Making a difference with his career is of paramount importance to Max Dilthey '13 of North Adams, Mass. When he found that none of his classes were as engaging or rewarding to him as his environmental studies labs, he'd found his perfect fit.
"The most rewarding factor of my major for me is the opportunity to work with scientists like Elena Traister and Dan Shustack," Dilthey said. "Both of these professors are actively involved in crafting an education that informs me, makes me think critically and gives me the tools to compete in the future job market."
Educational highlights have been the labs that visited potential internships or worksites, "because they showed the opportunities available through my major."
After meeting with a representative from Berkshire Photovoltaic Services (BPVS) in a classroom lab, Dilthey went on to serve a full-time internship with the Adams, Mass.-based company for three months. Owned by MCLA alum Christopher Derby Kilfoyle '76, BPVS installs solar photovoltaic systems throughout the region.
"Opportunities and connections like that make this major unique," Dilthey said.
As part of his internship, he worked as an office assistant to keep track of potential customers, current projects and past customers for tasks ranging from maintenance, mapping, production tracking and advertising.
"I envision continuing to take whatever opportunities I can," Dilthey said. "As I approach graduate school, I'm looking very seriously at field research, but the lessons learned at BPVS are invaluable. I'm sure I'll appreciate them more and more as I transition from student to professional."
According to Dilthey, understanding ways to apply the knowledge he gains from working with statistics is crucial. "I did not fully realize the important connection between math and environmental science before this internship," he said.
However, perhaps the most important part of his MCLA experience has been learning to have confidence in what he knows, especially when he interacts with professionals at internships or in labs.
Choosing MCLA was easy - Dilthey was familiar with the College because it's where his father, music professor Michael Dilthey, chose to teach. "And, the location and academics were both in line for the life I sought for myself. The low financial burden was icing on the cake," he said.
In addition to his classes in environmental studies, Dilthey said those in his second major, English, are "a real boon" to his education as a whole.
"Professor Michael Birch's classes, of which I have taken three, taught me to write with a high level of analysis, research and intent. I carry those lessons to every one of my classes," he explained.
A commuter student, Dilthey feels fortunate to associate with the close-knit, MCLA campus community. "Even living off grounds, I still have ample opportunities to connect with other students."
Active on campus, Dilthey's busy co-organizing a student-run trip to Mount Moosilauke, N.H., and Acadia National Park, Maine, with the Outdoors and Photography clubs.
"And I participate in the school literary magazine as fiction editor," he added. "These groups foster friendships and experiences I don't know if I'd get at a much larger campus, where I'd see the same students less often."