Going to college in Annapolis was a blast; being close to DC and Baltimore were huge treats which I rarely took advantage of but loved knowing I could. The St. John’s campus and nearby downtown area are charming and quaint and full of history and nearly everything an old soul trapped in a young body could want. When applying to St. John’s, I chose the Annapolis campus and during my time at St. John’s East, I made several new friends who traveled out here from Fe to see what Annapolis was like and watched several old friends make the great migration across the country; all bore tales of mountainous beauty and open skies and a certain “je ne sais chill” just one campus away. But I myself never made the trip.
This remained the case even after graduation and only just changed two weeks ago. Barely having dipped my toes into the waters of my new job in SJC Admissions, I found myself on a plane with the entire Annapolis admissions office headed westward to meet with the Santa Fe admissions crew. While the flight attendant made lengthy PAs about how dangerous turbulence is and the importance of staying seated with our seatbelts on, I distracted myself by thinking how exciting it was to finally get to see the Santa Fe campus and meet the Santa Fe Johnnies. I wondered what it would be like for “us” to get to meet “them”, if there would really be the commonly assumed stark divide between the “city” Johnnies and the “outdoorsy” Johnnies.
What I found was that, while the quippy “East Coast vs. West Coast” description of the two campuses is helpful up to a point, such distinctions focus far more on the “vs.” than fact that Johnnies are Johnnies wherever we’re found. It’s true that there are very real and excitingly different opportunities on each campus: the Santa Fe Johnnies frequent the hiking trails through the mountains that surround the campus, while the Annapolis Johnnies are far more likely to go sailing or make a day trip to see DC museums. Their campus sprawls, ours is contained. They get the charms of adobe architecture and the history behind it, while we get the charms and history of colonial cobblestones. But the Johnnies themselves remain largely the same; eager minds, engaged in their work and their world, intellectually thriving and community-driven, are found on both campuses, regardless of region. There are “city” people and “outdoorsy” people and all kinds of people in between who find themselves happy on both campuses, because in either place they have found a community of like-minded thinkers who want to lead examined lives.