By Kaili Martin, ’18
I’m a person who knows what I do and don’t like. I like science, traveling and anything to do with water – swimming, scuba, marine organisms….I even like drinking the stuff.
I do not like hot weather. I do not like humidity. I’ve never been to the desert, but I don’t think I’d like it.
So naturally I chose to travel 5,000 miles from home to study marine biology here at APU.
Like many of you, I had a million questions about APU and then 5 million more from my parents. Like you, I did my research on APU and Alaska before confidently telling anyone who asked that APU was my top choice.
Then, in August 2014, I packed my bags and began my adventure alone. No parents, no friends. The only number in my contacts that started with 907 (Alaska’s area code) was for the airport shuttle guy who’d be picking me up in 13 hours.
Of course none of my three huge suitcases had dorm-life necessities. I forgot bedding and most of my clothes, but I did have a toothbrush and all my scuba gear.
I realize that so far, my story may sound very different from yours. But here’s where my message and your experience intersect: I encourage you to take advantage of the countless academic and extracurricular opportunities here at APU. What I learned – and what you’ll find too – is that all of your professors want to see you succeed as a student and as a person.
Few universities put as much emphasis as APU does on helping you gain worthwhile volunteer and work experience as soon as you’re ready to gain from it. At APU, you’re surrounded by professors who love to teach and who are also working on projects outside the classroom. That means your professors can open your eyes to careers and help you see that your dreams really are achievable.
If you’re a first-year student or a transfer, I hope you joined Expedition Alaska, the University’s annual raft and canoe trip down the Yukon River. Are you signed up? Good. I went as a freshman and I truly believe the trip will teach, test and reward each of you.
When you’re on the Yukon, allow your mind and body to meander, just like the river itself. You may not have control of every situation, you may not know what to do at all times. But I know you will have time to think and reflect. A vital lesson to take home is to gain respect for wildlife, the people around you, and, of course, yourself.
In life and at APU, I hope you’ll let the meandering Yukon be your guide. You can always get to a destination by sticking to a familiar route. Or you can allow yourself the rewards of going off trail, taking the long way around, and challenging yourself.
I promise the many experiences waiting for you here at APU will be rewarding. Explore!