Mara Halloran

You don’t just choose a major and stick only to that. You learn so much about every discipline, and I think that is a really valuable skill.

Mara, wearing a floral print shirt and denim jacket, smiling in front of a stone wall near the campus reflecting pool.



Degree and Class Year

BA ’22


Saint Paul, Minnesota




Climbing team, Ski Club, College Outdoors

Overseas study

Iceland (non L&C)

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

Rigorous, Fulfilling, Grounding

What was your favorite class? How did it expand your knowledge?

My favorite class has been Plant Biology with Assistant Professor of Biology Margaret Metz. This class made me look at the world in such a different way. Plants surround us, especially on campus, and learning how they function, live, and communicate with each other was fascinating.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

My mentor on campus is definitely Margaret Metz. She is my academic advisor, I work in her lab, and I have had two lab courses with her. She is an ecologist, which is the field that I also want to join. Her classes are rigorous, and she sets high expectations, but they are also very fulfilling in terms of the knowledge you get out of them. I feel like I have become a better scientist because of her!

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

For me, the biggest draw to Lewis & Clark was the small class sizes. I came from a smaller high school and the idea of a lecture hall filled with hundreds of students being taught by a teaching assistant and not a professor was not appealing. L&C’s small class sizes are taught by professors who know you and care about your learning! Oh, and the College Outdoors trips, plus ski opportunities on Mount Hood and climbing opportunities at Smith Rock, were pretty huge draws too.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

For me, liberal arts means that you are becoming a well-rounded person. You don’t just choose a major and stick only to that. You learn so much about every discipline, and I think that is a really valuable skill.

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?

I will be abroad in the fall of 2021 to Westfjords, Iceland, where I will be studying climate science and ecology as they relate to the Arctic. Lewis & Clark does not offer any overseas programs to Scandinavia, which is where I wanted to study. Luckily, it is pretty straightforward to get an outside program approved.

Did you choose to do all-remote learning or hybrid learning this academic year? How did you make your choice?

I chose hybrid learning for this academic year. Being fully online in the spring of 2020 was a very difficult academic situation for me. I felt isolated from our beautiful community, and I lacked the motivation I usually have to do my coursework. This is a sentiment I know lots of students shared. Although being on campus does pose inherent risks for contracting COVID-19, for me the decision has been entirely worth it. Being back in Portland, surrounded by my friends and peers, has refueled my motivation to work hard in my studies. Classes in person, even at a distance, are much more engaging.

What unexpected bright spots have you encountered?

Returning to campus after being gone unexpectedly made me realize all of the little things I had taken for granted. Now I so appreciate the small moments that come with being on campus like saying hello to a friend on the way to class, working with peers on homework in the SQRC, making dinner with my housemates, or even watching the rain fall from a cozy spot in Watzek while studying!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus in the small pond right below the reflecting pool. It always has water and aquatics plants in it, and in the late spring, the chorus frogs arrive. My friends and I have many good memories running down to the pond late at night to see, and hear, the frogs!

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

My favorite parts about living in Portland include the easy access to outdoor recreation (Mount Hood is only 1.5 hours away, Smith Rock is only 3, the coast is only 1.5!), as well as the amount of awesome coffee shops there are downtown. I love studying in town, and if you really wanted to, you could totally go to a new place each week!

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? If so, please describe the project and the experience.

I am lucky enough to have been a part of the Metz Lab since spring of 2019. My job is to sort her seed samples. I sort seeds by species, count them, and determine whether or not they are viable.

Where do you find community on campus?

Two huge communities that I am a part of are the climbing community and the ski community. As a leader of the Climbing Team, I have made so many amazing friends. It feels great to have a strong group of people who share the motivation to train and compete on the wall. The skiing community is also awesome. It is super fun to spend the day skiing on Mount Hood, and see so many fellow Lewis & Clark students there too. One time, I think there were like 25 of us skiing together! It was madness, and so much fun.