Looking Back on Leadership: Sia Tortorelis

Sia Tortorelis is a 2019 spring graduate from Edina, Minnesota. She majored in biology and was involved with Alpha Chi Omega, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, College of Education student ambassadors, and UI Gardeners.

Tell us about your role in UI Gardeners:

When I started in Gardners, I was thrown into the hydroponics committee, which was really fun. I didn’t know a lot about hydroponics and I’m honestly still learning. With that, I was on the committee and in charge of taking a day and checking the water levels. As I became more involved in the organization, I ran for communications coordinator, where I did all the graphics for our social media, sent out our emails every week, our meeting minutes, and any other events that might pop up that people were welcome to go to.

What are your plans after graduation and how has your experience in Gardeners prepared you?

Immediately after graduation, I’m getting my masters in teaching here at Iowa and going into the teaching field hopefully. One of the things I did in Gardeners was making the graphics for our social media, so going into teaching this will help me create visuals for my students. I think visual learning is so helpful, especially in biology where you want to see the inside of a cell. Sending out professional emails is something I’ve really developed with being the communications coordinator for Gardeners. Being able to email parents, and administrative staff — my knowledge will come in handy with that.

What do you love most about Iowa? What are you going to miss most when you leave?

I love the small town feel of it. One of the things I was looking for in a college was a true college town. I’m from a suburb of Minneapolis, so I’m always in the “big city.” I think it’s really nice to have all of your friends so close together and everything is walkable and close. That’s definitely something I’ll miss.

How has the rest of your time at Iowa prepared you for real life?

I think I’ve just become more myself. I think a lot of people say college is a time for growth and figuring out who you are. For me, I joke that I’ve been kind of stagnant, and I am the same person as I was in high school. But I’m just more myself and more at the forefront. I’ve really realized my likes and dislikes and what I actually stand for.

Favorite memory from your time in Gardeners?

One of my favorite memories from Gardeners was when we made the vermiposting bins, which are little compost bins using worms that you can just keep on your countertop. I really enjoyed it because it was something I hadn’t thought was possible as a college student living in my apartment. Especially for those living in the dorms as well. That was just really cool and really hands-on, which I think is a really fun part of the gardeners. That was one of my favorite memories.

What will you miss most about Gardeners?

Just being around people that have the same passion for sustainability and the environment as myself. I wasn’t involved with Gardeners until about halfway through my sophomore year. It was definitely something I had been missing so it was really nice to have people around me that had those same values. That’s definitely something I’ll miss.

What advice do you have for current juniors about their last year at Iowa?

Take advantage of everything. Keep focused on school, absolutely, but at the same time, recognize that these are some of your last days with certain people and your last opportunities to go and see things around campus. Try to branch out, go to the showcase that goes on every year that you didn’t get the chance to go to before. Really take advantage of all the things that living in a college town has to offer.

What are some things you hope to accomplish in your future career?

Obviously, I’d love to be a teacher. With that, some of my goals are to have classes outside and to really engage students with environmentalism and sustainability. I’d love to create a student garden at whatever school I end up at and maybe expand that to community gardens with my students.