Are there honors/achievements/special recognition you would like to list that are not included above?
Udall Scholarship honorable mention
Undergraduate research assistant in aquatic chemistry with Professor Val Smith, fall 2001-2003
KU Women's Club Scholarship
What led you to your area of study/field of interest?
I began my career at KU as a chemistry major. However, about a year and a half in, I began to miss writing. Then, I took a personal essay writing class, and the release that came from expressing a more theoretical, emotional side of learning had me hooked. So I began to take other writing and literature classes for fun. My love for writing made itself more and more apparent, and I searched for ways to emulsify my loves of science and writing. Enter science journalism. I found Roger Martin, one of KU's science writers, and Rick Musser, professor of journalism, who helped me get into the journalism school and taught me the craft of science writing through coursework and individual help. Because I was able to put all of these pieces together – writing, science, learning, expression – I now plan to enter the field of science journalism. I hope to write for a publication like Scientific American or Discover magazine. Beyond my professional goals, fiction writing is a personal art in which I take part. Since I seemed to have merit as an essay writer, my mentor Mary Klayder suggested I take a fiction writing course. I thought, sure, fiction writing, why not? And of course, fiction writing immediately became my greatest passion. I hope to write fiction throughout my life as well.
What honor, achievement or accomplishment is most meaningful to you? Why?
As a writer at KU, I've been awarded several English department awards, the Maxwell Nature Writing award and the Thomas O'Donnell Non-fiction writing award. In addition, I will have a piece published in a literary magazine in 2006. These three honors mean the most to me because they show that I am succeeding in growing as a writer.
Who has been influential or had a significant impact on your life? Please elaborate. (Please include individuals at KU as appropriate.)
I have a "squadron" of amazing mentors, all of whom deserve my sincerest appreciation. Professor Val Smith in ecology & evolutionary biology was my very first mentor at KU, and he has supported me every step of the way as I made the transition from chemist to science writer. Professor Rick Musser in journalism helped me get into the Journalism School, challenged me as a student, and gave me honest and valuable guidance throughout. Professor Deb Olin Unferth in the English department was my first fiction writing professor, and through her fantastic teaching and inspiration, I've found writing to be my one true passion. She helped me discover the most fulfilling pursuit of my life. Mary Klayder, English professor, has been the glue holding my crazy plans together. She has introduced me to colleagues, given me books to read and places to go, and in general, she has encouraged me to forge the avenue I've chosen. In total, these mentors have helped me combine my loves of writing and science. Though very different, their influences fine-tuned the ways in which I study and think – and consequently, who I am.
Aside from all of my immeasurable support from my mentors at KU, my four parents have given me unconditional love and support. They have celebrated every single one of my accomplishments and my growth as a person. Because of their support, I go through each day knowing that happiness is doing what I love – and they are proud of me for finding exactly what makes me happy. Last but not least, my three wonderful siblings have shaped me into a person way cooler and wiser than I ever could have been on my own.
Why do you believe it is important to recognize women for their accomplishments?
In a perfect world, women and men would be equally encouraged to succeed, and that success would be celebrated once it was achieved. However, many women are still held back from succeeding through various factors – social, economic, personal, political, etc. By recognizing the accomplishments of women, we reinforce motivation, and provide an example from which other women can draw inspiration.
What is a most favorite/least favorite memory as a student?
After four years of living at Miller Scholarship Hall with 50 amazing, talented women, I could go on for hours about the hilarious hijinx we took on, the moments when we supported one another, or the meaningful ways in which each of my "Miller-ites" taught me – all of which gave me incredible memories I always keep in my mind.
Personally, the process of deciding to become a writer was the most powerful experience I've had as a KU student. I took my first fiction writing class in the fall of 2004, and it literally changed my mind. The ways in which writing and literature connected with science and with my life were astounding. Once I started writing, I was walking around wide-eyed, seeing everything in new ways. I was excited, I was inspired, I was completely in love with the world. I couldn't get my pen to stop moving. This inspiration translated into motivation, and I am still writing every day! Writing has become the ultimate expression of who I am and how I view the world. As I've studied new and different things each semester, from astronomy to philosophy, I've used writing as a tool to explore the ideas of each subject and have incorporated it into the integrated way that I think. I'll always remember the feeling of realizing that everything is connected, and the inspiration to try to express the reality that I see.
What is your definition of success?
Each day, to think in a way I've never thought before.