Max Le Merle ’16 reflects on his time at Trinity

Initially, when I arrived at Trinity College, I was completely alone.  As I was from San Francisco, the culture at Trinity was completely different from anything I had expected; People were more reserved, less openly friendly, and winter was absolutely brutal (I wore shorts and t-shirts for the first month of winter, as I didn’t have any cold weather clothing).  There was a single person at Trinity who had gone to the same high school as me (and she was a senior).  I’d never really felt so completely alone in my life.
Transition into college was also an uncomfortable time, made much more so due to the strong insistence to go out to fraternities on weekends which, as a freshman boy who didn’t know anyone, made me feel even worse as I waited outside the gates and sold my integrity and self-pride to gain entrance.
Throughout my freshman year, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being uncomfortable and alone.  There wasn’t really anyone I felt I could connect with and, on top of it all, my classes were proving extremely difficult to stay caught up in.  For anyone feeling the same way, I was there, and I know what you’re going through.  Needless to say, I didn’t feel as though I really fit in, and after my first semester I applied to transfer.
By the time the year was nearly over, I was all set to transfer.  Upon receiving the letter of acceptance, I was forced to sit down and think about the decision I would have to make.  For some reason I’m not really able to explain (partially remembering the words a departing senior had mentioned to me that “Trinity is what you make of it”), I decided to stay and give Trinity another chance.  I convinced myself that, if I still didn’t like it by the end of the Fall of my sophomore year, I would apply to transfer again and officially leave.
When I came back to Trinity my sophomore year, I decided to approach things from a new perspective.  Over the course of the first month back at school, I decided to create my own club the “Business and Market Analytics Society.”  I joined ballroom dance, Budget Committee, the Investment Club, and I tried to get more involved on campus.  After a few months, I decided to stop the Business and Market Analytics Society and stopped attending ballroom dance. However, going to both taught me that Trinity offered me all the opportunity I needed to do what I wanted.  This realization made me slowly fall in love with the college and I started meeting people who aligned more closely with what I was passionate about.
When I look back, most of the people who I had considered my best friends freshman year, became distant by sophomore year.  I met new people, I found new hobbies, and I started growing as an individual.  Today some of my closest and most loyal friends are those with whom I decided to randomly jump into a conversation with.  Some I met in class, others I saw alone on the quad and decided to approach them and ask them about themselves.  Some of them were shy, quiet, and introspected but inside had the warmest and strongest personalities of anyone I’d ever met.  I strongly encourage people to step outside of their comfort zones and to engage in conversations with others who you might not otherwise speak to.  Don’t be afraid to say hello, to reach out and, even after facing denial, be willing to try again. Through this I was able to find some of the most truly supportive and caring individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to talk to. It was in many of these students that I found support.
Over the course of my sophomore year, and leading into my junior year, I started to understand who it was I wanted to be.  In high school, I had little to no identity outside of rowing and few friends who weren’t athletes like myself.  At Trinity, I realized that by trying new experiences and by throwing myself into a myriad of activities and clubs, I had complete freedom to sculpt myself into whoever it was I wanted to be.  My classes were still difficult, social life was still challenging (there were still plenty of times where I felt alone), but I was starting to have fun.
I found that the more I got involved and the more I branched outside of my comfort zone, the more I was exposed to experiences that helped me grow as a person.   My junior year, I found a whole range of new friends who supported me and believed in me.  I started to approach administration and various student leaders about opportunities to get involved.  I became good friends with Josh Frank ’16, our SGA President last year, who advised me and would eventually prove an invaluable guide as I took on the role of SGA President this year.  I started talking to Georgios Papadeas ’15, former president of the Trinity College Investment Club, after our meetings to gain insight into his views on leadership at Trinity College.  Over time, we became close friends, and eventually he chose me to succeed him as TCIC president.  Slowly, I began to realize that there is serious power to be found in talking to people outside of your comfort zone, or to people by whom you might initially feel intimidated.
In my position now, I am excited at the prospect of meeting new and ambitious students.  I’ve had some fantastic conversations with driven underclassmen and many have now joined me as strong executive members on SGA.  If you ever have any questions about academics, social life, if you need help, or just want someone to talk to please feel free to send me an email or knock on my door.  I’m always happy to meet new people.
Now, I think staying at Trinity College was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  This place has truly become my home and I’m so proud to be a Bantam.   There have definitely been some bad moments, but Trinity has taught me to persevere and to get involved to affect the change I want to see in my community.  Now, seeing initiatives like Campaign for Community and #WakeUpWorld, it is clear that other students are fighting to affect change as well.
Trinity gives us the opportunity to stand up for what we believe in, and to try to bring about a difference.  In a way, even though I thought it was ridiculous at first, the Bantam is a very good embodiment of the College as an entity; we’re small, and perhaps not too outwardly intimidating but, if you put us in the ring, we’ll always punch far above our weight.  This is true of both students at Trinity College and of our extremely successful alumni.
This year, I am so proud to see the College listen to the student voice and to take their concerns seriously.  Trinity College is a small school, but empowers students to create their own identity on campus.  Anyone can start a club, anyone can join student government, and anyone can write editorial pieces in the school newspaper.  If you want to have a voice, all it takes is the willpower and drive to make yourself heard.
This place is truly what you make of it.

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