I grew up in the Midwest, and while some may claim the flatlands don’t have much to offer — I often found one way or another to get into trouble. I climbed trees in my front lawn, jumping off one branch, and climbing higher. While learning how to ride a bike, I often showed up to kindergarten the next day with bandages covering my knees.
On family ski trips, I was the one tumbling head over skis down the mountain rather than staying atop my skis like other people. I wanted to know how fast I could go, but nine times out of 10, I lost control and fell victim to power of the mountain. My mother was not a fan of my experiments as we watched her fearless seven-year-old tumble on down below.
There’s no question I have always had an adventurous heart, a thirst for more, and a passion for the world around me. I was fortunate to be able to spend more days outside than inside during my childhood.
That passion grew as I grew. While all my friends were putting on their prom dresses, I was stepping into a harness. One of my most cherished memories was checking my gear for about the 10th time, giving my spotter down below the “all clear” signal, and slowly making my way down. I was in Costa Rica, about to rappel down a waterfall at sunset, thinking “there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
While most of my senior class friends wrapped up their final year in high school with ceremonial “lasts,” I was surfing seven-foot waves, sea kayaking in bioluminescence waters, hiking through a cloud forest, and whitewater rafting Costa Rica’s Savegre River.
I could probably write a book about the personal lessons I learned during all of my travels, but the one that changed everything was the realization that (more…)
It’s pouring rain, and some of North Carolina Central University’s custom outdoor education program participants slip into the knee-deep mud, briefly maintaining their balance, only to slide like baseball players down a short, navigable incline.
Stephen Mullaney, NCOAE’s director of school partnerships, quickly glances over to see how Christina is doing — just in time to see a huge grin from beneath her rain hood. That figures, he thinks.
Christina Garrett is a go-getter, no question about that. She is the Associate Director of University Scholars at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), one of about a hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States.
As Christina, NCCU students, and some of NCOAE wilderness field instructors continue their trek in the rain, she tells Stephen about her own outdoor experiences, including fishing with her father, visiting state parks, and her accomplishment of heading what is likely the first required wilderness orientation experience for incoming freshmen and transfer students at a Historically Black College/University.
Christina’s program, which is named the Cheatham-White Scholarship Program, was established in 2018 and provides academic scholarships based on merit. Focusing on students attending NCCU, the program was designed for exceptional student scholars who possess a range of interests, proficiency in both the arts and sciences, and who demonstrate leadership potential and a commitment to service.
Admittance to the scholarship-supported program includes tuition and fees, housing, meals, textbooks, a laptop, travel, and personal expenses. The generous scholarship also means four summers of enrichment and networking. That means travel — maybe even international travel.
Where NCOAE comes into the picture is at the (more…)