Opinions, Column

Embracing the Legacy of My Siblings

It’s a sentence you hear on every walking tour, at every orientation session, and even one you might find yourself saying to your friends at home when they ask how big your class is.

“Boston College is big, but it’s small.”

It was certainly something I had heard my siblings, BC ’10 and ’12, say countless times as I was making my college decision. It is also something I constantly think about during my time here, especially following in the footsteps of two older siblings.

Growing up in a small school district, my family only had one set of public schools. So I went to a small high school where almost every teacher I took had taught at least one of my siblings. I was constantly called my sister’s name, and occasionally my brother’s, much to my friends’ amusement.

So when it was time to pick a college, there was one thing that I was almost certain about: I did not want to go to BC. This feeling of mine was probably the result of some stubborn urge to carve my own path, something I felt would not be possible at a place where my siblings’ footsteps were already so ingrained. BC, however, ended up being the school that best fit my interests, so I apprehensively enrolled and started my freshman year ready to make it my own.

On move in day at BC, my parents were encountered with something they had no experience with: Newton Campus. Both of my siblings lived on Upper, so my parents had never really spent time on the annex to which 40 percent of the freshmen class are sent, aside from occasionally parking there on game day.

In typical sibling fashion, my brother and sister told me Upper was better, but that I would still have fun on Newton. Regardless, I was nervous. I moved in the first day to my spacious double (fun fact: doubles on Newton are a couple of feet bigger than the rooms on Upper), but then immediately felt the common dread of having to take the bus to get anywhere that was anywhere.

Newton, however, ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me. Immediately, I was somewhere that my siblings had not been and left no mark on. I could call my parents and tell them about Stuart dining hall, and they would have no idea what I was talking about.

This made me feel more like a normal freshman, whose parents had not been involved with BC for upwards of eight years. This year, on my fourth and last move in day, it was my parents’ eleventh time moving one of their children into BC.

My brother and sister of course gave me recommendations for professors and classes to take, and they still do. My brother told me to make sure I connected with a certain CSOM advisor, and lo and behold, I was randomly assigned to her Portico class. She immediately remembered my brother and asked how he was doing, something that made me feel welcome in my first class at BC. Her class was incredible, and I took away so much from my experience there, and even occasionally visit her to this day.

The legacy of my brothers’ college career, something that I feared would be stifling and put me on a path that was not my own, ended up being incredibly integral to my freshman year experience.

It was not just my brother who has offered me guidance through my time in college. I am the president of the Hellenic Society, a position my sister held when she was at BC. She is just close enough in age to me that the seniors in the club knew who she was, and it made my transition that much easier. I always find myself speaking to her about the events she coordinated, how the club responsibilities have changed, and what I could be doing better. She is a sounding board and her experience has been very helpful to me.

At first, I thought that having siblings already come through BC could hinder my experience here, and that their experiences could limit me and push me into certain roles.

I have found, however, that my siblings have paved a path for me in such a way that I both never felt too lost and also that I could grow. I understand that this is not everyone’s experience, and that I am extremely lucky, but the advice and guidance that my siblings have given to me has made my experience all the better.

At a school of over 9,000 undergraduate students and over 200 organizations, my siblings’ and my paths have overlapped at different points in time, and this has made my experience here richer.

BC is a big family school. So often people have siblings, cousins, parents, and even grandparents who went here, and therefore have a slight edge over the average freshman in terms of how to manage coming to a new and complex place like BC. You only have to look so far as game day to see how many parents and alumni are milling around and hosting tailgates for their children and their friends.

My experience has been so great in part because my siblings were willing to help me. I never felt any resentment or feeling of imitation. I would encourage anyone with siblings considering BC to welcome them the way mine did, and those who have siblings who are alumni to embrace their family legacy while pursuing their individual path as well.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

September 13, 2017