When Gloria Sosa, ‘80, first decided to leave New York City to attend a tiny environmental school in rural Maine she was driven by a dream of being a park ranger.
She left Unity an axe-throwing, science-loving environmental researcher with a real drive to “just try it” who had spent the last several years traveling Maine, building lifelong relationships, and learning how to apply sustainability to every aspect of the world around her.
“I think a lot of the hands-on, experiential learning I had at Unity was important because that’s really what I do now. You go out and figure things out with your team,” said Sosa, who has spent the last 30 years working within the Hazardous Waste branch of the Environmental Protection Agency. “What I liked most was the small nature of the classes. We had so much one-on-one attention from professors, and there was a real communal feel. Many students hung out together.
Sosa spent her time at Unity embracing that Maine community aspect by going wherever her feet could take her, explaining, “We were always somewhere!” She travelled with friends to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the peaks and coasts of Acadia National Park. Classes took her across the state, from Schoodic Point to Katahdin Ironworks, while also sticking close to school in places such as Sandy Stream. Sosa even spent a three week mini-term studying tree species along James Bay, Ontario, Canada.
There was a bit of culture-shock transitioning from the big city, sure, but Sosa approached the new experiences head on.
“When I was at Unity I also joined the woodsmen team. It was a real eye opener. I learned how to canoe, crosscut saw, throw an ax — I was very bad at that — snowshoe, and light a fire with one match. That team really expanded my comfort zone,” Sosa said. “And that’s how I kind of lead my life now: you just have to try. I’m not a perfectionist in that I may not do something well, but I’ll make sure I do it. I expose myself to new things. And Unity was really a place where you could do that. I’d never lived in that kind of community before.”
“I really enjoyed living there. I felt one with Unity. I fit in and it fit me.”