graduation and in my shoes, wanting the next generation to love SLU as much as you do. Take the time to appreciate the small moments. Believe in yourself and in your friends. Tell people you love them, and try not to hold too many grudges. Be great, be the best you that you can be.

Four years feels like a lifetime ago to me. It went by in the blink of an eye. And you know what, St. Lawrence? If I could do it all again, I would…in a heartbeat.