Alumni in Action
Class of 2006
Where are you now and what are you doing?
Currently I am finishing up two years of service with the Peace Corps. I live in a small Kichwa (Indigenous) community in the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle.
If you are employed, what does your job entail and how has your Eckerd experience impacted your career?
My projects vary across many different themes. Presently, my community and I are installing rainwater catchment systems to provide potable drinking water. We are also building dry, composting toilets. I have also worked with local Kichwa women to hold a workshop where they were able to learn the traditional ceramic arts that were forgotten in the recent past. When I am not working on specific projects I spend my time walking around the community stopping in to visit friends and pass time by drinking chicha (a local fermented drink made from manioc). I think my winter terms abroad definitely helped me to confirm within myself my desire to live abroad for a couple of years, and do what I can to help others. Thus, it helped me realize that Peace Corps was for me.
What opportunities have you had because of your Eckerd education and how have they impacted your life?
Eckerd gave me the opportunity to travel abroad and see the world 4 different times. First was an archeological dig in the Yucatan of Mexico. My study abroad in Costa Rica ignited my interest in Latin America. My junior year trip to Malaysia was awesome and planted a seed for me to return one day (still has not happened but I am working on it). My senior year I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was just outstanding; really a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college? What does it mean to you now that you have been away for awhile?
I think the thing that makes Eckerd so special is the level of communication you have with your professors and the close relationships you are able to form. I had the same mentor since freshman year, Dr. Victoria Baker. She was amazing. Her door was always open and she seemed to always take time to bounce around ideas in my head. She also set high standards for me, which is one of the reasons I probably did so well in college. I never wanted to let her down. Now, nearly three years after graduation, I am still in touch with her and she is still a mentor in my life. Another professor who I still keep in touch with is Allison Ormsby. I never had a traditional class with her, but took her Malaysia winter term. During those four weeks I really got to know her, and afterwards I would often stop by her office for an afternoon chat. She was easy to get on the same level with and I felt I could talk with her about my life outside of just the academics. Ormsby did Peace Corps and has been a great source of advice and motivation during my Peace Corps adventures. We are obviously still in touch.
What activities were you involved in while at Eckerd and did they influence what you are involved in now?
I was part of the Bipedal Society (Anthropology Club) and even the president one year. My freshman year I started a club called Help Hunger to raise awareness of and money for poverty worldwide. At the time I did not have the focus to run such a club so eventually it died, but before it did we raised $1000 and donated it to Heifer International. This experience helped me realize the responsibilities and time commitments it takes to carry out successful events and projects, which I am now able to do.
Describe some of your best memories or favorite traditions from your time at Eckerd.
Wow picking out my favorite memories from Eckerd is a tough one. I have so many so I will just name a few. I remember my freshman year I was always outdoors a lot, especially during the rain. I remember skim boarding in Kappa Field with lightening striking all around us. I also remember slip and slide, which was a blast. Of course, sunsets on the Eckerd sandbox were always unforgettable. Just relaxing with friends and a few beers watching some of the most colorful sunsets I have ever seen. Kappa Karnevil is a tradition I think probably everyone would mention. It is a time when students come together as a whole and just have a wild party time. Lastly, I would say the Eckerd sponsored kegs on Friday afternoons were pretty cool.
What has changed about Eckerd since you left and what remains the same? Is there a core Eckerd value you see in all graduates?
Eckerd has gone through all lot of changes since I left. For one I think the landscaping and building are completely different now. I probably would not even recognize the campus except for location. Another big change is that I believe the student population is about twice the size now, but I could be wrong. It was growing the whole time I was there. I think one thing you will find in all Eckerd students is that they are all looking for a different experience. Something a little off the beaten path, and that is what made them choose Eckerd, over a big state school.
Why did you choose Eckerd? What advice would you give students who are considering Eckerd?
I chose Eckerd because I was looking for a small liberal arts school. When I visited Eckerd and saw that it was on the water it bumped up to first place on my list of schools. Then when I realized I could go waterskiing and kayaking for free anytime I wanted, it sealed the deal. Advice: Where else are you going to get to do this much cool stuff on the ocean for FREE?