Stephanie Coates is a very active Midwestern girl. She quickly has made SNC her home. Her life she left back in Illinois cannot hold up to what she has accomplished and experienced in her first year at SNC. From moving out here on the spur of moment to spending her summer using her skills, she learned in her first year at SNC to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail.
What brings you to SNC?
I attended the University of Illinois before SNC. I hated being in the Midwest. It was very boring and I was into outdoor stuff. Once I realized I wanted to transfer again, I just googled outdoorsy colleges and came upon this school. I was able to get a good scholarship here, so I applied 10 days before spring semester started and flew out here a few days later.
What has been your most favorite thing since being here at SNC?
ODAL 101 class. The class was so fun because I never had done that stuff before. I never been backpacking, rock climbing, or sea kayaking. Making the close bonds with the other people in my class, and growing as a person, was a defining moment for me. I looked forward to every single trip. Without ODAL 101 I still would love this college, but it makes it a million times better.
In ODAL 101 what specific trip was your favorite?
Rock climbing was the best. It is funny because it was the one trip I dreaded the most, I had never rock climbed before; I was terrified, I thought I wouldn’t be that strong. It was such an adrenaline rush just using your own body to scale vertical rocks. I am still doing it now. It was an awesome skill to learn.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I want to get into the outdoor industry for sure, but my major is new media journalism and I love to write. So to incorporate both those, writing for an outdoor company or magazine, or even be a freelance travel writer would be the ultimate dream job down the road.
What was your first reaction to coming out here to Lake Tahoe?
The farthest west before coming out here was Colorado. I flew in to Reno at 9pm and I remember taking the taxi cab down Mount Rose high way. I was only able to see all the outlines of the pine trees and mountains. Even though it wasn’t during the day time and I couldn’t really see it, I was realizing I was in the West. The mountains were insane because I had been living in flat cornfields all my life. It was the first moment when “I am really here and it is really happening”. It has been my dream all my life to move out West. I stayed in a hotel that first night and the next morning I looked outside and it was insane.
What was one of the biggest highlights of moving here?
Looking back, the ride in the cab was a highlight. The ODAL 101 class was what really showed me Lake Tahoe. I would really recommend the class to anyone, even if they are not ODAL majors or minors. If you like the outdoors or like nature a little bit, you should take the class. As a person, you get so much out of it.
If you had time to plan/pack something that you didn’t when you first came out to SNC?
I would have saved up and bought outdoor gear before I came out here. I don’t know what I would buy, but I wasn’t ready for the altitude at all. I couldn’t even climb up a couple flights of stairs without dying.
What are some tips to Midwesterners that are thinking about coming out here?
Be open to new things. I was planning to take a semester off before coming here, so it was a spontaneous decision. I had found this school online, emailed the counselor, and he said if you come this spring rather than next fall, I can give you a better scholarship. I said awesome, I’ll pack my bags and fly out in like 5 days. Another thing would be to fallow your gut. I knew I wasn’t happy in Illinois or the school I was at, so don’t be afraid to take chances. Embrace change.
How did you feel on your way out here?
I was definitely was hesitant. I remember flying out to Reno and thought I can’t believe this is really happening. Just a few days ago I thought I was going to be at home for the next six months. Now I was flying out to a whole new place, don’t know anyone, don’t know anything, don’t even know what I am going to major in, but realizing this is something that I wanted in the past. I just went for it. I am so happy I did it because this is the most happy I’ve ever been in my life.
Were you homesick you first semester here at SNC?
No! I think I got over it because I am a transfer student. I went to Norther Michigan University my freshman year, being 8 hours from home, then I was homesick a lot but not now. I missed my family, but I think I missed them to the point where I wanted them to come out and visit me to experience what I was experiencing. There was no way, shape, or form did I want to go back to Illinois.
What are some things that you are looking forward to this year at SNC?
I love my classes. I’m excited to finally amerce myself in the journalism program, get my wilderness first responder this winter, and do a lot of my own trips outside of the school trips. Last year I just did the ODAL 101 trips, but this year I have a lot more confidence of going out on my own in the wilderness. I want to do more day hikes, backpacking trips, and rock climbing by myself and with my friends. I really want to take advantage of what Tahoe really has to offer this year, not sit in my dorm and try to do something fun every weekend.