An Accidental – and Awesome – Scholar

Chandler Countryman will be graduating this December with a degree in Biology. 

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Chandler! 


Could you please give us some background on how you landed at NMU, how you chose your major, and how your undergraduate experience has been in general?

I feel like everything happened by chance.  Absolutely none of it was planned.   After I graduated high school, I headed out to Alaska for a summer job with no intention of starting college any time in the near future, if ever.  I worked with three students at the camp who were currently enrolled at NMU.  They talked up the school and convinced me to come visit.  I instantly fell in love with the lake and the town and decided to come to school here.  I was actually signed up as an Art major with an Outdoor Rec minor up until two weeks before the semester started when I changed my mind out of the blue.  I instantly took to the Biology Department and felt at home and stuck with that major all four years.

As a McNair Scholar, you did summer research at Auburn University in Alabama.  Could you please tell us how that came about?  How did it work out for you?

Well, throughout my time at Northern I narrowed my focus in Biology from everything biology to conservation of animals, then to aquatic animals and then finally to marine organisms.  While it is possible to do a marine project at NMU, I wanted to get out and be a part of a marine lab to see what it might be like for grad school.  I found a professor (Dr. Nanette Chadwick) who was really into conservation, sustainability, and marine ecology, so I sent her a quick email explaining that I had funding for a project and asking if she would like any more students working on projects in her lab for the summer.  She was more than happy to let me come work in the lab and it was cool to see how things worked on other campuses besides Northern.  My project went very well and I enjoyed learning from Dr. Chadwick and spending time in a new town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Chandler at the Fish Lab at NMU.

This is your last semester at NMU.  Could you please reflect on your experiences in the McNair Scholars Program –  how did it impact your undergraduate experience?

THIS IS MY LAST SEMESTER – WOW!  Again, I had not planned on being in McNair.  My advisor, Dr. Jill Leonard, told me about it one day and I applied for it the next day, not really thinking that I would get in. I had never done any research and I was not sure if it was for me.  The McNair Scholars Program gave me the confidence that I couldn’t have found without it.  From the second I was accepted in the program, I was told that I am smart enough for research and for grad school and that I had other options past a four year degree.  Without the McNair program, I think I would not have gotten into research and I would never have known that grad school was a possibility for me.  McNair was an all-around academic support group throughout my time at NMU.

Chandler at Etiquette Dinner  Chandler attending the 2013 McNair Etiquette Dinner.

Please share your hopes and dreams for the future, and any other information about yourself:  hobbies, interests, etc.

Oh, I have too many hopes and dreams to share here!  But I love hiking, biking, kayaking, reading, drawing, writing, and school.  I love school and would be totally content winding up in academia.

Nathan and Chandler  Nathan Crane and Chandler – done with the GRE!!