Alesia Griesmyer (’14) Teaches the Art of Science

msgThe decision to attend UNCA was one of the easiest choices I have made. I knew that I wanted to live in the mountains and Asheville offered the perfect environment for my interests both inside and outside the classroom. I started as a freshman at UNCA in 2010 and after my first year I declared my major field of study- Environmental Studies with a concentration in Earth Science.  I later decided to add the teacher licensure program to my academic path. I graduated in May 2014 with my B.S. and NC Professional Educators License for Middle Grades Science and Grades 9-12 Science.

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The lab equipment I used at UNCA while doing my Undergraduate Research.

One of the most influential experiences I had at UNCA was conducting research through the Environmental Studies Department. My research was focused on the corrosion minerals that form on coin currency when exposed to different environmental conditions. I had the opportunity to work in the lab using the SEM (scanning electron microscope) and other equipment to conduct chemical analyses and identify minerals. It was an eye opening experience to view a world unknown to the naked eye. Creating and analysing these microscopic images revealed a new connection between the disciplines of art and science that later became the focus of my career.

Up close and personal with a coin, using the SEM.

Up close and personal with a coin, using the SEM.

Another experience that was highly influential in my career path was my ARTS 300 class. I took an interdisciplinary class called “The Art of Science and Science of Art” with Dr. Nancy Ruppert. This class helped me explore the deep connection between the areas of art and science. I knew that I wanted to continue my study of the intersection between art and science and when I accepted my first teaching job in Asheville I was given this opportunity.

My first job experience after graduation was as a founding faculty member at a brand new charter school in Asheville- The Franklin School of Innovation. Starting a new school provided me with leadership and collaboration skills that are important in any job. I was fortunate to be able to design my own elective course aligning the Earth/Environmental Science curriculum with the Art curriculum for 9th graders. I credit my ARTS 300 class at UNCA for the foundation of knowledge necessary in designing and teaching this innovative course.

My time spent at UNCA taught me how valuable community engagement is to an authentic educational experience. Advice I offer to current students and soon to be UNCA alumni is to never turn down an opportunity. Every person you meet and experience you have is an open door to new opportunities and you never know where they might lead you. I want to leave you with some words of inspiration that have guided me through the first year of my career…

“Don’t look further for answers: be the solution. Make a promise to stop getting in the way of the blessing that you are. Take a deep breath, remember to have fun, and begin.” — Jonathan Ellerby

I wish you all the best!

Sincerely,

Alesia Griesmyer

Sarah Nunez (’04) and Carolina McCready (’98) Think outside and inside of the “bus” to Create Change

In 2011,  Sarah Nuñez (photo 12004) and Carolina McCready (1998) as well as their business partner Victor Palomino bought a short bus in an effort to continue their community work together and connect the dots in the work and needs of the people that they serve. In 2013, they officially launched the business, CHIVA, LLC – Transporting Opportunities to People.

CHIVA aims to overcome access challenges in WNC through creativity, arts and a bus. The project brings educational opportunities and multicultural activities to places where people live, work and play. This community “tool” helps neighbors to creatively access resources, entertainment and build solidarity. To learn more about CHIVA’s programs and events please like us on facebook at ChivaWNC or visit our website at www.chivatop.com

In 2014, CHIVA launched 2 new areas of work in addition to the arts education program that they launched in 2013.

Story Collection Project- We attend local events and film participants experience, thoughts, and ideas. Check out the video we produced at Goombay Festival this year at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zdQfQ_62UU&feature=youtu.be

Dialogue Circles- The bus is transformed into a “living room” for dialogue and we create the space for communities to embark on their own individual and collective journeys of identity, race, class, and so much more….

As a social entrepreneurship endeavor CHIVA is still growing, learning, and adapting to the needs of the community. We work with local festivals, community events, schools, and in neighborhoods. We are open to working in new areas and with new communities so please contact us to let us know what you think or if you have ideas at chivatop@gmail.com.

  • What was a typical day like in your position?

Sarah- “We share work and have various roles. I do a lot of sales and marketing for CHIVA. On a work day I am usually answering emails, updating the website or facebook, talking with potential clients, preparing contracts, and dreaming up new work and ideas for CHIVA.”

Carolina – “My time is spent mainly in planning meetings with CHIVA partners, running the Quickbooks (paying bills, making deposits, reconciling and making invoices), writing grants, editing video for clients and running events for CHIVA with my partners.”

  • How has your experience helped you prepare for your future?

Sarah- As an interdisciplinary major at UNCA I had the opportunity to work across disciplines and with many professors. Working with Volker Frank and John Wood  in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Joseph Berryhill in Psychology, Ken Betsalel in Political Science, and Alice Weldon in Spanish gave me many lenses to see my work as well as many mentors and students to learn and grow with. This academic approach lends to my analysis of many problems in today’s society.  My approach is to see the world from various lenses, to take in lots of ideas, and to think big.

Carolina- “My studies at UNCA helped me develop critical thinking skills and the capacity to research and find the answers to questions, issues and challenges I face.  Information is always evolving and being able to ask questions and look for answers will always be applicable in my life.”

  • What did you wish you had known going into the experience?

Sarah- “I wish I had taken a business classes in undergrad and understood more about cash flow. As most things in life go,  its also good to learn as you go and learn from real life experiences. We are constantly developing ourselves as business professionals.”

Carolina- “ I wish I had developed more hard skills.  Learned how to develop websites, or work with software such as Quickbooks or video editing.”

  • What advice do you have for current students who are pursuing your major?

Sarah- “Follow your dreams. If you have a deep desire to do something with your life, DO IT. A great mentor of mine always told me, “Sarah, make it happen”. I think of this anytime I have a new idea!  Also, It helps to have a team of people to work with and mentors and people that can advise you on how to accomplish your dreams. Don’t forget that there are people who have probably participated in parts of the work you wish to do. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Carolina – “Have faith in yourself.  As graduates, you have developed a lot of skills and knowledge; be creative and do not be afraid to forge your own path.”

  • What did you learn about yourself while you were working?

Sarah- “I’ve learned more about my style and how I work in teams. All three team members are different and we bring different skills to the work we do. I have learned more about what makes me excited in my day to day life and how to be a business owner.”

Carolina – “I have learned that there is always more work to do than there are hours in the day. It is important to be able to prioritize and manage your time. I find it is valuable to be mindful what you say yes to always create space to take care of yourself.”

  • What influenced you to apply for this position?

Sarah- “After 15 years of community work I decided it was time to launch something creative and original that could use all of my skills. I also see a lot of flaws in the current systems and ways of doing things. I wanted to create a way that used a team approach, outside of the non profit models, that would bring about community change and be a social entrepreneur business venture.”

Carolina – “I was excited about the CHIVA project because I saw an opportunity to work with people I respected in a creative and colorful way.”

  • What would you do differently if you could go back?

Sarah- “I would have created a business plan or thought through the number more before entering into a business. I am a planner and not having this part was hard for me for me to truly see the full vision of the work and how it would be put into action. On the other side of the coin, I’m learning as I go to, “go with the flow” more and learn to paddle my boat to the rhythm of those around me. As a “go getter” and “jump starter” type of person this is not an easy step for me to take….but as all things in life you have to learn, push your limits, and grow.”

  • Has your internship or job impacted your future?photo 2

Sarah- “Its made me realize that I love to be an entrepreneur and I also have a lot of creativity to share with the world. Its shaping my life daily by teaching me to about myself and all that’s needed to make a successful business.”

The CHIVA Bus at LEAF 2014 Fall festival. Participants talk about forgiveness in the social justice movement with Rev. Lyndon Harris.