Small school, small town: St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S. - Macleans.ca

Small school, small town: St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S.

Sean McEvoy

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Small school, small town: St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S.

Sean McEvoy, St. Francis Xavier University | Photograph Roger Lemoyne

Sean McEvoy is a first-year business administration student from Quispamsis, N.B. He plans to be a lawyer.

Why did you choose a school in a small town?
“I grew up in a town about the same size as Antigonish,” says McEvoy. “I like the familiarity of knowing where everything is. When I first visited here, I noticed everybody smiles at you. I’ve heard stories about Halifax and the crime rate, but there have never been any major issues with crime in Antigonish, so I feel really safe here.”

What’s the small campus like?
“I can get anywhere in 10 minutes or less. You can walk everywhere. I’ve woken up 10 minutes before class and I still managed to get there in time.”

Is there anything to do after class?
“We’ve got two bars, one on campus and one downtown. We’ve got a lot of clubs and societies within St. FX. There’s also a movie theatre and restaurants.”

How do you get home from the bar?
“I’m 18. But there are taxis. The student union also has a service where they’ll pick you up at the bar and they’ll drive you back home or to residence.”

Will you be prepared if you ever have to live in the big city?
“I want to go into law afterwards. Dal [Dalhousie in Halifax] is probably the closest law school. I have a lot of friends who go there, so they can prepare me for what a big city is like.”

How’s the relationship with the locals?
“I didn’t realize how much the town revolves around the school until I got here. At homecoming you see the whole town get decked out in St. FX stuff. The big deal here coming up is X-ring.” X-ring is when the graduates get their St. FX rings and the whole town celebrates, he explains. “Walking around town, you see countdown signs that say, ‘30 days till X-ring’ and stuff like that.
The town really supports the school.”

What’s Antigonish like?
“There are just two main streets, but it’s bigger than my hometown,” he says. “My town has just a variety store. Here, there’s a Wal-Mart, a mall, a movie theatre.”

What was your biggest surprise?
“On our first day, our president, Dr. [Sean] Riley, spent time with every student. He came down to me and shook my hand. He wanted to know where I’m from. He wanted to know about my town, what my interests are, what I plan to do with my degree. The dean also got to know my name and made some recommendations for courses and wished me luck on the first day. Then, later in the week, we all had meetings with him in small groups of maybe 10 and he asked everyone, ‘What are you trying to do with your career?’ I feel like I’m an actual person here, not a number.”

SMALL SCHOOLS IN SMALL TOWNS:

Acadia University
2,968 (Wolfville, N.S.: pop. 3,800)
Mount Allison University
2,398 (Sackville, N.B.: pop. 5,400)
St. Francis Xavier University
4,216 (Antigonish, N.S.: pop. 4,200)
Bishop’s University
1,854 (Lennoxville, Que.: pop. 5,000)
Université Sainte-Anne
465 (Church Point, N.S.: pop. 8,800)