Sierra Ellemberger says one of the biggest advantages of being homeschooled is the ability to travel any time of the year and for extended periods of time. She’s been to 18 countries, including Mexico, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Nepal, Thailand, Oman, and Egypt. In June, her most recent travels took her to Scotland, followed by Tanzania.

It would be hard to pick, she says, but if she had to name her favorite trip, it would be a tie between Egypt, where she toured the pyramids and cruised the Nile, and the U.A.E., where she rode a camel in the desert. She details her adventures in a travel blog aptly titled Northern Girl Wanderings, where she offers travel tips, international recipes, and history.   

Ellemberger’s parents are physicians and former military officers. Their last duty assignment was in Alaska, where the family of six settled 17 years ago, just outside Anchorage. Her parents’ work schedules allow their family the flexibility to travel around the world.   

Growing up in Alaska is an adventure all its own. “We’ve got the mountains and lakes and we are semi-close to the ocean,” says Ellemberger. “I love all the weather variations. As you might expect, we have snow, but we have all the other beautiful seasons as well. And we are hiking, running, biking, and camping in every season.”

In choosing a college, Ellemberger was looking for something a little different, like a big city on the East Coast. “I chose Catholic for the location, the academics, and its faith-based mission,” she says. “When I visited, I liked the campus and all the museums nearby.” 

The University Honors student will indulge her “fascination with ancient history” by majoring in archeology, with room in her schedule to explore languages. “I’m taking Spanish 103, and then I can’t wait to study Arabic,” she says.

Not surprisingly, Ellemberger plans to study abroad.