I grew up just a mile away from Saint Joe’s, and for a long time I always appreciated its values and amazing culture. Everything about it seemed perfect to me: it is in the city, it is small enough that the teachers know you but not too small, the culture is accepting, it is close to home, and it is a great school. For a while I was certain that I was going to go here. When I was in high school it was my top opportunity in nearly every category, but I was recruited to a small school in Maryland where I was given a scholarship to row. The idea of being a college athlete was enough to persuade me to join a place that I thought had a culture and set of values similar to SJU’s. After a year I realized that there is no place like Saint Joe’s and transferred. My first semester here was a tough adjustment; I struggled to reach out to people and did not join any clubs or organizations. I made a few good friends but did not meet as many people as I thought I would. I knew this was the place for me but I needed to put in a stronger effort to make it so.
At transfer orientation we are told to give 110% in getting involved with the community and after my first semester I promised myself that I would do just that. As opposed to simply going back to my room after classes, I chose to join clubs and organizations. As opposed to eating alone in the dining hall because I didn’t know anyone, I chose to ask to join people and introduce myself. It took a little bit of time but eventually I made even more great friends and started to feel like I had always been a Hawk. Now I am a member of organizations like Relay for Life and the student acting group Followed by a Bear, I am rushing for the service fraternity APO, and am a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team. Through these groups, as well as meeting more people in my dorms, I have started to get involved with the school community. I am also a transfer mentor to other transfer students who are starting off at Saint Joe’s. I still see everything that I originally loved about Saint Joe’s in high school.
Starting over, anywhere and anytime, is always going to be difficult. As wonderful a place as Saint Joe’s is, it can still be tough to start here if you are not willing to put in the work and get involved. But when you do put in the effort and take time to appreciate everything about the school, you really do see just how great it is.
–Ethan Grugan, ‘20