Kristin Belessis '13

Kristin Belessis, an adventure education major, is from Sussex County, N.J., one of the few places in Jersey that lives up to the moniker of the Garden State. “There’s probably more cows than people there,” Kristin says describing her home. Growing up in such a rural atmosphere fostered a love of outdoor activity.

Hiking and canoeing with her family was a favorite pursuit when younger—though she loved these recreational activities, Kristin saw herself joining the Marines directly after high school. After finding that an adventure education major existed in some colleges though, she decided she could benefit from a college education and experience.

“My parents didn’t get degrees and I knew they would appreciate me going to college,” she says.

There weren’t too many colleges offering her major and so it was easier for Kristin to find Green Mountain after she and her parents took a college tour that started in Maine. The tight-knit community and small class sizes where she would get a better student-professor relationship sealed the deal for her.

The drive to try new experiences has kept her moving forward in college and in her recreation studies. Kristin admits that going to college scared her more than enlisting in the Marines but is glad for her decision.

Through learning and practicing outdoor skills, Kristin says she has learned more about herself and grown as a person and a leader. She credits this personal growth in large part to her Fall Block course (the intensive hands-on program adventure education majors take) in her sophomore year. During the course, she felt that she was beginning to change for the better as a leader and a team member.

Kristin continues to love recreation because of the potential to make positive change in people through the experience of a journey. She likes working with other people and developing group dynamics. Kristin believes that in outdoor recreation, people are challenged to step up to the plate and to challenge themselves.

Though she has always been an active and sports-oriented person, Kristin wasn’t so sure about joining any sports teams at GMC upon her arrival. Her family has always been an encouraging support system for her, and they advised her to try out. She followed their advice and Kristin is now the president of the Rugby club and plays on the basketball team. This spring will be her fourth year playing softball for GMC.

Kristin’s passion for helping others with her therapeutic adventure skills and her leadership qualities has led her to seek a place in Officer Candidate School where she could be on the fast track to leadership positions in the military.

Kristin hopes to use her skills to be able to help Marines returning from service, as well as getting the chance to serve herself. In her own words, she wants to “better understand those I want to help by sharing their lifestyle, values, and sense of pride.”

"When I was younger a Marine once told me, 'When you serve in the military, it is no longer about your dreams. You set them aside so that someone else can live theirs.' I honestly believe that this is something I am ready to do," she said.

By Sara Bishop '16

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