Sam McAlesse

Sam McAlesse

Hometown: Columbus, Ind.

Major: Philosophy, with a minor in environmental policy and culture

Key Ingredient: Visited Peru, Chile, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Tanzania and South Africa on a Circumnavigators Club grant to learn how countries work to preserve and manage their national parks

Favorite class: One of my favorites was a history of opera class I took on a whim my junior year. I'm from rural Indiana, and we don't have opera there. I had only heard the Looney Tunes version of Marriage of Figaro. Now I go to the Lyric Opera every couple months. My favorite classes have been the ones that are completely different from anything I've ever done before.

Your search for adventure: Last year I got into orienteering. You get a map and you have to navigate and make your own way. I compete in forest preserves all over Chicago and the Midwest. Getting lost in the middle of the night in the backwoods of Indiana is one of the most liberating things you can do.

Favorite Northwestern hangout: I like the Great Room a lot. It reminds me of Harry Potter — it's kind of castle-y. And the food's not bad.

Dream job: To be a doctor working in the Haitis of the world or rural China, where there's so much environmental damage that really hurts the people there. I'd like to work on the ground with these communities, developing sustainable environmental practices that will ultimately eliminate threats to human health.