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.