Kelsey Torchia ('13)
Why did you choose environmental studies as your major?
Growing up, I was "nature girl." Pocahontas was my hero and I aspired to be just like her...running through the woods with animal friends. From a young age, I was always intrigued by the natural world and that interest has only grown stronger over the years. Coming into college, I wanted to choose a major with flexibility and an area that I have been passionate about my entire life. As I have discovered, environmental studies encompasses many more areas of study beyond the major and has allowed me to expand my knowledge and life perspectives.
What has been your favorite environmental studies class?
To be honest, all the courses I have taken in environmental studies have been interesting and challenging, each in their own way. I have enjoyed studying the environment through the various lenses offered at CSB/SJU. Two particular courses that stand out to me are Geographical Information Systems (GIS) with Dr. Jean Lavigne and Environmental Art & Architecture with Richard Bresnahan. In GIS, I learned mapping skills, studied social problems and mapped events, created maps on the computer and also was able to experience geocaching where I got lost in the Arboretum and ended up in the swamp! As an art minor, Richard Bresnahan's class combined the perfect blend of art and the environment, which allowed me to experience nature outside of a textbook.
What has been your favorite moment as an environmental studies major?
Whether collecting soil samples during lab in the Arboretum or attending the Avon Hills conference and learning about sustainability in the area, I have appreciated how much the environmental studies program excels in integrating its curriculum into the natural world and surrounding community. By far, my favorite experience has been the recognition and application of what I have learned here into the larger world. While on a service trip in Peru over winter break of my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. At the ruins, my tour guide began telling me about the weathering of rocks and natural plants and animals in the area. Having just studied these same topics the during the fall semester with Dr. Troy Knight, it was like being in class all over again, only this time on an entirely different continent at the top of a mountain.
What advice do you have for future students?
Dr. Knight began my first environmental science class with the following quote from naturalist John Muir: "Tug on anything and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe." In the same way, I would tell future students that everything is entirely more connected than we'll ever know. Talk to people and make those connections. Get involved on campus. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by such natural beauty here at CSB/SJU. Hike the Arboretum trails. Ski them in the winter. Jump in the lake! Go apple picking at the orchards. Travel and experience other environments. Respect your surroundings. Enjoy every moment here, learn, live and carry these passions with you wherever you go.