My “alma mater,” or what some may call “that place where I went to college,” is Westminster College. I am an “alum,” “alumni,” or “alumnus” of this Salt Lake City ski haven institution, depending upon whom you ask. Academics aside (do people really follow that stuff, anyway?), one feature that immediately attracted me to Westminster is its “close” (compared to attending New York City’s Columbia University and skiing Aspen between classes) proximity to some of America’s best skiing. With Canyons, Alta, Solitude, Park City, Snowbird, Deer Valley, and Brighton (or “TightPantsOn,” again, depending on who you ask) all within 40 minutes (or what Salt Lake City locals call “20, 25 minutes”) of campus, it is very reasonable to ski in the morning and still catch your afternoon class. It is less reasonable, however, to ski in the afternoon and miss your afternoon class. It is even less reasonable to ask your afternoon class professor if it was he who you saw from the chairlift the afternoon before, hootin’ and hollerin’, when class was in session with only an overwhelmed graduate student lecturing. This is further unreasonabilized by knowing darn well that he is a powderhound and you both have an affinity for missing Powerpoints in search of PowDerpoints. Luckily, Powerpoints are virtually nonexistant at Westminster (unlike professors who enjoy skiing), and class is always a good reason to take a day off from skiing. Or, at least an afternoon off.
Westminster offers a domestic study abroad (oxymoron?) program, Winter at Westminster. This caters to students who, during the admission process, didn’t yet realize how much they’d be missing by not attending Westminster as a full time student. These students tend to come from large universities where they enjoy fratorities, sorternities, and “football” games, which I believe are soccer contests with lots of painted chests, “tail-gating” (which, if I’m not mistaken, is the guarded entrance to a lion’s/dog’s/cat’s/mouse’s rear end), and (I presume, based on the name “football”) Europeans. They enroll in Westminster for the spring semester, enjoying the life that Westminster skiers and snowboarders live, with the addition of various activities such as lectures, on-site industry visits, and ski lessons.
I have been honored to partake in numerous Winter at Westminster (or, as the marketing deparment cleverly refers to it in print, W@W) activities. From avalanche safety lectures to hikes in the mountains, the opportunities have been a great insight into the lives of Westminster transplants and their rapid introduction to the Utah mountains, given their 4-5 month stint.
Last season, the seasoned (as in experienced, not spicy, tangy, or elderly) photographer Tom Bear invited me to a marketing shoot for the program. Earlier this summerfall (the time of year when you are unsure of the season and what pant style to invoke from your closet), I was horrified to see my goggle-tanned face squinting amongst the Skittle-Bag of colors in a 2010-2011 brochure for the program that is posted on the fridges of students and alumni across the world with magnets that read something like “Dr. Kissler, D.D.S–Where beautiful teeth are only a Kiss…ler away”**.
Moreover, I have been humbled to see my poor athletic form disrespect the computer screens of students, staff, alumni, and prospective students aplenty as Tom’s exciting and fun photography style graces marketing materials for the program.
**Dr. Kissler and ingeniously catchy slogan are fictional, and royalties for usage can be mailed to me