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Sophomore takes her studies to Alaska


TaylorJae Taber ’17 of Swansea, Mass., is studying far from MCLA this semester. With the goal of specializing in wildlife conservation and saving endangered species, she’s at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) through the National Student Exchange (NSE) Program this fall semester.

In Alaska, Taber – who majors in environmental studies and minors in biology – is taking classes in geology, wildlife surveying, horticulture, anthropology and arctic survival. She discovered UAF while searching for graduate school programs that fit her interest of wildlife conservation and management.

At the same time, she learned that UAF was included in the NSE program’s list of undergraduate schools.

TalorJae“I am up here for three reasons,” Taber explained. “First, it’s Alaska. Everyone dreams of going to Alaska at least once in their life. Second, for the wildlife; I see moose all the time. Third, I wanted to scout out my prospective grad school and form relationships with faculty and research staff, so when I come back – because I am coming back – the research teams will be excited to have me be part of their projects.”

Taber plans to return to the Alaska campus as a graduate student to study bears, including polar bears and the Kodiak bear, also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear. Interested in animal conservation in general, “Whether it’s polar bears, sea turtles, elephants or snow leopards, I want to be a part of that one day.”

Alaska, Taber said, is “breathtaking.” She particularly enjoys the mountains of Denali National Park, which line the horizon on the south side of campus.

On a good day, you can see the snow-covered peaks from the upper part of campus. So far Alaska is better than what I thought it would be,” she said.

“If I’m not out hiking on the weekends, I’m hanging out at the coffee shop on campus or on the rock wall in the campus recreation center. There is so much to do on campus and off campus,” Taber said. “UAF has its own cross country ski trails on campus, which are great for walking on in early September.

“I have also found the amazing sport of hockey, and I love it.”

Taber’s dream career involves traveling around the world to help endangered animals.

“I would love to specialize in wildlife conservation and work for government agencies where we help save habitat, count population sizes and conduct endangered species breeding programs,” she said. “Also, I would be interested in doing programs with school kids to help raise awareness about endangered species, sea ice, and poaching.”

At MCLA, Taber was involved in the anime club. She also volunteered with work study programs, and assisted another student on her salamander research project.

Being involved on campus goes hand-in-hand with academic success,” she said. “Being involved on campus for me definitely helps with my time management abilities, and allows me to have fun outside of the library or away from my desk.”

“MCLA offers so much to its students,” Taber continued. “As an academic institution, it is perfect for hands-on students that don’t want to be recognized by their student ID number. These professors know you by name, by work ethic, and sometimes even by handwriting.”

“MCLA and North Adams is a close-knit community made up of amazing, intelligent and talented people. What I’ve learned is that you really can’t judge a book by its cover. When you come to campus and have a comfortable feeling about the whole picture, you’ll know that this is your college.

“I have made lifelong friends at MCLA, and even though I never want to leave Alaska, I can’t wait to come home to MCLA.”