Student Profile: Mariah Hartley
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North Lake Tahoe local and former SnowFest! Queen Mariah Hartley is a transfer student with a passion for art and horses. She teaches art classes at Martis Camp and skiing at Squaw Valley and enjoys cuddling with her cat.
What was it like growing up in Tahoe?
Honestly, pretty boring. I mean there’s lots of stuff to do here in the summer and winter, but it gets kind of monotonous after a while. It’s a beautiful place to live—don’t get me wrong. But when you’ve lived here all your life it just doesn’t have that same magical quality. There’s only so many times you can go skiing before you’ve skied everything. But it’s definitely a beautiful place.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done in your life?
I’ve swam with dolphins in Hawaii. My mom is former Miss Hawaii, so we were there for some interviews. I also visited the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand. You go on these little boats into caves underground, and glow worms hang down from the ceiling. They were tiny greenish-blue glowing orbs. It looked like something out of James Cameron’s Avatar.
What’s your family like?
My mom is a single mom. She works all around the world as a motivational speaker and author. She’s survived stage three skin cancer, open heart surgery and a plane crash. So I like to call her my “Terminator mom.” She’s a former Hollywood actress and member of the Screen Actors Guild. She votes in some of the big Hollywood award shows.
Aside from the usual Tahoe outdoor activities, what are your hobbies?
I like horseback riding. I used to train to compete in Western-style competitions. I’ve been dancing since I was three. I’ve done ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, modern, ballroom and even square dancing. I really enjoy watching movies and playing video games. And I’m an avid reader. My favorite is the Wicked series by Janet Evanovich. I also I love Harry Potter. Skiing, sailing, and ice skating are some of my other hobbies.
What made you choose SNC?
I like the location, and the college has a great art program. I’m going for my bachelor’s degree in art. I love that the classes are so small and that the professors are so accessible. I went to St. Mary’s College in California, and they didn’t have a program that I clicked with. So far I love my professors. My favorite is Chris Lanier. He’s teaching three out of my four classes this semester.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to own a ranch that functions as an organization focused on art and animal therapy. We would primarily work with foster kids and adults who have suffered through traumatic experiences. I would like to set up shop outside Carson City. I would like to train rescue animals and work at the ASPCA. I would also like to domesticate wild mustangs since they are overpopulated in Nevada.
How did you become interested in animals and art therapy?
I’ve been able to participate in horse therapy through an organization called Changing Strides. I’ve also been able to overcome my own life difficulties by practicing art. I got involved in art and animal therapy because I was in an abusive relationship and needed help coping with the after-effects. I like making a difference in other peoples’ lives and helping them become more positive as human beings. I think I can use my own life experiences to benefit other people.
What’s the SnowFest! Queen contest about?
It’s interesting because you get to raise money for the community. We raise money to continue the festival and to help build our own community. I was chosen to be queen based on my raffle tickets sales. I actually sold the most in SnowFest! history. There was also an interview and an essay. As SnowFest queen, you get to meet people you may not have met otherwise. I got to judge a “dress up your dog” competition.