Picture a tropical paradise: palm trees, fresh mangoes, lush rain forests and white sand beaches. Now add 35 hours of community service, lots of hard work, and twelve amazing students and you’ve got yourself Apogee’s Caribbean Service Adventure! And who better to lead this trip than our own Thomas Gregston and Emily Blau? Por favor! And all the way over in California we have returning all-stars Matt Cooper and Midge Cross. These two are leading together for their second year, and will find themselves surfing in the Pacific Ocean, exploring the back-country of Yosemite, and maybe even indulging in some Ghirardelli chocolate in San Francisco on our California Mountains & Coast trip! And without further ado…
Thomas Gregston was born and raised in New Hampshire’s beautiful Mount Washington Valley. Growing up so close to the White Mountains with his parents and older brother, Thomas spent his free time roaming the trails – whether hiking or mountain biking. In fact, Thomas served as the Captain of his high school mountain biking team, and competed four times in the 24-Hour Great Glen Bike Race! Thomas is a rising Senior at Colby College where he studies Physics and Classical Civilization. In the case of an emergency, Thomas is definitely the one you want to call! On campus, Thomas is a Community Advisor (Colby’s version of Resident Advisor) and an EMT through Colby’s Emergency Response team. He also acts as a mentor and supervisor for peers and teens at a Waterville, Maine facility that provides local kids with a safe and supportive space during after school hours.Although Thomas is extremely involved on the Colby campus, he has also had plenty of experiences combining a love for learning and travel. Over the past few years, Thomas has traveled to Cuba as a part of a comparative legal studies, the Borderlands between Canada’s Yukon and Alaska for an eight-week archaeological field school, and Guatemala for a week long service project. Thomas is fun, warm, creative, and very much looking forward to working with great Apogee students on our Caribbean Service Adventure (and he speaks Spanish, too!)!
A Los Angeles native, Emily Blau is, to say the least, a world traveler. Emily’s passion for travel was sparked at an early age as Emily and her parents traveled every summer to Denmark to visit friends, and from there they explored other countries, including Russia, Estonia, Italy, and Finland. These trips were nothing short of cultural immersions as they stayed in local homes, hostels, and campgrounds rather than hotels. Emily’s love for travel coincided perfectly with her love for learning as she participated in an organization called Adventures in Learning, which takes elementary school students and their family on educational trips throughout the US. Along the way, the group learns about history, geology, ecology, and human geography. Her travels didn’t stop there. In fact, by the time Emily was 20, she had traveled to all seven continents. And as a 2015 graduate of Dickinson College, it is no surprise that Emily graduated with a degree in International Studies with a focus on Globalization and Sustainability. Emily also has a passion for giving back, and making a difference in her community as well as acting as foreign aid. Emily has participated in community service trips to Dominica, Senegal, and Indonesia. For the past few years, Emily has interned for the Natural Resources Defense Council and worked for as Congresswoman Janice Hahn’s environmental intern. Emily is the perfect person to pitch in with our Apogee students on our Caribbean Service Adventure this summer.
Hailing from from Sewickley, Pennsylvania, Apogee alum Matt Cooper is a rising Senior at Boston University where he is studying Bio-Medical Engineering and is enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program. Matt comes from a very close-knit family, and spent much of his time in high school lifeguarding and volunteering for a Pittsburgh-based organization called the Center for Hope, where he helped tutor and mentor underprivileged youth. At BU, Matt is arguably one of the most involved students on campus. Matt is a member of the Triathlon team, he works in a neuroscience lab, and he serves on the board of a campus-based community service group that focuses on giving back to the greater Boston area. On top of all of this, Matt has found time to create and run a group called Boston University Baja which designs and manufactures single seat, off-road vehicles and compete with them on a national level. When Matt is able to relax away from his BU commitments, he loves to be outside and chase his adventurous side! He is a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, and he used his certification to explore some beautiful areas around the Florida Keys. Matt is sure to inspire his Apogee students this summer on his California Mountains & Coast trips this summer!
An ebullient Environmental Science and Philosophy double major at Tufts University, returning leader Mary “Midge” Cross is thrilled to spend another summer with Apogee on our California Mountains & Coast trips. Midge grew up in rural Minnesota, “running around in cornfields and playing lots of ice hockey.” When it came time to think about college, she decided to leave the cornfields of Minnesota and head east to Boston. At Tufts, Midge takes part in a multitude of activities, from her involvement with BEATS, Tufts’ street percussion group, to leading trips for Tufts Mountain Club – a student run organization the coordinates outdoor trips for Tufts students. Additionally, Midge is a second year trip leader for Tufts’ Wilderness Orientation program for incoming freshmen. Midge spent the spring of 2015 studying and exploring in Ghana where she followed her passions for culture and music. While in Ghana, Midge focused on cultural transformation studies, and learned more about Ghanaian drumming and dance; Her Ghanaian musical skills definitely come in handy back at Tufts where Midge is an integral part of a West African music and dance ensemble. This summer, her trips are sure to once again be filled with delicious meals cooked over camp stoves, bonfires, and lots of games on and off the trails (including Mafia – her favorite!). And we can only assume that Midge is going to get her Apogee students singing and making beats with her through the backcountry of Yosemite.