Thelmo Reflections: A Year in Student Government

By: 
Taylor Castator
Class of: 
2015

Approximately one year ago, I was elected president of the student body at St. Lawrence.  It has been the best, worst, craziest, most stressful, amazing, wonderful, phenomenal year, and I have learned so much from it! I have loved it even when I’ve hated it and now that my term is ending, I am struggling to put into words what it has meant to me.  Trying to do just that, I’ve written this letter to the Taylor I was a year ago, before I knew about the outcome of the election. 

Dear [Younger] Taylor,

You are about to find out that you have won the election; you are going to be the new president of the Thelomathesian Society! You will be extremely surprised and over the moon with excitement. Stop and take a moment to feel those emotions because in about five minutes, panic will set in.  You will start to question if you can really do this, if it was a mistake running and if you will embarrass yourself by being the worst president ever (yes, we still have a flare for the dramatic!).  Take a moment to feel those emotions, too, because those feelings propel you to work harder than you ever have before.  I don’t want to give everything away but here are just a few highlights and things to look forward to. 

Warning: spoilers ahead.

One of the best parts about being president is getting to work so closely with the Board of Trustees. You will probably not be in a room full of such successful, interesting and impressive people again for quite some time, so take advantage of it.  Ask for advice, pick their brains and just enjoy their company – they’re true Laurentians with some amazing stories!  Finally, and arguably most importantly, take an extra scone at the breakfast meeting - it will be your biggest regret.

The most stressful thing you will do is give a speech at Matriculation.  You will be speaking in front of more than 1,000 people, while welcoming the Class of 2017 to St. Lawrence.  Your heart will be pounding, you will be visibly shaking and you may very well feel like you are going to throw up sitting on that stage.  Don’t worry, your fellow Orientation Leaders have your back.  When you get up to the microphone they will cheer so loudly for you for what feels like an eternity.  You’ll turn bright red and wish they would just let you start talking before you really do projectile vomit into the audience (Pitch Perfect will be playing over and over in your head – you know the scene), but it will give you the courage you need to say those first words.  This speech will be the thing you are most proud of when you leave office, so even though it sometimes feels like torture, it is SO worth it!

You will learn to rely on other people.  Believe it or not, doing things on your own isn’t always best; but actually, I’m not kidding. Really, I’m serious - don’t make that face. You will have great mentors in Dean Tolliver, Meg Flaherty and President Fox, and they will all offer you some pretty fabulous advice; take it.  Foster these relationships; try your best to let them help you because you never have to do it alone and they know what they’re talking about.  Trust me (yourself? This is getting really confusing!).

The members of the Thelmo Executive Board will become some of your very best friends. There will be some serious growing pains in the beginning, but that’s okay.  Trying to figure out how to work with an entirely new group of people, completely different than you, is tough.  Cut yourself some slack – but never stop working at it. These people will become a key component of your life and you will learn to rely on, trust, and more than anything else, care about them.  It will be hardest to let go of these relationships, but I’m pretty sure these friendships will last a lifetime. (Oh, and don’t tell Meg Flaherty you’re surprising Kelly Appenzeller with cupcakes for her birthday – she ruins it!) 

If I ever had any doubt that St. Lawrence was the right school for me, this experience has me convinced.  I am so different from the girl that you are today.  I have learned so much about myself and how to be an effective leader, a team player and confident in my abilities.  These are lessons I wouldn't have learned in the classroom and I am so grateful to SLU for being the type of school that encourages students to pursue their extra-curricular interests so fiercely. 

Now that it’s all coming to an end, I am excited to have a little more free time on my hands and even more excited to study abroad in China next semester, but I am having a really hard time saying goodbye to it all.  Being president has been the defining factor of my last year at St. Lawrence.  I have eaten, slept and breathed Thelmo.  I am scared of what will come next and who I will be if no longer president. This scared, nervous and possibly terrified feeling reminds me of how you’ll be feeling very shortly when you hear the news, and if that is any indication, I’m in for one hell of a year!!

Sincerely,

A much wiser, shorter-haired, and funnier you!

Thank you to everyone who has made this the BEST experience of my life! KApps, Cote, Yibei, Evan, Shrope, Concboy, George, Kuno, Meg, Dean T, and everyone else who I have worked with – it has been an absolute pleasure!!