"When I was younger, I would see Bob Ross on PBS and I'd be so engrossed. Now, I watch him when I am stressed.
I was here in 2013 to 2015 and it was a complete wreck for me, I didn't know how to do college. College was just what everyone was doing. I wasn't receptive for whatever reason and I needed to be on my own and work through it. I took a break and worked in the real world, which was really hard. I worked in the kitchen at the casino in Ignacio. I got into a really bad space there. I don't think students really understand how coddled we are. Seeing how it was out there was scary. It was crazy but I needed that, I needed to really hit rock bottom to see like, this is as far as I can go without continuing my education.
Standing Rock was where it really hit me. I saw what was going on. People were just getting completely pummeled by the legal system. I didn't see anyone stepping in to help. That's what really sparked my interest in doing law and to come back. I knew my traditional ways, I am part of that culture, but it was time to learn how to walk, talk, and speak in legal jargon. I came back fresh, brand new, and ready to become a lawyer.
The first year back was terrifying because I was so scared of backsliding. I didn't really do anything because I was really scared of being like I was before. This semester, I decided I wanted to put myself out there because I'm finally comfortable with where I am academically. I feel like I can branch out. Now I'm back and I’m thriving." - Angel Benally, Junior
"I started working at the Totem Heritage center after my first year here and I saw what the museum was doing for our community and I thought that was really inspiring. It gave me this energy to really make change. I was totally hooked. I switched my major to Anthropology that fall. I am really interested in changing the way museums tell peoples story’s and different narratives. It’s much more interesting than just reading about something. You can go look at a collection and really get a feel for how deep and complex historical things really are. We look at one piece and it just starts this huge story.
I’ve worked here [Museum CSWS], Totem Heritage Center, and The Field Museum in Chicago. There is so much that goes into curating. You have to think about a story to tell, what we have here in the collections, and how that can relate to the bigger story of the region. There is so much to share with the world. Even if people walk through museums and don’t get much out of it I think that exposure might make them think differently about things. I am very eager to apply what I have learned through my mentors, professors, and my own experience to the broader field of heritage preservation." - Brandon Castle, Senior
"Being a drag character there is so much in terms of expression and diversity of gender expression. For a lot of people, it’s an extension of you and your gender identity. When I’m Maya, I get to perform and really express that extension in a creative artful way. It’s so great to tap into different amounts of masculinity and femininity, it’s really something, to be able to explore that openly, freely, and confidently. As a drag characters, we channel these ideas of love, acceptance, and diversity. Something that we all need in our lives.
Once they [performers] start doing their makeup and get out on stage this level of confidence and acceptance starts to kick in. When they step out on stage they see all the support and acceptance of who you are here. The best part for me, although performing is fun, is going out there, seeing the smiles on everyone’s face and having people laugh, that’s what’s really amazing about it. It’s just such an experience.
You don’t have to live in a box, who you are is so important and valid. The G and the Drag show are spaces to affirm that, to foster acceptance for others and for yourself. It can be challenging, it can be magical, it can be truly eye opening, to find these ways of expressing love to ourselves and others. It comes by learning, being vulnerable, and stepping out of your comfort zone. People come in and just step out so much more confident. It’s such a great part of being at Fort Lewis. It’s been such a great experience for me." - Maya (Brandon Castle)
“I came to Fort Lewis on a cross country scholarship and at the time I thought I was going to be a pro runner. I realized I didn’t want to run as much I thought, I realized I wanted to go to school to go to school. It was a hard decision to make but I quit the team and the next fall I found my passion for genetics. I spent the next spring and summer doing research, and I fell in love with Biology as a whole. After doing research I realized I want to do it for as long as possible. I want my PhD so I can go into academia and teach
My professor suggested that I apply to the MARC scholar program, a program through the college and the National Institute of Health. The scholarship covered my tuition, research, travel, lab equipment expenses and provided summer internship opportunity. I applied, and I got accepted along with two other students.
I feel empowered and privileged here at FLC because I am surrounded by male and female scientists, in a field that is predominantly males. I have had the opportunities and experiences that not a lot of females have and if I can somehow make their situations better through education that is my goal. That’s what got me into tutoring.
I knew I wanted to go to grad school, I knew it was going to be hard, but it was so worth it. I got accepted into the University of Arizona’s Biomedical and Biological Science Program and I’ll be starting there in August.
I’m going to miss the bio dept. I feel like I’m leaving my family behind. They know me as Tori, the person, not just Tori the student. They remembered when I walked in my first-year not knowing what I’m doing to now, a senior going off to grad school. I have learned so much here I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.” – Tori Quintana, Senior 19’ (Alumna)
“I used my experience with Planned Parenthood where I was trained to answer tough questions, to create Horney the Sex Box I placed the box around campus for students to drop off their questions and then I used @ horneythesexbox on Instagram to answer the questions we received. I took questions that others may see as goofy or immature. People hide behind humor; they are actually asking some real questions that I can give answers to in a non-shameful way. Each question is unique in some way. I love that I can be very open and real about my answers. It’s awesome because I do a lot of research to answer these questions and I’m learning so much while also helping others. It’s been out for a little over two months and I have received about 150 questions. When we started getting an insane amount of questions, we realized how necessary this really was.
I am presenting at a conference in April about the way I run the box and how I answer the questions. Which, is basically shame free, non-judgmental, wider scope sex education, focusing on things that often get left out and not making people feel ashamed about any aspect of sex, sexuality, and relationships. It’s just so fun and taboo. It’s fun to make people so uncomfortable yet so intrigued. It’s fun to go into a room and have people discuss these topics and to think about things they haven’t thought about before.” – Matissa Monty, Senior 19’ (Alumni)
“My brother and I have started two companies. The first business we started was Apex Lighting, in October 2013, when I was 16. My brother developed all our lights and then it was just the two of us putting every single light together and selling them to friends. We grew from four products to 58 and now we mainly sell to the commercial industry such as law enforcement, mining, agriculture, and ranching in Arizona. The whole process was a lot of problem solving. Since then we have sold parts of our second company, Nitrum Dynamic Paint, and we still retain some ownership of Apex. Now, we mainly sell to the commercial industry in Arizona. I never thought of what I was doing as sales and marketing, it was just what I was doing. Now I manage sales and marketing for both companies. I now have the experience, I have the network, and I am ready to capitalize on it.
We just went for it [competing in Hawk Tank] and then got really into it. We never really thought we were going to win but there was no risk competing in Hawk Tank and we knew we were only going to get value and education out of it. The resources Fort Lewis had in collaboration with Durango was unbelievable. At first, we went into it thinking ‘fake it ‘til you make it,’ but going face-to-face with the professors here really gave us a reality check. They broke us down in order to build us back up to be 100%. They taught me the importance of building quality and that quality is never going to go out of style.
I’m really excited to graduate and I think my biggest piece of advice for new studentsF is to start a company, right now. You really have nothing to lose.” - Daniel Martin, Senior
“The critical thinking skills I’ve acquired through the Honors Program are invaluable. There are so many different ways to address a topic or situation that I would have never entertained if it weren’t for these classes. So far “White like me” has been my favorite course but I’m in two courses right now that are giving it a run for its money. They are all so fun and different. One of the classes I am in right now is “Code making and breaking and cryptography.” The other one I am in is “Anarcha-Feminism.” As a Political Science major anarchy is really out there and we don’t talk a lot about it so it’s great to be able to talk about it in an academic setting.
It’s been really, truly hard but I can’t imagine it any other way. It helps that I have a natural drive to be busy and stay busy. I learned to lean on my peers. We aren’t in the program because it’s easy, we are in it because of some innate drive to do something else. I have had a lot of people who have been in my corner to help me and push me when I feel like I am in a little slump. Everything keeps moving forward so I better move with it.
My mentor and I are presenting side-by-side at the National Conference on Community Writing in Philadelphia in October. Not many students get the opportunity to present on a panel with their mentors. I can’t say enough good things about the program and the professors here. Odds are you will probably like the courses.” – Katie Potter, Sophomore
“I had very specific goals coming here. If I was going to go to this place and live in the mountains I wanted to take advantage of it and make the most of what makes Fort Lewis unique. It’s been really incredible, it’s been everything I was looking for from a college experience. I love the town of Durango and more than anything I appreciate the community I have been able to find here.
It’s been super useful to be able to experience a bunch of different environments. It helps when we’re trying to learn about leadership and wilderness risk management to take the theories we learn and turn them into practice it helps to generalize the concepts better. I really enjoyed the emersion semester. It’s half a semester where we spent 21 out of the 30/40 days of class in the field. I loved it, it was another experience that made me realize I am in the right place.
OP has been one of the defining factor of my experience here, it’s like a little family, I love it so much. I want to go into the field of collegiate outdoor rec and it’s definitely my experience with OP that makes me want to do that becuase I have been able to see the impact it has on students.” - Carl Schnitker, Senior
”I love to travel. Before I came to Fort Lewis College, I traveled with my mom for a month to Seattle, New York, Niagara Falls, and Washington DC. I loved Niagara Falls the best. It was the best experience of my life.
Back home I live close to the city. It’s so different from Durango. There are so many nice people here, not only at school but also downtown. I Like the people here. It’s so convenient, in Japan it took two hours to get to school from my house, one way. I spend most of my time in the library, I like studying. The Fishbowl is open 24-hours. In Japan we don’t have that kind of environment, they aren’t open 24-hours. It’s also convenient here because I can meet friends in the halls. On the weekend, my roommate and her friends took me sledding, it was fun, it was cold but fun. It was my first time going sledding.
I joined Dance Co-Motion. Last semester I joined two pieces for the fall performance. It was so fun. I used to belong to a dance club in high school. It’s so different here because in Japan we focus on competition, but here we don’t care about winning or losing, it’s all about having fun. It was so strict in Japan I didn’t like it. But here we don’t care who’s good at dancing. I like it.”
“I changed my major four times. After the first two times, I took a step back, took a bunch of classes that I was interested in and changed my major to undeclared. Education: Global Perspectives, was one of the classes I took and after a week in that class I switched my major to Teacher Education.
It just makes sense, it was a natural step for me, I guess. It only took me two years in the wrong major to figure it out.
The Teacher Ed community is really awesome. We are all so close. We aren’t always on campus and our learning is not always in these classrooms. Fort Lewis has us in the local schools, we got to go to Telluride because they have a really cool duel language emersion program where half the day is spent in Spanish and the other half in English. We are going to the Navajo Nation, in two weeks to look at a school there and we got to spend time at Animas Valley to observe their workshop model there. That kind of connection is so cool.”
“I want to do something in new business development, where I can go out to different reservations and talk with entrepreneurs and see what sort of projects are out there. To figure out what’s viable, what’s not, and to hopefully build something and do some community building. There is something so satisfying about driving on a reservation and knowing that you helped with a particular project. When we talk about legacy, that’s the type of legacy I want to build, and I’m happy to start it. I’m super stoked to get out of here and go do that.
My favorite thing about FLC and SOBA are the opportunities for students. Having questions and being able to talk directly with your professor, those are the conversations that have made me a better student, better economist, and better man.
There are also huge opportunities to get involved in real world applications of our education. I’m one of the senators for ASFLC where we have issues brought to us all the time. We get to go through the decision-making process and based on all the information make an informed decision. Being able to go through that process has been very valuable to me. Not only being involved, but also seeing Fort Lewis students who have succeeded as entrepreneurs, is exciting. You go downtown and you see Fort Lewis alumni all around you and I enjoy both those aspects of my education.”
“I took a semester off and attended a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) in New Zealand for three months. It was a really good period of reflection and I was able to think about what I wanted to do in life I came back and switched my major to Geology which was a huge turnaround moment in my life.
One of the best parts about Fort Lewis and Durango is the access to the outdoors. It’s really amazing that we are in a place that you can drive an hour to the San Juan Mountains, but also drive two hours and get to Moab. It’s something really special that not a lot of people get to have, let alone get to go to school in.
It really helps that geology is a very interactive outdoor science. It’s so cool that I can step out my front door, look at the rich, complex geology we have in Durango and be able to explain the phenomena and landscape down to a really complicated standpoint. We have such diverse geology where we are that we get to spend so much time outside and really put our hands on the subjects we are studying. Rather than just reading about it in our books we can just go outside and study it.
We have a whole mess of complex geological landscapes you can pick a thesis on because of where we are located, creating a diverse number of geology topics offered. It allows people to really get into what they are interested in. They say ‘the best geologist is the one who’s seen the most rocks’ and we see a lot of rocks here.
The small department here facilitates a lot of connections, I worked with the U.S. Geologic Survey and Army Corp of Engineers, because of the connections I have here. Being part of such a close-knit department can take you to a lot of amazing places.
I think it’s funny every time I spend time outside I always say ‘look how cool these rocks are!’”
“We drove to the Grand Canyon and stayed the first night on the rim. Once we set up camp, a couple of us hiked up on this little bluff where another friend and I brought our ukuleles out.
The first two days were spent hiking down to the river. We went through all the sedimentary layers and it felt like we were descending through time. Once we were there, we realized just how far away from anything we really were. The next two days we hiked along the river. We stayed at really cool beaches along the river, we explored a cave in one of the limestone layers that you had to climb down into, and we saw some Native American ruins which, was really sweet, especially being an Anthropology major. It’s pretty cool because you start to feel connected to the area.
The final day we woke up at 3 a.m. and hiked out a few thousand vertical feet to the Rim. We got out in time to see the sunrise on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was weird, I had been to the rim before, but it was a totally different experience, you don’t really have any idea what it’s about until you hike in it. Every time I go on a trip like that, I get a different perspective.
Our group [Outdoor Pursuits] bonded more than any of the groups I've been with for trips, OP or otherwise. I had never been on a trip where we all become that good of friends. The whole time it was all about having a group mindset, seeing those who had never done that kind of stuff really rise to the occasion. It was nice to be able to help and support them. Every time I go on a trip like that it offers up a new experience.” - Chase Ellsperman, Sophomore
"I’ve known for ever that I wanted to study abroad, it’s just been a question of where I wanted to go. I started looking into my first semester here and by my second semester I was taking the course you are required to take before you go abroad. I sped up the process by doing both classes you need at the same time. I worked closely with Jennifer Gay, Yuriko, and Scott miller to find which program would be best for me. From there I narrowed it down to Spanish speaking countries. I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t a super typical or popular place to study abroad and Columbia has a really interesting history of politics and conflict. It ended up being a perfect fit.
I choose to do the program that was more independent. I choose to do ISEP which was where I found the school, I applied to the school, I found my own housing, and directly I enrolled there. I was basically a Columbian student which was so cool. It was just so fun to be there and hang out there. I had some professors that were just remarkable and everyone was very welcoming to me as an exchange student. I made some really good friends.
I lived for a year constantly being fairly uncomfortable which was really helpful for me and forced me to grow. I think my time abroad helped me because even now I still try to push myself out of my comfort zone to be uncomfortable. Everything I was participating in was a learning opportunity, and I was just lucky to be included. But here I have all this power because I understand the system and I can take on new leadership roles. A lot of that was shaped from my experience abroad. That independence of figuring everything out on my own in another country in a different language gave me more respect for myself.
I do think everyone should study abroad if they have the opportunity, its financially feasible through Fort Lewis and it’s huge to live and learn in a different language. You learn so much about yourself, I feel like a completely different person coming back. I am so much more confident. It [studying abroad] is important and it will change your mind." - Olivia Thomas, Junior
“I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of different experiences. My favorite experiences have to have been with Village Aid Project (VAP). In my time [with Village Aid] I have traveled twice to Myanmar, I’ve designed systems for Myanmar and Nicaragua, and I am about to go to Nepal. VAP’s main mission is to bring sustainable water systems to rural community that don’t currently have steady access to water. Water and sanitation are really important to us because they allow people in these communities to focus their energy on different things. Instead of walking five miles to get water a couple of times a day, now they can turn on a tap and they have water. This particularly effects the young girls because now they can go to school instead of walking to get water.
The first semester VAP meet every other week organizing different groups so we have teams set up for when we go to the village. Experienced members will spend time designing the water system or the sanitation system depending on what the project is that year. In the spring, we meet every week and we have construction workshops where we learn how to mix concrete, build a water tank, build taps, and lay pipe. This way when we get to the village we are knowledgeable enough to lead the villagers into building the water systems. We work with them, we don’t just go in and build them. It gives the community a sense of ownership. If something goes wrong they have the ability to fix it.
I went to Myanmar twice, and what I remember most is the connection with the villagers, even though we don’t speak the same language. I was working with a group of male villagers, about my age, it was just a rowdy group of boys building these water taps. At one point I had to go back to get some supplies and was walking down the hill and I heard this yelling and screaming. I turned around assuming the kid was asking me to stop and this little boy just grabbed my hand and wanted to walk with me there and walk with me back. It was just so precious. We didn’t even know each other, they were just so grateful that we were there.” - Kurtis Pink, Senior
Over the time that I have been at Fort Lewis College, I’ve been involved in Residence Hall Association (RHA), the Club Rugby team, Orientation, worked in the Environmental Center (EC), and became a Black Student Union member then president now.
Currently, I’m involved with the EC debuting the new version of Real Food Challenge (RFC). In the past, the RFC commitment was to source 20% real food by 2020. 2020, is around the corner and we are not close to 20%. RFC at the national level is seeing that there are a lot of barriers and they decided to create this new movement, “The Real Meals - Uprooted and Rising.” I’m really excited because at Fort Lewis we get to be a part of this new RFC, where we really get to dive into more of the social issues that surround why we can’t source real food in the dining halls and what some of those barriers are. I’m just really excited to have better connections with producers, students, and people who are working in dinning services to try to figure out how to create a more sustainable food system that nourishes us as a community and that is good for the environment, community, and animals.
I was drawn to the RFC because it seemed like a good way to get involved in storytelling and figure out your food story and within that talk more about what real food looks like, what it means to have, fair food, local food, humane food, and to have ecologically sound food available to everyone. The ‘for everyone’ piece is something that is really key for me and I think about whenever we are talking about the RFC. We will also be exploring food insecurity and who has access and who doesn’t which is another reason why I’m excited for this new RFC. The new RFC is following the same guidelines but pushing the boundaries more to think about if our food system is equitable, and if it is serving everyone.
In the past, we have run the Vote Real campaign, and recently we ran a spinoff where we asked students to identify who they want to see leave our campus. Which is really cool because it gets to the “why” of why we need real food. There are Local businesses, farms, and producers who really could be serving us the way we should. So, I’m really excited about that. We also got to present our Vote Real campaign and the way we run Vote Real at a national conference, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This is where I got to write my first proposal to go to a research conference, a sustainability conference, and it was really cool to be able to work within our team and synthesize what Vote Real mean to us and just figure out a way that we can build a presentation and share with everyone at the conference. Some of the people who attended were educators, students, and industry folks. It was really amazing to see the awe they had toward us, a student lead team from a tiny school in Southwest Colorado, who created a way for students on our campus to feel empowered and to feel like they have a voice about the decisions that are being made about what they are eating. The biggest take away is how important it is to empower students. I feel like sometimes on a college campus we forget that we make up the largest part of the community we have here. Even though people may think that we are young and naïve, there is a lot of knowledge that we bring to the table. Empowering students and empowering our peers is something we should strive to do.
A big part of myself is being able to feel empowered in the first place and to then spread that empowerment has been through my involvement in Black Student Union (BSU). BSU really let me find my voice and let me recognize that it’s great to have that club and to have that space. Once you feel empowered, you can be your full self wherever you are, that’s been my takeaway from being in BSU. I love having the space and love that it’s allowed me to grow into my true self where ever I am.
Realizing that there was a BSU was the best part of my first-year. The fact that I could go to find a place where I truly belonged and where I could be my complete and full self, I think was really important, especially as a first-year. We [BSU] are in year four now, it’s been great seeing all the different ways BSU has evolved and will continue to evolve. Thinking about that empowerment piece and how I began to feel empowered because we were doing a lot of activism at the time and that was something I was involved in in the past, but never to that extent. I had never known how to organize a march, or how to organize a rally. Those are skills I learned through BSU and through having that community. There were 3-4 of us then, and now we have between 12-15 people coming constantly to meetings. I see more faces that look like me around, which for me solidifies that this is a place that I can grow. Because I have people who I can go to and talk about experience and figure things out with.
What we do changes year to year, we focus on what needs to be said and what needs to be heard. In the past we were doing a lot of rallies, vigils, and marches. Recently we have been moving institutionally, we are really excited to announce Feb. 1 we will be opening up our Black Student Resource Center (BSRC) in Jones room 158. I have noticed there are a lot of people who would come to BSU, but they are busy and having the BSRC gives us a space for anyone to come to build community and the freedom to do that on their own time. It will be great to see the V grow into an entity that serves students the same way El Centro and the Native American Center does.
I definitely look to them (NAC and EL CENTRO) for a good model about what we want to be. Another big piece about this resource center is hopefully we will be a place where we have advisors and information on scholarships that are available, internships, and extra college activities that will build yourself in a professional-development and community development. How we can bring people together through music, art, poetry, those are big things in our group that we are really trying to make happen in the future. In addition to professional development and community development, I think it’s really important to stay true to our activist roots and recognize the resource center as a space for students to use their voice.
[BIO 304 – Field Zoology] was by far my favorite class I have taken at the Fort.
Every single day we went out to a different project or location. We would get to learn all these different techniques used by real professionals for field zoology and ecology studies. One day we were at Lake Nighthorse working with the fish in the lake, then another day we were down in the river kick netting, looking at macro invertebrates that live in the sand and water.
We mostly worked with Erin Lehmer, but she has a lot of contacts. Because of her contacts we were able work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, they taught us how to use a bunch of tools, snares used to live catch animals, and tranquilizer guns. We worked with a bird banding program and we banned birds all morning with them. We worked with the Old Fort to learn how to set small mammal traps, and we went to Wolf Wood and got to interact with the wolfs and hybrids up there. Every single day we would do something different.
My favorite project was when we went to Rainbow Farms, a fish hatchery, that’s just up the road. Rainbow Farms is a really impressive property, they have these cement runners where the fish live in all spring freshwater. There is this disease that's causing fish to have problems that grows in mud, and this setup is helping prevent the spread of it.
For one project we went out to Lake Nighthorse and spent 5-6 hours out on the lake working. We caught a bunch of fish and all the invasive species that we caught went directly to be used in a bear project that Colorado Parks and Wildlife is doing. Then all the species of fish we wanted to have in the lake were measured, weighed, and put back in the water. We all got a turn to go out on the boat and pull up the nets then we all worked together to get rid of the invasive species and process the fish we wanted to keep.
Another project we worked on was bird banning. We met at Oxbow Park and Reserve at 5 a.m. to set up five nets and every half-hour each group would go check those nets. If you caught a bird, you had all these steps to go through before you put the bird back. We would have to sex the bird, age the bird, and identify what the bird was. I got to hold a living bird in my hand.
I was struggling with deciding if I wanted to do more lab-based bio or outdoor field research. The interaction with wildlife in a natural setting was something I got an appreciation for in that class. I have a lot better understanding of how real-world wildlife management actually works, I have a better understanding of how tools work in the field. It was really cool to be able to interact with the animals, but also learn how to do it safely. It was the most hands-on learning in a class I've ever had. It’s nice to have that knowledge on the top of my head. Taking this class helped me solidify that, yeah, I want to work with wildlife. I don’t want to sit in an office somewhere, I want to be outside doing things.’
"I have gone all four years at the Fort. Been super excited about it since day 1. Just happy that I found my home on the first try. Me and a few homies, the San Juan Riggers, went out to the Twin Buttes. We bolted it about 3 years ago. It took us a while to actually make it a reality until last weekend. The rigging style was different back then, it was all about being tight and you needed a lot of people. It's just simplified, and more knowledge has come out. It's a relatively new activity less than 10 years old. People have been walking wire since tightrope walkers, but we're not tightrope walkers. We don't have anchors and midpoints along the line. We finally did it last week. It went off without a hitch. I was able to be the first one to cross it and get the clean send with no falls on Sunday morning. I was able to walk off it with no falls. I walked off less than a minute before 11:11 on 11/11. Not even a minute later the winds started whipping and we had almost 10 meters of side sage. Distance is 170 meters. Just a little guy. My personal best my PB is 300 meters, called the highway. Roughly around 1000 feet. That was in California in the Cosumnes river gorge, CRG highland gathering this past summer. [How did you get into Slacklinning] I have to thank Fort Lewis for that. I came out here my senior year for preview weekend so I'm doing the tour with the yellow bag with my brother and dad and I see these guys walking this wire, I saw them balancing. I gave my brother my bag and said, 'alright, see you guys later have a great tour' and the rest of the day I just slacklined. That's how I met marshal, he taught me how to slackline and that was the guy who bolted the Twin Buttes. Marshal and Liz Thomas, used to go here they are pretty much who taught me how to slack line. I was so stoked, I went home finished my senior year of high school bought a slackline and slacklined non-stop for 3 months. I came out here and progressed and have that white matter. it's a state of nothingness where you can't think about anything. I can't think about school, money, relations, you can't think about anything it's just so peaceful. Cuz if you do then your off the line. it's like a meditative state. I wanted to keep on having that longer and longer. So I kept going bigger and bigger and then higher and higher. We rigged the 150 meters in the baseball field up like 10 feet. I learned about highlining I couldn't go any longer, but I found out you could go higher. It's way safer because you're falling into nothing, your falling into the air. I just started doing that at Bakers Bridge, Lemon, X-rock. No, it has just progressed into longer distances higher up more direct exposure below and wider exposure out. The Twin Buttes are about 90 meters high. The line was 9o meters high the Twin Buttes sit at 7,800 feet at the top of the Buttes. It wasn't too high. I went to Yosemite this past summer and that was insane. That's over 1,000 feet high. We go off of Taft point. Slacklining is especially a 1inch tube of webbing, that you put between 2 trees about 10 feet apart and about 2 feet high. And you try to balance on it using your arms as a weight in a way. It's a counterbalance If your falling to the right you put your left hand down. The main objective is just to walk it straight across maybe that's fast, or slow, or peaceful. it's not always peaceful at first. you get the Elvis legs where they start shaking at first. Walking on a 1inch piece of webbing between two trees. It was great. It was so amazing to finally be able to do it. Every time we would drive past it, we would all be like 'aw man, what are we doing here.' that was very amazing for the whole Durango slackline community to come together and even non-slackliners and come and help with the rigging and de-rigging it's a communal feat while being an individual feat. There was about 10 people at the anchor I was walking away from on the east Bute. It was so cool just to hear everyone just Wild out because it's always been a dream. In a way, it's making history. It was such a really cool experience to be able to walk off and think I was the first one to walk in that airspace. It was amazing."
"This one time I was in the cafeteria with some friends of mine. It was dinner time but I decided to get breakfast. We were all sitting at a round table and I was telling a joke about oranges. I tend to talk with my hands a lot and I accidentally hit my entire bowl of cereal off the table with my elbow. My friend was running around looking for a rag to help clean up and I was just laughing too hard to be of any help. It was a really good memory but I did get milk all over my arm so that's that."
"A couple months ago I filled out the application for the Peace Corps to go to Thailand and I got accepted. On January 3rd I fly out to Bangkok and start my two and a half year service as a peace corps volunteer. I am going to be doing youth leadership and development so I'm working with kids ages 9-18 on developing leadership skills like communication, collaboration, how to influence your community, and a way to find positive change. I've learned that it's always easier to get used to the cultural awareness of the area. That's something that's huge in Thailand. Something I realized really fast, tattoos are one of the things you have to be really careful about. That was a large part of my concern because sometimes people can see it as a criminal thing or something to do with people who are affiliated with bad organizations out there. You really have to find a way to become more familiar with the language and the cultural understandings before you even go there. I have done some research, it's kind of limited the amount that I can do here, and even with the language there are online apps and stuff like that but off of the reviews, people always say you just have to learn from someone who knows that language. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, its interesting to me how places that are less fortunate in terms of economic stability, financial, and amount of resources they have at their disposal. It's interesting to me that the people can be so happy and I am really excited to see how they find happiness, whereas here in the U.S. it all seems to be materialistic. That's one of the things I am super excited to see. It's crazy December 15 I graduate, I'm literally out of my apartment here in Durango the next week, and then I fly out of here the 3rd of January. You get vacation time, you can choose whether or not you come home. I myself think I am going to stay out there just for the entire two years I feel like it will deepen my understanding and I'll learn the language so much better and just connect with people more. I am definitely inviting as many people as I can to come out and visit me. [What at FLC prepared you for this experience?] I went on the Junior Term Abroad, a program with Chris and Doug Lyon, we went to Germany for a semester, so like 6 months. Just being out there strengthened my confidence in myself to be able to travel alone and find my way around and actually get used to different cultural aspects. It was really cool, for 4 days out of the week we would do class from 8 am to 5 pm and then we would have 3 days just to travel and go where ever we wanted so every weekend was a different place. It was just class as usual but then you get the weekend to yourself in Belgium, Germany, Frace, or Switzerland. It was so amazing to be able to travel to so many different places and meet so many people who were even more versed with their county's knowledge and culture it really opens your eyes to how different other countries are compared to the U.S. "