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The more things I can fit into a day the better I feel when I go to sleep at night. My projects really get me out there and talking to people. I’m a student representative for the Bard Sustainability Council and I’ve done a lot of nonprofit community work off campus. I’m the executive director of the Student Resource Group at Bard. I do graphic design for Bard faculty and for two local arts organizations. I’ve also been a peer counselor in the dorms. All this has made me less shy, and taught me to manage my time better. There is always something going on at Bard. If you have an interest, there’s someone else on campus who has a club for it, or you can make your own club. That sort of freedom is wonderful.
The summer after my sophomore year I worked for the Office of Community Development in Kingston, assembling an area nonprofit directory and working with all these local organizations. I got a grant from the Center for Civic Engagement so I was able to work there unpaid. Through the directory work, I started developing the Honest Image Project, which deals with media portrayal of teenagers. We’d watch films with a bunch of local Red Hook teens and discuss them afterward. We gave them their own cameras so they could develop their own projects and have their own voice. It was great to hear from the local youth. We talked about their generation, and how important it is to reflect on yourself honestly, and to be yourself in spite of stereotypes.
I have a passion for sustainability, so I chose to major in environmental and urban studies. I came here, took EUS 101, and that was it. I was in love. I had to do more. The academics surprised me when I first got here. I got A’s easily in high school. When I got to Bard I realized I actually had to learn now. I had to focus, pay attention, and get behind the work. I had to really believe in what I was doing. Moderating into EUS was an affirmation. It surprised me how much I started to care more. I started being more devoted to what I was studying. I felt like, “You can go ahead with this, because you’ve found what you wanted to do.”
Bard has built up my self-confidence. I’ve never been told “no” here. If I had a good idea or I had something I really wanted to do that I was passionate about, every professor I went to said, “Yes. Do it. If you love it, do it.” It’s been the same thing with all my employment on campus, as well. I’m glad I found a place that really recognizes the importance of pursuing the work you’re most excited about. That’s been really empowering for me.