St. Olaf Sentiments: February 24, 2017

Like any eager first year moving out for the first time, I came to college a little optimistic, a lot anxious and very unsure of my place on campus. That anxiety was only solidified in my first semester. I missed home like crazy. I wasn’t sure St. Olaf was my place, like I had originally thought. I called my parents every day, begging them to let me come home. I finished my first semester on a very bad note. I had never felt more uncertainty about the school. I had decided to consider transferring. Little did I know, though, how much one class would change my life over the month of January.

Women’s and gender studies was always something I took interest in. A whole class dedicated to women’s empowerment (of course, I know now that’s not all that is talked about) appealed to me greatly.

I was shocked when my older brother, a junior at Davidson College, declared to my family that he wanted to become a gender studies major. He met a little uncertainty from my parents as to the usefulness of the degree, but excitement from me. It was so amazing to see how a class could transform my brother from an ignorant white male to a blossoming feminist, something I never thought I would witness.

I thus made it a goal to take such a class when I reached college. If it could change my brother that much, I could only imagine what it could do for me.

I first visited the department during orientation week. I met Anna Kuxhausen, who instantly inspired me. She told us she would be teaching the interim intro class and I was instantly sold. Fast forward a few months, and I was registered for the course.

Like I said earlier, I struggled a lot over winter break with anxiety about coming back for interim. A lot of that anxiety disappeared, however, the first day I sat in the class. I knew I had found a new home right away. I knew the class would pique my curiosity, but I had no idea how much it would change me as a feminist and as a human being. Every day I came into class, I felt all sorts of empowerment and love for myself, something I had not felt in the months since moving into college.

Finally, the feeling of belonging came to me at St. Olaf. When moving into college as a first year, we are met with all sorts of uncertainty and questions of our place. It’s important to hold on and wait for that one class, or even that one professor, that can open our minds entirely.

Today, I’m almost positive I want to be a Women’s and Gender Studies major here. I know I have at least one home here, and an entire community I built from my interim class. I might find something else I love just as much later down the road, but I now know that patience is key in discovering your place somewhere new. I am so grateful to St. Olaf for giving me the opportunity to do just that.