Where Are They Now? A Collection of Short Stories Pt. 3

Where Are They Now? A Collection of Short Stories Pt. 3

We caught up with Rustic Pathways alumni to ask what is going on in their lives and if their Rustic experience played a role in their story. Read their stories below!

Gia Mariano’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2015-2016 | Thailand, Australia, Fiji

Hi! My name is Gia Mariano! I’m 21 years old and I am from New Jersey. I’m currently an incoming senior at Michigan State University. I major in journalism with a double major in documentary production and film studies.

When I was 17, I decided to go to a school that was hundreds of miles away from my home. MSU has an undergrad of 50,000 students. I didn’t know anyone at the school and no one in my graduating class was attending. It was pretty terrifying and I didn’t know if I was making a huge mistake, but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made!

Of course it took a lot of adjusting and changes, but I’ve had the best experience and made best friends for life. Now at school, I’m living in a house with 13 of my best girl friends!

Lifelong Skills and Memories from Rustic Pathways

My Rustic experience definitely prepared me to make such a big change in my life. I took my first Rustic trip to Thailand when I was 16. Then, when I was 17, I took another trip to Australia and Fiji. Both times I went completely on my own.

My Rustic leaders immediately taught us how to step out of our comfort zones. Whether it was cheesy icebreakers or fun activities, they made a huge effort to have us become closer.

Rustic also taught me how to have courage. I did things I never expected like waking up at the crack of dawn to feed an elephant or going surfing down a sand dune! I was always encouraged to never be afraid and try everything. Rustic has given me lifelong skills and lifelong memories!

Kylie Dennis’ Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways in 2015-2018 | Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Fiji

I’m planning on majoring in either Nursing or Psychology. I’m currently registered as a psychology major while I try to get into the Nursing program at my school. When I finish college I hope to either work as a nurse in a hospital in pediatrics or as a children’s therapist.

I graduated from Broomfield High School and currently attend college still in Colorado. I’m currently working as a personal care provider (PCP) in a Nursing home. I help them carry out daily activities and overall day to day care.

Enhancing My Global Competence 

I believe my Rustic experience has helped me gain a larger understanding of the world around me and has helped me learn to handle certain challenging situations.

When entering the world in general it’s important to be accepting of everyone around us. I believe that traveling and getting to learn about different cultures and people around the world has helped me look past the outer presence of a person and get to know them for who they are.

In this sense, Rustic has helped me gain the confidence to put myself out there and meet people both through Rustic and outside of the trips that I may not have otherwise.

Brynn Bottalico’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways from 2014-2015 | Fiji, Dominican Republic

I traveled with Rustic Pathways during my sophomore and junior year of high school. Fast forward about 6 years and I’m in my first year of graduate school! I got a BA in Psychology from Baruch College in New York City. I am getting a masters in mental health counseling from Baruch College.

When I finish my graduate degree, I plan to work with marginalized groups of society in NYC. I hope to help adolescents and teens who do not have regular support and encouragement in their daily life. I look forward to helping teens and adolescents of New York City navigate this emotional and challenging time during their lives.

Traveling with Rustic was the highlight of my academic career while in high school. When I first traveled with Rustic, I was 14 years old. When I came back from Fiji, I had a brand new perspective on what matters, what is important, what I want to do with my life and what I want to do for the world.

Rustic Pathways was the start of my ever evolving global perspective that I look forward to expanding and changing in the future.

Lawrence Tres Carter’s Story

Traveled with Rustic Pathways in 2014 | Costa Rica

Currently I am attending Auburn University as a second year architecture major working with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met in my life. I am starting my first internship soon and am excited to see where auburn is going to take me.

I think Rustic Pathways helped me develop better ways of meeting new people, as well as handling new situations and being a confident leader. Especially in the transition from high school to college. It helped me become a fraternity brother, as well as joining my group of dedicated classmates who I will spend the next three more years with.