Meet Shane Allen '14!

At first, Shane Allen '14 's passions may not seem interconnected. Music, dance and production management seem a far cry from academic interests in neuroscience and computer programming, but for Allen, they're all part of a larger love for challenging and engaging learning. "Learning shouldn't always be easy, but it should always be fun," he says. "Dancing is hard, but fun. Working as a tech, tech manager, and co-coordinator at the Pause is a ton of fun. And neuroscience? Neuroscience is my academic jam."

It's the ability to pursue this wide range of passions that Allen cherishes the most about St. Olaf. "I love how possible it is to do what you want to do," he says. "There's not a class for something you're interested in? Independent studies aren't hard to organize. You're into boat building but disappointed with the fragmented boat-building community on campus? Start an org to unite all Ole boat-building enthusiasts. You're into weekend programming? Join SAC and plan events that hundreds of people will attend."
 
Allen, who's real name is Christopher by the way (he shares his name with his father and has always gone by his middle name, Shane), graduated from a performing arts public high school in Houston and has not hesitated in expanding his knowledge of music and performance on campus. He has been a part of Jazz I for the last four years, is a co-leader of the Runestones (St. Olaf's own accordion club!) and has been an enthusiastic and vital part of a variety of campus bands over the years including Megatherium Club, the Loose Cannons, Buttercake, and - this writer's personal favorite - Dirty Petrov and the Gentillionaires. The range of instruments he plays is actually insane - guitar and piano, sure, but other oddities like accordion and mandolin also intrigue him.
 
Allen also likes to dance. "Everyone loves to dance," he says, "but social dancing is hard! I was always afraid to try it!" His years at St. Olaf and involvement in the Swing Club on campus (Allen is an officer of the club) has expanded his abilities and interest in the art - and his desire to share it. "I try to make it as awesome as possible for every student who wants to learn the ins and outs of lindy hop - which is the best of all social dances," he says.  Allen is also a member of the Ballroom Performance Team, who traditionally perform at the President's Ball each spring. "Learning choreography is a challenge for me, but that's why I do it," he says. 
 
Allen's largest role on campus, however, is his position as the managing director at the Pause, which builds on years of working as a Pause technician. "The Pause is my favorite thing about campus,"  he says. "Classes are secondary, honestly. The Pause is unique to our campus; if you are 21 and have two years of experience running a large professional theater venue with a staff of 100+, you went to St. Olaf. There is no other Pause." This type of experience will be especially attractive to employers, "And to females," Allen adds with a wink. 
 
Allen's passion for technology is reflected in the classroom as well. At St. Olaf, he majors in computer science with concentrations in neuroscience and mathematical biology. "I've always been a computer enthusiast and I love making computers work for people," Allen says. "One of my life goals is to convince as many people as possible that computers are creative and practical tools, not just 21st-century things to be tolerated. 
 
"Love your computer, take care of it," he adds. "It will love you back."
 
Originally, Allen had hoped to pursue a biology and psychology double-major while attending Olaf, but after taking a course on cellular and molecular neuroscience, he was faced with a long list of biology and psychology courses that he wasn't really interested in ("I'm looking at you, ecology and psychology history and methods," he adds). That's when Allen decided to keep the neuroscience concentration and integrate his passion for programming along the computer science route (his favorite class has been his software design class). Ultimately, Allen hopes to combine his passions for neuroscience and technology, designing programs that help solve scientific problems or are helpful for large research and development companies. 
 
In his (very limited) free time, Allen enjoys playing Magic: The Gathering with his roommate Calvin Streit ("Who loves Magic. A lot," says Allen, seriously). He also likes to go dancing in the cities and consumes comic books with an unbelievable and overenthusiastic passion.