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Kari Sandage 2015

I grew up in Atlantic, Iowa, and I chose to go to Central because of its study abroad programs and its volleyball program. I double majored in environmental studies and Spanish at Central and went on to receive my master’s in environmental studies from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire.

My graduate schooling was part of the Peace Corps Master’s International Program. I did a year of grad school after graduating from Central, then did the Peace Corps in Nicaragua for two years. During my Peace Corps service, I worked on my master’s capstone project and returned to school in 2018 for my final semester.

In my free time, I love biking on the Raccoon River Valley trails in Iowa and I’m currently learning how to salsa dance. I also like to read and would recommend the book “Blood of Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer. It’s about the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua during the ’80s. It is a great introduction to Nicaragua’s turbulent past, which helps readers understand the current political struggles and violence happening today.

I am currently working as a park interpreter at Denali National Park in Alaska. As an interpreter, I give educational programs about the park to visitors and lead group hikes through the park.

The education I received at Central gave me the necessary skills to be successful at the graduate level. I am grateful for my study abroad experiences and my Spanish classes, which prepared me for my Peace Corps service in Nicaragua.

My most memorable moments at Central were my two study abroad experiences. I spent a semester in Granada, Spain, my junior year and a semester in Mérida, Yucatán, my senior year. My favorite Central tradition was late night pizza parties in Vermeer! I also want to send a big thank you to Professor of Biology Anya Butt. She was my advisor and mentor, and she encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree. My absolute favorite class was Associate Professor of Biology Paul Weihe’s field botany class. Who knew that identifying plants could be so much fun? Now, every time I go hiking, I carry my field guides with me in case I come across an unknown plant species.

I would advise current students to study abroad! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel with your friends and be immersed in a new culture. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.

Kari Sandage ’15 with Liberty Wickman ’12 in Guatemala in July 2018.

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