Student Profiles


Polly McAdam '14

Springvale, Maine

Polly had decided at a young age that she wasn't going to be a farmer. Before coming to College of the Atlantic, Polly, who grew up in a farming family, thought she had different aspirations. Through taking courses focusing on economics and agriculture, she gained different perceptions of farming. As she developed an understanding of its many facets, she began to see more possibilities for herself in the field.

Learning at COA
For an independent study, Polly looked at language immersion programs at COA and other institutions, focusing in particular on COA's Yucatan Program, for which she was a teaching assistant. She studied ways to expand the program, learned about intercultural education, and was able to connect with faculty members. She created a proposal for a program focusing on a different student demographic with different goals, which might run in the summer of 2014.

The Significance of Self-Direction
My classes made me realize what I value. I've been able to follow threads between all my courses, and further explore one idea while learning something else. Self-direction means that rather than you having to conform to the rubric of a school, you fit the school into your own goals.

The Unexpected
Polly has felt her leadership qualities emerge as an upperclassman. She hadn't seen herself as a leader before, but was given the opportunity to take more leadership roles at COA.

Being an upperclassman requires being a leader. I was bestowed the role of caring from older students. I'm surprised at how much I've grown as a person through being here, not just in an academic way, and not just in my beliefs, but in being comfortable with myself. COA has enabled me to try things outside my comfort zone.

The Role of Human Ecology
Human Ecology will make me think more about what's important to me and my life, rather than what people tell me is important. It has helped me to find value in seemingly valueless things.

Participating in the Yucatan Program was the first time I learned another language and interacted with a culture in a different way. I had the chance to interact with different belief systems, and work with people who have a different framework of thought. It's when the idea of Human Ecology first started clicking. I realized Human Ecology is mostly about perspective, having to take into account the perspectives around you and who the stakeholders are in the decisions you make.

Examples of Polly's work

(Astrogymnastics from Polly McAdam on Vimeo.)Animation I Final Project



pmcadam_student_profile_soilsPolly's diagram for Soils