What I Learned at St. Lawrence: Hold the Door Open for Others

Liz Miller
Class of: 

It's 7:58 a.m. during my first fall at St. Lawrence. I run across the Quad, coffee and phone in hand, and near the entrance to Carnegie in a panic. Up ahead is a young woman around my age who spots me coming and realizes my urgency, and I watch as she holds both doors to the building and waits for me to walk through before she enters herself. I didn't realize it yet, but this rare moment of kindness from a stranger is just a typical Monday here. Holding doors is something that most of us are taught to do when we are younger, but never really is seen as a huge politeness. When I came to St. Lawrence, I noticed that this small but meaningful gesture of holding open a door for someone is as significant to Laurentians as scarlet and brown.

At first I didn't realize how common it was, and I thought I was maybe special or people just noticed I was a freshman and were being nice. However, I caught on quickly that this was not something that only I experienced, it was happening all around me and I was doing it, too! It was just a part of students' daily routine here. Holding the door open for the people behind you was like brushing your teeth. Even when those awkwardly far distances occurred between the "door holder" and the other person it was just natural for them to wait for you, and in turn you'd pick up the pace to show your gratitude. Now nearing the end of my third year at St. Lawrence, I realize that this small action that stood out in my mind so early on is a true example of the spirited generosity of Laurentians.

Like the people here who go out of their way to hold the door open for others, Laurentians are always willing to help one another. Whether it be an alum, a professor, faculty member or student, we are always there to support or lend a hand to each other, regardless of what we might get out of it. I have gone out of my way to reach out to high school or new students just as much as alumni have reached out to assist or just connect with me. I've made lifelong friendships and had experiences that I'd never thought I'd have through my relationships made with fellow Saints. I try to do whatever I can do to continue the circle of altruism that I've been blessed to be a part of so far during my time at SLU. No matter what, we are always there, holding the door to the opportunity and experience that is St. Lawrence, wide open for whomever wants to step through it. 

The other equally important part of this act is the role that the "walker" plays in relation to the "door holder." There are a few things you can do when someone is holding a door open for you: continue at the same pace and thank them when you reach the doorway, wave them off of their post and continue, or break into a slow jog to get there faster and to show you are thankful. At SLU, nine out of 10 times you're going to either be or see the runner - it's just the other naturally occurring component of this daily interaction. As Laurentians, we run - not walk - to meet whatever opportunity is presented to us. It is engrained in us to appreciate and explore everything shared with us, because they usually result in lifelong memories or success stories. Whether it be through the University, fellow students, professors or alumni, we know when the proverbial door is being held open for us and when we do, we run to meet it with exuberance and acknowledgement. 

It's 8:57 a.m. during the spring of my junior year. I'm in a city I don't know and I'm almost running late for an interview. My arms are full with my bag, portfolio and my jacket but as I near the door to the building, I happen to look up and see that a man has spotted me and realizes my intended destination. Once I finally reach the door, I'm breathless but on time, and as I turn to thank the stranger who held the door for me, I catch a glimpse of a red logo peeking out from underneath his jacket. It's a logo I know well - St. Lawrence's. I smile and step through the door into my future, my heart swelling with the pride of my present and past.