Senior Clare Haley views graduation as a time for growth
Clare Haley makes a point of pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone.
“It took me a long time to let go of the fear that comes with trying new things,” Haley said. “But it’s that space outside of your comfort zone where you’re able to grow the most as a person.”
Haley is among the 747 University of Idaho students set to graduate Saturday. She will receive a degree in international studies with a double minor in music and Spanish and graduate with honors.
Yet, Haley did more than excel in academics — she involved herself in numerous activities, clubs, organizations and initiatives throughout her years at UI.
Since moving to Moscow in 2010, the Idaho Falls native challenged herself on every level. From becoming a member of the Moscow Undergraduate Mock Trail team to being elected –twice — into the ASUI Senate, to even being a participant in the UI Outdoors Program, Haley immersed herself in the university.
Katie Dahlinger, UI interim director of Student Involvement, said she first met Haley at an event for incoming ASUI senators and was immediately struck by her genuine nature.
“When you have a conversation with Clare Haley, she listens,” Dahlinger said. “She is very mindful of what other people say and she’s always there with you, in that moment.”
As an off-campus student, Haley’s extensive participation is an asset that Dahlinger hopes will inspire other students of the off-campus majority to become more involved.
“Clare is a true voice for underserved students, she’s engaged, and she always gets it,” Dahlinger said. “When you ask her to do something, no matter how small the task, she takes that on as a personal responsibility and gets it done.”
Haley’s interest in travel and international studies led her to study abroad in South America her junior year, which she said was the most memorable experience of her life.
“I actually took a semester off to travel to Ecuador,” Haley said. “The whole experience was probably the farthest out of my comfort zone I have ever gone, but it was also a time of great growth and it was just an amazing experience.”
Haley said she was first drawn to Moscow by the campus’ open atmosphere and the collective personality of the student body.
“The size of the campus felt right to me,” Haley said. “I felt like I could spend four years in Moscow and not get bored of the people, but that the town was small enough to also have more personal interactions.”
Although it is bittersweet for Haley to see her time at the university come to a close, she said that she feels prepared for the future.
“Graduation is a little surreal and I’m actually kind of sad about it,” Haley said. “But more than anything, I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent at this school.”
The best memories, Haley said, were made under the most unusual circumstances.
In an effort to be more involved in the Outdoors Program, Haley joined a group of nearly 30 students for a camping trip to Vantage, Washington, in the middle of the winter.
“It was cold and snowing, and it was this weird mix of people from all different walks of life at the university,” Haley said. “We gathered together, built a giant fire and bonded over this shared experience in the snow that ended up turning into one of my favorite nights.”
When it comes to the future, Haley plans to continue expanding on her wealth of experiences by traveling before settling down with a specific career. Haley said she plans to ski a lot this winter and is in the process of planning long distance backpacking trips for the summer.
“The goal is to meet new people and gain new experiences by challenging myself and making myself uncomfortable,” Haley said.
Graduation is her biggest accomplishment — she said it’s on par with spending a semester studying abroad. She said she won’t shy away from expressing her Vandal pride in the post-graduate world.
“The University of Idaho doesn’t have great name recognition,” Haley said. “But we have a lot of class diversity and the experiences that students can have on this campus are unique in a lot of ways that really contribute to an education that, I think, is more valuable than one from an expensive, well-known private school.”
Haley said she believes her UI experience, although not as nationally revered as others, will fair her well in the years to come.
“Entering the work force is going to be a little intimidating, because I’ll be competing with kids from these big name schools,” Haley said. “But I trust that my time in Moscow and the opportunities that I’ve been afforded here will help get me through… this is a place with a lot of great people who put effort into establishing meaningful connections with others and living in a place like this, that’s not something that ever leaves you.”
Corrin Bond can be reached at email@example.com