Customized College


When it came time for Sarah Fuller '13 of Halifax, Mass., to choose a major, she combined her two greatest interests - music and Spanish - to create her own customized education within the interdisciplinary studies major.

"Music has always been a part of my life," she explained. "When I was younger, I always heard my grandmother play the piano. It always fascinated me how the different notes came together to create a melody and a harmony."

For the past 14 years, Fuller has played the flute. And for seven years, she's played the French horn. More recently, she took on the drums when she played them at a Chamber Ensemble Society benefit concert, to bring awareness to hunger and the homeless.

Spanish, too, intrigues Fuller. "Everything about it interests me - the culture, the language, the music - absolutely everything." Her goal is to one day be a teacher for an elementary school in a Spanish-speaking country.

"I want to teach everything there, not just English," Fuller said. "I have friends and pen pals who are from different countries in Latin America, who do not even know how to write in their own language, and I want to help change that."

Recently, Fuller spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica. Immersed into the culture for three months, she lived with a Costa Rican family, who served her traditional meals.

"A normal breakfast would consist of rice, beans and eggs. As for lunch and dinner, they would eat a dish called 'casada.' This consists of rice, beans, some sort of meat, cabbage salad and plantains," she explained. "The food there was absolutely delicious."

Fuller attended an international school where, in addition to classes in photography and dance, she took intensive Spanish language courses.  

"We had 80 hours of learning within one month per class, which was taught all in Spanish," she said. "We learned so many different words and concepts relevant to us, because of all the different field trips and places we went to.  Each month we would learn something different. It was a firsthand experience with a Latin American culture."

Fuller's travels included trips to Puerto Viejo in the Caribbean, Playa Tamarindo on the Pacific coast, and to a waterfall garden in La Paz. A visit to Monteverde and Arenal, where she participated in various zip-lining activities, was one of her favorite excursions.

Back at MCLA, Fuller is a tutor for students in several different Spanish classes, and also serves as an assistant teacher. An active participant in intramural sports at the College, she's also the vice president of the Chamber Ensemble Society.

"These activities have definitely contributed to my personal growth at MCLA. I am usually a very shy person; however with these activities, I have become more outgoing. I have had to give pep talks and talk to large groups of people, and if I tried that during me freshmen year here, I would have been terrified," she explained. "Now, I feel confident in what I am saying and in my approach."

However, "The best part of being a MCLA student would have to be the close-knit community. I see people and clubs always supporting one another," Fuller said. "All the professors I have had at MCLA know my name, and even when I am not in their class anymore, they still remember me and ask how my semester is going. They want you to succeed."