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Claire Drake selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2021 graduating class

Posted May 10, 2021

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Interview: Claire Drake, Outstanding Student

Outstanding Student Award Reception presentation

Claire Drake of Saint Paul has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Drake is one of 10 Metropolitan State students recognized at the President’s Outstanding Student Award Reception on May 1, 2021. President’s Outstanding Student Award recipients are nominated by their professors and advisers and selected based on their academic excellence, community service, academic innovation in the educational program and professional achievement.

Drake graduates summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree, focusing in outdoor leadership and education, from the university’s College of Individualized Studies. She is one of 1,018 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 108th commencement exercises, which will be celebrated with an online ceremony on May 8, 2021.

“My goal at starting at Metropolitan State was to develop connections within their supportive community, pursue courses that provide me the growth and knowledge I need after graduation, and develop a degree plan that focuses on my individualized passions and pursuits,” Drake said. She enrolled concurrently at Metropolitan State’s College of Individualized Studies and at Saint Paul College’s Sign Language Interpreting/Transliterating program. “I chose Metro State because I knew that they would allow me the authority to take control of my educational journey and develop a niche degree that fulfills these passions and provides me the toolkit I need to succeed after graduation. The many resources Metropolitan State has provided me with include the ability to individualize my learning in specialized topics that fit my focus through Student Designed Independent Studies (SDIS). This helped me discover a further passion under the umbrella of outdoor leadership, in addressing the failures and limitations of this community in amplifying the voices of those non-dominant communities who are alienated from this industry, particularly People of Color and women.

“I've been consistently embraced where I'm at from the faculty and community members of Metropolitan State University. The community of Metro State has supported me, understood the complexity of life factors that interrupt life as a college student, and been willing to work with me to inhibit these factors as much as possible so I could achieve my goals.”

Drake transferred to Metropolitan State after studying at Saint Paul College and St. Cloud State University in the PSEO program. The PSEO, or Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, allows high school and home-schooled juniors and seniors to earn both high school and college credit for courses completed through a college or university. It is a great way for students to try out the college experience, take courses outside of the usual high school offerings, and save time and money in the process.

“I studied as a PSEO student at St. Cloud State University in my last two years of high school and completed the first part of the Sign Language Interpreting Program at Saint Paul College during my freshman and sophomore years of college,” she explains.

At Metropolitan State, Drake was active in student life, participating in the American Sign Language and Environmental clubs on campus and working at the Food for Thought Pantry and Student Parent Center. “This was an incredible opportunity to be more involved in the campus community and the unique ways that Metropolitan State University supports its students,” Drake said.

Drake remains active with painting, piano, and everything outdoors related. She currently lives in the Lowry Park neighborhood of Minneapolis and is employed at Sebastian Joe's in Uptown Minneapolis. Following graduation, she plans to look for opportunities that allow her to connect others with the natural world through experiential and environmental education. She especially hopes to find opportunities that focus on expanding outdoor leadership and environmental education with a unique understand of the communities that have been alienated and marginalized by the outdoor industry due to race, gender, sexuality, etc.

“I’ve been encouraged to explore my passions, potential, and ways that I can incorporate learning in these topics,” Drake says. “Above all, Metro has expanded my worldview and my view of learning as a whole. I am beyond excited to complete my time at Metro with an understanding of lifelong learning that will be transformative in every aspect of my life beyond graduation.”