Traveler, foodie, fashion enthusiast
The cozy couches of the Behrend Admissions Center offered the perfect interview setting for Amyah’s laid back, design-oriented personality. Chatting with her is always a treat, ‘cause she’s always got the beat on something new and different, and this day was no exception. Amyah came to Sterling in the Spring of ‘15, after the private Christian university she attended before Sterling offered perspectives she couldn’t relate to. She settled into Sterling and never looked back.
So how did you come to Sterling?
“I decided I was going to return to the school, and I was thinking about going to culinary school … I was reading an article about green chefs, and there was a link to Sterling’s website at the time. I thought, ‘wow, this looks really cool.’ I thought, ‘I wanna’ do that!’
“When I found Sterling I just jumped. Coming in in the Spring … I just, I didn’t feel like I could wait until the fall or even the summer. I thought, ‘no I need to go now!’ I couldn’t just wait, ‘cause if I was gonna’ do this I might as well just go. I feel good about my decision. Coming here was kind of a wild, whimsical choice in a way, but I feel so much better for having made that decision, as a person.”
Have you found perspectives at Sterling that align better with your own?
“Yes, is the short answer. I feel like there are so many different perspectives to choose from here. I didn’t come to Sterling with expectations … it was almost a whim for me. It was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to try this random farming thing and see if I like it.’ So being able to talk to a lot of people in a lot of different fields has been great for me. The perspectives are different than what I had been accustomed to growing up.
I didn’t know anything really about ag, I didn’t know anything about hiking or outdoor things. Yeah, and then the way that we look at food, specifically here, as a food system, as there are so many moving pieces, like it’s connected to everything we do, on large scales and small scales.
“That’s a perspective that I’ve really enjoyed learning about.”
So you came from Florida … how did that go???
“It was definitely an adventure, and for me that was exciting, to experience real winter. That was a very drastic change for me. It was like culture shock.
It was just this big adventure that was ongoing, there was always something new to think about and experience.
“I liked coming in in the winter, because I liked being able to experience winter as a season.”
Did entering in the Spring semester separate you from the other students, or set you apart?
“No. Because it was WASOP there were a few of us. Everybody at Sterling knew my name before I knew anyone, and now … it feels like I’ve been here half my life. So the concept of fitting in here was never a problem. Because it was jumping in I felt like I just blended in. I didn’t stand out.”
What have you done while you’ve been here that has felt good?
“I’ve had a lot of different experiences.
One thing I’m thinking of is that I didn’t have to do Expedition, but I wanted to do something similar to have a similar kind of experience, so I remember going with Anna Johnston, who was the Adventure Coordinator, and we went backpacking in the Adirondacks, and that was a really cool experience for me because I had never backpacked. It was raining some of the time, and we experienced snow, that was just a moment where I felt like ‘I can do this!’
“At Sterling I’ve had a lot of firsts, too. On the Hudson River trip I’d never been to New York City, that was my first hiking experience, or my first time enjoying a camping experience. That was really lovely. And then I went out of the country at the beginning of this semester, on the Mexico trip, and that was incredible.
So yeah, a lot of opportunities to experience something new at Sterling. It’s been very enriching.
So has your vision of what you wanted to do or learn changed since you’ve been here?
“Yes. One of the big things that drew me to Sterling was the Summer Ag Program, which I got to do, and which was really great – I really loved that. Originally I came with the mind that I would be an ag student. I had read one of Wendell Berry’s books, and I knew about the farm-to-table movement, and I thought, ‘I’m gonna’ try farming’, but definitely I’ve loved learning more about the food end of things. I really wanted to try as best I could to blend both ag and food while I was here, trying to learn both sides of things and seeing where they meet.
“Farming was just one of the things on my list – I have a list of things I want to do, or that I’m interested in. So now that I’ve experienced a little bit of that and learning about food in a farming setting I’m wondering what’s next, what other things can I learn about or go after.”
And what is your vision now?
“So the question is really ‘what’s the next big adventure?’ This is just the ending of one adventure, and now another one has to start, so what is that gonna’ look like? What is that gonna’ be? Should that be food-related? I love what I’ve learned here, but how does that play out in the next thing? I don’t know.
I just really want to have an open mind, and be willing to jump into anything.
“There is this company back home that I would really like to work for that’s unrelated to anything I’ve been studying. It’s a paper company, and they’re branching out and they want to do clothes next, which is really interesting.
“The arts and crafts aspect is something that I’ve always loved, but they really value writing someone a letter … it’s a romantic idea, I love it, but it’s true to their values, and that’s who they are as a company, they’re a fairly new company starting out. They just sound exciting and interesting to me. That’s a world that I love – books and paper and packages. [She laughed.] So that’s another thing.
“There’s this company in Alabama that makes clothes in-house from cotton and different materials that are grown in the state, so it’s like farm-to-table, but for clothes. So that’s another thing that I’ve been looking into.
We’re so food conscious, but we can be conscious about anything.
“So being clothes-conscious is something I’ve been looking into as well. And they’re a company that’s doing it: clothes made in the state for people that live there, and it’s perfect for the weather there, and it’s comfortable and it’s fashionable. Place-based clothing is something I’ve been thinking a lot about.
“I have so many options … it’s scary. But this is an adventure, and I’m gonna’ jump into it.
Sterling definitely played a huge part in my life … in me becoming me. I’m gonna’ miss so much about this place, but the next adventure is gonna’ be great.”