It’s okay to call Kathleen a science geek. It’s a name she actually calls herself. It’s fitting, considering her parents swear that one of her first spoken words was Neptune and that she decided as an elementary school student to earn a doctoral degree.
“I love science and always have,” she said. “I had a true ‘wow’ moment when I opened the course catalog for Howard Community College and saw that astronomy courses are offered here. I was not expecting to have those types of opportunities at a community college. I was sold.”
Scholarships from the National Science Foundation Program, the HCC Educational Foundation, and the STEM Scholars Program, combined with a Pell Grant, made it possible for Kathleen to register as a full-time student—a role she took seriously from day one on campus. One month into her college experience, she accepted a position as a research assistant for the dark matter project in the HCC astronomy lab. In November 2016, she represented HCC at the Society of Physics Students Quadrennial Congress in San Francisco, where she presented her research findings on dark matter.
“It was a truly amazing opportunity to be able to travel to California to attend this conference, present my findings and network with people who could potentially be my co-workers in the future,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen’s first experience with HCC was in the Kid’s on Campus program, and she continued taking classes here through high school. Since enrolling full-time at HCC, Kathleen has served as treasurer and student government representative for HCC’s Astronomy Club, a group that she helped build. The science geek in her has appreciated every opportunity she’s had to learn new things while having fun in these roles.
“We bring people together for star parties, field trips, and community service projects,” said Kathleen. “A small group of us even made liquid nitrogen ice cream, which tastes like Dippin’ Dots!”
When she is not working on astroparticle physics, Kathleen enjoys hiking and horseback riding. She and her boyfriend volunteer at Days End Farm, a local horse rescue, where she assists with administrative and data entry work.
“My boyfriend loves horses, and of course I love data, so it makes for a great joint passion,” she said.Kathleen is on track to complete her associate degree in physical sciences in December 2017, and plans to transfer to a four-year university to major in astronomy.