24-Hour Challenge results graphic
for the incredible outpouring of love and support!

Our community truly stepped up, contributing hundreds of gifts over the course of the day. We exceeded our goal of $100,000 to unlock an additional $100,000 in matching gifts for a grand total of $232,681!!!

In addition to the funds raised, hearing from so many friends, alumnx, and parents made the whole day feel like a true community celebration of COA.

Missed it, but still want to make a gift? Donate here.

Be sure to save the date for next year’s challenge on February 6, 2024.

The 24-Hour Challenge is COA’s annual giving day, during which our entire community—students, alumnx, faculty, staff, parents, family, and friends—joins together to ensure the future of COA.

Gifts to the 24-Hour Challenge support COA’s Annual Fund, which provides critical funding for countless aspects of the COA experience, including student scholarships and financial aid, field-based coursework, and upgrades to campus facilities. A gift of any size makes a big difference. Thanks in advance!

Your gift to COA supports interdisciplinary, experiential education.

Adam FeherAdam Feher ’23He/him, Cleveland, Ohio
“I’ve always been someone who sees things beyond what they are at face value. To me, the value of a COA education is being able to incorporate these perceptions into your work and to connect what initially may have seemed disconnected.

It’s important for society at large to have people who can understand a topic through multiple lenses. COA’s self-directed major has allowed me to study through multiple lenses, and it has expanded my horizons and opportunities exponentially. I feel confident with the education I’ve had here that I’m able to utilize these opportunities.

My focus at COA has been on environmental science and environmental health, specifically looking at water and chemistry. I’ve taken some classes in geographic information systems, Spanish, philosophy, and a few other subjects just to make sure that I’m as well-rounded as I can be, and also to engage with some of my other interests.

I decided to come to COA because I wanted the flexibility and freedom that the school offers. I knew that I would be involved in the sciences, but I also knew that I also didn’t want just science. I wanted the ability to understand how humans work themselves. And I really wanted to be in this beautiful, unique location, which is full of possibilities. One of the major benefits of COA is the size of the school; it has allowed for connections and opportunities far beyond what I would have been able to make at other schools. The fact that from day one I was taking classes taught by seasoned faculty that are deeply involved with their field has been incredible to me.

As someone who has had the majority of my time at COA be impacted by COVID, being in such a small institution has helped to create a sense of community, even despite having to be far apart for a lot of the time. The need to stick together in such a remote place that is so special to all of us really came through. I was also an RA for two years during this time, working directly with students, and I gained invaluable experiences that I will carry forward forever. That experience was a very important part of my COA career, and it shaped me into who I am.”

Ilham SantosoIlham Santoso ’24
He/him, Bojonegoro, East Java, Indonesia

Ilham Santoso ’24 is passionate about the “science of where.” After arriving at COA with an interest in biology and chemistry and spending a year immersed in those sciences, he found himself uncertain about that academic direction. He was looking for something different, but couldn’t quite define what that was. All of that uncertainty changed, however, when he took Gordon Longsworthy’s Geographic Information Systems course during his second year at COA. The minute GIS started coming into focus for him, it was almost as if a lightbulb went off.

“I felt deeply drawn into the design and mapping aspects of GIS as extremely effective ways of understanding place,” he says. “It felt like the opposite of learning science, where you get everything based on textbooks or journals and try to recreate those processes. GIS was all about using the information that is already in front of us as a gateway to broaden our sense of where we are—what I call the ‘science of where.’”

Santoso was drawn deeper into the science of where when he took Dru Colbert’s Graphic Design II and Sarah Hall’s Geology of Mount Desert Island. Understanding things like bedrock and water flow and how to communicate about them in clear, visual terms became essential as his passion for city planning came into focus.

“When people ask me, ‘What is human ecology?’ I explain that I’m studying an urban design that seeks to understand the biology of a place, the ecology of a place, the sociology of a place—in order to create a better future,” he says. “When you study human ecology, and understand and integrate all of these different perspectives, you get a broader, and better, view of how complex a situation is and how it can best be approached.”

Utilizing his mapping and design skills, Santoso took on an internship with the City of Auburn as assistant to the planner during his third year at COA. He found the work there energizing and fulfilling, but the political side of city planning gave him some pause, he says. “I loved making maps and helping with public engagement, and the focus on what would be best for the city in the future, but the polarized reaction from the community on some of our ideas felt really stressful and difficult. Working in such a political place was hard to jump into right out of the classroom,” he says.

More recently, Santoso’s focus on urban planning has taken on a new aspect, with the introduction of remote sensing. This technique joins science, mapping, and coding to create new and more holistic ways to understand place. It was while he was taking computer science professor Laurie Baker’s Introduction to Programming and Computing course that he first heard about remote sensing. “And that’s when I realized, ‘Oh wow, combining urban planning, photography, mapping, and remote sensing brings together all of the things that make me feel alive.’ Remote sensing is definitely something I want to explore more.” 

Rosie Chater

Rosie Chater ’25
She/her, Falkland Islands

Science, art, boating, and natural history combine and react together as integral parts of Rosie Chater ’25’s self-directed educational path at College of the Atlantic. Chater is equally at home at on the deck of COA research vessel M/V Osprey, dissecting marine mammals in the campus biology lab, banding birds for research—or using oil paints to capture their portraits—at COA Alice Eno Field Research Station on Great Duck Island, or spending hours sketching owl skeletons at COA Dorr Museum of Natural History. Her wide circle of interests and pursuits allows for new perspectives, surprising connections, and deep insights, she says. “I really love integrating my visual art into the science that I do, and the other way around. Observing through art forces you to see things that you wouldn’t normally see, while examining the specific components of something scientifically influences art by opening your eyes to what can’t be seen.”

Approaching education from an interdisciplinary perspective comes naturally to Chater. Her path to COA also seems organic and natural—her mom, Kim Chater ’88, loved her time at COA and often spoke highly of her college experience, during which she worked as station manager at COA Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock.

“I always heard her talk about things like The Rock and Allied Whale, and being able to do boating things, and art things, and science things all in one go, how that’s what COA is, and I was like, ‘That sounds awesome.’ And then she was also able to get what would be my dream job afterward, and I thought, ‘Well, if you can do what you did, and then get that awesome job, why would I not want to do it?’”

After two summers doing field work on Great Duck and The Rock, countless hours on sailboats and Osprey in Frenchman Bay, and fascinating courses in everything from painting to oceanography and geology, Chater isn’t so sure anymore what her dream job would be; or, more precisely, she may have too many dream jobs at this point.

“Now that I’m here, I want to do everything and I want, like, every job,” Chater says. “The human ecology thing where it’s one degree and you can focus where you want to under it was one of the main reasons I came here, because there’s so many options and because I like to do everything. I like all the options. And I think for the good of the world, maybe everyone should see it that way. People are not just one thing.”

College of the Atlantic is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.