By Aaron Tooyak
The bright sun, the view from a mountain peak, a breath of crisp air; nothing beats the outdoors. Michael Briseno (’12) was born and raised in Forth Worth, Texas. He graduated from APU in 2012 with his Bachelor’s in Outdoor Studies and is now a contributing leader in the outdoor field. Michael is currently a student in APU’s Master of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education (MSOEE) program, and an outdoor professional for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
APU attracts outdoor enthusiasts from any corner of the world, and our outdoor students never stop their adventure here. Michael chose APU because he loved being outside, and he wanted to do something he loved. Michael enlightened me on “kinesthetic learning”, learning by doing, and how APU’s active learning model enticed him.
“Outdoor leadership programs are all over the states. I chose APU because they had block and session classes with the opportunity to spend months in the field. I also read about their expedition leadership courses. The mystique of Alaska and the Outdoor Program drew me to APU”.
Ask any APU student why they stay here – their answer will point to our main ingredients of: unique class sessions, small class sizes, and the relationship with professors. “Professors know you, they know if you skip classes! Dave McGivern and Eeva Latosuo were a couple professors who joined us in the field. The continuity from the field into the classroom built a strong rapport with teachers”.
Michael is among the students who’ve used their education to teach others. He progressed from a student, to a teacher assistant, to an official adjunct professor for our Expedition Leadership and Winter Wilderness courses. “Being a teacher’s assistant for the undergrad Rock Climbing Systems class gave me the experience I need for teaching technical skills. I enjoyed the mentoring aspect with students as well”.
When asked why one should contribute to the university, Michael immediately answered how APU’s communities played an important role in his career progression. “APU’s disciplines overlap into other professions, they’ve cultivated and built APU throughout other communities. The connections I made led me to a position with NOLS. We are a tight knit community. Connections built inside of APU continue outside the university”.