Category Archives: Interdisciplinary Studies

Student Spotlight: Alyx Levine

SNC student Alyx Levine is killing it! An avid rock climber, Alyx recently got the opportunity to write an article (check it out here!) for Bayarea.com about climbing in Yosemite High Country. I sat down with her to chat about school, work, climbing and her plans for the future.

Alyx Levine at Joshua Tree National Park

Alyx Levine at Joshua Tree National Park

Name: Alyx Levine

Hometown: Mill Valley, CA

Year in school: Junior

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Environmental Science

 

What prompted you to attend SNC?

I wanted to find a school that was in the mountains. I attended University of Colorado at Boulder first, but decided that it was too big for me. I found Tahoe and SNC when I was looking for schools near California. It was meant to be!

11082587_909501682433256_6020534073395592439_nHow did you come about choosing ODAL as your major?

I was majoring in Environmental Studies at Boulder and I was going to major in Environmental Science here, but then I found out SNC had an Outdoor Adventure Leadership program. I had just gotten back from an Outward Bound trip that year and knew it was something I wanted to pursue, so I did Interdisciplinary Studies in ODAL and Environmental Science.

How’d you get into rock climbing?

I work at REI in my hometown in Mill Valley. [About three years ago] I was invited by some guys that worked there to go to Yosemite and climb. I had only climbed when I was really young where there was a portable climbing wall, so this was my first real experience climbing; first time on a rope. It was terrifying…I was scared shitless. But, what I really loved about it was when you got to the top and saw the view. That’s where I caught the bug; the rest of history. Now I’ve been climbing for almost three years.

Favorite places to climb?
Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Tahoe.

How has rock climbing and ODAL helped you develop as a person?

Climbing parallels life in a lot of ways. It’s taught me patience, given me more confidence and made me a stronger person. The ODAL program has given me those same tools.

How did you get the opportunity to write an article for Bayarea.com?

It kinda fell in my lap!  My aunt works for the San Jose Mercury News, and Bayarea.com is a branch off of that. The editor was looking for writers, so my aunt recommended me. I sent him my resume and some of my work and photos, and he said, ‘This is great, you’ll be a great voice for our website.’ That’s how it happened!

Have you had journalism experience prior to getting this gig?

I’ve had journalism experience. I wrote for my high school newspaper and I did this journalism program at Stanford when I was 16. I’m still into it! Majoring in journalism, though, I feel like it would’ve taken the fun out of it.

Are you going to continue writing for Bayarea.com?
They have one article of mine and said it did fairly well. So, I’m currently writing another one about climbing in Berkeley.

Alyx hanging out at the Washoe Boulders in Nevada

Alyx hanging out at the Washoe Boulders in Nevada

How did these experiences benefit you in the future?
It’ll open doors and opportunities. I know I want to travel when I graduate, so this website will be a great outlet for me to write about all the areas I travel to while exploring California.

What are your post-grad plans?
I think my boyfriend and I are going to buy a van and drive around for a bit. We’ll figure out where we want to live, and we’ll climb! He wants to be a climbing guide and I plan on doing something with my outdoor leadership and environmental science skills, so both of our jobs can be in a variety of locations. I’d also love to freelance write.

Any advice to future ODAL students? Or to aspiring climbers?

Having a positive attitude is the biggest thing. If you go into anything with a negative attitude, you’re not going to get as much out of it as you would’ve if you went into it with an open mind.

Benefits of Interdisciplinary Learning

SNC is unique in their offering of an Interdisciplinary Studies major; students can choose two or three areas of study and develop it into a personalized major. Many students mix Outdoor Adventure Leadership with a complementary area of study, such as Journalism, Entrepreneurship, Ski Business & Resort Management or Environmental Science. Other students choose interdisciplinary majors such as Sustainability, Digital Arts & Journalism, or New Media Journalism.

I declared a major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Journalism and Outdoor Adventure Leadership last fall and am loving the mix of learning writing skills and leadership development in an outdoor setting.

This semester, I undertook two of my three required Interdisciplinary Studies classes: INTD 250: Principles of Interdisciplinary Learning and INTD 300: Service Learning. The INTD 250 class revolves around research-intensive assignments and projects that encompass all of the elements of each student’s major, and in the INTD 300 class, each student partners with a non-profit and dedicates 60 volunteer hours and a cumulative project to their organization. While there’s been points during the semester where I’ve wanted to drop everything and give up, they’ve both been extremely beneficial now that I reflect on my experience.

In INTD 250, I’ve been challenged to examine the links between all aspects of my education – links I’d completely overlooked before. In INTD 300, taking the skills i’ve learned in Journalism and ODAL and transferring them to a non-profit setting has given me the essential, invaluable real-world experience. Both classes embody SNC’s theme of professional preparedness.

In a college education system that doesn’t allow for much experimentation and creativity in degree tracks, the Interdisciplinary Studies program here at SNC is gold. I truly feel like I have designed my own degree and gained the utmost value out of my time here. I’ll be walking away with more than just a piece of paper come graduation.

Learning Multimedia Journalism at SNC

Since become a Journalism major and immersing myself in the program here at SNC, I’ve learned a thing or two about the ins and outs of writing successful, engaging stories.

Last semester, I took a class called Beginning Multimedia Journalism. I didn’t know what to expect, but in an increasingly technology-driven society, I knew it would be essential material to learn.

In the beginning class, we learned how to incorporate multiple types of media into journalism, such as digital, video, and audio media. We learned how to use Audacity, Google Maps, iMovie, Photoshop, and other programs to implement multimedia into our articles.

I enjoyed the class and decided to take Intermediate Multimedia Journalism this semester. Tanya, my teacher, created curriculum for me and the one other intermediate student, and geared the class as an independent study. We decided what we would focus our multimedia skills on, created a spreadsheet of our hours spent working for Tanya to review. We would also come into the beginner multimedia class every other week to share some insight with the beginner students and help post articles to the Eagle’s Eye website.

This semester, through Intermediate Multimedia Journalism, I have furthered my skills and created some impressive work to show for it. I decided to gear my learning towards social media by taking over the ODAL facebook page and making posts throughout the week. I also created blog posts (like this one!), worked with Rosie Hackett on other ODAL social media initiatives, took Google Analytics courses, and created an online portfolio to showcase my journalism work.

As my final project, I created a multimedia story using Readymag, an online web publication software. Here’s how it turned out:

https://readymag.com/530546

I’m extremely proud with how far I’ve come, both in this class and at SNC. The journalism program, thanks to its amazing faculty, has transformed me from a timid writer to a confident journalist. I couldn’t be happier with my education here at SNC.

Sustainability Film Festival

Last Friday, April 22nd, SNC Senior Marina McCoy hosted a film festival event to highlight Earth Day and raise awareness about the topic of food waste.

The first film showing was “Dive! The Film,” which follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.

The second film was “Just Eat It! A Food Waste Story,” where Canadian filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant explore the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they embark on a six month journey to quit grocery shopping and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away.

The event was a large success – after the film, the room buzzed with passionate conversation as students, faculty and community members cycled through all their new knowledge.

McCoy is working to develop a composting system at SNC in order to combat waste on campus.

A big thanks to Marina for putting on an awesome event!

ODAL Alumni Spotlight: Erica Nelson

13045387_928046317611_438165957_nName: Erica Nelson

Major: BA in Psychology with ODAL Minor

Graduated: May 2015

What Erica has to say:

“A major component I took away from ODAL is finding my most effective leadership style. Also that Expedition Behavior (EB) goes a long way even out of the wilderness and transferrable in any work environment. ODAL has also given me risk management tools and information to do rad things on weekends like rafting, climbing, solo backpacking, and feeling confident and comfortable leading others. Since graduation I’ve traveled to India, summited Mt. Whitney (with fellow ODAL grads), one of my favorite jobs was creating and developing curriculum for a summer camp in Lake Tahoe, then implementing it and seeing it roll into action. I spent my weekends river guiding on the South Fork American River with various companies including OARS, H2O Adventures, and Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC). I recently ended my winter seasonal position at Northstar in Human Resources, and now currently work on the Admissions and Marketing team at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Headquarters in Lander, WY. I truly believe the skills and ethics I learned from ODAL has continued to provide opportunities for me in my leadership development and career.”

“Stay together, send it, and be styley.”

ODAL Alumni Spotlight: Scout Sorcic

Scout Sorcic

Scout Sorcic

Name: Scout Sorcic

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in ODAL and Ski Business/Resort Management

Graduated: December 2015

What Scout has to say:
“ODAL taught me to be open to new experiences and to raise my hand, share my ideas, learn from others and to have fun! I am in the transition period with my degree but will spend the summer working with the Colorado Outward Bound School out of their Moab, UT base as a logistics coordinator. I am looking into graduate assistantships for next fall/spring as my next academic move (But I am LOVING not being tied to a place or a school and skiing/rafting everyday for work).
I think what makes ODAL so cool is the hands on learning and the places you get to spend your “class time” as well as the relationships you develop. I know going forward I will always have a support network that understands seasonal jobs, moving from place to place and who aren’t afraid to share beta on the cool spots they have been since leaving Tahoe.”

ODAL Alumni Spotlight: Conner Wagner

Photo by Conner Wagner

Photo by Conner Wagner

Name: Conner Wagner

Graduated: December 2014

Major: INTD in ODAL and Entrepreneurship

What he’s been up to: Graduating with my ODAL degree has given me a huge advantage in locking in jobs that allow me to travel and continue to pursue what I am passionate about. As soon as I graduated from SNC I landed a job with an awesome surf camp in Nicaragua as a surf guide. I spent half a year taking people surfing up and down the Nicaraguan coast and got paid for it. Now I am planning a return trip, but this time with the goal of opening my own place. My own little surfers paradise.

The importance of balance

I often am overambitious. Sure, it’s good to have high expectations for yourself, but if you fill your plate with too many commitments and responsibilities, crashing and burning is nearly inevitable.

This is exactly what happened to me this semester.

In January, 19 credits and two jobs seemed exciting and doable. I told myself that the more was on my plate, the more productive and successful I’d be. I doubled up on intensive interdisciplinary classes that were supposed to taken sequentially. I formulated independent-study-type classes and commitments in order to fit everything in. Now, as March concludes, I’m having second thoughts.

I’m trying to graduate a semester early (this December) to save money. School isn’t my thing, so I’m just trying to get done as soon as possible. This December, at 21 years old, I’ll have completed my bachelor’s degree.

I’m proud of myself. As a two-time transfer student, I never would have thought I’d finish college in three and a half years and have a degree and respectable GPA to show for it. But here I am. I made my own luck.

Unfortunately, this ambition hasn’t come without sacrifices.

I went out to a party for the first time all semester (and probably the third or fourth time all school year) last weekend. It was a blast, but I was so hungover the following day that I missed work and fell even farther behind on the the glaring pile of assignments due. I felt guilty for going out and was ridden with regret and stress.

Here’s the problem with what I’m trying to do this semester. I’m so invested in school and work that there’s no room for anything else. Should I feel guilty for going out and having fun with friends? Absolutely not. Should I beat myself up for spending a night with Netflix and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s? No. Should I detest my classes and dread class every day? No, but I do because they’re all that my life revolves around.

College academics aren’t life. College isn’t life! There’s so much more to this time in our lives than just getting the grade; getting the degree. If this is the only life we get, I don’t want to look back at my 19- and 20-year-old self and say, “Wow, all she did was homework and work.”

If I were to get hit by a car and die tomorrow, that would suck. That would suck in general, but it would especially suck because the years leading up to it weren’t lived well. I’d have an impressive transcript to show for it, but no amazing, memorable experiences to cherish forever.

Life should be an enjoyable journey and we should aspire to be happy. I shouldn’t be counting down the days until graduation in hopes that something better will follow.

Go out and party. Eat the slice of cake. Skip class to hit the slopes on that perfect pow day.

Then, nurse your hangover and drink lots of water. Hit the gym. Write that A-worthy research paper. Go to class. Get shit done.

We often lose sight of this awesome concept of life underneath the weight of all the responsibilities given to students. We’re young and able-bodied and we’re living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Go out and enjoy it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take school seriously; college is a big investment and you get out what you put in.

If I could go back, I’d take on a lot less. Less credits each semester. Only apply for one job. I’d fill my days with more things I want to do, not just things I should do. I’d stick around in Tahoe a bit longer, even if it means a bit more debt down the road.

School is important, but so is self-care and happiness. Keep it balanced.

INTD Student Spotlight: Sydney Pinkerton

By Sydney Pinkerton

Sydney is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art and ODAL with a minor in Psychology. She graduates in May 2016.

Ever since I was very little, I knew that art would be my passion. I also knew that the mountains were calling and Ohio wasn’t the place for me. After high school I studied at an art institute in Colorado, but going to school to focus only on art seemed to take the enjoyment out of it for me and I knew I could get more out of my college career. While I vacillated, my mom suggested I look at SNC. All it took was a Google search of Lake Tahoe and a virtual tour of the campus for me to decide this was the place I needed to be.

Being at a SNC has reignited my love for learning and is setting me on a path to amazing opportunities and achievements.

Pinkerton-Sydney1-420Initially I majored in Psychology and Outdoor Adventure Leadership but I really missed art classes, so I decided on an Interdisciplinary ODAL and Fine Art major with a minor in Psychology. I’ve always felt a need to encourage individual empowerment and teach people self-love, and the path I am on now is taking me closer to making that passion a career. I hope to work in established adventure and art therapy programs on the way to starting my own!

I developed a deep connection and appreciation for horses riding and competing growing up, so my service learning project starts my journey into the world of therapy at Equus Insight in Reno, an equine therapy program for at risk youth. I helped with equine therapies for clients and worked on the ranch. I also designed and ran a weekend retreat for SNC students to come to the center and participate in art, adventure and equine activities with the horses. It’s so exciting to share this passion with others in a therapeutic way. I know that horses have been a large part of my life for a reason and I definitely see myself incorporating them more in my future.

I know that without the help and inspirations from the professors and peers I’ve met here, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the doors that have opened throughout this community.

This article was originally posted on the Sierra Nevada College website.

Why become a WO Leader?

Most students and faculty can attest to the fact that our school is unique. It’s tiny and tight-knit. It has majors such as Ski Business Resort Management and Outdoor Adventure Leadership. It’s right on Lake Tahoe and surrounded by mountains.

However, there’s one bizarre activity SNC runs that takes the cake: Wilderness Orientation.

This orientation event allows student leaders to take new fall freshman and transfer students on a four-day backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness.

Say what?!

“There is nothing like walking through rugged and majestic terrain to prepare students with the skills they need to be successful in SNC life,” says Wilderness Orientation and ODAL program director Rosie Hackett. “Skills like endurance, resourcefulness, tenacity, compassion, etc. Students return from the wild with an extraordinary experience in common with almost 50 other SNC students, with a supportive friend network, and a true sense of place…appreciating the unique environment they choose for their home and educational journey.”

The WO experience is just as potent if not more potent for the student leaders,” Hackett continued. “Through WO, they are given an opportunity to test their skills and knowledge, developed on their educational journey at SNC, and apply their unique style to an authentic leadership role. WO leaders empower participants with lasting social communities and a greater sense of school spirit.”

Fall 2015 WO Leaders

Fall 2015 WO Leaders

Interested in becoming a WO leader? Sasha Severance, a Fall 2015 WO leader and recent SNC graduate, gave me a sneak peek into what it was like:

I found wilderness orientation to be of huge value for student leaders,” she said. “It allows us as students to further explore and practice our own, unique leadership style. Wilderness Orientation allows us as student leaders to practice what we’ve learned in the classroom and actually use it and practice it in the field. Teaching and sharing what you know is a huge part of the learning process, as well as being an opportunity to connect with others.”

Severance chose to be a WO leader to give back to the ODAL program, which she claims has shared her into the motivated and confident woman she is today. (right on, Sasha!)

“As student leaders, WO reminds us of why this place, SNC and Lake Tahoe, has been the perfect fit for us. SNC gives us the opportunity to learn in ways that are engaging, interactive, and empowering,” she said.

Severance gained a lot from her experience as a WO leader. It has taught her the importance of planning and preparing, and being successful in any job/profession/career and in life.

“Leading in the backcountry has shown me how to be open and accepting of others, no matter how different they are or their opinions may be from my own,” she added.  “Guiding in the backcountry has shown me how incredibly lucky and fortunate I am to have the opportunities that I have in life. I’ve also excelled in my communication skills, which has already helped me in and out of the classroom and in my current job today.”

Some students may be intimidated or turned off by the fact that you’re venturing into the wilderness with a bunch of strangers – but fear not.

“You are given a group of strangers and the responsibility of keeping them safe, showing them an amazing part of the place we live in, teaching them various outdoor skills and principles, and making sure that they are having fun. There will be plenty of times in the professional world where I will have to communicate and connect with random strangers, while still being myself as a unique individual while maintaining a professional appearance.”

Severance said the hardest part of the trip was leaving Desolation.

“Our entire group wasn’t ready to leave yet,” she said. “The days went by too fast. We wanted more time to spend out there together.”

Severance said being a WO leader was one of the best things she’s taken part in during her time at SNC.

“WO is an opportunity for you to give back, to share your knowledge, stories, and skills, and to meet a new group of amazing people. Being a WO leader also empowers you in so many ways,” she said. “And… you get to spend two weeks in Desolation Wilderness! Who wouldn’t want that? The first week you’re on a Leadership Expedition with your fellow WO leaders and the second week you are taking out your own group!”

Severance said those considering it, but who are hesitant, should just do it.

“For those on the fence, I was too,” she said. “I had bronchitis right before the Leadership Expedition – I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. But I am so glad that I went. I would have regretted it if I hadn’t done it.”

On top of all of these potential benefits to reap while having a blast in Desolation Wilderness, being a WO leader now counts for three credits of ODAL curriculum for future ODAL graduates (just make sure you sign up for the summer credit).

Hope to see you all ready to lead in August!