Greta Burton

I had no idea what I wanted to study when I began college. I knew that I enjoyed critical thinking, puzzles, and understanding how people construct narratives. Naturally, this led me to English. Each text became a puzzle to unravel and reconstruct.

Greta Burton BA ?22

Pronouns

she/her

Degree and Class Year

BA ’22

Hometown

Portland, Oregon

Major

English

Minor

Rhetoric and Media Studies

Extracurriculars

Pioneer Log, varsity golf, intramural sports, jazz lessons

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

Driven, Aspirational, Lively

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

My favorite class was Social Justice and Argumentation with Professor Mitch Reyes. This class pushed me academically, socially, and professionally in ways that have profoundly altered my way of thinking and interacting with the world. It equipped me with strategies to engage thoughtfully in critical discussions about race and to better understand the way in which narratives of social justice are articulated in society. The final project for this course was to write, record, and produce our own podcast episode on a topic related to social justice efforts. I interviewed Kisha Jarrett, a Portland transplant, who is producing a documentary about her experience hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail as a plus-sized, chronically ill Black woman. In my podcast, I assess the history of exclusionary practices in outdoor spaces and include Kisha’s narrative to represent the anxieties and inaccessibility of outdoor recreation across various demographics. Just because someone is welcome in a space does not mean they feel invited. Kisha and I agree more diverse representation and conscious community building are two primary ways to remedy this.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Growing up locally, I have always admired those who attended Lewis & Clark. Their consideration for community and global betterment attracted my attention and earned my praise. When it came time to make a college decision of my own, I feared that L&C was too close to home. I went against my instinct and chose to go to a different institution. My instinct brought me back as a transfer student in my junior year. I feel much more fulfilled and confident in my abilities, both academically and socially, as a result of my time at L&C.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

I believe that meaningful academic and emotional insight occurs at the intersection of disciplines and experiences. It is only within this intersection that we are able to identify nuance, tension, and beauty through the ways in which an event, individual, or trend, defies or upholds convention. This is how I view the liberal arts. I cannot exist in one class without using the concepts, definitions, or strategies of another. We do not exist as living beings within a bubble, nor should we use that approach to learning.

Where do you find community on campus?

I find community in all aspects of my life at L&C. I find it in the greetings before class, the walks to the academic quad, in class group chats with my peers, in office hours with professors, and in my extracurricular activities. To me, community is experienced in the respect and admiration shared by my professors and peers. To think that community only exists within one aspect of campus life, such as a team or organization, dismisses the interconnectedness I experience and deeply value on a daily basis.

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

From the beginning of my time at L&C, Associate Professor Karen Gross has been a beacon of support and guidance. She has consistently demonstrated that one may always lead with grace and dignity, even amidst times of great uncertainty. Karen’s door is always open and she is quick to offer a hot cup of tea and a piece of chocolate. Karen cares deeply about the well-being of her students academically, professionally, and personally. One of my favorite memories of Karen is the class I had with her on the Wednesday following the 2020 Presidential election. Rather than drudging forward with our syllabus, Karen took the time to pause and ask her students what we needed that day. Over our Zoom screens, we shared laughter, some tears, sighs of relief, and voiced persistent concerns. While this approach is not always necessary, it speaks to the sensitivity and flexibility of Karen’s character. In this instance, it was exactly what my peers and I needed at that particular moment. It was a kindness and example of leadership that I will not soon forget.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Say yes! Regardless of where you attend school, the best advantage you can give yourself is to try new things. I also try to remind people, including myself, that everyone is in the same boat. When I first transferred, we were learning in a hybrid format because of the pandemic. Socializing during the pandemic proved difficult, but not that different from how it feels to meet new people when first starting college. I decided to be brave and reach out to people in my classes that I felt I could enjoy studying with, going on a walk with, or grabbing a cup of coffee. To my surprise, many people said yes and were very enthusiastic to do so. Sometimes all it takes is a little bravery to take the first step and people will rise to the occasion. When someone makes that effort with you, say yes!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is sitting in the adirondack chairs next to J.R. Howard Hall on a chilly, sunny day. Sometimes you can hear the jazz ensembles rehearsing from Evans Music Center. In the spring, you can smell fragrant blooms in the air. People play frisbee, faculty members walk their dogs. It is the perfect place to pause and appreciate all of the beauty around us.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

My favorite thing about Portland is the Timbers Soccer Club. I have had the privilege of watching the club mature over the years, winning the MLS cup in 2015 and nearly winning it again in 2021. There is a distinct chillness and friendliness to Portlanders. When their passion comes to light, it is all passion, all the time. Portlanders are fearless and stand up for what they believe in. Going to Timbers games reminds me of the best parts of being human, especially if those humans live in Portland. #RCTID

How did you decide on a major?

I had no idea what I wanted to study when I began college. I knew that I enjoyed critical thinking, puzzles, and understanding how people construct narratives. Naturally, this led me to English. Each text became a puzzle to unravel and reconstruct. I continued my English studies after I transferred, but I also felt something was missing. That is when I discovered rhetoric and media studies (RHMS). I took the intro course and have never looked back. Finally, I found peers who were curious about the same fundamental questions I was. I describe RHMS as the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and literary analysis. It compels us to question everything we see and ask ourselves why it makes us feel and think a certain way. At the microscopic level, RHMS helps us explain why a particular word, object, symbol, or event has the impact it does. At the macroscopic level, it helps us understand why we are the way we are within the context of our society.

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

I designed an independent study course with Visiting Assistant Professor Heather Ashley Hayes around prominent books’ branding and developing brand strategies. At its core, we are examining how texts about thinking can explain and motivate human consumer behavior.

How would you describe sustainability at Lewis & Clark? What’s your involvement with any sustainability initiatives on campus?

Like the majority of other places in the world, we can always do better when it comes to sustainability. Lewis & Clark, however, is a place that objectively values sustainability efforts, which is reflected in the daily practices of the institution. It is rare to find a place that shares such a deep consensus and commitment to bettering the environment both through collective and individual action.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

My experience at Lewis & Clark has empowered me to become a more globally minded citizen and to believe in my own ability to enact change. In particular, I have been inspired by outstanding members of the faculty and my peers who have encouraged me to be more involved, both on and off campus. Writing and editing for the Pioneer Log has been one significant aspect of this. I was encouraged to join the publication by my teammate who had been involved for the majority of her college career. After joining, I found myself more acutely aware of events and experiences on campus. I found myself thinking more critically about the world around me and about the experiences of those who are not sufficiently represented in the media. I realized my power to help share these stories, and to recognize the significance of my position as a woman within a publication. All good stories start with a good question. My experience with the Pioneer Log has reinforced that I hold the power to ask the questions that others neglect, and to encourage my peers to do the same.

Are you a transfer student? If so, why did you choose to transfer to Lewis & Clark? How is Lewis & Clark supporting you as a transfer student?

I grew up locally, so I felt very familiar with Lewis & Clark before formally enrolling. My high school is a 10-minute drive from Lewis & Clark’s campus. During the summers, I routinely spent time admiring the natural beauty of the school. It was my corner of paradise. After applying, I formally toured with my family and got to see more of the academic side of L&C. It seemed like a perfect fit, but I was scared it was too close to home. Ultimately, I let fear guide me and I chose a different institution, going against my instinct. That instinct brought me back to L&C at the beginning of my junior year. Now, I cannot imagine having attended school anywhere else. Campus to me now feels like its own entity, distinct from the community I grew up in. Sometimes the perfect fit just happens to be ten minutes down the road.

I was very apprehensive about the transfer of my merit scholarships and financial aid. Lewis & Clark made the transfer process as stress-free and straightforward as possible. The Registrar and Office of Financial Aid worked closely with me on an individual basis to ensure that all of my bases were covered. I ended up paying nearly the exact amount as I did at my prior institution and all of my credits transferred. I was able to transition to life at L&C seamlessly and discover a new course of study. I found L&C exceeded my desires for a more rigorous academic experience and a more fulfilling social life.

Why did you choose to play golf at a DIII school? How do you balance athletics and academics?

Most people in college athletics choose a school because of their desire to continue playing that sport. This was not my experience. I played sports in high school, but primarily did other extracurricular activities. I began playing golf when I was 10, and I continued playing recreationally in my free time. After transferring to Lewis & Clark, I emailed the coach to see if there was an opportunity to practice with the team and refine my game. To my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms to the golf program. I received individual instruction, qualified to compete, and participated in my first tournament in the spring of 2021. The anxiety of tournaments prevented me from playing in high school, but through the support of the team and coaching staff at L&C, it has become my favorite aspect of collegiate sports. I credit my degree of enjoyment and fulfillment as part of the golf team to the strict academic-before-sports policy of the institution. I never feel like I have to compromise or stress over missing a practice in order to work on an assignment or study for an exam. Lewis & Clark offers a very holistic approach to their students’ experience by prioritizing long-term wellbeing and success over short-term performance.