I met Ashly Loibman, an environmental studies and religion double major from Nassau, Bahamas, at the Coop on a stormy Wednesday. She radiates quiet confidence, a rare quality in people our age, and the din of fellow students seemed to fade away as she spoke.
Loibman came to Colgate as a biology major, but quickly realized she was more interested in environmental studies and religion.
“I’m interested in how things work. Deciding not to be a biology major was good for me. Colgate has generally taught me more about what I want to do because I’ve learned what I don’t want to do,” Lobiman said.
Last summer, Loibman worked as a wetland and hydrology intern at the Henry’s Fork Foundation research center in Ashton, Idaho.
“I really enjoyed doing research,” she said. “I can’t see myself ever working in an office. I liked getting up every day and working on the river.”
Loibman was researching low-flow targets, essentially assessing how much of the river could be diverted for irrigation without damaging the river’s ecosystem.
Loibman’s summer in Idaho followed a particularly busy academic year. She spent her fall 2018 semester at The University of St. Andrews in Scotland, which was a lesson in independence.
“I’ve always been far from home,” she said, “but the time zone thing threw me for a minute. It was good for me, though. I think I always knew this, but I realized that I do really well by myself.”
It was a semester of academic growth as well. Loibman’s favorite course was about apocalyptic literature, particularly how specific circumstances can alter human behavior. We talked about The Bacchae, a play by Euripides, which is about a city whose female citizens have been driven out of their minds by the god of excess, Dionysus. At the end of the play, the chorus tells the audience that “the best and safest thing is to keep balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are truly wise.”
It is easy to picture Loibman knee-deep in an Idahoan river because she is so adept at finding balance in the oncoming rush of life. She is able to calibrate herself to her own needs and, no matter the circumstances, she is comfortable in her own boots, standing firm against the tide.