This article originally appeared in USC’s Daily Trojan on Feb. 20, 2014
A newly formed club that aims at exploring Southern California’s outdoor wonders through weekend hiking trips has plans to continue fostering relationships between students and professors this semester.
Into the Wild · Professor Brian Bernards (left) hikes with students at Malibu Creek State park as part of the new club, “Peaks and Professors.” – Courtesy of Jack Koppa
Peaks and Professors was formed in September 2013 as a way for students interested in hiking to establish more meaningful relationships with their professors.
Allegra Bishop, president of the club and a sophomore majoring in environmental sciences and health, said professors and students have the opportunity to bond over shared interests while hiking together.
“Even though this is Los Angeles, there are so many students and professors who love getting away in the outdoors,” Bishop said.
Bishop said one of her favorite memories from a trip was learning that a professor had started a satirical paper while he was in college.
Trips are limited to about 15 students to maintain the personal attention, the club’s executive members said. In past trips, both female and male undergraduates and graduates participated in the trip evenly.
Since its inception, the club has organized trips to Los Liones Canyon, the Devil’s Punchbowl and San Gabriel Valley, Bishop said. Several of the locations selected came from suggestions and input from both students and faculty.
Faculty advisor and chemistry professor Rebecca Broyer said that the trips are also beneficial for the professors who often struggle to gauge students’ individual personalities in large lecture classes.
“Trips like these help us communicate outside the normal way of interacting,” Broyer said. “[Professors] have other experiences and knowledge outside of our particular field of expertise, so on trips I can talk to students about studying abroad or my experience working in an art museum.”
Broyer, who has been teaching at the university for four years, said that she sees the program expanding in the future. Currently, faculty members have come from various disciplines across campus, ranging from the biology department to East Asian studies.
“It has a lot of room to grow, and I think it’s different for every faculty member involved,” Broyer said.
The club is looking to expand its trip lengths — all the trips taken last semester were daylong ones. In addition to planning overnight trips in the future, Bishop also said the club is looking to diversify the staff and faculty it works with.
“We’re looking to get more faculty involved,” Bishop said. “We’d love to do a hike with Nikias someday.”
Roshan Jayanti, a sophomore majoring in global health and club member who went on the trip to Malibu Creek State Park, said the concept of the organization convinced him to join the weekend trips.
“USC professors are incredible but you only see them for a short period,” Jayanti said. “Plus I love seeing trees and not concrete, and any chance I can find an affordable opportunity to do that, I will.”
Previous trips usually ranged from $5 to $10 in price because participants carpooled to save money.
Both club members and faculty advisors said the club can have a lasting impact on the campus and the types of professional relationships students develop with their professors.
“We started small but we really have big plans,” Bishop said. “We want it to be a well-known club and network where professors can be slated and lined up for future trips. The sky’s the limit.”
The next trip the club has planned will take place Sunday, Feb. 23 at Vasquez Rocks, with philosophy, law and political science professor, Sharon Lloyd.