“One of my friends put it really well: ‘philosophy is a way of learning how to learn.’ I’m getting valuable lessons on how to learn, which will be applicable wherever I am.”
Ryann Collins, a native of Suttons Bay, Mich., describes herself as a “first-class nerd who likes to study, watch movies and Star Trek,” and “kind of a hermit.”
However, anyone on Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm during farm chores likely wouldn’t think of her as reclusive. As a philosophy major, history minor, avid farm worker and member of the sustainability floor, Ryann pursues a plethora of interests and has a considerable effect on the wellbeing of farm animals and vegetables.
Ryann discovered GMC serendipitously through her summer job back home. “I heard about it from my boat captain,” she said, “I was working on a 60 foot schooner in Lake Michigan teaching kids about Great Lakes ecology. My captain read about GMC in a Sierra Club publication; he told me about it and said I should apply, and I did!”
Oftentimes, as Ryann is acutely aware, peers and parents question the career potentials of a major in philosophy. “People wonder what sort of job I’m possibly going to get,” she said.
She sees the situation differently, though: “The philosophy major is a way for me to figure out how I want to situate myself in the world when I graduate. I gain learning habits that will help me be the type of person I’d like to be. One of my friends put it really well: ‘philosophy is a way of learning how to learn.’ ”
“Even if I’m not learning things specific to what I will do, I’m getting valuable lessons on how to learn, which will be applicable wherever I am,” she said.
Down on the farm, Ryann is a work-study vegetable farm hand. In addition to her toiling in the soil, she takes initiative to work with GMC’s milking cows. “I go to the farm in the morning to milk a cow, because I like the cows and I want to stay in practice. I’m dairy certified, and I want to keep my certification up to date,” she said.
“I’m looking at graduating and earning a Master’s in Arts of teaching, or maybe taking some time off and working at farms, then going back to school. I definitely want to hike the Long Trail,” she said.