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A Year of Fulfillment

The past seven months dating back to the beginning of February, have been as productive and self-fulfilling of a time for me as any other that I can remember in my life. One of my biggest goals entering college was to study abroad. Finally, as a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, I departed for the spring 2023 semester to study rainforest and coral reef ecology in the tropical far north region of Australia.

I spent the spring in Cairns, Queensland, just off the northeast coast of the country. The area is rich in biodiversity between the vast rainforests, dry woodlands, and coral reef communities. I was extremely lucky to be able to learn all about the ecology of local flora and fauna. My coursework included some bookwork done in the classroom, but the focus was on learning by practical experience. Field trips and excursions were at the core of my learning experience for the semester. As a program, we hiked through forests and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, and all along, the objective remained educational yet inherently recreational as well. While I interacted with the subject of my studies first-hand, I was also given fieldwork assignments to complete related to the way that ecological research is done. By the end of the trip, I had a new appreciation for the process of doing scientific research, and now it is something that I hope to continue in my professional career.

In that sense, it was extremely important to me that I independently followed through on my hopes to study abroad because I knew it would be rewarding in terms of professional development and personal growth. A few of my goals for the semester were that I developed a better understanding of what I want to do with my Butler degree, and that I took full advantage of an opportunity that I made for myself. I believe I accomplished both these things so far this year. Furthermore, I am happy that I have continued the habit of leaving my comfort zone, making ambitious goals for myself and working to fulfill them.

Over the summer since returning from my semester abroad, I’ve added biology as a second major alongside environmental studies with the hope of doing more post-grad work similar to what I did in Australia. I found a fun and challenging summer job working at a nationally recognized bakery which sells artisan croissants made from scratch. This was something new that I learned a lot about by the end of summer, not only about baking but also about managing a business as I often worked closely with the owner. Furthermore, I’ve set rigorous physical goals, as I have been training for the Indianapolis marathon held at the end of October.

These things and others have kept me busy and active throughout the year, and to a great extent I credit the confidence and perspective that I gained from living abroad to my current mindset that I am able to succeed in accomplishing tasks that I set out to do despite the challenge. I am beyond excited to be back at Butler living in the Lambda Chi Alpha house here on campus and being active once again in the Alpha-Alpha chapter. I cannot wait to see what achievements I can reach as a person and what we can accomplish this year as a chapter.

Ryan Snyder

AA 1978

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