Made it!

We made it!



This year required a lot of hard work and lacked in social life outside of school and work, but it was totally worth it. Over the school year I worked just under 400 hours in order to pay for Big Lisa to live at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center on campus, working (on average) 13 hours per week in addition to a full class load with two lab classes and an additional half credit in which I conducted research on horse genetics with my friend and former hunt seat teammate Megan Reilly. On top of work, class and research, I did manage to find time to ride Lisa three to five times per week and somehow ended the semester with a 4.0 in all of my classes and (even more miraculously!) I still had some money in my bank account!

This was my favorite semester at Albion from an academic standpoint. I realized I love field classes (I took vascular plants and ornithology) and found out that I am a natural at identifying plants and birds. It was easy to see that I not only excelled at the field classes, but was genuinely happy to be a part of them unlike the more cellular and medically based lab classes I took previously – which means that, after a lot of thought and meetings with professors, I have decided to pursue a master’s degree in EEB (Ecology and Evolution Biology).


I seem to remember the horses from my childhood (like Notch on the right) being larger than that. Next to Lisa, all horses are small, I guess.

I graduated from Albion with a major in Biology and minor in Art (and if you want to be specific, I was also one class short of a Chemistry minor), so I have a strong scientific background, but almost every EEB program requires that students have taken statistics during their undergraduate years, which I did not take (because I was taking all of those other classes I just listed). So this fall I will attend Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek to complete that final requirement while living with my aunt and uncle and working in order to continue paying for Lisa. (Hey Albion Equestrian Center, you hiring?) I will also use that time to research EEB programs to figure out where I want to go and apply by the end of the year so I can get started. My eventual goal is to earn my PhD and work as a professor; before I worked at the barn, I was a teaching assistant for Biology three times and Chemistry once and I loved it!

As for Big Lisa, she has fully transitioned from trail horse to an enthusiastic hunter-jumper. I have jumped her just over three feet but I know she can jump over four feet considering I have witnessed her jump out of the arena and her pasture gate. She has dropped her bucking habit, learned her leads, and no longer requires a bit with leverage. Currently she is at the barn I grew up riding at and is enjoying jumping in the outdoor arena and trail riding across the farmland in the surrounding area. She has even made friends with some of the horses I loved to ride as a child; they look a lot smaller than I remember, especially next to the big lady herself. Pretty soon we will head up to Mackinac Island for our fourth summer of work in the tourist trade, but this will be the first summer she will officially be there as my horse.


Look – a flying unicorn!

If someone had told me my freshman year that I was going to change post grad plans my senior year, I would have thought they were crazy (and told them so). Likewise, if someone had told me I would own a jumping (mostly) Percheron mare, I would have thought they were absolutely insane.

And that’s just it: Sometimes you can’t predict where life will take you, but Albion has provided me with the resources to find my passion with teachers to help direct me, and an amazing equestrian facility that I used not only to train my horse, but also to pay for her as well. This was truly the best school year and I am sad to move on, but I will always be a Brit.

Emily Galka ’17 graduated from Albion on Saturday, May 6; she previously wrote about her adventures with Big Lisa on Mackinac Island in a two-part series on this blog. You may read those entries here and here.

A Place Like No Other

img_6731It’s funny to think that a little over two years ago, I had no idea what this magical place was and never imagined a life as amazing as this.

Growing up in the horse world and working as a professional hunter/jumper groom, I always thought that doing something in the industry was what I wanted to do. But being someone who didn’t come from money, this was quite a difficult thing to accomplish, so to gain access to an education and horses at a school like Albion was all but a perfect dream for me. The facility of course was what initially attracted me – like many others – to the school, but the people are what made me stay.

After a pretty serious injury my freshman year while riding at home, however, I got pretty down and kind of lost my way for a bit. I fell deeper into a search to locate the path I needed for life, buried myself in my studies, and wound up finding my calling in photography and oil painting. Over the next four years at Albion, I continued to push myself to be better while getting back into horses slowly but surely (after three years of consecutive surgeries).

One day my painting professor, Michael Dixon, came up to me and said (in a nutshell): “Strive to do more with your life than just horses.”img_6326

At the time I thought this was a crazy idea: Horses were my life and all I knew. But he kept pushing and, after spending an entire semester doing my senior thesis on an African-based wildlife photographer, I started having dreams to go to Africa.

My family thought I was nuts, but my friends and roommates (all Albion equestrians) told me if that’s what I wanted to do, I should do it. Those who know me know that I don’t wait to second guess, that if I want something, I go for it.

Just like that, I booked an eight-week volunteer experience with Glen Afric

Glen Afric is a place like no other. When I came, we had 12 lions, a leopard, two tigers, two cheetahs, one hyena, three elephants, and an abundance of wild game like zebra and impala. We also had one very special girl, a white rhino. Now for a suburban-raised girl, you can only imagine what this experience did for me: I was happier then ever before, learning a new way to socialize with people who wanted nothing more than the happiness of these animals – which is why the poaching of our rhino, Isabella, hit so very hard.

This significant moment sent me home with a new view of the world – the view Michael had tried so hard to show me back in Albion:


Walking with the elephants.

I was determined to try and do more with my life than just horses.

Fast forward to April 2016: After graduation, I focused my time working to make money. I returned to grooming and started to bring along horses of my own, all while keeping in contact with my friends from South Africa. During this time, I hit another rough patch. I ended an abusive relationship, struggled financially, and had burned myself in the horse world.

I finally sat myself down and said “Where were you the happiest?”

The simple answer was (of course) South Africa, so I contacted Joy, the riding instructor at Glen Afric, and asked if she needed help. One quick week later I found myself planning my return to South Africa.

I have now been back to Glen Afric for almost eleven weeks. The lion cubs I helped feed on my last stay are now two and a half years old and as gorgeous as ever. We have a full barn of horses (including one I personally own) and my passion for people and conservation is thriving.

The point of all this is simple: Have a good life.


Typical African backdrop for an afternoon hack.

I’m 25 and I’ve learned being happy is sometimes better than planning this, that, and the other about how to make your future work. One small sentence from one professor literally changed my life. I hope to leave this place one day and find a job with animals that makes me this happy every day and I thank Albion again for its people. The wonderful community of friendships that I still have thanks to the equestrians there is the reason I know I can do crazy things like drop my entire life and move to another continent.

Above all, I am thankful that had professors who pushed me to never settle and do something that might seem out of the ordinary. So for now I’ll continue this adventure and go home to prove to myself that I can do more than just horses as long as I have a little help and support from some amazing people.

Lindsey Memering is a 2014 graduate of Albion College and former member of the hunt seat team. An artist, avid photographer, conservationist, and world traveler, you can follow her African journey on her own blog, as well as on Instagram and Twitter.

Island Life (Part II)

In her last blog entry, senior Emily Galka outlined her duties as a trail riding guide on Mackinac Island, a job she’s held each summer since her first year at Albion. While working on the island, she’s partnered with Percheron cross mare Big Lisa, an unlikely relationship she’s come to treasure.

Here’s their story:

When the horse I first tried to ride in my job as a trail guide for Cindy’s Riding Stable on Mackinac Island didn’t make the cut (for obvious reasons), I needed a replacement mount. The very next day more new horses shipped in – and I mean that literally; horses headed to the island have to take the Arnold Line and ferry in from the mainland just like everyone else.

Lisa sails

Lisa and I came over together on the Arnold Line this year – and went viral on the Mackinac Island News & Views Facebook group!

I remember walking through the barn when one of the newbies caught my eye. She was a large, lightly dappled grey draught mare of some sort, with extremely large hindquarters. I asked Burt Gough what he knew about that horse and he told me he used to ride her brother, Tony, as his guide horse. He guessed she was about six years old and told me she’s a Percheron-Quarter Horse cross. They planned to call her Lisa, which I thought was a weird name for a horse; it was too human and besides, she didn’t look like a Lisa.

Burt explained that they had a family friend named Tony who was a big guy so they thought it would be funny to name his horse (who was big too) after Tony. The person named Tony has a sister named Lisa so it is fitting for Tony the horse to have a little sister named Lisa. I still thought that was kind of silly, but I guess when your family owns nearly a hundred horses and buys new ones every year, you start naming horses after your friends. I was very eager to continue riding along on guide trips to learn the trails and get to know the rental horses’ personalities, so I let the name thing go and asked if I could take Lisa on the next trip.

I saddled her up and followed Kristi Gough’s group of tourists into the side yard. Lisa danced around as I tried to climb aboard and one of the tourists watched nervously. He asked if I was his guide.

“No” I said. “I’m trying out this new horse. We’re both the newbies here but hopefully I’ll last longer than she does.”

At this point all of the tourists were mounted and had a brief explanation on how to steer and stop. We started up the road and Lisa followed along. It went pretty well until we got to a trail we refer to as “the pole line,” a dusty gravel trail that is lined with – you guessed it! – telephone poles. That was where Lisa decided it would be a good place to drop to the ground and roll in the dirt.

Kristi screamed “Lisa!” and I hopped off right as her belly hit the ground. I’ve been on horses who dropped and rolled before so I knew I had to bail or she could roll sideways and break my leg.

Lisa photo shoot

Though Lisa wasn’t cut out for life as a rental horse, she might have a career in modeling – as long as she gets paid in apples!

I grabbed the reins and after a lot of yelling and pulling, Lisa was back up on four feet. Call me crazy, but at that moment I knew I wanted to keep working with her. (I mean, clearly Lisa needed work before we could even consider putting her in the rental string.) I asked if I could take Lisa out to try to improve on her riding manners and also get to know the trails so throughout the summer I continued to ride Lisa as much as possible and even had my mom bring up my English saddle so I could try jumping her. Slowly but surely, she became the perfect horse for me. As a tall girl, she is large enough that I didn’t look like a giant on her but she wasn’t too tall that I couldn’t climb on out on the trails. What’s more, she nickered at me every time I came to her stall and she was just the right amount of easy-going trail horse but still a challenge for me. After a childhood of riding bay Morgan geldings, I never thought in a million years I would fall in love with a grey, Percheron mare.

About halfway through that first summer, however, the decision was made to ship Lisa back to the farm. She was well-behaved for me, but if tourists (even the ones claiming to be expert riders) or other guides tried to ride her, she danced around, tossed her head, and – yes – occasionally rolled while under saddle. When she left, I regretfully remembered saying, “We’re both the newbies here but hopefully I’ll last longer than she does.”

Lisa Adventures

Sometimes after work (when I’m not completely worn out), I take Lisa out for night rides on the shoreline.

Fall came and school started again. I was happy to be back at Albion and ride with my teammates, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Lisa. Would she even come back the next summer? All year I anxiously wondered if I would ever see her again and around April I got the call asking me to work for Cindy’s again. I really wanted to continue working on the island and decided to make the best of it even if Lisa didn’t come back.

The bad news is that Lisa never made it as a rental horse.

The good news is that she came back to work as my guide horse instead!

Lisa and I are currently spending our third summer together at Cindy’s and, though it is a lot of hard work, we have a lot of fun as well. Since it’s my senior year, I’d like our partnership to continue, so this fall I hope to bring Lisa to Albion. It would be a new and different adventure for both of us!

Emily will begin her senior year at Albion this fall; a biology major with an art minor from Cadillac, Michigan, she hopes to head to vet school after graduation. She is also a member of the hunt seat team and often plays chief photographer for Held Center mascot Ace, the miniature horse.

Island Life (Part I)

Albion senior Emily Galka is spending her third summer working as a riding trail guide at Cindy’s Riding Stable on Mackinac Island, the famed vehicle-free vacation hub in northern Michigan. (Famously, Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed there.) Needless to say, an island powered entirely by horses is paradise for this hunt seat team member! She’s written two blog entries about her experiences; in Part I, she outlines daily life on the island and the experiences she’s had over the past few summers. In Part II, she’ll introduce readers to her four-legged coworker, Big Lisa.

I have worked on Mackinac Island at Cindy’s Riding Stable every summer I’ve been in college. In my time here, I’ve found a second home at “The Big House” with the Gough Family and Cindy’s crew, mastered 80 miles of trails, and fallen in love with a Percheron. (More on that later).

My parents first brought me to Mackinac Island when I was four months old. It was our first family vacation and my first time around horses. I believe that was when my love for horses began because my mom told me that as soon as I could talk, I was asking about horses and if we could get one.

Mackinac 1

My first trip to Mackinac Island was at four months and I’ve spent the last three summers there.

By age seven, my mom realized my love for horses was not going away, so she enrolled me in hunt seat riding lessons at Talamar Morgan Farm, a barn just down the road from our house. As I became more experienced, in addition to riding lessons, I was allowed to come and ride whenever I wanted – even if that meant taking a horse out on a trail ride for several hours with friends or by myself. As a teenager, my riding instructor would coordinate trail rides across Michigan that took about a week of camping and riding 25-30 miles per day. It was during one of those week long trail rides that I met Isaac, a fellow rider whose father had once worked on Mackinac Island as a trail guide at Jack’s Livery Stable.

The years passed by and I kept riding at Talamar, even getting a little bit of show experience to prepare for the equestrian team I hoped to try out for in college. Though sad to leave the horses I grew up with, I was ready to move on to Albion and it was about halfway through my freshman year when I decided to look into jobs for the summer. Isaac had worked the previous summer on Mackinac Island as a trail guide at the same company his dad worked for and it sounded like a job I could enjoy, so I asked him about it and decided it was worth a try. I was interviewed in May and by June 2014, I started work at Cindy’s Riding Stable.

Galka 2

Leading out a group aboard Big Lisa.

Cindy’s is a family company run by the Gough family. They also own Jack’s Livery Stable, which has saddle horses and drive-yourself carriages. Most of the crew are relatives of the Gough’s (including their three grown children) and family friends. Each year they hire a few summer workers, but many are returning crew members so in 2014 I was the only Cindy’s guide who had never worked at the stable before.

At Cindy’s there are 37 horses: 31 are rentals and six are guide horses. A lot of the same rentals come back to work each year, but there are always some who retire and we try out replacements. Every day of the season, Cindy’s crew (six guides and the barn man) arrive at the barn at 7:00 a.m. to clean stalls, brush, bathe, and saddle all 37 horses before 9:00 a.m. because by 9:00 (and sometimes earlier), we have customers at the door who want to ride. Each rider fills out a questionnaire to help the person who rents the horses get a feel for the rider’s ability in order to match them up with a horse. We then bring the horses to the side yard, help the riders mount, and give them a general overview on how to stop and steer. Everyone is escorted out of town by a guide with group sizes ranging from one to a dozen horses and once we are out of town, the guide can either stay with the riders the entire time or give them directions so they can finish on their own.

On a busy day in the summer, a guide may go out for four or five trips, meaning we are riding for four or more hours per day, five days a week. We stay open until 6:00, which means if the last group goes for an hour, we will be back by 7:00 to untack and feed the horses. Working as a trail guide may look easy, but it is very draining to manage people on horses in traffic who usually have no idea what they are doing. When I come home after work, I eat, shower, and go straight to bed. In addition to riding ability, guides need to be prepared for a lot of barn work and physical labor, have people skills, and be prepared to handle mishaps calmly and effectively. Yes, the tourists do fall off on occasion – and so do we! My first day at Cindy’s, I was told to ride one of the new horses to test it out before we rented it. I walked her into the yard, put one foot in the stirrup and the mare reared up and flew backwards. After her fit, I calmly grabbed the reins, climbed back on, and followed the rest of the group up the road; the crew later told me that it was at this moment they knew I would fit in.

I’ve been here every summer since. Now I feel at home here and wouldn’t spend my summers any other way .

Check back soon for the second installment of Emily’s tale of life on Mackinac Island, which outlines how she met Percheron cross Big Lisa – a partnership for the ages and one that she hopes to continue beyond summer.

A Young Alumna Reflects

Back in 2010, the Albion College equestrian program featured three of our students in a series of summer blogs. One of those bloggers was a student who graduated in May but had a really unique internship with Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida that we asked her to share with us.


Mary Applegate ’10 has a high-flying career as a marine biologist – the exact job she hoped for when she graduated from Albion.

That alumna was Mary Applegate ’10, a four-year member of our intercollegiate dressage team, a two-time IDA Nationals qualifier, and our 2010 Most Valuable Rider winner for dressage. In re-connecting with her as part of our “Where Are They” Wednesday photo series on Facebook, we thought it would be fun to let her share a more in-depth description of what she’s been up to since graduation.

Here’s Mary, in her own words:

My “official title” these days (e.g. how I get hired/ fancy words to make me fit a box) is “OPS Fisheries Biologist I.” In reality, I’m a Marine Mammal/ Marine Protected Species Observer, and in the simplest terms, I’m a marine biologist.

My job is quite unique, a little crazy, and hard to understand.

In a nutshell, I fly around in small planes and work on boats for a variety of research organizations where we survey marine protected species – specifically marine mammals and sea turtles. My job is especially unique because I work on a variety of seasonal contracts throughout the year, which takes me around the country.

I have settled into more of a rotation these past few years and work seasonally in the winter in St Augustine, Florida for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on their North Atlantic Right Whale Program. This position involves aerial- and vessel-based research on the distribution, photo documentation, and ship strike mitigation for these critically endangered animals, which use the coastal areas of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia in the winter to give birth and nurse their young calves. (Learn more about my current project here.)


Applegate at work.

I alternate this project with a variety of other contracts, which vary from dolphin research, coast-wide species distribution population surveys, and even river and stream conservation.  As you can imagine, this leads to quite the dynamic and ever-changing life, which is wonderful. I think Albion really prepped me for this because, aside from getting an amazing education, and having wonderful experiences in the sciences, when I look back, I realize that Albion really prepped me for the diversity of my career. Albion as a whole emphasizes creating a well-rounded student who is prepared for anything, and that’s the key to my career. I left college not only with an amazing educational background but ready to take on anything the world had to throw at me.

Unfortunately, my career right now makes it difficult to stay active in equestrian activities. That can be a sad reality of the real world, especially in a nomadic job and life like mine. The upside to my travels is that I often have a bit of time between projects to catch up with family. I’ve developed a good relationship with a barn at home and often will go work horses, take lessons, and get my horse fix in. I’m very lucky in that regard and look forward in the future to settling in one place and getting more involved with horses – and hopefully show again!


Applegate at her final Intercollegiate Dressage Association national championship in 2010. She finished sixth individually in 2008 and fourth individually in 2010 to cap her career.

Overall, Albion helped to shape me into a very well rounded career-minded person. Not only did I leave with a strong background in science, I left with an interdisciplinary mindset that develops from a strong liberal arts college background. Learning to mold, adapt, and problem solve through the IDA team and my riding lesson experiences not only set me up to be a well-rounded rider, but taught me traits that strongly carry over in my career.

I work with a diverse group of people in situations where teamwork is essential. Being a part of a collegiate team as well as the equestrian club emphasized teamwork and encouragement that has really prepared me for the variety of people and experiences that I have encountered on the job. It also equipped me with leadership skills that prepared me for not only working with a number of people, but being able to guide others through new experiences in the field.

To learn more about Mary’s post-grad experiences with Mote Marine Lab, you may read her 2010 blog entries here. (Please note that blog entries post in reverse order.) To find out what other Albion equestrian alumni are up to (both in the saddle and in the workplace), visit the Equestrian Center web site.




Out of My Comfort Zone


Paige and her horse Pippen at the Groton Horse Trials, summer 2015.

I started my college search the beginning of my junior year, months before many of my classmates in high school were even thinking about where they wanted to go. While I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life at the time, I saw college as an opportunity to push myself a bit out of my comfort zone and try something new. My criteria were that the school had a riding program and that it was at least a “road trip away” from my home town of West Newbury, MA. Other than that I didn’t really know what I wanted and I began sorting through the many options by eliminating what I knew I didn’t want in a school.

While I wanted to go to a school with a strong riding program, I never wanted to study horses or make them my career. Instead I planned to major in psychology and maybe pursue graduate school in the future.

Still, I was initially drawn to the big-name equestrian colleges like Cazenovia College and the University of Findlay. These schools had state of the art facilities, gorgeous horses, and connections to a number of big-name riders. The idea of attending a school like this is probably something every equestrian dreams about at some point in her life, but after my initial campus tours, I quickly realized that the reality of these schools was not for me. The big equestrian schools almost always have large equine studies degree programs from which they draw most of their intercollegiate team members.

I quickly realized that at most of these schools, you weren’t going to be able to ride unless you were majoring in horses.

As I began to re-evaluate my list of prospective colleges, I was soon faced with a new, opposite problem. Schools that don’t have equine studies programs but do have intercollegiate equestrian teams are few and far between. Of the ones that exist, they usually ride out of private boarding barns and struggle to compete against the Findlays and the Cazenovias of the world. For me, my dream school was something in between: a school that was competitive in its IDA and IHSA regions but offered rigorous academic programs as well.

I initially found Albion through a college search engine my high school offered and, although I had never heard of it prior to that, I suddenly started seeing the name everywhere. Albion had launched a massive marketing campaign and advertised itself as being different from other riding schools. Albion offered three intercollegiate riding teams and it boasted the Midwest’s largest indoor arena, but did not offer equine studies degrees. Their philosophy was supportive of pro riders but they recommended pursuing a business, pre-veterinary, or economics degree for those who truly want to make a career in the equine industry. Then after class students could take lessons, lease horses, and compete at the Held Center, located convenient to the main campus.


Paige (right) prepares for her dressage test aboard Romulus at the Michigan State meet last fall. Assisting are teammates Bria Flanagan ’19 (left) and Jessi Fore ’19 (center).

I toured Albion in the fall of my senior year and instantly felt that this was the school for me. The campus was beautiful, especially in the fall, and everyone I met was friendly and supportive. After my tour I returned to admissions, gushing about how much I loved the school. The counselor who met with me laughed and said “Wait until you see the barn!”

He was right, the barn certainly sealed the deal.

After my tour at Albion (the last school I looked at), I really only wanted to apply to two schools. Of course, my mom wisely made me apply to three or four other schools, but in my mind there was really no question about it. I wanted to go to Albion and when I was accepted I nearly cried.

That was four years ago and now I’ve ridden on two of the three teams Albion offers, competed at the Intercollegiate Dressage Association National Championship, and cried over graduate school acceptance letters. Albion has been instrumental in helping me achieve not only my riding goals but my academic and professional ones as well. I’ve also met so many great friends here and had a tremendous amount of fun.

Not many other schools allow you to go ride at the barn in between your biology and statistics classes, but this one does!

Paige Beliveau is a senior dressage team co-captain from West Newbury, Massachusetts. She is a psychology major and also a member of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service. She was accepted at Roger Williams University and Northeastern University for graduate school and has committed to Roger Williams to begin her Masters degree in Forensic Psychology this fall.

Organized Chaos

When I was 12, I decided to run away and join the circus.

Actually, running away is a strong phrase. I didn’t want to run away because at my house I had these fluffy, fuzzy friends called horses (or ponies – whichever you prefer). What I really wanted to do was perform in the circus until after college, then go professional in a big time circus.


Young Jessi performs on the double trapeze.

Now this dream (contrary to what some readers may think) was not too far out of reach. You see, at 12 years old, I was already performing in a circus as a trapeze artist because the Wenatchee Youth Circus had welcomed me into its family and, after I showed a love of heights and challenges and a strong work ethic, taught me to perform the different aerial acts.

This strange background in the circus arts was complemented by a riding career that started at age three and a music career begun at age four. To add to the out-of-the-ordinary application I sent to Albion College last fall, I am also a student from Washington (the state), which as you know is not exactly Michigan’s next door neighbor. Yet as a circus performer, animal lover, and musician, my background was definitely diverse enough for a liberal arts school.

At this point (the beginning of my college adventure) I am a music performance major with (hopefully) minors in both biology and chemistry, and am a member of the Healthcare Institute, unique academic combinations that undoubtedly bring up the question: What is circus freak/horse girl doing majoring in music at Albion College? (And why is she majoring in music if she wants to go to medical school?)


At the same time she was a performing trapeze artist, Jessi also evented aboard her pony, Kiana.

The simple answer is “Why not?”

What not everyone understands about a liberal arts school is that being completely out of the box and unconventional is totally okay – in fact, it’s basically applauded. No, my major doesn’t help me to earn classes toward medical school, but I love it. Riding on the Albion dressage team takes time away from my studies, but I love it. Being in the circus got me laughed at sometimes, but I loved it. I told myself when I went to college that I would never sacrifice something that I loved simply to conform to what was thought to be the traditional, “better” path.

Obviously I no longer plan to join a professional circus. (Professional circus performers don’t make enough to pay off student loans. Crazy, right?) I also don’t plan on playing music professionally, despite majoring in music performance on the viola.

All I really know is that I love music and I have spent my life studying it; it would be such a waste to me to throw away all the hours in practice rooms simply to study the traditional sciences – and if there is anything the circus taught me, it’s how to be nontraditional. And didn’t Ralph Waldo Emerson say in his praise of transcendentalism that “to be great is to be misunderstood?”


Jessi and Katie tackle a cross-country fence.

Circus and music and horses compelled me to keep that same level of organized chaos and diversity in my studies.

Few people understand why I chose to study this collage of topics, but to me, that’s okay. The lovely thing about Albion (and liberal arts schools in general) is that you don’t have to decide between what you love and what you want to be. You can be all the different versions of yourself that you want (within a healthy amount of reason, of course). One student can be an athlete and a business major and study a foreign language while still having the flexibility to participate in the drama department, so long as they possess decent time management skills.

And that, my friends, is how (and why) a horse girl-trapeze artist came to Albion to major in music in the hopes of becoming a doctor.

Jessi Fore is a first-year student from Wenatchee, WA who made the journey to Albion on a cross-country road trip with her parents and her show jumper-turned-eventer, Katie. She is a member of the dressage team and plays viola in the Albion College symphony orchestra.