By Cat Baldwin
I have a fairly unusual story about my introduction to St. John’s. On the wall of my tiny, hundred person high school, next to the door of the choir room, there was a poster. This poster should be familiar to you: it’s the classic St. John’s book poster that nearly every freshman hangs on the wall of their dorm. The poster was there for all four of my high school years. The choir room changed buildings, and the poster followed it. No one knew who had put it up or how it got there, but I passed by it every day, several times a day. Nearly every time I passed, I would stop and search through the titles, looking for a new book recommendation from this mystery poster. That particular stack of books is a picture that is etched into my memory. However, not once in my first three years of high school did I even consider that this poster was an advertisement for a college. Not once. I only realized its association during my senior year, and even then the acknowledgement was indifferent. I ended up visiting colleges in the south, and I decided to visit St. John’s completely on a whim. Any college that advertises with books can’t be all bad, right? However, by the time I got to Annapolis, I thought I had already made a decision. I was going to a different college, this little school was going to be nothing more than some unimportant place to visit. But once I stepped onto campus, I fell completely in love with the school and its traditions. I knew that it was the place I had to be. I have never regretted that decision.
My time at St. John’s has been filled with beautiful moments that I will keep forever, like rowing in under early morning stars into the sunrise with the girls who’ve been in my boat for four years, singing Sicut Cervus in the pendulum pit every Wednesday, acquiring blisters while winning the endurance polka competition, and so much more. I’ve had the opportunity to read books I might never had read, and explore questions that I’ve always wanted to ask. And like any good Johnnie, I’ve learned that I don’t know anything. The program has certainly changed my life, but by far, the greatest gift St. John’s has given me is the community. Any person who has gone to St. John’s has the potentiality to be my friend. I love that I can see someone I went to school with, but who was just an acquaintance, and can sit there and talk for hours about Cervantes, or Ptolemy, or the St. Matthew’s Passion.
My sophomore year was a struggle for me due to personal problems, but it was then that I discovered how truly loving the community could be. I could barely move without hearing a friendly word, seeing a smiling face, or even simply feeling the quiet presence of someone who cares about me. This college through the shared experience of the program, creates a support system that is unparalleled. The friends I have made here love more fiercely than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s truly remarkable. I feel so very lucky to have had the opportunity to read these books and meet these people.
I need to tell you that I am so unbelievably grateful to every single person who has made a gift to St. John’s for scholarships, because without the financial help I was given, I would not have been able to attend St. John’s. Thank you, for helping me find my second home and my second family.