Olivia Kulander, Grand County High School class of 2000, has traveled all over the world since leaving her small hometown of Moab. After graduation, Olivia went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she spent four years working towards her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. During this time, she studied abroad at East China Normal University in Shanghai for a semester and learned Mandarin.
China, however, isn’t the only foreign place Olivia has lived. She spent time in Ireland working on wildlife filmmaking. “I got to spend days out camping and filming baby swans and fox pups - it was so much fun!” Along with that, she spent the year of 2013 studying tarsiers (a type of monkey) in Indonesia. “That was a lot of fun, but I sort of missed things like electricity and tacos,” she states.
Olivia also bicycled in Asia a few years ago, which she remembers as a wonderful experience. “It was actually while on the bike tour that I decided I wanted to be a biologist,” she recalls. Olivia is currently completing a Master’s program in Biology at Portland State University. Her current job is teaching an Anatomy and Physiology lab at Portland State University, mostly for pre-health care students, which she claims to really enjoy. Olivia also runs a class for upperclassmen doing cadaver dissections.
After journeying to over 30 countries, and living in Indonesia, China, Ireland, Oregon, California, Florida, and Mexico, the young traveler always makes time to visit her hometown. She says that the number one reason she visits so often is to see family. Parents, Jill and Charlie Kulander, and younger sister, Kayla Weston (a senior at GCHS), still reside within these beloved canyon walls. Her brother, Dashiel, GCHS class of 2004, is currently living in Los Angeles, California, working in filmmaking.
Another thing Olivia loves about visiting Moab is feeling the genuine sense of community. “I think that the older I get, the more I appreciate the perks that come from growing up in a small town. I love that when I’m back in town I can run into an old teacher or a classmate I hadn’t seen in 15 years at City Market,” she remarks. Olivia loves Portland for all its exciting things to do, like city activities and being near the ocean; yet, she wishes she could see the sun as much as she does when she’s in Moab.
Olivia admits that she was shy in high school, but she enjoyed all of the extracurricular activities she was involved in, including tennis. She also remembers how exciting it was for her class to move into the new high school building. With her father as an assistant coach for the GCHS tennis team and her sister Kayla involved in tennis, swim, and debate, Olivia says she still feels very connected to Red Devil Pride. “I get to cheer on my little sister through her high school events. Plus, I get to cheer for her friends too!”