Alumni Profiles

Dana Henderson, BA Interdisciplinary Studies, 2009 Dana_Henderson

When the Buddhist lama walked into Dana Henderson's northern California sangha and asked what Henderson was doing with her life, she said "meandering." Evidently, the lama saw potential for more and put her in touch with a former Naropa employee. One road trip and an application later, Henderson arrived in Boulder to study Writing & Poetics, Religious Studies and Gender/Women's Studies.

Philosophy and foreign language also call to Henderson, who is fascinated by nearly all subjects within the humanities and wouldn't be afraid to add them to her already crowded academic plate. "I was first attracted to INTD as a major because it allowed me to transgress the boundaries of one field," she says. "I have always excelled when I can have many different kinds of learning happening simultaneously, and the INTD program allows students to expand their thinking outside of, as well as between, the disciplines. I would tell a prospective student that if they are willing to live creatively, explore/contemplate their inner narrative, deeply engage in scholarly research and form a strong foundation for their undergraduate education, then INTD is a good place to be."

Henderson graduated in spring 2009, and hopes to work with globally oriented nonprofit organizations that address "women's rights as human rights." In the meantime, she praises the department's organizational structure. "The faculty are exceptional teachers," she says, "And I have always felt encouraged to stretch my boundaries through action and contemplation." It's a habit she intends to keep.

Amelia Charles, BA Interdisciplinary Studies, 2007

Amelia Charles has never been timid about stepping outside her comfort zone, and she wasn't interested in being corralled by a typical major either. Rather than go to school in Massachusetts, where she lived in an English colonial village dating to the 17th century, she opted for something "much different from the rural New England culture" she loved. Arriving in 2003, she considered Colorado an "arid, urban environment" where an undergrad could study horticulture. Before long, her interests overflowed into four departments
of study.

Charles combined work in Peace Studies, Religious Studies and Environmental Studies with a minor in Writing and Literature. And today, she's putting them all into practice as an English teacher and editor for an English-language newspaper in Khartoum, Sudan—a country in northeastern Africa.

Charles felt that a concentration in community development, civic engagement and nonprofit management would have been an ideal compliment to her diverse course load and hopes those areas will be emphasized as programs evolve. "I realized," she says, "that if I wanted to study community organizing, which was my primary focus at the end of my second year, INTD was the best way...because of the unique political foundation offered by Buddhism and the general climate of 'contemplative' education. It exposes a student to different faculty and departments, giving me, at least, a better understanding of Naropa as a whole.

"I think having an INTD department is vital...allowing students to design and explore a degree based on their own strengths and interests.... It is a very rewarding department to work in because everything you want to study is at your fingertips, if you know how to find it!"

When her contract in Sudan expires, Charles plans to traverse even more borders by traveling to Western Asia, where she may continue teaching or gain employment with a nongovernmental organization (NGO).