Institutional Research and Assessment

Transfer Student Project: Alyssa's Story

Photo of Alyssa

Alyssa attended Cornish College of the Arts and successfully completed her AA at South Puget Sound Community College. Having grown up in Olympia, Alyssa transferred to Evergreen and took full advantage of the in-state tuition bargain.

Download a Windows Media File with clips from an interview with Alyssa. (This is a WMA file and should play on your computer using Windows Media Player)

Despite majoring in theatre at Cornish and achieving her Associate of Arts degree from SPSCC, Alyssa has focused on environmental science at Evergreen, mainly geology and geochemistry. “Last year I spent time trying to figure out how to move my body in a certain way… or use the phonetic alphabet. And now, I am working on calculating the molarity of chemical solutions.” This change, however, seemed logical to her. “I saw theatre as a way of being able to move people to action and then ended up feeling like I need to go do these things that I want to change. I need to go do this research that helps people realize the value of the environment and the resources that abound in the natural world. I would like to write plays on it later on and inspire people through theatre later on in my life, but right now I was really feeling like I just wanted to go out and do it.”

At Evergreen, Alyssa has gone out and done it. On top of intensive, advanced environmental science classes, Alyssa still finds time to work on her bike and explore artistic endeavors like print making. Entering this stage of her education with little relevant background, Alyssa feels these additional interests could not be pursued without the extensive collaboration existing within the science department. “It was pretty surprising to have [faculty] just always available. People are so willing to help and so interested, especially in the sciences department, with what you’re doing that other classmates want to know—they think your work could help them. The fact that a lot of stuff is published online with student websites and previous projects, for research, is very helpful.”

Not only is the research supported within the Scientific Inquiry Planning Unit, but it abounds with unique opportunities. Alyssa excitedly points out the monitoring wells in the parking lot used to observe aquifers for possible contaminants and the dissection of a cow with an enigmatically spotted brain and liver. Besides the diversity of research potential, Alyssa relishes the accessibility and trust lacking in most other university science departments. “[Y]ou don’t get that kind of research opportunity at other schools… I can use pretty much any instrument on campus as long I go through a certification and all these workshops, which is pretty awesome… But because Evergreen is so small, there are a lot of undergraduate research opportunities where you can use the instruments and work with this and do that. It’s a lot more independent.”

Independence in the learning environment permeates the learner, inculcating self-determination and –reliance. Alyssa is now engaged in an independent internship with the Nature Conservancy, where she tests nitrogen levels at a Scotch Broom remediation site. Her excitement, engagement, and self-motivation, though germinated at Evergreen, have sprouted into a zest for learning that exceeds the bounds of this institution. “I would like to get my Ph.D. in Geochemistry or Geology at UC Santa Cruz or UC Berkeley because they have research facilities that Evergreen’s Masters program is lacking. The Masters program in Environmental Studies here is really great for policy, but policy can’t be made without the actual information. I want to be on the hands-on going out and testing, determining if drinking water is safe, and teaching that to other people, probably in Central America, the Caribbean—that area.”