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Sam Smith

Sam Smith BA ’21
Sam Smith (he/him)

Class Year: 2021
Hometown: Sewanee, Tennessee
Majors: Biology and International Affairs (double)
Extracurriculars: College Outdoors, 2019 International Affairs Symposium Steering Committee Member
Overseas study: East Africa (fall 2019)

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Quirky, comfortable, challenging

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

Cellular and Molecular Biology with Sharon Torigoe. Prior to this class I always thought that I was more of an ecology or environmental science kind of guy, but this course has totally changed my perspective! Professor Torigoe uses a team-based learning/teaching style where she lectures very little and replaces it with lots of discussion and problem solving. Each class period we use concepts from our reading and very brief lectures to solve various biological questions. It’s also exciting to apply all the chemistry I’ve taken!

“Working with and leading trips for College Outdoors is an excellent complement to the classroom because it has offered me professional experience and ways to develop as a leader and outdoors person that I might not have been granted otherwise.”
Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

Biology Professors Ken Clifton and Margaret Metz have shaped my time at Lewis & Clark. Professor Clifton taught my first biology course here. He and I also led a College Outdoors freshwater ecology trip to Florida, and I am now going to study abroad with him in Tanzania! Professor Metz is my advisor, taught my Plant Biology course, and I am now working in her community ecology lab studying the mechanisms that drive forest diversity. Both Professor Clifton and Metz have had a really influential role in shaping how I see and interpret the natural world.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I knew I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college, but I didn’t know where. A combination of all of the exciting academic options and the West Coast drew me to Lewis & Clark in the end. College Outdoors also played a huge role in my decision to attend Lewis & Clark, as I knew I wanted an outlet to get outside and CO is one of the best programs in the country! After visiting campus and experiencing Portland I knew that I wanted to attend Lewis & Clark. Being so close to the city while having Oregon’s coast, mountains, and desert in my backyard was really important to me!

If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far?

The East Africa (Tanzania) program was an obvious choice for me as it integrated my biology interests into a study abroad experience. I had also worked on a grassland ecology project the summer prior to applying for the program and I knew that we would spend a significant amount of time on safari in the East African Savannah, so it seemed like an excellent opportunity to build off of that experience.

Studying abroad through L&C is especially amazing because on many programs you get to interact with a faculty member in a really meaningful way and build a lasting connection. My experience in Tanzania really contributed to developing my plan for what I want to do after graduation and begin setting goals for my future, which is an especially unique opportunity.

Describe your involvement with College Outdoors. How does your College Outdoors experience complement your academic experience?

Most important, College Outdoors gives me an outlet, as someone without a car, to get off campus and go outside during the weekend. I find that College Outdoors trips refresh and prepare me for the following week and this “reset” ultimately plays a significant role in my academic success. Working with and leading trips for College Outdoors is an excellent complement to the classroom because it has offered me professional experience and ways to develop as a leader and outdoors person that I might not have been granted otherwise. Leading trips has challenged my shy disposition and made me a more confident and better communicator, which I know will be invaluable as I enter the working world. Trips with College Outdoors are also an excellent way to continue my biology education as they allow me to continue interacting with and experiencing different ecosystems and environments.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Come visit and ask questions! I know this seems obvious, but seeing the campus and interacting with everyone here will give you the best perspective as to what life at Lewis & Clark is like! (Note from Admission: Visiting in person is wonderful, but during the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll need to experience our campus virtually.)

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