I am a twenty-two year old graduate student in the Global Youth Development Master’s International program at the University of Montana. Although, I spent the past year working on the main academic portion of my graduate degree in Missoula, Montana, I am really a Western Washingtonian. I was born and raised in the Seattle area of Western Washington.
I was homeschooled entirely until I took my first college course at 14. I was unable to fund college at that time, so I waited until I turned sixteen and qualified for Running Start. Running Start is a program in Washington State that allows high school juniors and seniors to take college courses from local community colleges that count toward both college and high school credit. Because I was homeschooled and could really tailor my community college experience, I was able to receive my Associate’s Degree with my high school Diploma right after I turned eighteen. My first two years of my undergrad were spent at Everett Community College. I really cherish my time there and the amazing people I met. My last two years of my undergrad were completed at the Evergreen State College. Evergreen is known as a hippie college where people go to study things like underwater basket weaving. They don’t give grades and instead use in depth evaluations that actually help you to learn how to improve your learning better than a GPA or a grade is able to. Because I already knew that I wanted to focus on psychology, I was very focused on that and don’t feel like I got the full Evergreen experience. I never took a crazy program that somehow included a foreign language with history and politics, but I did get an amazing education that I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else. Because they do things in sixteen credit programs, it was a little harder to find something that was focused on psychology in my last year, so my final semester I took all contracts. I was able to attune my education exactly how I wanted it as I was creating my own classes. I wrote up learning contracts in meditation used in psychology, developmental psychology, and another passion of mine, ceramics. It was an amazing semester that challenged me in ways I would never be able to be challenged in another school.
Coming from a relatively low income split household and being so focused on succeeding in my academics, I really didn’t take any time away from work and school to have many other experiences. So it was really exciting for me to find the Global Youth Development program where I can mix my love of and dedication to higher education with my drive for new experiences and adventure. Having never traveled beyond North America, I was very excited to start my two year adventure in Africa. It has already been an experience that I know I would have never gotten anywhere else. I see myself learning and growing in new ways everyday.
I currently plan to go back to school for Social Work when I am stateside again. Throughout my education, I’ve been focused on becoming a therapist. For the past few years, my focus has been on working with children who have experienced trauma. While I still feel that that is an important and fulfilling field, I no longer feel like it is the best field for me. Coming to a country that has so much stigma toward mental health, has no tolerance for homosexuality, and has a lot of discrimination and hate toward people who don’t fit the norms has made me realize how much work still needs to be done to open people’s minds to different perspectives. Since coming to Botswana, I’ve discovered that my passion is more aligned to social activism. I want to help to erase the privilege gap and help the world see how we are all human and should rejoice in our differences instead of being scared of them. I know that I still have a long time in my service, so these ideas could change again, but that is my current focus.
As I’m sure you’ve already surmised, I have a love for education and new experiences. My goal is always to learn something new everyday. I’ve also always loved helping others and exploring new things. I think this love was really cultivated in my eleven years as a Girl Scout and three years as a Venture Scout with the Boy Scouts. I feel that there are lessons we can learn from even the smallest experiences and I want to get the most from life that I can. I’m doing my best to do just that everyday here in Botswana.