Major - Behavioral Neuroscience
Hometown - Salt Lake City, UT
“It is the generosity of the members of this association that has made this opportunity avaliable to me and I am honored to be joining the ranks of Western alumni next year.”
I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah, in a very religious home. When I came out as gay to my family, the reaction was less than supportive to say the least. Disowned by my family with zero financial support, I decided to make a new life for myself in Bellingham, where I hoped I could live a more open life without being rejected by loved ones. At Western, I have been given many incredible experiences. I currently study Spanish and Behavioral Neuroscience and am working in a research lab where we study the neurodegenerative illness, Huntington’s Disease. Additionally, I teach Spanish courses to Western’s faculty through the Western Employee Language Program and also provide free sex education to Western students as part of the Peer Health Education Program on campus.
While Bellingham has been an incredible experience, the financial reality of the situation when there is no family to support me results in my working full time throughout college to support myself, often at the expense of my studies. The Alumni Scholarship for Undergraduates enables me to work fewer hours and focus more on what I came up here to do: study neuroscience at Western. Especially this final year of school, as I work on publishing a research paper, study for the MCAT, and apply to the Fulbright scholar program, this scholarship gives me the free time necessary to excel in my academics.
Traveling has been a hugely impactful part of my life so far. I was fortunate to travel a lot growing up, and that is something I have carried into my adult life. I’ve eaten a live tarantula in Cambodia, hitchhiked from Canada to Mexico, and been robbed at machete-point in Honduras. These travel experiences have taught me a great deal. First, I have learned how to depend on myself. When you’re backpacking in foreign countries you have to learn how to trust your instincts and get around without counting on anyone else. Additionally, traveling has shown me just how beautiful the diversity of our human race is. I am blessed to now have friends from around the world. Knowing and loving people in other cultures is an invaluable blessing that has taught me to value other’s experiences and perspectives while constantly staying critical of my own beliefs and views.
My favorite part of living in Bellingham is living on the water, and when I’m not studying or working, you can be sure to find me out enjoying the water. From sailing to kayaking to scuba diving or kiteboarding, I find any excuse I can to get out and get wet. I have been scuba diving in sites all over the world, from the Caribbean to Fiji, but the Puget Sound has some of my very favorite dive sites. This summer my new project is to pick up surfing. I have several trips planned throughout the next few months.