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News . Feature Stories . President’s Traveling Scholarship: Alison Alsup ’23


March 13, 2024

President’s Traveling Scholarship: Alison Alsup ’23

Alison Alsup ’23 traveled 140 miles on rollerblades during her five-month journey. Submitted photo.

By Karen Sandstrom ’12

As Alison Alsup prepared for what would become a 3,500-mile journey on foot, bicycle and rollerblade through beautiful terrain in and around Ohio, she had a list of animals she hoped to see. Among them was the elusive bobcat, an unlikely prospect. But on an early morning while biking along the Ohio River, a bobcat and her kit appeared on the road 15 or 20 feet from her.

“I slammed on my brakes, and the mother bobcat and I just stared at each other for the longest time while her kitten hesitantly ran back and forth between mom and the woods they had just come from,” Alsup says. “The encounter probably lasted 10 seconds before a truck drove up and scared them off, but I was so excited I got to see that.”

The encounter was just one of many transportive experiences during Alsup’s scholarship-funded trip to explore and make art about the natural beauty and culture of the Ohio region. Journeying for five months, traveling solo for virtually all that time, she biked the length of the Ohio River; hiked 1,100 miles of the Buckeye Trail and biked the remaining 344 miles; cycled the perimeter of Lake Erie and half of the Ohio to Erie Trail and wrapped up the last 140 miles on rollerblades with a friend.

At a campground in Canal Fulton, Ohio, a woman traveling with her mother, aunt and son extended fireside hospitality. “We exchanged stories about outdoor adventures and talked about how wonderful it is to be a woman and be outside,” she says. “It was just a really beautiful conversation to have with those three ladies.”

Alsup recalls a questionnaire she answered in one of her classes during sophomore year at CIA.

“One of the questions was what we want to do as an artist once we graduate, and I remember writing something along the lines of wanting to travel through adventure sports and make art about how curious and beautiful the world is,” she says. “The traveling scholarship from CIA fully launched me into my dream immediately after graduation. I’m just incredibly lucky and beyond grateful for it.”

Learn how other CIA alumni used their President’s Traveling Scholarships:

Josh Maxwell ’13
Amber N. Ford ’16
Andres Almy ’20
Chi (Irena) Wong ’20

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