Janelle “Nellie” Bashant, Dorm Parent, decided in high school that if some lofty life goals were to be met, some demanding work would be needed. Accepting this challenge to live a life not lived by most, she pushed to finish a bachelor’s degree in biology one year early from SUNY Oneonta, NY, and moved to South Africa for graduate work in wildlife management from the University of Pretoria. After her studies, Nellie flew to Namibia to teach a semester abroad to college students. Her twenties were filled with many worldly experiences, such as being fortunate enough to study nocturnal African carnivores, track rhino, talk with Himba tribal people, search for elephants, endure long and dusty desert roads, live with foreign language speakers, play football in Swaziland, rescue a foreign dog, and just plain old roam freely and happily.
Eventually, Nellie began realizing how amazing it would be if more people like herself would teach and foster this deep sense of personal belonging somewhere you feel free; to actively listen to young adults in their quest to set their goals and to give them the tools they need to start to accomplish them. From outdoor science education in New England to exotic animal outreach in Arkansas to teaching nature classes in New York and life skills in Florida, she is excited to call New Hampshire her new home. All these experiences have allowed for a unique perspective on doing things your own way, successfully. That’s what drew Nellie to Oliverian; a place just as unique as its students, and herself. Most likely found in interesting outfits and outdoors, head to the sky, still wandering.
What do you love most about Oliverian?
“I love that Oliverian embraces a multitude of diversities in terms of faculty, staff and student life experiences and not just educational backgrounds. I feel that this aspect is key in fostering a positive and nurturing boarding school life, as everyone is so passionate about what they love, discover, and try, and this is really inspiring and motivating for everyone, not just the students.”
What motivates you to work with kids?
“From a purely biological standpoint, I see humans as a species that is trying very hard to cope with their rapidly changing environment and thus society. I feel that it is the youth that really hold the key to the future successes of the world. It is very motivational to be around kids in general, as feeding off of their unique views and perspectives leads to a more holistic approach to solving some big world issues. The young, the old, and everyone in between should be considered huge assets in our forever-changing world, but I do believe that the solutions to the problems humans have created are only to be solved if we work as one. Kids have the drive and the imagination, and to sit with any child for five minutes will motivate anyone to want a better future for everyone, and that is why I work with kids.”