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Family pride makes college a good fit

Niece honors a pioneering distant relative

Posted: June 21, 2009 10:17 p.m.
Updated: June 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Amanda Muir earned her degree in international studies from John Muir College, which was named after her great-great-great uncle, naturalist John Muir .

Amanda Muir is proud of her great-great-great uncle, naturalist John Muir, because his independent spirit.

"The thing he did best was take his passions and run with them," said 22-year-old Amanda Muir.

It's something the Valencia resident thinks others can learn from too.

"Take your passion and don't let anything stop you," she advises.

Amanda Muir, a Valencia resident since the age of 16, earned her degree in international studies earlier this month from John Muir College, located at University of California San Diego.

Throughout her four years, Muir served as a resident advisor and vice president of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, she said.

"I really got involved with the college," Amanda Muir said.

The experience has allowed her to not only learn about John Muir, but also about her surroundings, she said.

Scotland-born John Muir was a naturalist and writer who founded the Sierra Club in 1892, according to John Muir College.

John Muir is often remembered as a strong supporter of wildlife conservation and his writings. His philosophy of conservation was formed after hiking many miles through Yosemite and the High Sierra.

John Muir died in 1914 at the age of 77, according to the college's online biography.

Each year, the college hosts a "John Muir Week" to celebrate the naturalist's birthday and his legacy, said Christine Clark, communications specialist for UC San Diego.

Along with the celebrations and events for students, much of the focus is on sustainability and the environment.

For the past four years, Amanda Muir has cut the cake for John Muir's birthday cake as part of the week.

The college also marked its 40th anniversary of John Muir College in 2008 and Muir was on hand to help.

"Any program that they would put on, I would do my best to go," Amanda Muir said.

Outside of school, Muir travels to Yosemite National Park with her family frequently, which she considers the most tangible memory of John Muir.

While Amanda Muir grew up learning about her relative's life, studying at John Muir College allowed her to expand her knowledge.

"I did really learn a lot more when I went to college," she said.

She ended up teaching her family about John Muir as well, she said.

Amanda Muir ultimately plans to be a human-rights lawyer, but will stay put in San Diego for a year before studying abroad in Europe, she said.

She didn't initially plan to study at John Muir College and applied for multiple California colleges after high school.

She soon began researching UC San Diego and found a connection to the school.

"It fit perfectly with me," she said.


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