St. Lawrence University was my first choice when applying for colleges. Like many students, I was persuaded by the inclusive community I saw when I did a tour of the school. As a student of color from New York City, coming from a school full of minorities, I wondered what my place would be like in a predominantly white institution. One thing that I love about SLU is how open faculty are to students wanting to enhance their learning—specifically, students like me.
When I came to SLU, I started rock climbing because I wanted to experience something new. I was never an outdoor person, but since SLU is in the middle of nowhere and so close to so many climbing and hiking sites, I thought, "why not?" I remember going to a camp as a child and crying because the rock climbing wall was scary and my peers were always discouraging. However, when I got to SLU, the students that worked at the climbing wall always made me feel welcomed and encouraged, and it always compelled me to keep coming back.
During my first year, I was so passionate about rock climbing that I would go at the end of every day and try and reach a new goal. Honestly, it scared me. For two weeks straight, I wasn’t able to climb the easiest wall in the gym because I was scared despite the harness and encouragement. I knew I was safe, but I couldn’t get past the heights, even though there were safety pads sitting under me. Eventually, I gave up on that one and I tried a slightly harder wall. I was able to make it all the way up, where I'm pretty sure I cried.
At the end of my first semester during my sophomore year, I applied for a rock climbing course trip to Spain with SLU’s Outing Program. It would be my first time climbing outdoors, but when I was selected via the lottery to attend the trip, I felt that it was something I was supposed to do—a duty to myself and any other minority student who comes after me with the same passion.
As a low-income student, I wasn’t able to afford the course on my own. To secure funding, I made my way through faculty members and even student government. I emailed professors, deans, and advisors trying to find anyone who could possibly help me fund this course. With a lot of persistence and determination, I was able to get the funding I needed and do what felt like was the impossible.
I learned so many skills and I was able to make some lifelong bonds with my peers in the process. I learned to appreciate the outdoors and nature. Lastly, it gave me a new identity at SLU, it allowed me to see myself in a greater capacity than I did before.