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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Graduation at Prescott College

This will be my last blog on the subject of student life at Prescott College as a student. Maybe you’ll see me around as an alumnus! I just graduated this past weekend with about 40 other students. The graduation ceremony at Prescott College, like many other aspects of this school, is different than most other educational institutions. Usually a slideshow begins the ceremony, with pictures of graduating students’ adventures at Prescott College. Images direct attention: students watching whales in the Sea of Cortez, bedding down in sculpted-snow quinsy classrooms, exploring pueblo ruins in redrock Utah, or leading a gang of young people on an environmental education adventure trhough a forest near their hometown.
Each student selects a faculty member who knows them well to “give them away.” The faculty member presents their student, or students, and gives a one minute synopsis of the student’s academic or life experiences, strengths, and future potential. The student is then allowed one minute to say whatever they want to say. Most students rattle off a list of thank-yous to family and friends. Some students read poems or stories they’ve written or share meaningful quotes. Others do a practiced or improvisational dance, share a monologue, or tell a good joke. After degrees are conferred by the college President, “real life” begins.
Where do students go after all this?? If I had a dollar for every time I was asked “what are you doing after graduation?” I would be able to pay off my student loans without blinking an eye!! As a new graduate speaking with other new graduates, there seems to be a general consensus: reminiscing the good times, excitement of a new beginning, anticipation of future endeavors, relief of no more homework, and energy to explore what the world may offer. For example, Education students tend to find teaching jobs, both in Arizona and across the United States. Some even started the week after graduation! Adventure Education students usually have some thrilling adventure up their sleeve, both paid gigs as guides or educators and personal trips. Environmental Studies students may work as field ecologists, naturalists, environmental educators, biologists, or land managers. Students of Cultural & Regional Studies may work for non-profit human rights groups, become community builders and leaders, or find work abroad. It’s hard to give any sweeping statements of what new graduates of Prescott College do, because interests and opportunities are so broad. However, I can say they have energy, know-how, and passion to make the world a better place that will be present in anything they do.
To answer that question, what am I doing… During this last semester at Prescott College I did an Independent Study with Lisa Packard of the Highlands Center for Natural History. I was writing the teacher’s guide to the Habitat Learning Program Curriculum, which Lisa authored. The curriculum is bioregionally-based environmental education that takes place in five local public schools with more to come. The teacher’s guide has background information for each lesson. This will familiarize the teacher with ecological concepts and local environmental knowledge, to help the teacher be more comfortable in teaching in an outdoor setting. I will be completing this project in the spring, hopefully with funding from an educational grant!
After that, my partner and I will be farming a local farmer’s property about 40 minutes outside of Prescott, calling our venture Rabbit Run Farm. We will have diversified vegetable crops for sale at the Prescott and Chino Valley Farmers Markets, the Prescott College CSA, and local restaurants. Together (and with help from a few friends) we will be doing all the planning, planting, cultivating, harvesting, and marketing! Look for us at the market or come on out to learn a thing or two about starting a farm!

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