Navigating twists and turns

While a global pandemic upended the early half of Ocean Clevette’s college experience, she would be the first to tell you that isn’t the whole story. An education and geology double major, Clevette has discovered new passions in spite of what the world has thrown her way.

What Ocean Clevette’22 remembers about her first visit to Beloit College wasn’t a singular moment or the other prospective students she met or the class she sat in on — it was a feeling.

“I think the people here were just kinda weird,” Clevette says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘You know what? I like that vibe. I think I’ll fit in.’”

Clevette, a native of Ashland, a small town in northern Wisconsin, has been trying to articulate that feeling while preparing for her work as an Orientation Leader this fall. The education and youth studies and environmental geology double major is looking forward to a greater degree of calm after a disruptive junior year.

“I think people are finally relaxing a little bit,” she says of being on campus over the summer. “I had so much anxiety about Covid and so many worries all over the place, and those are slowly, reasonably going away. It just makes me so excited for this year.”

Much of Clevette’s Beloit experience has been marked by change, a subject studied by every burgeoning geologist.

“I came into Beloit with the intention of going into education policy and administration, so I didn’t think I’d major in geology,” she says. “I took Evolution of the Earth with [Associate Professor of Geology] Jay Zambito to fulfill my science requirement and [because I] thought it sounded interesting. Then, two years later, I’m a major.”

While she’s still on track to student teach and earn her teaching certificate through the college, Clevette isn’t sure that a brick-and-mortar classroom is where she’ll have the most impact as an educator.

“I’d really want to work in public school education in the environmental field,” she explains. “I’d love to be a park ranger who does tours with kids. I also have this huge passion for reforming education policy, because my high school experience was really good, but it was alongside those not getting what they needed. There’s a lot that I was really motivated by in high school, and still am. But there’s also other stuff I want to do.”

So much has changed for Clevette just this year. She moved out of the Outdoor Environmental Club’s special interest house, her home on campus before the pandemic upended the group’s frequent hikes and camping trips. She continued working in the Neese Theatre as a box office assistant, but electronically processed tickets for student productions, also all virtual.

Perhaps most devastatingly, Clevette and many of her peers at Beloit and across the world were unable to study abroad in 2020. A month-long trip to rural Japan slated for May was canceled. An outdoor education program to study fjords in Norway last fall — also canceled. A geology program in China this summer? Canceled, too. But Clevette met these hurdles with grace and optimism.

“I’m not super bummed because I know that I definitely want to go abroad in the future,” she says. “I’m not on any timeline, really. My life isn’t going to end here — it’s just continuing.”

August 23, 2021

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