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Fellow Profile: Rory O’Hollaren, DS ’18
February 12, 2021

By fellow Meadow Kinder

Thoreau College’s second fellow cohort includes Deep Springs College alumni Rory O’Hollaren (DS’18), Levi Freedman (DS’18), and Sean Coomey (DS’19). It is exciting to have them here because Thoreau College was born from the virtues of the Nunnian education that is the core of Deep Springs ideas.

In 2020, Thoreau offered two semester-long options: one for students and the second for fellows. While the student program was group-focused, the fellowship was more of an independent internship with an emphasis on continuing education in inner development, leadership, and collaboration with a group of peers.

After finishing Deep Springs, Rory decided to take a year off before going back to college. She joined Levi in Viroqua, who was working at Youth Initiative as the teaching intern. She expected to get a job as an EMT here, but ended up immersing herself in small projects for Thoreau College: writing the annual report, designing postcards and printed newsletters, as well as other outreach and administrative work. She became more deeply involved via larger projects such as creating the Driftless Folk School Catalog with Sean, co-teaching a philosophy seminar with Levi, and establishing a new flock of sheep. Rory already had livestock knowledge from her time at Deep Springs —in fact, she held the same position that Jacob Hundt did twenty years ago when he attended Deep Springs, both cowboys!

Rory appreciates what Nunnian education has offered her and the different education institutions that are leading the way for eager students that won’t settle for the present education status quo. It’s hard to compare Deep Springs and Thoreau since one is in it’s second semester and the other is a hundred years old. Each school inspires different people to apply and they’re located in very different places, Deep Springs being in a private valley and Thoreau College in a small town in Wisconsin with spread out residences. Thoreau is being built right now, whereas Deep Springs is already an established program.

From her semester at Thoreau, Rory has come to love Nunnian education and the role it plays in enriching young adults’ lives even more. In the future, she hopes to possibly come back to Thoreau, work for another Nunnian educational program, or maybe even start her own Nunnian-inspired program like Jacob did!

(Photo: T.C. fellows Rory O’Hollaren, Sean Coomey, and Levi Freedman and Sidie Hollow park at the start of the spring 2021 semester)