St. Lawrence: A Door-Holding Community
I often get asked why I chose to go to St. Lawrence. Why I chose a school in the middle of nowhere, with freezing temperatures, and a town barely big enough to see on a map. For a while, my answer has been an inexplicable series of words trying to capture an emotion, a series of characteristics, and a single trait. Now, as I enter my senior year, the final chapter of my time here at St. Lawrence, I’ve found out what makes this small school in Canton, New York, so hard to say goodbye to.
To start, I’m a third-generation St. Lawrence student, a twig or branch or whatever they call it these days. I come from a family of proud Laurentians. So, when it finally came time for me to look at colleges in my junior year of high school, there were no questions that St. Lawrence was going to be on my list. I remember looking at my father, John Reynolds ’88, and saying, “There’s no way I’m going to St. Lawrence.” He smiled, nodded his head and reassured me that of course I didn’t have to go to St. Lawrence and I should explore all the possibilities that were out there but we should, just to be safe, check it out.
My father must have pulled some strings because of course, our visit day at St. Lawrence was one of the most picturesque and beautiful fall days that all Laurentians can relate to. The golden sun poured down through the crisp, burnt leaves as we sat in the top row of the football field’s bleachers. But sitting there with my dad, him reuniting with an old friend, me taking in the almost aerial view of campus, I knew it wasn’t just the perfect weather that day that made this school so special. It was the people. The energy from the stands despite the team being behind, the students bundled up and cheering along with the proud locals and alumni, and the comfortable feeling of belonging.
At the end of the game, my dad walked me through his old dorm building, Sykes, through the familiar smells of Dana, and we peeked into classrooms that were both occupied and empty. As my father walked down memory lane, I began to notice a pattern with each building we entered. Each time we entered or exited a building there always seemed to be a student or teacher holding the door open. Each time with a warm smile, sometimes sparking conversation, other times running off to class, but regardless, holding the door.
St. Lawrence, I’ve discovered, is a door-holding community. Every student not only has the kindness and inexplicable ability to care deeply about those around them, but also the desire to quite literally hold doors open to help each other succeed. Students, teachers, families, and alumni all want to see each other succeed and help each other thrive. The alumni network is no different and I saw the full power of it this past summer interning for Jennifer Curley ‘90. The SLU alumni network continues to hold and open doors for students as they enter into their professional careers and that inherent mentality is what makes SLU’s alumni network one of the best in the country.
Interning for the Curley Company was a leap for me. It was in Washington, D.C., a city that I had never been to, in an industry I have never worked in and, quite frankly, completely out of my comfort zone. I was connected with Jennifer through a mutual Laurentian and after reaching out via email, Jennifer and I chatted over the phone about her experience and advice for discovering a passion and career path. At the end of our call, Jennifer informed me that her company always hires a summer intern, and while it was very competitive, she always loved having SLU students and urged me to apply. After phone interviews, Skype calls, and a writing supplement, I heard back that I had gotten the internship. While they hired me for my skills and experience, Jennifer had instilled that spark and held a door open for me.
I soon learned, upon my arrival in D.C, that the St. Lawrence network was bigger than I had originally thought. Sally Roberts ‘21 was also interning at Curley Company with me. “I had connected with Annie Williams ‘17 and Jennifer through the SLU Connect-DC trip in January 2019,” Sally shared with me. “I ate dinner with Jennifer on the first night of the trip and met Annie for the ‘Living in the City Breakfast’ the next morning. Their descriptions of their work as well as the comfort and familiarity of a St. Lawrence presence in the workplace attracted me to the Curley Company immediately. I exchanged business cards with both Jennifer and Annie after our first introduction and decided to reach out to thank both of them for taking the time to meet with us and to ask about any potential internship opportunities. I went through the application process and came out the other side incredibly grateful to have an opportunity to work with such accomplished professionals in Washington, D.C. Olivia and I were thrown into this immersive work environment and were able to experience a wonderful SLU-filled summer as a team!”
Throughout the internship, Sally and I were able to see just how incredible our alumni network is and how simple connections can make profound impacts. Upon starting our internship at the Curley Company, Jennifer expressed how this was an incredible opportunity for us to try out many different aspects of the public relations industry to begin figuring out what we enjoyed and what we did not. Jennifer reiterated that knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do, a valuable tip for both of us. Throughout the 11-week internship, we were able to learn, with the help of Jennifer and the staff, which areas we excelled at and began to narrow down and hone in on a future career path. At every step of the internship, Jennifer held the door open for us.
Looking back on my experiences this summer and throughout my time at SLU, I’ve gained an inside look into the door-holding community here at 23 Romoda Drive. It’s the people that not only make this place so special but who drive our incredible alumni network: the friendships, the connections, the professors, the community. Whatever you may choose to call it, St. Lawrence thrives because of its network of people who come together on this 1,100-acre campus to hold doors and help each other excel during their time at SLU and beyond.