When it comes to high-impact activities at MCLA, Sara Katz '13 of Niskayuna, N.Y., already is a veteran. Over the course of her two years on campus, she's traveled to Belize with the College twice to participate in the Alternative Spring Break, studied in Spain and took part in the annual Undergraduate Research Conference.
Katz found her experience in Belize during her freshman year to be so rewarding that she returned again as a sophomore this spring, to offer more service.
"I love learning about different types of customs and traditions. Going to Belize was an amazing and humbling experience. We were able to immerse ourselves in the community by meeting people when we worked at their house and formed real connections," Katz said. "It made me very appreciative of all the great opportunities that we have here in the United States, but also showed me that all humans are not so different - even though we have some differences culturally."
This year also marks the second time she's participated in MCLA's Undergraduate Research Project. In both instances, she focused on her experiences in Belize.
"It is definitely a positive to have a program such as the undergraduate research conference here at MCLA," Katz explained. "It is a great time to support your fellow students and learn what they have been involved in for the past academic semester."
In addition to Belize, Katz traveled to Spain as part of an MCLA travel course.
"During this trip, I was able to experience and discover what the true Spain was like because of Dr. Graziana Ramsden, the professor who organized the trip," Katz said. "Yes, we saw all the tourist attractions, which were amazing, but we also got to eat at the little café where all the locals eat at or practice our Spanish when we went shopping on Las Ramblas. No matter where I have traveled to, the tourist attractions are always nice to see, but I feel that when you immerse yourself in the local culture of the country you are visiting, you appreciate it and learn so much more."
A biology major with a concentration in medical technology and a minor in chemistry, Katz chose MCLA because she wanted to experience a "community feeling" that the College has to offer. "I wanted small class size and the ability to know and have conversations with my professors," she said.
A tutor for statistics and chemistry, Katz also is on the E-Board of the Student Activities Council along with PILLARS, MCLA's community service club. In addition, she is a member of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. This fall, she will serve as an admissions ambassador on campus.
"It was very easy to get involved at MCLA," she explained. "Sometimes I think that students think that it is harder than it actually is. But by being at such a small institution, if you are willing to participate, there are always opportunities for you to get involved.
Through her involvement, Katz said she's met numerous students whom she probably never would have met otherwise.
"Many of them are now some of my good friends. By becoming an involved student I have definitely learned that many people have different ways of doing and thinking about things and that it is very important to work together as a team and deal with problems in a professional manner."