From palm trees to pine

Rachael

RACHAEL

Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Maui, HI

Year: Senior

Sand to stone, ocean to mountains, palm trees to pine, surfing to boarding, warm to cool…everything familiar to so much new.

When I meet someone new, our conversation usually goes like this: “So, where are you from?” “Maui…Hawai’i,” I reply. “Really?! What are you doing here in Durango?” It’s a good question, with a somewhat complicated answer. Why am I in Durango? What prompted me to leave the sand, surf, and sunshine that I came to identify with during the first nineteen years of my life?

My story goes like this: I left the little island of Maui and journeyed all the way across the ocean to…the little island of O’ahu. After a year of college in the big city of Honolulu, I decided to do an exchange to Fort Lewis College (FLC), all the way across the Pacific to the arid and mountainous Southwest. I had always wanted to travel and explore the world outside of Hawai’i. However I also knew that I loved the islands and didn’t really want to leave for very long. So, I figured a year in Colorado would cure my bug for adventure and then I would return “home.” But I’m still here, so what happened with my plan?

At the beginning of my second semester at FLC I began to toy with the idea of transferring. There were several things in favor of me considering changing schools permanently. I loved the education that I was receiving at this smaller liberal arts school. All of my professors were (and continue to be) enthusiastic and encouraging in my classes. I love the outdoors, and there is so much potential for outdoor adventures here in Durango.

At a Connect retreat!However, the main reason that I transferred was due to a little club on campus called Connect. I stumbled into a flyer for this nondenominational Christian group one afternoon as I frantically tried to find my Chemistry lab. After some initial hesitation I have become increasingly involved with this campus community. Because of the genuine love, friendship, and family-like community that I experienced in this group, I decided to not return to my little chain of islands.

“But,” you may wonder, “what about the paradise you left behind? The warm sun, beautiful ocean and fun surf? What about all of the plans you had in Hawai’i?” These are questions that definitely ran through my mind as I considered transferring. However, I have come to realize that there is a plan for my life that is much larger, exciting, and important than any plan that I could ever come up with.

Perhaps one day I will return to those little islands in the middle of the Pacific, but for now I know that there are things for me to do here. As I look back on my decision to transfer, I am confident that it was absolutely the right one. These past two and a half years have been so full of growth, friendships, and new steps of faith.

I will be graduating in December. In January I will embark on a mission trip to Nicaragua. I am very thankful for the opportunity to come to school and grow in my faith here in Durango, and I am so excited for the adventures that await me!

Aloha!

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Awards and Affiliations

Fort Lewis College is Colorado’s
Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges - COPLAC Public Liberal
Arts College
and a member of
The Princeton Review - Best in the West2013-14 Colleges of Distinction AwardForbes - America's Top Colleges