I felt from the start that the faculty and staff have a connection with the students, and they really care about them individually.

Evan Filion sits on a grassy area of campus.
Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

Evan Filion '20 didn't know a lot about Bucknell before he applied, but on his first trip to campus, he saw a place he could make his home.

"I felt it was a really positive atmosphere, and that there was a lot of room for me to make Bucknell my own," says Filion, who has taken that notion to heart in very concrete ways.

Filion has brought a do-it-yourself mindset to his on-campus home in the Sustainability & Innovation Affinity House, where he's converted the back porch to a workshop. Just beyond the shop is a 300-square-foot garden he also installed, and a composting system he's currently working on. Filion is putting his mark on the new campus farm as well, by partnering with Professor Mark Spiro, biology, on a research project that will improve the fertility of its soil.

"I grew up in the Midwest — I lived in a town where the corn festival is more important than the Fourth of July — but I didn't know anything about that community," says Filion, who is from a suburb west of Cleveland, Ohio. "I still haven't worked a tractor, but through this project I feel like I'm becoming part of my community, and it's really cool."

In his academics, too, Filion is shaping his Bucknell experience to fit his ambitions. He came to Bucknell considering a major in cell biology/biochemistry, but soon saw that the College of Engineering offered opportunities for the kind of hands-on learning he craves.

His very first engineering class, for example, asked him to design an educational device to demonstrate a scientific principle. Filion's team chose to illustrate leverage by using a 20-foot lever to lift a 500-pound concrete block. His professor initially hesitated because of the logistics, "but once she realized we were dedicated to doing it, she pulled out all the stops," Filion says. "I realized that if you have something that you're really interested in doing, people are here to help make it happen."

Filion has since changed his major again, this time to environmental geosciences. While he recognizes his path through Bucknell has been circuitous, he says it hasn't been a process of changing his mind. Rather, it's about refining the intellectual interests he's discovered and pursued here.

"Environmental geosciences uses the engineering mindset, but it's all predicated on real-world observations," says Filion, who nurtures a love for outdoor life as a leader for the BuckWild pre-orientation program and member of the Outing Club and Environmental Club. "In an engineering lab, you're working with data that somebody has already collected; in geology, you go out and you get the data, and then you do things with it. And that's so much more satisfying for me."

Filion also notes that his research at the campus farm is not simply a geology project, but an interdisciplinary one that puts to use all of the knowledge he's assembled here. "It has also been an invaluable resource for thinking personally about what I want to work on and direct my energy toward," he adds.

Evan is from Sandusky, Ohio.

Posted November 2018