Having grown up in the Midwest, I may never have heard of St. Lawrence if not for being a hockey fan. One afternoon during my sophomore year in high school, I was working in the college counseling office to get out of study hall, opening envelopes of literature from different colleges and filing them. When I came across one from St. Lawrence, a name I knew from following hockey, I decided to leaf through it. What a fortuitous decision that turned out to be, as I discovered SLU offered a degree in Canadian Studies. I had been very interested in Canada for several years at that point, and the opportunity to study Canadian politics and society in college was very exciting. I remember going home that day and telling my parents that I thought I’d found the college for me.
And a couple of years later, I did indeed arrive at St. Lawrence as a Canadian Studies and Government combined major. St. Lawrence was the perfect place to be a Canadian Studies major in the United States. The courses offered by the Canadian Studies department were excellent. There was also great value in the interdisciplinary nature of the department, and how it interacted with my other major. I got to consider Canada through the lens of literature, popular culture, history, geography – not just the narrow view I would have gotten doing a political science major at a larger university.
The proximity to Canada was another benefit to being at St. Lawrence. We had Canadian TV and radio stations available, so it was easy to follow to news. And it was a short drive to Ottawa to do research or just spend the day sightseeing.
The small class sizes at St. Lawrence were a great aspect of the university. I was able to get so much personal attention and mentoring from my professors. It wasn’t until I was a doctoral student at a larger university that I truly realized how special it was to have gotten that level of individualized attention as an undergrad.
By arrangement with the Canadian Studies program, I was able to spend my junior year at Carleton University in Ottawa. I got to take courses in Carleton’s highly regarded political science department and also got some first-hand experiences with Canadian politics, volunteering on a campaign in the federal election that year.