(Photo courtesy of Naomi Olson)
What brought you to Regis University?
When I visited Regis University’s campus for the first time during my junior year of high school, I fell in love with the campus. I knew that this was where I wanted to be for my undergrad. I loved how small Regis was and the way it felt like “home.” Regis was actually the only school I applied to, and I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition scholarship to study biology. It was perfect.
What is your favorite Jesuit Value? Why?
My favorite Jesuit value is “Magis.” To me, embodying the value of “Magis” means always doing more. In other words, we should never settle for what is easiest or where we feel most comfortable. We must step out of our comfort zone and wholeheartedly embrace the next chapter in our lives.
What has been your fondest memory of Regis?
One of my fondest memories will be the relationships that I’ve developed with some of my professors. There are a few professors that have watched me grow as a student and a person throughout my time at Regis. I love that they were always there to encourage and guide me along the way, especially when I was feeling most lost. I’ll never forget the many hours I spent in professors’ office hours talking about anything from homework problems to the meaning of life.
Why did you choose your study abroad location?
During my junior year at Regis University, I began conducting research with two biology professors, Dr. Marie Dominique Franco and Dr. Amy Schreier. I am genetically analyzing the diversity of mantled howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys from La Suerte Biological Research Station in Costa Rica using fecal samples. I was quite fond of the monkey feces – countless hours in the lab will have that effect on you. Even so, I always felt like something was missing. In the summer of 2016, I decided to travel to La Suerte to observe the monkeys and collect vials of their feces myself.
What was the inspiration behind the 2017 Matteo Ricci Award for the Best Global Engagement Colloquium Presentation?
My time abroad is somewhat unusual compared to typical study abroad programs. I spent a month at a research station in the middle of the rainforest. In my presentation, I wanted to highlight the fact that my time in Costa Rica truly changed my life, not because of the people I met, but rather the monkeys. I developed such a deep connection to the monkeys after living with them for a month and observing them in their natural habitat.
What impact did your field work have on you during your time in Costa Rica?
My experience in the rainforest instilled in me a deeper connection to my research project, the monkeys, and the beautiful rainforest; however, it also showed me that I was not meant for field research or primate ecology. I am a geneticist at heart. I preferred to collect feces over watching the monkeys, and throughout the trip, I was eager to leave the rainforest and begin analysis in my home in the genetics laboratory. Nevertheless, I could now say that I was involved with every step of the research process – from the sample collection in Costa Rica to the genetic analysis in Denver, CO. It made my research project so much more meaningful.
Is there anything else you would like the Regis community to know?
I feel truly blessed to have spent four years at Regis. In the fall, I will be attending graduate school at the University of Colorado Anschutz to pursue a PhD in Human Medical Genetics and Genomics. I know that this has only been possible because of the fantastic people that I met and the amazing opportunities that Regis has provided me. I’m anxious for the future, but I know that my education at Regis has prepared me well.
Samantha Jewell Social Media Editor