Graduate School

Kristcha DeGuerre '14

Kristcha DeGuerre '14 of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., applied to five graduate programs. She was accepted into each and every one of them.

While the graduate school application process can be difficult – and oftentimes confusing – DeGuerre credits MCLA's Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) with her successful navigation of the process.

"My experience with CSSE was one of the most important aspects of my graduate school applications," she said. "The best thing about CSSE is how helpful they were. If I had any questions, they would always help me find the answer. They were there if I needed them during every step in the application process."

In addition to the help she got from CSSE, DeGuerre explained, "I have always been a serious student who worked hard on my grades. Additionally, I spent a lot of time on volunteer work and service learning to build my curriculum vitae."

DeGuerre graduated from MCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. She minored in social work. For her Master's of Social Work degree, she selected Colorado's University of Denver because of the adventure – and the scholarship – that campus offered her.

Interested in the theoretical aspects of psychology and the real world application of clinical social work, DeGuerre aspires to build a private practice where she works with teenagers and children who have experienced trauma.

She loved her experience as a psychology student at MCLA.

"My professors were always supportive and acted as mentors to me. I always knew I could look to my professors for help when I needed it. I enjoyed how the professors made an effort to get to know you.

"My classes were always interesting and insightful, and have helped me navigate through my graduate school courses," DeGuerre continued. "I had the opportunity to take a multitude of psychology and social work classes that were of interest to me."

At the core of her MCLA education were opportunities to serve as a youth mentor with MCLA's Center for Service for the Adams Youth Center, a travel study course to Ireland, and an Alternative Spring Break to Belize, where she provided service to residents in need.

"These activities pushed me outside of my comfort zone and expanded my perspective. I believe that classroom learning is important, but outside classroom learning is as equally important," DeGuerre explained. "I was exposed to new cultures, activities and knowledge."

A transfer student from a local community college, DeGuerre is glad she chose MCLA.

"When I visited MCLA on admissions tour, it just felt like the right place for me. I really loved how MCLA has a small community of students. It creates such a great atmosphere."

She continued, "I enjoyed how you could walk through campus and recognize everyone you see. I enjoyed the small classroom sizes that promoted professors to get to know you. The connections that I have made at MCLA have been life-changing."

With her first semester in graduate school well underway, DeGuerre said MCLA best prepared her by helping her to develop her interests and passions.

"Without that, I wouldn't have known what I wanted to go to graduate school for. If I had not developed these interests at MCLA, I probably would have not gone to graduate school," she said.

"MCLA will change your life in so many amazing ways. The students will make connections at the College that will last them a lifetime. MCLA has so many wonderful opportunities for students to take advantage of – whether it be academic, travel, sports or clubs. One of the best choices that I have ever made was to join the MCLA community."

Since he graduated from MCLA in 2013, Max Roman Dilthey has amassed more than five million readers through his cycling, hiking and backpacking website,, and with online publications his writing has appeared in, such as The Solar Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and
Because of this work, Dilthey, who double majored in English and environmental studies at MCLA, recently won the 2016 New England Outdoor Writing Association's Award.
"I write about things that mean a lot to me, and I think anyone can connect with someone's experience if the story they're telling is meaningful and honest," Dilthey said.
"I think it's great that a lot of my work resonates with people. I especially love the community on my site, where I have regular readers who comment and tell me what they think about my articles. That feedback really makes me want to write more and more," he added.
Dilthey originally planned to major in art. He switched to English after a positive experience in a writing course. Then, during his sophomore year, he became "hooked" on biology after taking a course to fulfill a science prerequisite, and ended up adding the environmental studies major soon after.
"I don't think I'd have picked either of these majors if I wasn't inspired by the courses and professors at MCLA," Dilthey said.
Now a graduate student in the Sustainability Science program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he is completing his master's degree and beginning work on his Ph.D., Dilthey's many activities include working with a team of Ph.D. students and faculty to co-author a paper on adaptation and mitigation for climate change resilience in coastal environments.
Dilthey also teaches his own class," Sustainable Living: Solutions for the 21st Century," a four-credit course for first-year UMass students.
In addition, he's working with the Residential Academic Programs Office to develop new connections for first-year students and programming partners across the University of Massachusetts system as they create a general education course on life at college.
"I push the benefits and importance of a diverse, rich, and multifaceted education to my students any chance I get, using my time at MCLA as an example of the power of interdisciplinary learning. I am immensely proud of our school, and I am lucky to have started there. I would not be here without MCLA," he said.
In fact, Dilthey finds himself spending a good deal of time telling students about the benefits of his experiences at MCLA, such as how they can find opportunities in clubs and the value of  learning from a diverse selection of classes.
Dilthey, whose writing also is featured in Adventure Cycling and Bikepackers magazines, discovered his love for camping, hiking and backpacking during his senior year through the MCLA Outdoors Club. There, he learned everything he needed to know to eventually lead trips himself. The experience, he said, was "transformative."
At UMass, Dilthey said he has one of the strongest backgrounds in environmental law among others in his department. "MCLA taught me that the courses outside of your major or focus can sometimes be the most valuable to your career. 
He recommends MCLA – and the English and environmental sciences programs, in particular – to prospective students.
"Both of these degrees are absolutely as rigorous and comprehensive as degrees from other colleges, and I have never once felt underprepared for my career and graduate school. I know a lot of my peers that graduated with me would say the same thing," Dilthey said. "Our entire group is doing amazing things, and we're all still connected because of the sense of community we had at MCLA."

Copyright 2015 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts