Alumni Spotlight: Gabe Lewis


Gabe grew up surrounded by redwood forests along the Pacific North Coast in Arcata, California, before spending four years on the East Coast at Williams College, where he graduated in 2013. As a geology and physics double major, he researched glaciology and classical mechanics. Inspiration from his geology field camp in New Zealand, inspired him to commence a PhD at Dartmouth College in 2014 after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Gabe studied in New Zealand from January-June in 2012 with Frontiers Abroad, then helped teach this program during his year off in 2014.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Because of the skills and information I learned with the Frontiers Abroad program during field camp, I decided to write a senior thesis on the disappearance of permafrost in the Front Range of Colorado, which then inspired me to begin a PhD in glaciology at Dartmouth College.

In New Zealand we practiced taking notes and making observations in the field, writing literature reviews and funding proposals, giving presentations, and even working towards publishing a few scientific papers. Had I not traveled with Frontiers Abroad, I don't think I ever would have chosen the career path that I currently find myself on.

What was the best place you visited outside of your home-base city?

During a long weekend in New Zealand, a few friends and I decided to hike the Milford Track, notoriously rated one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. We found ourselves hiking through a spectacular 5,000 ft canyon with glaciers and waterfalls on all sides, beautiful swimming holes all around us, and even a few hours of sunshine to create rainbows in the mist. We stayed in huts with dozens of other hikers and spent every night playing cards around the fireplace, sipping wine in our onsies, and swapping stories with travelers from around the world.

Describe a goal you set and how you went about accomplishing it.

When I first arrived in Christchurch, I made it a goal to get out and explore the countryside of New Zealand every single weekend. I accomplished this by purchasing a car with three other friends, who joined me on expeditions backpacking, white water kayaking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, surfing, skiing, and touring different vineyards. We managed to see most of the South Island during our semester, encountering some beautiful rural locations and mind-blowing towns next to the ocean.

Do you think your program changed you as a person?

After living independently in New Zealand for a semester, I felt more prepared to enter the real world after college with confidence and the wherewithal to succeed in both the Alaskan backcountry and the middle of New York City. I learned how to navigate a foreign land safely and efficiently, travel around the country using public transportation, and get along with types of people from all walks of life.