Carlisle Evans Peck
Graduation year: 2014
Majors: Biology, environmental studies
Activities: Augustana Choir, Darwin Club, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, Sigma Xi research society
Post-grad plans: This summer I will work as part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education program at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Then, a gap year or two before graduate school for plant ecology or ethnobotany.
Why did you choose to attend Augustana?
Being a local, Augustana was not really on my radar at first, but I visited anyway and fell in love with the gorgeous campus and the brilliant community of professors that immediately made me feel welcome.
Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?
No. I intended to follow a pre-med track when I was a freshman. I guess that, in retrospect, it makes sense that I’ve changed in the ways that I did, even if I couldn’t have predicted it four years ago.
Who helped you get to where you are now?
There are too many people to name, but many are professors. Dr. Geedey, Dr. Dziadyk, Dr. Reisner, Dr. Heine, Stephanie Fuhr, Dr. Hartman and Dr. Storl have all been amazing research mentors and sources of ideas and guidance. I have learned incredibly formative things from them. I would be a different and lesser person if I had not met these individuals, and I can’t imagine the past four years without them.
A peak experience?
I received last year’s Hasselmo Prize for Academic Pursuit, which aside from being a great honor, has allowed me to develop an Honors Capstone project on the preservation of biological and cultural diversity through seed saving. It’s taken me from the Midwest to Great Britain to Arizona and has allowed me to delve into this cause that I care deeply for. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to embark on this adventure of a project.
What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?
I have come to realize that I really love teaching others and sharing my excitement for all of the things I find interesting. I’ve now thought a lot about education and becoming a professor, and four years ago I would have never entertained the thought of teaching.
How did you use your Augie Choice?
I used it for the Augustana Choir tour in Germany my sophomore year, which was really another peak experience for me. Aside from traveling through Germany and singing gorgeous music in 500-year-old churches, we performed Benjamin Britten’s "War Requiem" in Detmold, Germany. The piece is a powerful admonishment of war and a tribute to the victims of World Wars I and II, and performing it with German musicians made it all the more poignant.
What will you miss the most?
The brilliant minds, astounding friends, stimulating ideas, diversity of experiences and exciting culture. Not that these things aren’t to be found elsewhere in this great big beautiful world of ours, it’s just that colleges have a knack of throwing them all together into one package. And certainly we will never find them in quite the same form or combination as at Augustana. So, in a word, I’ll miss all of it, which doesn’t really answer the question.
Advice for the Class of 2018?
There is a lot of pressure to choose your path in life ASAP and never deviate from it. But in those detours there is so much beauty. So, don’t confine yourself to a major too early. Give credence to all your interests. Always question the things you think you know. Completely rearrange your schedule to take a class outside of your major that looks interesting to you; it could change your life. Get to know all of your professors. The Quad Cities is a beautiful place that you should explore. In the fall, have bonfires and play in the leaves. In the winter, go sledding and build snow forts on the quad. In the spring, dance in the rainstorms. Wake up at six in the morning and bike to the Centennial Bridge to watch the sunrise. If the only thing keeping you from doing something is lack of time, that’s a bad reason and you should do it anyway. Create a story for yourself that you would love reading over and over again.
"It is often claimed that good liberal arts colleges help to build persons. While this is undoubtedly true, good persons also help to build colleges. Carlisle has helped to build Augustana into a college that challenges all of us to think rigorously, passionately and greenly. In the classrooms he has shared with me, he has raised questions in the style of Socrates, answered them with verve, and done all of this with the grace and commitment of Wendell Berry. In a word, Carlisle is an exemplar of the truly authentic person."