Atria St. Peter

Atria St. Peter is a recent graduate of the Undergraduate Studies program at AUSB. The inclusive atmosphere at Antioch and the lack of emphasis on previous test scores encouraged St. Peter to pursue higher education after dropping out of high school. Antioch helped to kindle a passion for climate change solutions and environmental education. Her Capstone project explored raising awareness around related issues, including sourcing sustainable surf gear. She currently works for the Santa Barbara Sailing Center as a first mate on a catamaran, and for Shoreline Boatworks learning how to work on boat engines and overall maintenance of boats. After putting in many hours at sea, St. Peter will have the opportunity to sit for her U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License test in December of this year.

Why did you choose Antioch for your undergrad studies?
Antioch did not have all these loops and hurdles for me to jump through to become a student. The application process was fluid. There was no need for more SAT’s like tests to be taken to prove that I was a worthwhile student. It seemed as if Antioch and its teachers were open and welcoming to having new students and not have some sort of elimination process based on test scores. This really encouraged me to get my Bachelor’s Degree. I had gone from dropping out of high school to finally going back to school and Antioch’s smaller community environment was absolutely welcoming. When I checked out the campus it felt like I would have much more of a relationship with my teachers and fellow students, and that was exactly what I was looking for.

What was your favorite memory from your undergrad program?
Dawn Murray’s course, Natural History of Santa Barbara, was a delight to be in. I was able to discover and learn so much about the animals, plants, and environments that Santa Barbara is so lucky to have! Her passion for teaching is palpable. It was always a fun class hiking through a new part of Santa Barbara. Another favorite memory is the countless times I left class, after a particularly good discussion with classmates and the teacher,  feeling as if I had changed or “evolved” as a person. Antioch’s philosophy creates a safe space for people to be vulnerable with each other, which allows us to grow and learn as a team. Those relationships and ties I made at Antioch impacted me deeply, and I am thankful for that.

Describe how your experience at Antioch has influenced your personal and/ or career choices.
Antioch has taken who I was as a young adult, shook it all up in a kaleidoscope, and put it all together as a beautiful and inspiring bouquet of flowers. To put it in a more simple defined way, Antioch has taught me how to value my time, be more disciplined with myself and my relationships, and be kinder towards myself and others. Through classroom discussions, I became more self-aware and really learned to listen to others. The diversity of students attending Antioch allowed me to learn from people from all walks of life, which expanded my ability to be more empathetic.

The intention behind your capstone project was a website designed to raise awareness around climate change. In what ways have you seen your efforts bear fruit, either in your own life or for others?
Honestly, this project bore much more of internal results than external results. I was not looking to have a website that became a huge hit (yet), I was truly looking for a project where I could learn more about climate change. I wished for a project where I could learn to create a website. Building a website where people could shop from environmentally conscious products and learn about climate change was the result. This project taught me some serious time management discipline as well as the perks of being a morning lark. I found my writing and production levels were the best early in the morning when I was working in PJs with some hot chocolate by my side. The biggest way that I saw that my efforts bore fruit was that I was able to take the time to research “green” surf gear.  This was where the entire project began, as I had unsuccessfully searched and searched for surf gear that was not polluting our environment. I thought it would be mighty nice to have a website where all the surf gear was made with climate change in mind.

What are you currently doing (post grad) and what are your plans for the future?
Currently, I work for the Santa Barbara Sailing Center as a first mate and bartender on a fifty-foot catamaran that does public and private charters out of the Santa Barbara harbor.  I have been working over the years to have enough sea time to sit for my U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License and will be taking the official test to become a captain in December of this year.

I also work for Shoreline Boatworks, a yacht maintenance company, as an apprentice learning how to work on the boat engines and overall maintenance of boats as well as being crew for the yachts we take care of. The newest boat I have been working on as a crew member is an 80-foot yacht that takes trips to and from Catalina Island.

In my free time, I race on a sailing team, freedive, and surf. I also love to dance and have been practicing aerial dance, specifically Lyra,  for over a year now.

Some of my plans for the future are to visit my grandparents in France this fall, take trips to French Polynesia, Martinique, and Kauai and in a few years, work on an expedition cruise ship that adventures in Alaska for the summer season.

How did this project solidify your Antioch experience?
This project solidified my experience at Antioch in that it pushed me to learn hard truths about our environment and find a calling to change the way things are. Antioch is not just a school that emphasizes social justice but a school that encourages creating much-needed change.  Dawn and Andrea were wonderful mentors in the way that they truly listened to what I (and my fellow classmates) needed help with. Dawn was able to stoke my fiery passion for something I knew little about as well as reign in my eccentric plans when needed. I think this is truly what Antioch facilitates the best, just allowing a student to find a path that they find joy from and help them along the way. That is what I felt the entire time I worked on this project.

What was your take away from doing this project?
People are really impressed when you can make a working website! (Hahaha) But really I found that I know so little about what is truly a major crisis in our world right now and that I was not alone. Politics, economies and our social lives, in general, are important but none of this will be around if we do not start being mindful of each and every single one of our carbon footprints. It is not just our carbon footprint either, it’s our footprint in general. What are we leaving for future generations? I took away from this project how important it is to shop local and BE local, as in biking around town when possible and carpooling!

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Malia Gaffney

Malia Gaffney

Malia Gaffney holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She lives in LA.
Antioch University

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