During his first year at Richmond, Colin Cardwell, '12, noticed a serious lack of nature in his life. While the Colorado native decided that a business degree would be applicable to nearly anything, he didn’t want to lose his passion for the environment.

Cardwell was able to pursue that passion in Earth Lodge, a nature-focused living-learning program that he participated in during his sophomore year. He became the resident assistant his junior year, and is now helping to teach part of the program.

“[Earth Lodge] was the reason I began to really feel at home at Richmond,” Cardwell says. “The professor was incredible, and it was all about the nexus of nature and technology. We went to the river, the Blue Ridge Mountains — and from that point on, I really started to enjoy myself on campus.”

The Earth Lodge program focuses primarily on geography and how it plays a role in nature. In the past, the program also featured a literary aspect, so Cardwell and his roommate are starting a book club with the other students to cover many of the same books.

One of Cardwell’s favorite memories at the University happened his sophomore year with Earth Lodge. “There was supposed to be a meteor shower that night, and all of the lodgers wanted to go see it,” Cardwell says. “We texted our professor and said we would like to go, but were worried about making it to our 9 a.m. Earth Lodge class the next morning.”

To accommodate the class, the professor decided to change the time from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. so that everyone could watch the meteor shower together. 

“How often does that happen in academia?” Cardwell says. “It was a truly unique memory in my time at Richmond.”

Next year, he will take his business expertise to Deloitte Consulting's Federal Practice office, after an internship with the company last summer resulted in a job offer. He will be working with federal agencies to help troubleshoot and improve efficiency as he rotates through different positions.

While he may be trading Earth Lodge for an office, Cardwell isn’t finished with the great outdoors yet. He hopes to one day combine his interests and start a sustainability firm.

“I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to get all this knowledge and to obtain everything I can from the people who are at the top of their industry,” Cardwell says. “And hopefully [I can] learn from that and someday make a difference.”