What’s the most important thing you learned at Lafayette?
The most important thing I learned over my time at Lafayette was how to be vulnerable. It might sound like more of a life lesson or a given for some individuals, but I have always had a hard time discussing what I am going through with others and relying on others. The first time I really opened up to someone outside of my family when I was struggling with my mental health was at Lafayette my junior year. Mental health has a negative connotation in our society. Once you are diagnosed, it becomes very much a label that follows you for the rest of your life. I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when I was 11 years old, which is pretty early and very defining for someone so young. I’ve grown up with GAD being a part of me, and sometimes I let it become the only defining factor of who I am.
At Lafayette, I learned to be more open about my journey with GAD, and this has allowed me to provide support (I hope) for others. A funny thing happened when I started talking about my GAD—other people began sharing similar experiences. It’s isolating to have a young diagnosis and approach the world from a forever-calculating standpoint. It’s like growing up super-fast; my GAD was a huge secret that I kept to myself. What would my peers, my friends, my professors think of me if I told them? Would I become less of Genevieve and all the things I love, and become more defined by my disorder?
Being vulnerable about this part of myself was a risk I took at Lafayette. At the end of the day, I am fortunate to have friends who see me as Genevieve regardless of my background. I have a disorder, but that disorder does not define who I am. Sure, it makes up a part of me and has shaped many of my experiences, but it does not change the things and the people I love.
The people at Lafayette have taught me how to cherish who I am, how to be vulnerable so that others might feel comfortable doing the same, and how to speak up for myself and others. I hope that anyone who reads this, regardless of whether or not you relate to my experiences, will take away some of this vulnerability. Start hard conversations, and be proud of who you are.
What one lesson or memory from Lafayette will remain with you for the rest of your life?
Spring semester my sophomore year, students were allowed back on campus after COVID and our online fall semester. My friends and I lived in a suite in Soles, and toward the end of the semester, we had a small get-together there. We played great music and really just had fun. I remember stopping and taking in the moment, because I treasure them all dearly. We all took graduation photos together—they are truly friends I will cherish for life.
What advice would you give to high school students who are considering Lafayette?
As a tour guide, I interacted with a lot of high school students considering Lafayette. My advice to them was always to pick what felt best. Choosing a college was an incredibly stressful experience for me, but after coming to Lafayette, I realized, as my dad says, ‘The college experience is what you make of it.’ No matter where you go, especially if it’s a place like Lafayette, you will find people who will become bright stars in your life. These people make the college experience. At least that was my experience.
One of the programs that helped me find these people was the Pre-Orientation Service Program (POSP) at Lafayette. If you commit to Lafayette, definitely apply. It was the best decision I made—ever. POSP is full of these shining stars who will drop everything to support you. I have stayed close with many of the individuals who did POSP with me my first year. It’s a community like no other—truly no words do it justice! Overall, pick what’s best for you and find the people who make you happy.