Taking Steps

Keckeley Habel
Class of: 

2,189. A rather daunting number when it represents the number of miles between Maine to Georgia.

Spanning 14 states, countless trail towns, beautiful vistas and quaint campsites, the Appalachian Trail is an admirable feat by those who have achieved it. After graduation, I will attempt to walk this path as I also walk into a new chapter of my life. My inspiration is derived from my mom, who shared my dreams for her post-graduate plans. In 1981, she started this same journey, and hearing her stories has driven me to follow her steps.

Now that I am a month away from receiving my diploma, I am realizing that my steps on this campus are numbered, and soon I will be taking steps on a very different terrain. My St. Lawrence experience has taught me many lessons and values that I will carry forward as I embark on my hike, hopefully encouraging my upcoming steps.

Trying New Things

Club Fair. Week Two of school. Taking steps along Millenium Way and realizing all of the opportunities that lay in front of me. All I could think was, “Write my name down as many times as possible so I can meet all of my future best friends.” Of course, as we all know, once I did that my inbox was flooded with more information than my first-year brain could comprehend. However, it introduced me to various groups on campus and allowed me to branch out. Although my upbringing includes excessive amounts of time outdoors, the Appalachian Trail is slightly more than I am used to. I will be walking six to nine hours a day and eating all of my meals out of a pot the size of a Rubik’s Cube, so you could say I’m pushing my comfort zone.

From studying abroad to trying a new sport, St. Lawrence has shown me that stepping outside of what is easy stretches your mind (and in my case, my muscles). I feel lucky that I have built up bravery in the past four years that I will be able to use in the next four months.

Accepting Kindness

St. Lawrence's on-campus community entirely made up of students, professors and staff. It is a group of people that care about each other and genuinely want to see each other succeed. During my time at SLU, I’ve come to know that people want to share kindness in many ways, whether that is holding the door open for someone, offering a piece of advice, or swiping a friend in at Dana. This is a community of friends.

Everything that I’ve read about the Appalachian Trail is the same. There is this saying on the trail: “Hike your own hike.” Nobody wants to see you give up, so there are lots of friends along the way to help you keep going. Fellow “Appalachian Trail-ers” want to help in any way so you can carry on, but they also respect that this is your journey, these are your steps. All I can hope is that there will be people there to help me when I need it, and I can do the same for others.

The Hard Parts

When life gets tough, keep taking steps. If I’ve learned anything at St. Lawrence, it’s that even when you are in the darkest parts of life, it will get better. Last-minute papers, arguments with friends, hearing about family problems from far away. This too shall pass. I can only imagine that there will be times on the AT when I will want to quit and go home to my nice warm bed and normal bathroom- that would be easier. But I also know that if I keep taking steps, I will walk from Maine to Georgia.

On May 21st, when I take those couple of steps across the stage, I will not only be receiving my diploma, but taking steps into the next part of adulthood. Taking steps, no matter how big or small, how many or how few, is the way we move forward. It’s what we tell ourselves to get through the hardest of days and our rewards for the best of them. It’s nice to know that we all have learned some of the same lessons to carry onward and take each of our own steps.