Name: Laura Loucks ‘18
Major: Sustainable Community Development
Hometown: Eagle, Wisconsin
Q. How did you find Northland?
A. My path to Northland started in middle school, where I learned about the Conserve School, a semester school in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. During high school, I spent a semester of my junior year at Conserve, during which we took a field trip to Northland and took a tour of the campus, talked to a couple of professors, and ate lunch in the cafeteria. After that first introduction, I took a couple more trips to the north woods, but I loved how similar Northland was to Conserve, and that’s what lead me to apply.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. This summer I am working for the City of Ashland as their first sustainability intern in the Planning and Development department. I will also be continuing my work at the Center for Rural Communities on campus collecting data for improving the City, the region, and the islands of the Great Lakes. In the fall I will potentially be working as a solar designer for a solar installation company in Iowa, or as an assistant to the sustainability manager of a manufacturer in southern Wisconsin.
Q. Name a pivotal moment that helped shape your current plan?
A. The experience that most shaped my future was taking AP Human Geography as a freshman in high school. This was the class that initially lead me to begin thinking globally about humanity’s problems, and studying population trends lead me down the path to finally choosing to study sustainability in college. A second experience that solidified this interest was my semester at Conserve School. It was four months of learning outside, reading and writing about wilderness explorers and developing a deeper connection to the natural environment. My experience at Conserve also led me directly to Northland, so that is an exponential influence on my future.
Q. Most influential faculty and why?
A. Professor Brandon Hofstedt. As one of the two sustainable community development faculty, I had many academic interactions with him. He always pushed me in class and expected more out of me than I thought I could give. This made me better involved, and a better reader and writer. Two of his classes (Capitalism, Justice, and Sustainability; and Organizing Communities) were my favorite classes at Northland and introduced me to extremely interesting and important topics I would not normally have sought out myself. In addition to being one of my professors, Brandon was and continues to be my boss at the Center for Rural Communities for the last two years. He has entrusted me with multiple projects, many times giving me almost complete control of the data collection and recording. I have absolutely loved working at the Center and that is mostly due to the trust that Brandon and Ana have in their student researchers.
Q. If you were going to advise incoming first years to Northland College, what would you say?
A. My one regret during my time at Northland is that I didn’t take advantage of the absolute wealth of knowledge of the faculty and staff in this place. Talk to your teachers after class. Develop relationships with them. Volunteer for their projects. Ask them to edit papers and for career advice. Talk to Stacy Craig about internships in your field BEFORE junior year. Two of my most rewarding experiences senior year were my two internships and I’m so disappointed that I didn’t have the forethought to start those before my last year at college. Go to the workshops for resumes and cover letters. Everyone says that if you need help, they are available, so TAKE ADVANTAGE before you miss the opportunity.