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Student Transformation: From First to Fourth Year

by Jack Laushway

University is a very exciting time in our lives and it can shape who we are. You make a whole new group of friends, leave your family behind, and take on the world on your own for the first time. Leaving for school can be intimidating at first, but it is an amazing experience. 

As a fourth-year student, I can say that I have changed a lot since I first walked through these doors. Any of my friends will tell you the same. It’s not that I have different interests or a new hairstyle, it’s the changes in my social environment and self-image that have changed the most, and for the best…

A child smiling

First Year

I was born in Stittsville (Ottawa) and spent all my life there up until I left for Laurentian. Because of this, I was very excited to check out a new city and get a fresh environment.

I always felt that I had been sheltered in my town. Stittsville was a town with most higher family incomes and very little diversity. On top of that, my parents were strict and hardly ever let me leave town or venture out of their comfort zone. I felt as though I never had much freedom and I was sort of stuck in this bubble.

Living away from home for university would allow me to enjoy some freedom and have new experiences. I left town to get my degree in sports administration, which was the program I knew I wanted to take since Grade 11. Since I knew I wanted to go into business, and sports take up most of my personal life, the sports administration degree was a no-brainer.

My parents were nervous when I left for school since I was 17 and still very young. I was nervous as well but knew this would be an exciting chapter of my life.

Almost as soon as I arrived at school, I started as an analytics intern for the Sudbury Wolves. It was almost like a dream come true. It was so amazing to finally be able to do the kind of work that I’ve wanted to do my whole life. 

I only knew one person going to Laurentian with me, and it was my lifelong friend who used to live across the street from me. We had grown distant since he moved away, but we still kept our connection. He was taking the same program as me and we ended up being roommates. Since we didn’t have a fan in our room, we would stay up all night having late night chats. It was too hot in our room to fall asleep. Despite how bad the heat was, I’m glad it happened because we bonded more from that shared experience and had an unforgettable year. 

I lived in the Single Student Residence in my first year. Everyone in our room got along well, and that’s where I met some of my best friends. We had a second-year student in our apartment who helped us transition. He taught us the ins and outs about the school. I also had some upper-years almost take me under their wing. They showed me the school and took me to other events and parties that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. First-year was probably the best year of my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Two students next to each other

Second Year

Second-year was a really big year for me. It was the biggest transition period of my whole life. I started to really spread my wings and become more confident. I lived in SSR again, on the same floor, but there was a whole new wave of people that came in.

It was a lot of fun living in the residence again since I was still somewhat new to the experience, but I had the advantage of already knowing the “ins and outs”. 

It was pretty cool to be able to guide the first-year students and tell them about my experiences. They could know what to expect, and I offered tips about studying, going off-campus and classes. I had new roommates but still kept very close relationships with all my friends from the year before. 

I was expanding my social circle more and more and started to get outside my comfort zone and have some fun. Also, I started playing the guitar again and was excited as music has always been such an important part of my life. I started to mature as well and thought more about what I wanted to do after graduation. 

I knew it would soon be time to start my career and plan my life out. I started to get serious about my work ethic and became far more disciplined. I started to go to the gym more often, woke up earlier, and looked for more job opportunities to improve my skills and experiences. I finally turned 19 that December and started to feel like I was growing up.

A group of people smiling while sitting down

Third Year

In my third year, I knew it was time for me to leave SSR and settle down in an upper-year residence. I moved to West Residence where I became a peer mentor to other students. This allowed me to build upon my interpersonal skills which I had improved so much in the year prior. 

By my third year, I had an amazing circle of friends that all came together to create one big friend group. This allowed us to do a lot more activities such as paintballing, casino trips, and more.

I enjoyed having such a large variety of people to talk to. There would always be someone to hang out with even if a bunch of them were busy. For the third consecutive year, I joined the Residence Hockey League and had a blast. I started to play well and put up big numbers every game. Our team was a great group of people that got along together. We had so much fun every game and we were all hard workers who wanted to win. We ended up winning in the Finals and taking home the hardware.

During this year, I also started to pursue more opportunities that would help me later in my career. I worked an insane total of five jobs throughout the year, including commentating for the varsity basketball games. I do not recommend working five jobs unless you have a really good handle on your work-life balance. 

But one highlight outshines the rest of them for me. I was chosen to represent my program during a 17-day trip to China which focused on sports, business, and culture. It was a remarkable experience to immerse myself in a new culture. The trip was unlike anything I have ever experienced and it was something I will never forget. As someone who never left the continent before, it was a huge step up for me. I was a good experience to travel and show how responsible I was.

Hockey team group

Fourth Year

After my third year, I spent the summer as a Ticket Operations intern for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG). It was an incredible internship and every day I was learning about the sports industry. The internship helped me adapt to the working world since I had to dress up every day, be punctual, and work hard every minute. It was a remarkable time and I have seen lots of personal growth because of it. 

After three years in residence, I decided it was time to move off-campus. I loved every minute of my time in residence, but I wanted to try a new experience. I thought it would be a great opportunity to sharpen my cleaning and cooking skills, and better prepare myself for life after university. 

I wasn’t too sure how I would like Sudbury but I was surprised by how much I would love the city. Before I left for school, I was a very outgoing person within my own social circles. But apart from that, I was awkward with strangers and shy in large groups. Now, I am proud of what I’ve become and how much I’ve grown up.

I still have the same passion for sports, music, and business, but now I have great confidence and dedication to personal growth. I am so grateful for all the experiences I have had over the past three years and all the friendships have made. University has been an incredible experience for me, and I’m excited to finish off on the right foot.

Going forward, I’ll always look back on my time at Laurentian, and how much fun I had. 

My education has shaped the person I’ve become. But the moments I’ll always remember are the ones shared with friends that will last a lifetime. 

Laurentian University will be the best four years of your life. Those years will give you all the tools necessary to prepare yourself for life after school. Make sure to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Never take anything for granted. 

I’m glad I stepped outside my comfort zone, because only then can you reach your full potential. You need to be willing to adapt to your new environment and not be afraid of change. Make sure to be open to new experiences and try plenty of different things! At the end of the day, life is what you make of it.

A person holding a dog