November 9, 2011

Reaching for the stars – and far beyond

It is no surprise that Knox students want to change the world.
Some seniors, though, are planning to do so starting right after graduation. Whether they wish to promote sustainability on a local scale or aid in relations on a global one, students are indubitably ambitious.
“I’d really like to get a job in the Obama campaign, either on the national level or the state level,” Student President senior Gordon Barratt said. “I’m really fascinated with campaigns and campaign politics and I feel really passionate about this campaign in specific.”
Experience in volunteering for and working on campaigns has only whetted Barrat’s desire to continue to do so in the future.
“One thing I’d love to do for a while would be working for a company that does political consulting for campaigns and helps campaigns do advertising or figure out directions or find donors,” Barratt said.
“It’s something I really enjoy working on. Work is work, but it’s something where I can put in an 8-to-10 hour workday and still feel good about myself, that I did that. It’s something I believe in.”
Affecting change from an executive position can also resonate on a personal level.
“I’m hoping to work for the government, doing things with food policy,” senior Audrey Todd said. “Some food issues need to be tackled on a federal level, but at the same time, I’m a big believer in grassroots. Maybe if we start changing things locally, the federal government will come to that as well.”
Todd first became interested in food issues in Freshman Preceptorial, where she read a book that presented many new and intriguing concepts.
“The meal should be a talking point in itself. It’s really important to everyone that there’s a discussion of what your food is made of, where it comes from, why you can have it. I never thought about food as a talking point before,” Todd said. “It was enthralling.”
Learning more about food issues inspired Todd to get involved in the Knox Food Coalition, Garden Club and a book club devoted to food issues. The desire to take action on a personal level will continue in the future.
“I’m hoping to have a garden,” Todd said. “I want to try to live as sustainably as possible.”
Involvement in the environment is an interest that also extends to senior Elizabeth Cockrell, who spent this past summer working for a conservation society and the U.S. Forest Service in a cooperative internship.
“I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life, and going out [west] was really nice, to see all these open lands and places you could access easily,” Cockrell said. “Ideally, [I will be] working with something where I would have a field season, and in the summer I would go out into a national forest and collect data, whether that be related to game or wildlife management or fisheries.”
The environmental studies program at Knox greatly helped to influence these interests.
“The department is so diverse, and you can really explore your interests within the department. You get a good foundation in environmental issues and a solid basis in how to explore those issues and solutions and where to look for those. There’s definitely the sense that things can change and you can be that change,” Cockrell said. “Going out there and doing these projects in the future is the way that I embody that message.”
Knox offered similar encouragement to senior international relations major Greg Noth.
“The study abroad office was extremely encouraging. Knox doesn’t have any pre-approved programs in the Middle East, but once they found out I wanted to go, they could not have been more helpful in directing that,” Noth said.
“Every step I’ve taken, whether it’s a class, or an independent study, or studying abroad or senior honors [projects], there’s never been any obstacle to climb over to do it. I feel like Knox has been helping me over whatever that may be,”‘ he said.
Knox has played a key role in shaping the goals of seniors and ensuring that they will be able to achieve them. But what would students do with no limitations, particularly realistic ones?
“I want a hot tub sometimes, but I don’t know how I feel about them right now. Can I have a solar-powered hot tub? Can that be a thing? That’s my idea of luxury,” Todd said.
“I would cross the Empty Quarter, a giant, barren desert in Saudi Arabia. I’d cross that on a camel,” Noth said.

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

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