McNair Student Spotlight – Emily Mydlowski

In September 2013, NMU junior Emily Mydlowski had the opportunity to travel to Oregon State University on a campus visit through the McNair Scholars Program.  In this blog post, she tells us about her trip, updates us on her research, and talks about her plans for the future.  Read how she is using the McNair Scholars Program as a “golden ladder” to help her climb toward her dreams:

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Briefly describe your McNair research project

I ended up doing a literature review. I worked quite heavily with Emily Sprengelmeyer, (NMU McNair alum) helping her with data collection for her Master’s thesis project. My project was related to this in that it was an examination of seed dispersers’ role on the distribution and structure of plant populations. I reviewed methods and effects that ants, rodents, birds, hare, white-tailed deer, and bear have on the dynamics of plant populations.

Tell us about your recent travel

Although I am still a bit far from applying to graduate school, the opportunity to visit a school of choice presented itself. I chose to visit Oregon State University to check out their Botany/Plant Pathology program. I scrambled to set up a campus visit as well as an appointment to meet with the chair of graduate admissions and was flown out to OR within a month. While visiting OSU I was captivated by the campus and what it had to offer (not to mention how striking the old growth Cedar trees on campus were). I was able to roam around Portland and the state, taking a drive to see Mount Hood. Oregon’s landscape is incredibly picturesque and I instantly fell in love with the conifer covered slopes that lined the highway. In this moment, Oregon instantly jumped into my top five places I could envision myself living.

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Share your thoughts on the McNair Program.  How has the program helped you?

I have developed an affinity for the McNair Scholars Program. Prior to being accepted, I heavily contemplated my future in academia, trying to decide if I was adequate for a life of research. Being a first generation student, uncertain of my path of study, I felt lost in college life and was afraid of trickling into a cycle that didn’t make me happy. After speaking with Heather about the program and giving it more thought, I decided to apply.

I remember receiving the acceptance email while visiting home for Thanksgiving break. Reading through the message, I was filled with an overwhelming, heavy joy; tears filled my eyes because I was so thankful to have been given a golden ladder to climb towards my aspirations.

Having an opportunity to chase my dreams that I had since I was young, with the encouragement of McNair mentors, allows me access to resources required to pursue those dreams and gain skills that I will use for the rest of my life. Almost a year has passed since then and how much I have grown as a person still amazes me, and I don’t think I would be as motivated and determined without such a strong support system behind me.

McNair has opened many doors, taught me valuable skills, and provided access to the tools that are necessary to pursue higher education.

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What are your plans for the future?

After my time at NMU is through, I hope to be pursuing a Master’s degree in Botany, and then Ph.D. Ultimately, I would like to participate in field research, teach, and/or travel.

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