August 28, 2009

First-year student publishes book before heading to campus

What drew you to Lewis & Clark?

Before they step foot in the classroom, many first-year students will come to Lewis & Clark this fall with impressive educational experiences under their belt–from volunteering in the U.S. and abroad to participating in scientific research to working at summer internships. Among them is Claire Askew, a first-year student from Kansas City, who recently published her first book. We caught up with her as she planned her move to Portland to learn more about the writing process and why Lewis & Clark was a good fit for her.

What drew you to Lewis & Clark?

I visited the campus for the first time my sophomore year and immediately felt a strong sense of community, of being able to see myself there. As I learned more about LC, it was the perfect mix of everything I was looking for in a college—academics that are definitely challenging but not overwhelming or competitive in an unhealthy way, a gorgeous campus, friendly students who are passionate about the things they are interested in, good programs for what I want to study, great location

What are you most looking forward to living in Portland?

Powell’s, vegan food everywhere, being sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean, and the parks and trees. There are so many creative people in Portland who know how to get cool things done and I am excited to live in that atmosphere.

Are you feeling anxious about leaving your home and family in Kansas?

No, not really. I have lived in Kansas my whole life and am more than ready for a change of scenery and the next exciting chapter of things.

Do you have a major in mind already or are there particular fields that you’re interested in exploring?

Yes, I am planning on majoring in English and minoring in gender studies, but I am also interested in French, sociology, and religious studies.

You’ve written a book on veganism for teenagers called Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager. Was this a daunting undertaking or did the project develop fairly easily for you?

It was time-consuming but not daunting. I went vegan when I was fifteen, and shortly after that I began communicating with the authors of the book Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World. They (Bob and Jenna Torres) ended up being my editors and publishers. They were tremendously supportive, which made the project much easier. I was also able to pretty much set my own schedule and worked on the book mainly during my summers before 10th and 11th grade.

Lewis & Clark encourages its students to explore their role as citizens of a global community. Does this resonate with you or was this an attribute of the college that interested you?

Yes, you wouldn’t think that it would be rare for a college—where you’re supposed to be getting an education and becoming an adult—to place such importance on global awareness/perspective, but it is, and I am glad that LC really emphasizes it. I was so impressed when I learned that approximately 60 percent of Pioneers study abroad!

Any other thoughts about Lewis & Clark?

In summer, 2007 I went to a writing workshop at LC and got to live in the dorms, take writing classes, make friends with a few current and former Pios, explore Portland, and basically get as close to being a student as I could without actually being one. I was already interested in LC before I went but it was a very valuable experience.