As early as age five, senior Scott Gilday had the opportunity to travel to places most people only dream of visiting. Homeschooling, combined with a father who flew for Delta Airlines, allowed the family to take advantage of a varied schedule to hike and camp along the Incan trail at Machu Picchu in Peru, or visit Southeast Asia and countries like Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
“A lot of the things we did, we just went out and did stuff, rather than reading about it,” said Gilday. “I think (those kinds of experiences) carried through.”
He took that love of adventure with him to college and has traveled outside Hanover and the Midwest each May since his freshman year. Gilday is one of the few — if not the only — students to have done so.
His first trip was hiking through the Grand Canyon to study geology, followed by a tour of southern Italy to study Roman history. Gilday returned the land of Da Vinci and the Medici the following year to study the Italian Renaissance, and currently, he’s on the west coast of Turkey studying ancient Greek ruins for his final May term class.
“From a learning perspective, you can read something or keep on writing about something, or learn about it for a test, but then it kind of goes away,” said Gilday. “But if you go out and do something, and experience it with all or a bunch of your senses, it sticks with you a lot better.”
Even though he’s a computer science major and part of Hanover’s Business Scholar Program, Gilday isn’t the type to bury himself behind a computer screen for days on end. Travel during May term, he said, gives him the chance to immerse himself in something different and not rely on technology.
During his second trip to Italy, one of the highlights was having dinner at vineyard where the noted Renaissance political theorist Machiavelli wrote his masterpiece, “The Prince.”
“(At the time) Machiavelli was in exile from Florence, but he could see the dome (of the cathedral in Florence) from the vineyard. To experience the motivation for why he wrote (the book) was very interesting.”
Besides an escape from technology, Gilday has been able to find a connection between his major and a fascination for ancient history and mythology, since many video games currently on the market are based on classic myths. He also views ancient Roman culture as an early proving ground that ultimately led to modern day advances.
“From a Roman perspective, that’s really where technology took off,” said Gilday, acknowledging the ancient Greeks as well. “As modern technology has taken off, I always try to look back and see where it started. Rome wasn’t the beginning, but that was where it started to increase.”
For now, he hopes to pursue a career in medical informatics, which deals ways of managing the storage, use and retrieval of vast amounts of information. Similar to a geographic information system (GIS), it allows people to visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends.
“There’s so much information in health care right now – rather than just sit there and collect it – (informatics) is about how you use it,” he said. “Ideally, I would like to figure out how diseases are related, almost like genetics. But I’m just still exploring at this point.”
Published Thursday, May 16, 2013