Eric Toldi: The Sky is the Limit

By Shannon Haaland ’17

seti-2Since August, Eric Toldi ’11 has been the director of the Young Professionals Committee at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, San Francisco chapter. This is only the latest in an impressive list of accomplishments in the short period since he graduated, with a Plan on the history of science.

“I learned to write long-form space history at Marlboro during Plan and now I’m working on my next book,” said Erik .The NASA center in our region is heavily contributing to the growth of the commercial space sector, a prime topic for a space history book.”

After Marlboro, Eric moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the senior curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, researching and writing a space history article for the Proceedings of the IEEE. He also interned at the Aerospace States Association, and worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the youth organization DC Scores.

After a year in D.C. Eric moved back to his home in the Bay Area and has been involved with the AIAA-SF ever since. He splits his time between AIAA, working at a movie theater, science conferences and meetings, and visiting one of the many Oakland libraries to work on his space book.

“Marlboro prepared me for this because it’s also a self-selecting community of dedicated, interested individuals, which I’ve discovered is my preferred company to keep.”

Sarah Horowitz: Pursuing Art History

By Shannon Haaland ’17

SHrecentphoto“Marlboro taught me how to think critically and how to write clearly,” said Sarah Horowitz ’10, who did her Plan in art history and museum studies.  “Most importantly, its wonderful faculty encouraged me to think outside the box and develop original, thought-provoking ideas in coursework and tutorials. These lessons have definitely helped me succeed in my graduate work.”

Sarah is currently a master’s candidate in art history at University of Massachusetts Amherst, with concentrations in modern architecture and ancient Roman art. Working as a teaching assistant in her department, Sarah leads discussion sections for art history survey courses.

After she graduated from Marlboro Sarah worked as the gallery director at the Vermont Center for Photography, located in Brattleboro. There she was able to develop relationships with local photographers and other art professionals that prove to be invaluable to her today. This past summer Sarah worked as a collections assistant at the Eric Carle Museum, cataloguing original artwork by the popular children’s author and illustrator.

“This ‘real world’ work experience definitely helped shape some of the projects I have worked on as a graduate student at UMass, including co-curating an exhibition on how artists manipulate and transform space in various media.” Last spring Sarah presented a paper on the conflation of architectural and landscape space in one of Poussin’s paintings at the American Association for Italian Studies Conference in Eugene, Oregon.

Parker Emmerson: Making Music Online

By Shannon Haaland ’17

parkeremmerson2 copy“My inspiration for the website occurred when we were about to leave high school, and my band was no longer going to be able to play together,” Writes Parker Emmerson ’10, who did his Plan in psychology and philosophy. “That was right around the time of the Facebook explosion, so we were influenced by the idea of a social network.”

Parker’s website,, is a place were musicians of any background can work with other musicians around the world to “promote, distribute, sell, and license their music online.” Musicians can produce and select a version of their song to be published, exchange tracks, and networking to make them collaborative projects. Parker received the patent for his website earlier this year.

“The website has the potential to transform the music industry by shaking up who gets heard, giving a platform to new artists with new styles who have not been acknowledged by traditional media routes,” said Parker. When he is not transforming the music industry he works for the largest catering operation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  He started out as a delivery driver, then as a cashier, and now is manager of the catering department. His job includes marketing and advertisements using mathematically generated scroll-like designs like the ones he used in his Plan project at Marlboro.

Ryan Reeves: Cooking up Promise

By Christian Lampart ‘16

ryanrIn his second year as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America, or VISTA, Ryan Reeves ’08 is coordinator of the Harvest Kitchen youth and job training program for Farm Fresh Rhode Island. Working in collaboration with chefs, volunteers and returning graduates, Reeves trains youth who are under the care of the Rhode Island Department of Youth and Families in culinary, sales and life skills.

“My day-to-day is never the same, and that is why I love it,” remarks Ryan, who will become a full-time employee of Farm Fresh Rhode Island in August. “I spend time talking with farmers, ordering produce, buying kitchen equipment, writing recipes, coordinating our online and retail sales, managing farmers’ markets, keeping inventory, cooking and teaching. I interact directly with trainees in the hectic atmosphere that is created when you put 10 16-to-18-year-olds in a kitchen with 200 pounds of apples, boiling vats, a beat up clock radio and a bunch of knives.”

Employees and youth in the program produce a line of jarred goods, using produce sourced through a growing network of local farms in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. “My favorite part of the job is seeing the change as the trainees start to believe, contrary to almost everything anybody has ever told them, that they are needed, valuable and full of promise.”

Kathryn Trahan: Bringing Books to the Boonies

By Christian Lampart ‘16

katieKathryn Trahan ’12 is also an AmeriCorp VISTA, serving with the Franklin Grand Isle Bookmobile, a non-profit mobile library serving rural communities in northern Vermont. The Bookmobile serves all ages, with special emphasis on helping youth connect with literacy.

“The Bookmobile fights poverty by making books fun and accessible,” states Katie. “In this part of rural Vermont it is not always easy for childcare providers to go to a library and check out books for their kids. “ In addition to making books more accessible to rural youth, the Bookmobile holds events and fundraisers.

“The Bookmobile has story time and does a series of events. For example, I play Pathfinders with sixth graders after school. I am lucky enough to be a part of planning those events; whether they are free or fundraisers, it is always a blast.” Katie says her experience in theater at Marlboro has helped her with group communication and mediation.

“My biggest challenge has been learning how to engage the youth in the afterschool programs so that we have a safe time while having fun. There are so many components that need to come together to make the program successful, and when one element falls apart the whole team needs to come together and figure out a solution.”

First Person Singular: Ryan Stratton ’11 helps youth find new perspectives

ryansI am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the In-Sight Photography Project in Brattleboro, Vermont. In-Sight is a youth-focused arts education organization that teaches analog and digital photography to kids, from age 11 through 18. Because classes are offered on a sliding-scale basis, In-Sight is able to reach youth that might otherwise not be able to access after-school programming, especially arts education programs.

I first learned about In-Sight from photography professor John Willis, who co-founded the organization 20 years ago and with whom I was taking a photography course at Marlboro. I volunteered to co-teach a couple stop-motion animation classes at In-Sight, then took a Work Study position there. After graduating, it was an easy decision to accept the VISTA position there, as it would entail service that I was excited about. It also enabled me to develop my relationship with the organization further, helped me with professional experience and funding for future education, and provided increasingly hard-to-come-by darkroom facilities.

Day-to-day, my activities at In-Sight vary quite a bit, as I hope is the case for any work I do in the future. On any given day I might be: meeting with a new volunteer to show them the space and develop curriculum for a class; learning how to merge an Excel document with a Word document in order to print hundreds of mailing labels; testing old film cameras to make sure they are ready for students to use; preparing photographs for installation at our annual auction fundraiser; or planning and implementing an event during Gallery Walk to recruit students for classes.

My favorite thing about my service at In-Sight would certainly be the opportunity I have to work with students directly and see the impact that the program has on them. While the AmeriCorps VISTA program is focused on indirect service, there are times, especially due to In-Sight’s small size, that I am either working in the same space as students or facilitating classes with a volunteer. Interacting with the students is always a nice break from work that often requires a lot of time spent with a computer. Sometimes, I get to hear kids say really funny things.

My Plan of Concentration was in literature, and, while I have few opportunities to bring up James Joyce or Dante at In-Sight, I am able to use my writing skills every day. Often, when proofreading a grant proposal, report or other document, I remember lessons in grammar that Laura Stevenson taught me in the Elements of Style class that I took five years ago—really! Photography was 40 percent of my Plan work, and my experience from that enables me to work with volunteers who are planning a class and to offer specific solutions. I am currently looking to continue my education in photography—I’ve applied to a few MFA programs and am now weighing my options.

Eva Baisan: Teaching and temple-painting in Japan

By Christian Lampart ’16

“My real passion is working in communities where there is more immediate need,” explains Eva Baisan ’12. To gain experience working internationally, Eva is teaching English at five public schools in Japan through Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET), a Japanese government program. “During high school I studied abroad in Japan, and years later, I met several people connected to Marlboro who had taught through the JET Program as well, who later encouraged me to apply for the job.”

Each day Eva is at a different school teaching students in either seventh, eighth or ninth grade. “The best thing about my work, hands-down, is the rowdy kids. Some classes are absolutely wild, but we have such a great time. And even on days when my classes haven’t gone well, I’ve always had a great moment with a kid that’s made my day.”

When not teaching, Eva spends a lot of time planning lessons, painting at a nearby temple, chatting up the ladies at the octopus dough ball stand, taking yoga and hula classes, festival hopping, teaching adults English, hiking on the nearby ancient pilgrimage trails or searching for fake mustaches at the 100¥ store. After Japan, she hopes to spend time teaching English in migrant communities in the U.S. and Mexico.

Kelly Baur: Filming social issues in Chile

By Christian Lampart ’16

In January, Kelly Baur ’08 will be studying economics and preparing a documentary film at the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile, with support from a Rotary International’s Ambassadorial Scholarship. Kelly’s documentary will focus on the environmental and social costs of the Chilean paper pulp industry.

“I studied economics and film at Marlboro, and I’m decidedly sticking with that combination in Chile,” said Kelly who produced a film about German reunification called “What Revolution?” “Ideally my past studies at Marlboro will help inform the content for my documentary in Chile.”

Since graduating, Kelly spent three years teaching German, economics and math at a non-traditional high school in Portland, Oregon. She also taught German at the pre-school and kindergarten levels and taught English in Chile for a summer.

Three years ago Kelly moved out to her family farm in Washington, where she now manages her pear orchard and garden (pictured above) and prepares for her Chile adventure—in other words, she says, she’s “funemployed.” She has made good use of her time, visiting and bringing resources to women in jail, organizing with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, volunteering with high school exchange students and teaching English at the day-labor hire site in Portland. After Chile, Kelly is considering pursuing work as a documentary filmmaker or teaching Spanish in the U.S.

Chris Boyle: Exploring culture with kids in Armenia

By Christian Lampart ’16

“I’ve wanted to serve in the Peace Corps since I was in the eighth grade,” says Chris Boyle ’10, who is teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Berd, Armenia. “I like traveling, languages and culture, and as I learned more about those three things at Marlboro, I thought why not live somewhere else for two years? I don’t regret it, and I am happy to follow something I’ve always thought about doing.”

After working at the schools for a few hours in the daytime and planning lessons in the evenings, Chris integrates into the local community and practices his Armenian with his neighbors over coffee.

“Adjusting to a new country can be stressful. You may not have all the comforts you are used to having in the States. You are always surrounded by people speaking in a different language, and there are so many cultural differences. These factors, among others, could leave you feeling lonely and sad sometimes. However, when you know you have kids looking forward to seeing you, it makes everything more worth it”

Chris feels positive that his Peace Corps experience will open doors for him in the future. “I will have more opportunities to travel or work abroad, or maybe I will return to the States and teach. What matters now is to enjoy and learn from this experience.”

Jamie Paul: Exploring the arts in Appalachia

By Molly Booth ’13

When he graduated from Marlboro in 2008, with a Plan in photography, Jamie Paul settled into a small community in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. “I moved here shortly after finishing at Marlboro, with the intention of learning something about the elemental way of life that is still championed in these parts.”

By day, Jamie works as a photography technician and archivist for documentary photographer Rob Amberg. Jamie got to know Rob when he was hired to do construction work around his farm, and Rob’s pictures of the inhabitants of Madison County inspired him. “His images are incredibly intimate, as they provide a glimpse into a way of life that is beautiful and authentic,” Jamie said.

By night, Jamie pursues his love of music and performing. He plays shows in the surrounding area, and has found an audience for his original folk songs. “There are some late nights and a good deal of driving, but nothing beats playing music to people who enjoy it.”

Jamie feels Marlboro truly prepared him for his current life. “During my time at Marlboro, I learned how to communicate who I am and what I want to do. That is big in a place like this, where honesty and transparency are highly valued.”