I really wanted a smaller college experience so I could forge a genuine relationship with my professors, and also feel like the campus was a real community.
Degree and Class Year
What three words would you use to describe L&C?
Humanities Summer Research, July 2023
What’s the name of research project?
Investigating Nature Connection with Assistant Professor With Term of Psychology Jolina Ruckert.
Describe what you are researching this summer. What is your exact role?
I am working with Professor Ruckert on two different projects. In the beginning of the summer we worked on coding data from her dissertation where parents responded to a question asking them about a meaningful experience with their child in nature. During that process, I worked with a student who had graduated from L&C to come up with thematic codes based on concepts from previous research. Once developed, we applied them to these stories and then worked on writing a paper about the data. The other project we are working on is centered around access to nature. I have been researching scales and measures used in previous research in order to assess which would be best in our study. The goal of our study is to create a questionnaire that looks at challenges to accessing nature such as a lack of resources, equity issues, and discrimination.
What’s the best part of this experience?
Honestly, the best part of the experience this summer has been working with Jolina. I have been in three of her classes and a teaching assistant for another, and have had an incredible time learning from her. It has also been great to be in Portland during the summer where there is so much to do—climbing and hiking. I have been able to do things with friends after work or on the weekends that, during the regular semester, might have been harder to set up because of classes and other demands.
How were you supported in finding and securing this research opportunity?
I felt very supported in that, having had several classes with Professor Ruckert, she knew my area of interest and so she reached out when it looked like there might be an opportunity to pursue a funded project over the summer. I got to have the experience of working on the application with Jolina’s guidance. When we were selected to receive the grant funding, it was very easy to access the required training and get set up with all of the other details.
How do you see this experience leading to a career in your chosen field and/or aiding in your career development after L&C?
I think it has definitely given me a broader sense of the different research opportunities that are possible in psychology. It has also given me more confidence in my research skills.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I think it is one of the benefits of getting an undergraduate degree at Lewis & Clark—the fact that professors are so accessible and interested in student development. While I was on campus this summer, several people I know also had research, grant, or work opportunities. At a lot of larger universities, these types of experiential learning experiences are often reserved for graduate students.
Life at L&C, Spring 2023
What’s your favorite class? Why?
This is so hard to choose, but I really loved my capstone course with Assistant Professor Jolina Ruckert called Psychology of Sustainability. Jolina is so supportive and knowledgeable that it makes you excited to go to class, and she allowed the main project to be really flexible in order to make room for anyone’s passion or interest to be explored.
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?
I really wanted a smaller college experience so I could forge a genuine relationship with my professors, and also feel like the campus was a real community. I also loved the ability to escape to the city or the mountains on the weekend if I felt like exploring.
What do you like or find most interesting about your major?
I love how no matter what class I find myself in, I can connect it back to psychology. There is so much you can do in psychology, whether that is through therapy, research, or teaching. It feels like the opportunities are endless. I also feel like it has given me a better understanding of my own thoughts, which is something I love going deeper with.
What do you like or find most interesting about your minor?
I have two minors: health studies and art. There is quite a bit of overlap between health studies and psychology, which makes it fun and easy to learn—both subjects feed into one another, so there’s added depth. My art minor was a surprise even to me—I absolutely fell in love with my art history classes and wanted a way to continue exploring those classes and connect more with that department. The art minor allows me to really explore that passion.
How did you decide on your major?
I kind of knew psychology was where I had the most interest going into college. I took a community college course in high school that made me eager to learn more about psychology.
How did you decide on your minor?
I wanted a minor that could really play to psychology’s strengths so health studies had a lot of overlap and felt like a good compliment to the material. As for art, it was really a lucky chance that through exploring art classes I found another passion and added on to the minor list.
Tell us about your support systems and social outlets on campus: people, activities, clubs, res halls, etc.
My support system has really bloomed every semester at L&C. In the beginning, I had the track and cross country teams to talk to and hang out with. As I started exploring more of the activities, like Student Alumni Association (SAA), the Pamplin Society, SAAB grants, or the Mossy Log, I started to expand my connections. I always tried to connect with my professors as well, like going on a College Outdoors trip with Professor Jolina Ruckert and other students is still a highlight. This semester I have started to set up yoga dates, coffee outings, and Portland Art Museum trips with various friends from classes. The Garden Club has also offered opportunities to swing by when they have an event going on. The reality is that community is everywhere, you just have to push yourself to try new things.
If you went on a New Student Trip with College Outdoors, how did it shape your experience as an incoming student?
Unfortunately I didn’t do an NST because of my commitment to the cross country team. However, our coach did set up a camping experience to make up for it and that was a lot of fun. I got to connect with my teammates more and learn about the older students’ experiences at L&C. I was/am pretty shy so the whole experience helped me connect with others in a beautiful place.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
L&C is a place where you can really express yourself and find your people. The thing is, you can’t rush it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and just remember, you’re like broccoli: some people may love it while others are more into asparagus. No matter what, you’ll find your place to really groove on the campus.
Did you visit campus before deciding to come to L&C? How did your visit influence your decision to attend?
I started in the fall of 2020, so no visits took place. However, the cross country coach did a live tour on Instagram which was helpful. I visited a few other schools before COVID and it was really important to get a sense of the size of school/distance from home and I used some of that information to guide my decision.
How do you describe the liberal arts?
I think my idea of the liberal arts is a place where many different disciplines can overlap and come together to provide a richer experience for the students. It also makes me think of a more intimate experience of education.
Which residence halls have you lived in? How would you describe the hall’s personality? What is/was the best thing about living on campus?
I’ve lived in Manzanita (aka Manzi), Spruce, and now the apartments. I think Manzi could be best described as the wild child where all the people are friendly, fun and ready for adventure; whereas Spruce was much more chill and friendly, a relaxed version of Manzi. Now the apartments feel like a big step in independence but I don’t have to worry about traffic to classes, and I get to enjoy living with some of my really close friends.
Who is your mentor on campus? Why?
I appreciate all the professors I have had at L&C, but I think someone who has really helped me has been Yueping Zhang. She is my major advisor, and I have been in her class and a teaching assistant with her. I feel like she is always sharing great opportunities with me and if I have any questions she has a lot of valuable advice.
What’s one of the best spots on campus?
I love going to the reflecting pond after getting a nice coffee from the Dovecote. You can catch some really beautiful views of Mount Hood.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?
I love how close some nice hiking spots are. You can find some fun nature spots and then go get a great cup of coffee after.
How has College Outdoors influenced and improved your college experience?
I really enjoy the different types of activities College Outdoors offers. I’ve done a mini walk around the trails near campus identifying different plants and I’ve done a more extensive trip to the coast with one of the professors, Jolina Ruckert, leading it alongside a CO leader that emphasized mindfulness. Both experiences were really fun and got me outside and engaged in a way that I wouldn’t have been otherwise.