Starting a Legacy

By: 
Liz Miller
Class of: 
2017

One of the common traditions here at St. Lawrence is being a part of a legacy. Many people will say, “Oh, my mom went here,” or “My grandfather went here,” or even “Yeah, my entire family went here.” With every woven family legacy throughout St. Lawrence’s history there must be a beginning. For me, I am the one who placed the first thread from my square to extend my SLU quilt to my younger sister, Katie.

When I entered St. Lawrence as a first-year student, my little sister was just a sophomore in high school. What she knew about colleges and universities was limited to the tours that we had brought her on as I researched what I wanted in my higher education experience. I knew fairly early on that SLU was the place for me. At the time my sister was happy for me, but had her own plans in mind for her college experience.

Fast forward to my sophomore year at SLU; Katie (upon persistence from myself and my mom) had already gone on an official tour and interviewed at SLU, simply to “cover the bases” and even to practice, since St. Lawrence was not one of the schools she saw herself realistically attending. I personally had found what I was passionate about in the classroom and in my extracurriculars, my family had met many of my friends and had both seen and heard about the experiences and opportunities that I was getting to take part in, and most importantly how much I was madly in love with St. Lawrence.

By the time February rolled around that year though, my sister’s college trajectory, which had been different from mine from the very start, had already altered its course. All of the mail that had made its way to our house had began with, “We regret to inform you…” Katie’s original hopes of attending these schools were rising and falling with each small envelope.

It was my Mid-semester Break, and I had a friend from school visiting that knew about Katie's struggles and of course wanted to use the time as an opportunity to talk up the place that we both already loved so much. She told my bereft sister to disregard the opinions of the other colleges or universities that had let her down, that SLU would recognize how special she was and would give her not only the opportunity to succeed, but the support to become the very best version of herself. It wasn’t until that moment that I experienced a new set of emotions besides reverence for depicting my university. When I listened to my friend, I felt something that I can only describe as jealousy run through me. Did my sister have it in her heart to cherish St. Lawrence the way it deserved? It seems like an odd thought to have, but my relationship with SLU was so special to me. Although I wanted to share the school that I love with others so that they can experience the same, when it comes to this place, it is hard to separate logic from emotion. I kept my concerns to myself, because I believed that my friend was right.

Katie was kind, driven, passionate, and has the potential to go places that I knew St. Lawrence could help her go. I knew that my trepidations would pass, because St. Lawrence, as well as my sister, deserved the best, and if she chose to do so, she would eventually find her patch within the St. Lawrence quilt. As my mom said throughout the entire process to the both of us, “Everything happens for a reason.”

What seemed like an eternity, but was only a month later, Katie, who had been so dejected about her initial college journey, received a large red envelope in the mail adorned with images of balloons and confetti. It was her first and only college acceptance letter, just as it was mine, two very different courses that led us to the same destination. When my sister received that letter, she finally believed that someone out there recognized what she knew was inside her all along. Finally, someone had seen the person that me and my family believed to be so deserving of an opportunity - and naturally the return address was 23 Romoda Drive. I had faith that this place that I already called home would come through, but it truly solidified my trust in the University – that Laurentians invest in the future of those who were willing to make it their own, and embrace those who show that they have infinite potential.

Looking back on this time, I could not imagine a better outcome for my sister and my family. Both of our journeys were so different, yet the final destination was the same. As I predicted, my sister found her spot on the SLU quilt, and there is even a little overlap between the two of us. I could not be more thankful and happy to share my Family Weekends, my hockey games, half of my Pub Cookie, and the passenger's seat of my car to and from our house. I guess you could say she’s the scarlet to my brown, and I could not be more excited to have her as the other half of my legacy, something I hope we both pass on to our next generations.