Learning Independence In Her Own Backyard
Leona Ahles didn’t have far to drive when she packed up her life and headed off to the University of Idaho. The Moscow native knew writing was her passion, and when it came to finding a quality program, she knew the University in her own backyard was a great fit.
“I knew I was going to college, and I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I just had to become better at it,” says Ahles. “The University of Idaho is such a good school; people forget about that because it’s so accessible.”
Even though she was a hometown girl, her mother and sister encouraged her to live on campus her first year. She liked it so much, she stayed on campus all four and a half years.
“It’s a really great community, and everything’s right there, I loved it so much,” says Ahles, who spent most of her time on campus in the Living and Learning Center. “It makes those 3 a.m. study sessions easier and more fun.”
It’s not just the friends and study buddies that she’ll leave behind. Ahles says everyone she’s met through the University has been kind and supportive, especially her professors. She values the personal attention she received in smaller classrooms and congeniality.
‘The teachers here are incredibly helpful, you can hang out with them and not be intimidated by them,” says Ahles. “ Everyone is so kind.”
As a student, Ahles also joined Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, and worked to plan a “bad poetry” reading and handed out books to children at an elementary school in St. Maries, Idaho.
“It was an amazing experience, and the children were very cute,” says Ahles. “So many of them were so happy to have their own book.”
It wasn’t just academics that kept her busy, Ahles became a conversation partner with a Chinese student who was looking to improve English-speaking skills. Ahles says it was a slow start with the communication barrier, but over the last year–and-a-half, her conversation partner has become an excellent English speaker and Ahles has gained a wider world view.
Looking back on her experience and the people she’s met, Ahles knows already she’s going to miss Moscow and the University. As she finished her last semester, Ahles says she could really see her education fall into place and see the concepts that she learned cross over into different disciplines.
“I definitely learned a lot and the experience helped me become who I am,” says Ahles. “The University did an awesome job in preparing me for the future and everyone was so willing to help.”
With degree in hand, Ahles is looking forward to spending time with her family for the break. With her dream still to become a writer, Ahles is looking for jobs in the publishing industry to get herself set up before she tackles her first novel.
“Most of all, I wanted to be a writer when I was growing up,” says Ahles. “I still want to write, but now I want to be a part of the book process and get involved in publishing.”