As my freshman year comes to a close, I can’t help but look back on my first year of high learning. It feels like yesterday when I touched down in Santa Fe and saw the rocky and rust-colored city I would soon call home. After a few days of intense shopping at Target and World Market to build my new life, we drove into campus the day before move-in to get my bearings. Somehow my charismatic father convinced the sweet people at Buildings and Grounds to let us into my dorm room to check the measurements, and before I knew it I was on my way to move-in day. I was ready to discover who was going to become.
The fear and anxiety of walking up to registration quickly melted away as I saw the familiar face of Alex, who I had been chatting with before coming to school. We got what we needed and headed off to unpack. There I met people who would become my best friends. The lovely but intimidating Kreider who lived next door, and the quintessentially quirky Joe who lived downstairs, to name a few. After our forced bonding, I mean freshman orientation, the freshman class started our new lives. What followed has been rigorous, lovely, intense, and life-changing. There is no place I would have rather spent my birth into adulthood.
This journey has been filled with joy, heartbreak, community, and learning. The community that has been built in our hideaway in the mountains means everything to me. They are there for you in the amazing moments, the great seminars, or the writing of the perfect paper, but they are also there to pick you up when you fall. Your fellow Johnnies are there to sit with you to walk you through Euclid’s propositions when you just can’t get it, and they are there to sit with you at The Swing and talk you though hurt and grief.
Community comes not only from the students but also our staff and faculty. You are not just a student number at St. John’s. Tutors and staff at St. John’s are invested in the lives and success of the students. When I was struggling, my tutors were there to pick me up. There was one time that I was struggled to demonstrate a proposition in math and offhandedly called myself stupid. I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I ran into my math tutor, Ms. Martinez, that I realized that I said it. She came up to me and told me, in the most assertive way I have seen Ms. Martinez speak, that I am never allowed to call myself stupid ever again. It made me feel like I mattered in the classroom.
Becoming a Johnnie isn’t just choosing to study the St. John’s Program, it is choosing to be part of a community that requires you to work hard, ask difficult questions, to listen, and to care about the people. It is learning how to be a better human being. So, now that I have passed my freshman year of college, who am I? I am more authentically myself than I have been in a long time, and part of who am I now is being a Johnnie. Now, as the Johnnie Chairs sit empty and the chalkboards lay blank, we rest and anxiously await the fall when we can once again sit around those wooden tables and let the spark of conversation light the way through the world.