Mariah Porter was born with an instinctive passion for the outdoors. While growing up in Lindon, Utah, she frequently enjoyed hiking, biking, canyoneering, and taking naps on sunny hillsides. After visiting Southern Utah University as a senior in high school, Mariah was impressed by the beautiful campus and engaged professors.
“The faculty and staff seemed to genuinely care about the students and the amount of courses available that interested me as well as the variety of extracurricular activities were also a big factor in my decision to apply,” said Mariah.
Unlike many students, Mariah chose to forge her own path at SUU, pursuing a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Biology, Outdoor Recreation and Psychology. Mariah was encouraged to turn her passion for nature and helping people into a degree and the start of a career.
“I am an advocate for mental health and write a blog in which I candidly talk about my struggles with depression in order to help empower others to speak up about their own struggles, normalize them and shrink the stigma surrounding mental illness,” said Mariah. “I was able to design my own degree to fit my exact interests and needs.”
During her time at the university, Mariah has completed a few different internships working with animals and natural resources including ones at Yellowstone Bear World, Bryce Canyon National Park, and most recently the Dixie National Forest monitoring hawks. She also has journeyed abroad, serving an LDS mission in Japan and spending a semester teaching English to children in Thailand.
After graduation, Mariah’s plans are still in flux. “My only concrete plan at the moment is to spend a few weeks in Southeast Asia right after graduation. After that I'm probably going to spend some time doing seasonal wildlife work until I find something that really catches my passion and sucks me in long term. At some point I will probably pursue a masters in wildlife biology. I'm not too worried about getting where I'm going as fast as I can, I'd rather explore and enjoy the journey.”
The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) is a rigorous degree that allows students to customize and develop a program of study to integrate interests from different disciplines. It emphasizes a broad learning experience and offers students the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary, academically sound, and intentional education directly relevant to the student’s intellectual development and career goals.