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Emerging Priorities

How to Build a Learning Community

“I wanted to go to a university where I would feel supported,” Meca-Gaye Francis ’20 says. “I felt that academic and emotional support are the same side of the coin. The other side is financial.”

She applied to several schools and received scholarship offers from many of them. “I actually stacked all my acceptance packages according to the financial aid I was offered,” she says. “With a full academic scholarship, I could have the confidence I needed to focus on my studies. That’s what need-based assistance does: it lets students be students and work toward our goals.”

Francis applied for, and was awarded, the Kirk Douglas ’39 Scholarship. It covers tuition, room and board, and other school-related expenses. Established in 1981 by Douglas and his wife Anne, it was augmented in 2012 and 2016 with additional funding commitments to support experiential learning. This scholarship has become one of the University’s most prestigious academic awards. Recipients represent the diverse student body of St. Lawrence, they have financial need, and demonstrate scholarly excellence and leadership.

"Now that I’m looking back at the four-year journey as a 2020 grad, I am so grateful. Before coming to St. Lawrence, it felt like a gamble. Now, it’s clear I made the right choice.”

- Meca-Gaye Francis ’20

“I worked on campus since my first spring semester,” Francis says. “But having the peace of mind that comes with this scholarship is something I would not have been able to afford on my own.”

She says her academic life was “great,” and her professors “incredibly supportive.” She completed two honors projects that she credits for expanding the way she thinks and even how she expresses herself.

She found her current job through connections she made while completing her Senior Year Experience. After sharing the project with several people in her field and, based on the feedback she received, she’s getting ready to apply to graduate schools.

"Now that I’m looking back at the four-year journey as a 2020 grad,” Francis says, “I am so grateful. Before coming to St. Lawrence, it felt like a gamble. Now, it’s clear I made the right choice.”

Every Laurentian Builds a Foundation for Every Laurentian that Follows

At St. Lawrence, each class year is built. Students are accepted for the academic aptitude they’ve already demonstrated, for their potential to do great things, and to complement one another as the vital parts of this learning community.

This is the work that consumes Payson Hall.

“The role of Admissions is to shape each class.” That’s Florence Hines, vice president and dean of admissions at St. Lawrence. “We recognize the importance of bringing students from all kinds of backgrounds together in the North Country where they learn from each other.”

As her team pieces together each year’s admitted pool, Hines says they’re aware of the hurdles some families face before they can enroll.

“Scholarships can be part of a financial aid award used to overcome those hurdles.” For some, she adds, a merit scholarship is a well-deserved recognition for outstanding achievement throughout high school, acknowledging a student’s prior successes and anticipating how those accomplishments will evolve even further at St. Lawrence.

“This kind of recognition may result in a family choosing to make a campus visit they might not otherwise have made,” Hines says, “and we all know how easy it is to fall in love with St. Lawrence once you’ve been on campus. In this way, geographic diversity is often stimulated as students from across the country are recognized and ultimately choose to enroll.”

For others, the idea of a St. Lawrence education is a dream to be reached.

“We don’t want cost to prohibit that,” Hines says. “Need-based scholarships and grants play a critical role in allowing the University to help talented students realize their goals. Every dollar invested in a St. Lawrence scholarship program allows us to create a freshman class where unique talents can be brought together without limits based on income. First generation college students, international students, under-represented students, low-income students are all able to experience St. Lawrence thanks to the generosity of donors who support our students through both annual contributions and endowed scholarships.”

The Academic Rewards of Diversity

“Scholarships ensure that the individual students who will benefit most from a St. Lawrence education are able to do so,” Karl Schonberg says. “The campus, as a community, is enriched by the breadth of students’ backgrounds and experiences that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.” 

As the St. Lawrence vice president and dean of academic affairs, he sees how students learn from this richness.

“We ask that every student come ready to tell their story, knowing that they have a unique perspective to offer and that some of their greatest learning opportunities will come from listening to the different perspectives of others.”

Schonberg credits the Laurentian community for creating an environment that values these stories.

“Sharing our experiences and insights openly adds an important layer to each student’s learning experience. This makes the four years of college challenging and exciting. It prepares students to be innovative and inclusive leaders in the world they will navigate throughout their careers. It also strengthens the bonds of the Laurentian community that will support the University’s future so that coming generations can benefit from it as well.”

Endowed Student Scholarships