Each summer, Gateway School graduate and avid traveler Sierra Tobin, makes her way back to the playgrounds and classrooms of her childhood. This is her third year working at Camp Gateway, and the last summer before she graduates from Vassar College in 2017. And yet Sierra has already accomplished a laudable amount before walking the stage. Not only is she a talented athlete, but she is also a passionate scholar, keenly interested in the connection between climate change and social systems, which is why she studies Geography at Vassar.
“I’m very interested in the environment and climate change, but also in social systems and interactions,” Sierra explained. “Geography enables me to look at the intersection between these two in both global and local contexts.”
Fresh from a semester abroad, Sierra recently had the opportunity to participate in an International Honors Program called “Climate Change: The Politics of Food, Water and Energy.” The program lasted a little over four months, and allowed Sierra to see first-hand the global systems and impacts of climate change that she studies at Vassar.
“I traveled to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia with a group of 31 students,” Sierra said. “We stayed with homestay families in each country, and heard from many local people about their work and experiences with environmental issues.”
Sierra credits Gateway with instilling in her a love of learning and an interest in the environment. Her experiences at Gateway helped to shape her worldview and frame her academic pursuits.
“The focus at Gateway on hands-on learning and a love of learning helped me become engaged early on,” Sierra said. “The small community of engaged and curious learners at Gateway made me want to find a similar community in college, and Vassar was a great fit.”
Active participation in college sports helps to balance Sierra’s academic workload. Her love of volleyball grew from roots at Gateway and flourished at Vassar, where she is a member of the Women’s Varsity Volleyball team and was selected as captain in her junior year.
“I love playing volleyball, which I started at Gateway and still play in college,” Sierra said.
Her team has been recognized as a two-time Liberty League All-Academic Team, and Sierra is a three year member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
As for her favorite memory of Gateway, Sierra says, “It’s hard to pick one. I loved baking bread with our buddies, playing happy shiny fun ball in PE, touring campus during Ocean Week, and hearing graduation speeches every year.”
As her own graduation looms near, she has much to celebrate. A true advocate of many of Gateway’s values, including justice, exploration, and environmental sustainability, Sierra continues to make us proud call her an alumna.