Anyone Can Do It! My Semester at New College as an Exchange Student from Prescott College

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- by Abigail Juchs

Prescott sent me an email listing six different schools in the EcoLeague consortium’s exchange program that I could attend, and New College caught my eye. I never thought I would go far away for college. I was content to be what we Arizonans call a “desert rat” indefinitely.

But New College—with its writing and environmental studies classes, plus the location of the campus on Sarasota Bay—was too good of an opportunity to pass up for a landlocked girl like me.

EcoLeague lined up everything. And, as if I needed another reason to seal the deal, my sister (an aspiring marine biologist) wanted to go on exchange to New College, too!

I’m currently double majoring in writing and literature, and environmental studies. I want my writing to be fun but relevant, like C.S. Lewis or Octavia E. Butler.

After college, I hope to work in the publishing field and eventually be a novelist or content strategist. My classes this semester connect directly to my goals of producing creative, engaging writing in genres from business to fictional fantasy.

My “Writing with Communities and Nonprofits” class with Director of Writing Jennifer Wells, Ph.D. teaches me about networking, as well as how to write resumes, grant proposals and blogs. I’m in my fourth year of college and have never been in such a practical class; it even connected me to an internship with New College’s very own news team.

My “Poetry Recess” class with Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Emily Carr, Ph.D. meets in the grass at The Ringling Museum of Art every week. I got to sit under a banyan tree last week with a fellow classmate as we did a workshop for our poetry. I am getting college credit for writing poetry in a magical circus reality (10/10 recommend).

My “Pedagogy in Practice” class with Assistant Director of Writing Alexandra Maass teaches me how to share my writing and English skills. Class time is full of discussions and learning how to be a writing tutor. Soon, I’ll get to be a Student Writing Assistant (SWA) in training for the Writing Resource Center. I’ve heard the SWAs are super swa[ggy], so I’m pretty excited.

In my “Analysis of Manatee Mortality Events” class with Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science Athena Rycyk, Ph.D., we are learning about the extent of the impact that 1,000-plus manatee deaths will have on the manatee population. We get to have Zoom lectures with leading researchers in the field who are working with manatees. After being trained on what to look for in a starving, freezing manatee, we examine drone footage to identify possible problem cases in the wild. I’ve never taken such a relevant course.

I came to Florida to experience the East Coast. All of my previous studies have taken place in the Sonoran Desert region and the Gulf of California at Prescott’s Kino Bay Center.

The Florida palm trees and moss dangling from the leaves are foreign to me. The Sailing Club along New College’s waterfront has helped me get my feet wet. On day one, I was in the water, taking my role as skipper very seriously. I truly couldn’t believe they let me navigate the boat on the first day, but they did. Now I have a new hobby that makes me sound infinitely cool and lets me see marine life up close.

Participating in EcoLeague has allowed me to experience the beautiful culture of Florida and greatly expand my knowledge in my field. The program is open to all students at New College.

There are six U.S. liberal arts colleges currently participating in the EcoLeague consortium: New College, Alaska Pacific University, College of the Atlantic, Dickinson College, Northland College and Prescott College.

“New College students have exchanged at almost all the [EcoLeague] campuses,” said Florence Zamsky, Ph.D., the assistant director of off-campus study/study abroad programs (as well as the EcoLeague coordinator) for New College.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, two New College students went away on exchange and five have already been accepted for the 2022 Fall program, Zamsky said. New College joined the program in Spring 2019.

This spring, New College has its first set of visiting EcoLeague exchange students: my sister and I from Prescott College; and a student from Dickinson College.

Zamsky highly recommends the program to students. Not only do students get to live in a different state, but they also gain access to new courses and hands-on learning opportunities, all while paying New College tuition.

I hope one day you—my new friends and those of you reading this—will choose Prescott College for a semester. Maybe I’ll see you there.

For more information on exchange programs at New College, visit

Abigail Juchs is an intern in the Office of Communications & Marketing.