UNLV students reach out for experience in the summer

There is regular summer school — classrooms, long sessions, a term paper under a tight deadline.

Then there is the other kind of summer school, the one where you get to hike the rainforest, find your future, become a hero.

“I’m studying the travel patterns of backpackers, to really look at the ideology of the group, rather than just the habits,” said Mark Salvaggio, a sociology student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Salvaggio has been on an adventure for the past two months, hiking around Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. His goal: to figure out if the mostly bohemian backpackers who frequent the area change the environment they cherish so much.

You can’t do that in a classroom.

“A university education is not just learning facts,” said Chris Hudgins, UNLV’s dean of the college of liberal arts. “It’s about learning how to work with facts, learning analysis, learning how to think.”

And branching outside your comfort zone by traveling should be a part of that, he said.

“If you only experience the familiar, you’re not really stretching your brain that much,” he said.

Salvaggio, a Ph.D. student in sociology, has been stretching more than just his brain. He’s been backpacking through Central America most of the summer.

Sometimes, he just watches the backpackers. Sometimes, he talks to them, or he visits the hostels they stay in, or he surveys the travelers.

He looks for patterns. He wants to see if the ideology of free-spirited travel lines up with reality, or if it’s just another form of old-fashioned Western tourism that will inevitably change that which is being observed.

Salvaggio, 29, who gets a stipend as a graduate assistant paid for by the university, paid for the trip himself.

He hopes to publish what he finds in his research sometime this fall. The topic will be something like how hostels change with market commercialization, which could have real-world applications later on.

Salvaggio expects to be home this week, just in time for the start of school.

There are many other examples of students traveling over the summer to study something they can’t learn in a classroom: anthropology students on an archaeological dig or living with orangutans in the rainforest; hospitality students working in Europe; a journalism student going to Africa; creative writing students traveling all over the world; a biology student studying at one of the nation’s premier biomedical research facilities.

That last one would be Austin McDonald, 21, who just spent 10 weeks studying some really complicated stuff at Washington University in St. Louis.

Basically, McDonald, a senior in biology, was studying how to switch genes on and off. He originally wanted to be a doctor, but when he discovered biomedical research, he knew that’s what he wanted to do.

“I actually get into it,” he said.

Washington University paid for McDonald’s fellowship, as it does every summer for a group of top students from around the country.

McDonald said studying there was a great experience that reinforced his career choice.

David Ord, a professor at UNLV’s dental school, said a trip several dental students will be taking soon should do the same thing.

About 10 students and two faculty members plan on leaving today for Tonga, a small, island nation in the South Pacific.

“They don’t have a lot of ability there to see everybody who needs care,” Ord said.

He said the students will perform basic procedures — cleaning, fillings, that sort of thing — for free for the mostly rural population. The students pay their own way, he said, but work out of a dental clinic on the nation’s main island that is funded by a philanthropic foundation.

“It’s kind of like a MASH unit,” Ord said.

He said a similar trip last year revealed that toothbrushes are uncommon in the area, and so tooth decay was a major problem. In addition to procedures, education is a main goal.

“The people are incredibly grateful,” he said. “As soon as they hear we’re there, they line up out the door and crowd the building just waiting to get in to see us.”

That kind of appreciation can help the students see how important what they do really is, he said.

And it’s one of the goals of the dental school to produce graduates who will take community service seriously, he said.

Not only now, but for their entire careers.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like