˿Ƶ

Catie

Cadence Russell

Hometown: Dripping Springs, TX

Major: Natural Science with a specialization in Environmental Science 

Graduation Year: 2025

Why did you choose ˿Ƶ?

I chose ˿Ƶ because I was looking for a smaller school in a different environment than my hometown. What I was most excited for at ˿Ƶ was the small class sizes as well as getting to know my professors in my department, and both of those things have come true. ˿Ƶ also offers undergraduate led research within my major, something that is hard to find in other universities, which is a huge bonus. I also read that the accessibility services were quite good at ˿Ƶ, and I can attest to that.

Why did you choose your present major?

I chose natural sciences because I love the outdoors, I have a fascination with the natural world and how it works. As many of my friends could tell you, I love rocks and plants, and I truly enjoy learning about systems and why certain things happen, and how life in general works. It's why I am specializing in environmental science, because I want to do work in the future that impacts our environment around us, because it is something I have been passionate about for a long time. 

Please briefly describe your Scholar's Day. 

My Scholar's Day was definitely different than others, as mine was during COVID-19 and I did a Zoom interview from Texas. I remember being really nervous, as I was simply logging onto a call and interviewing with someone, but it was actually very smooth. In the waiting room, current Trustee Scholars were there to reassure me, as well as give me insight into how the interview would go. The interview itself was actually very fun, and even though I was nervous I quickly felt myself opening up and it went way better than I could imagine!

Please describe your academic experience at ˿Ƶ.

I have had an absolutely amazing academic experience at ˿Ƶ. In all my classes I have been able to excel, as well as explore topics that I am interested in. Even when classes are hard, I have been able to access my professors readily, and they know who I am through my work and because of small class sizes. I've gotten to do some pretty cool things, including studying abroad in Australia, searching swamps for frogs, going behind the scenes at the Buffalo Museum of Science to look at dinosaur fossils, and so much more. 

What do you like best about ˿Ƶ?

What I enjoy most about ˿Ƶ is being a part of the campus community. Because campus is small, you get to know people, even casually, in a variety of different majors. I know most of the people within my department, which makes classes so much more fun (shoutout DS 212!), as well as knowing people from the variety of organizations I am involved with. I have one professor who I adore, and she learned that I am going to grad school for geosciences, and has sent me countless opportunities to gain experience in geosciences for this summer, and that's not even close to her field of study. I've met so many people who come from totally different lives than I do, and I love it!

What clubs or organizations have you been a part of here at ˿Ƶ? What kinds of things do they do?

I am deeply involved in organizations on campus. Most notably, I am the president of the Environmental Club, which I restarted my freshman year after it died during COVID-19. Environmental Club does a variety of things on campus, like campus clean-ups, tree plantings, hikes, and more! Our main goal however is to bring anyone who enjoys nature together and develop that common enjoyment of the outdoors. I am also a member of Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta), the biological honors society on campus, as well as the Honor Program, and Delta Alpha Pi, the disability honors society. I am also the editor-in-chief of the Insight, ˿Ƶ's student-run newspaper, which publishes stories from around campus once a month. I work in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) as a Diversity Ambassador, helping create and run programming to recognize, educate, and enhance diversity and equity at ˿Ƶ.

Please describe any internship, study abroad, service learning or academic experience?

The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks collecting data on the health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) off of Fitzroy Island, Australia, with my university. Fitzroy Island is one of the healthiest northernmost reefs within the GBR and by collecting data on coral color and species diversity, the health of the reef’s down current can be predicted, as coral repopulate through sperm and eggs controlled by oceanic currents. The experience was not only important for data on the reef itself and recording warning signals, but it also solidified my desire to pursue field research. Furthermore, I was very interested in how geologic events of the ancient past created the perfect conditions for such an extensive reef within the last couple of thousand years. I then traveled from Australia to New Zealand, this time on my own, to learn more about the active fault margin the nation rests on top of, as well as the incredibly unique geology that makes up New Zealand. This trip afforded me opportunities to visit very active fault-line areas around Christchurch, as well as the geothermal areas around Rotorua. This study abroad experience truly changed my life, it is something that I think back to constantly. 

Do you have a job or jobs on campus? Please provide a brief description. 

I work as both a Diversity Ambassador (DA) in the CDI and as an academic coach for organic chemistry. As a DA we create programming for the campus that emphasizes cultural awareness and diverse thinking, and making sure all people on campus feel seen and supported. Some examples of programs I have either run or helped run include events for National Coming Out Day, International Day for People with Disabilities, Black History Month, Diwali, and International Women’s Day. Everyone deserves to not only see themselves on campus but educating people about the wonderful, diverse world around them making the world a more equitable, accessible place. As an academic coach, I run either group or 1:1 sessions for students as part of the larger tutoring service that exists at ˿Ƶ. This service is completely free to students, and I highly recommend it!

What is your favorite spot to stop by in town?

Sweet Jenny's!

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students? 

College, no matter where you go, it a big change. I was incredibly ready for college and have excelled since I got here, but that doesn't mean it came without struggle. Everyone struggles at some point in college, whether it's culture shock from moving across the country, like what I experienced, or simply the reality of living on your own in a new place. Not everything will go to plan, but it will lead you to totally new and unexpected things. It's scary, not knowing where life will take you, even if you have it planned out, but you have to learn to take the changes in stride, because where you'll be four years from now is something you can't possibly predict, and that's so exciting.