Dan Danko ’12
Spending the fall of 2009 as a member of the inaugural Chesapeake Semester was the most important and meaningful semester that I had at Washington College. The structure of the program not only allowed us to venture out of the traditional boundaries of a classroom, but also opened pathways of learning with hands-on experiences and atypical assignments. A prime example of this including foraging for our dinner early into the Mountains to Ocean Voyage. Foraging for food options gave us opportunities to observe intricate ecological relationships, identify different types of fauna, and draw a connection between man and the land. It also provided a stepping stone for the next voyage, which exclusively took a look at local and industrial foods (and policy). What made the semester so special were these connections, and is the reason why I believe that it encompasses a liberal arts education from Washington College in so many ways.
In the four semesters that followed the Chesapeake Semester, I was able to apply the different ways of thinking that were required along the journeys to the classrooms. Being more open-minded and approaching problems from different ways allowed me to excel in a way that I was not capable of doing in my freshman year. In some ways, it allowed me to become a leader in the greek communities at Washington College, and helped me towards crafting a meaningful Senior Capstone Experience. In the long run, I was able to land a full-time position with an environmental consulting firm, which also encourages open thinking and multiple approaches to address environmental problems. There have been many times where I have thought back to the Chesapeake Semester to draw parallels in the field and in the office to solve tasks. For that, I am as grateful as ever for being a part of the inaugural Chesapeake Semester, and for molding me into a better student and person.
Dan graduated from Washington College with an Environmental Studies major in 2012. He now works at an environmental consulting firm in the Baltimore area.