New McNair Cohort

181211 mcnair event photos_00080Our new students have experienced their first McNair event: our annual, all-day orientation workshop. As a part of the process, the eleven students wrote short biographies to introduce themselves.

Lexi Arroyo

My name is Lexi Arroyo and I am from Manteca, CA. I am a sophomore at Northern Michigan University and I am a biochemistry major. I am pursuing my Doctor of Pharmacy, and I want to focus on research pharmacy. Northern’s emphasis on undergraduate research is so impressive and I am so excited to be able to participate! I work in a local nursing home and I sit front row to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a person, and I see the toll it takes on their family members. I want to be a part of the change that could help significantly improve symptoms and bring a better quality of life to those affected. In the meantime, I enjoy spending my free time exploring new places with my husband and our two dogs. The Upper Peninsula is such a beautiful place, and we are enjoying getting to know all of the incredible places it has to offer.



Marissa Bekkering

My name is Marissa Bekkering I am majoring in Communications and Spanish with a minor in technical theatre. I am from Hudsonville Michigan which is very close to Grand Rapids Michigan. I enjoy doing yoga, going on hikes, and reading books and novels of all sorts in my spare time. I would optimally like to pursue research correlating to the broad category of intercultural/ international communication and potentially narrowing that focus on a specific component of intercultural/ international communication. I am very open to different variations of research on topics relating to intercultural/ international communication.



Cynthia Benson

Hello, my name is Cynthia Benson. I am beginning my junior year here at Northern Michigan University. It has been an exciting journey returning to school in hopes to change career paths. Previously a nursing assistant, I began pursuing a degree involving my interest in criminal justice. My goal is to work in probation or rehabilitation programs for offenders. Upon completion of a PhD program, I would like to be able to teach at university level and hope to conduct research to be able to influence policy. I enjoy helping people and hope to be able to make a difference. I would love to be able to participate in research that would have to ability to improve procedures within the criminal justice system whether change in crime fighting strategies or prisoner reentry programs to reduce recidivism rates. I find all aspects of criminal justice interesting, and there are so many different career paths to choose from. When I am not in school I am with my two daughters. We are an active family and love exploring the various trails and recreational activities that Marquette has to offer. I frequently volunteer in classroom events in my daughters’ school. I also volunteer with the Girl Scouts of America as an assistant troop leader and have helped coach with Marquette Little League. On campus, I’m a member of the criminal justice association. I am looking forward to my experiences with the McNair program.



Grace Freitag

Hi, my name is Grace Freitag and I am from St. Anthony, MN which is right outside Minneapolis. As a kid, I was very immersed in city life. I was extremely familiar with the metro bus schedule and was always debating from which of my top ten favorite taco shops I would order dinner. However, my entire view on the course of my life changed when I got my first job as a camp counselor teaching boy scouts about ecology. At the camp, I discovered just how amazing nature is. I got to observe a mother osprey care for her chicks, witness a garter snake devour a toad, and learned how to name the plants around me. This experience is why I am here at Northern studying Ecology (and minoring in Chemistry). I couldn’t have imagined a better place to study the natural world while being minutes away from dense forests and Lake Superior. My goal for my undergraduate career is to learn as much as I can from the amazing professors in the Biology department, and to some day, make an impact on the conservation of our natural world.



Abdisalan Haji

My Name is Abdisalan Haji and I am originally from Kenya, East Africa. I attended Grand Rapids Public School and also the Grand Rapids Community College for my first two years of college. I transferred here to Northern Michigan University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I have really enjoyed learning about the environment from a young age and I think this contributed to my decision. I’m a member of Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) which is an international honor society in geography. I’m also a member of NMU’s President’s Committee on Diversity, which really opened my eyes about the importance of higher education. That’s why I’m planning to pursue a masters in higher education, right after I get my bachelors. As a first generation college student, eventually earning a PhD. would be an accomplishment of a lifetime for me and my family.



Christopher Kailing

I began higher education at community college in 2014 and transferred to Northern Michigan University in 2017, where I enrolled in biology with an ecology concentration. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, I volunteered to work with small mammals, including endangered bat species. My contributions to the projects included deployment of Sherman traps and mist nets to capture animals and study their use of habitat. During the summer of 2018, I worked as a technician for Mississippi State University on the Michigan Predator-Prey project. I implemented an assortment of trapping methods, including live capture, non-invasive camera, and hair trap techniques to collect data on black bears, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and white tailed deer. I am currently conducting research on American marten diet and microbial gut flora with Dr. Diana Lafferty to investigate the relationship between gut microbiome and habitat conditions. The research I am involved with at NMU requires live capture and release of marten to collect fresh scat for genetic and morphological analyses. I plan to continue research into graduate school with the long-term goal of becoming an agricultural ecologist upon obtaining my Ph.D. I hope that my research will contribute to the conservation of species by gaining an understanding of agricultural processes that emphasize sustainability in response to changing environments.



Sara Larson

My name is Sara Larson. I am originally from Harrison, Michigan, but moved to the UP when I was fourteen and have lived here ever since. I spent three years at Bay College in Escanaba, Michigan, before coming to NMU. I am a senior with a double major in English and Spanish. My goal is to become an college professor. I want to be the college professor that inspires students to embrace their creative side and explore genres they had not considered. I am interested in pursuing research in Arthurian legends and how characters connect with their mythological and historical origins or creating a portfolio of my own creative works for when I apply to graduate school. When I am not at school, I am either writing stories or reading whatever my current obsession is. On campus, you can normally find me holed up in the Passages North office sorting through the older issues in an effort to archive them.



Marina Mankee

My name is Marina Mankee.  I am a sophomore at Northern Michigan University majoring in Chemistry and Spanish and am in the Pre-Pharmacy Program.  I find Chemistry, and science overall, to be a fascinating way to describe how everything works.  I am studying Spanish so I may be able to effectively communicate with a wider range of people.  I am from Marquette, Michigan.  As a result of this I love being outdoors hiking or swimming at the beach.  In my free time I also enjoy reading, traveling to visit others, and spending time with friends and family.  At NMU I am a member of the SLFP and Honors Programs.



Amanda Marinoff

Hello, I’m Amanda Marinoff and I’m from AuTrain, MI. I’m a senior at NMU majoring in drawing and painting. I’m currently working in abstract and mixed media painting and have an interest in the analysis of art and would love to pursue a professional career as an artist. In my down time I like reading fictional novels, biking, and stand up paddle boarding.



Malachi Tripaldi

Malachi Tripaldi is currently finishing his junior year at Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s in Archaeology and a minor in Chemistry. During the summer, free time is spent riding dirt bikes or laying on the beach. While in the winter, free time not consumed by schoolwork is spent on the slopes. Future plans include, obtaining a Ph.D. focused in stable isotope analysis then move to a place with fresh fruit, ocean water, and no snow.



Ashely Wojan

Hi, I’m Ashely Wojan and I am from Engadine, MI. I am a senior at NMU and I am majoring in Applied Behavior Analysis in Psychology. My end goal is to be able to help and give back to abused children within the foster care system. One of my research interests is mapping post-traumatic growth in abused children. A few student organizations that I am a part of are: Student Psychological Association (SPA) and PSI CHI. Some fun facts about me are: Clouds and wildlife fascinate me. I dislike Sauerkraut. I am adopted. I prefer Marvel over DC. In my free time, I enjoy learning to catch new species of fish, spending time outdoors-adventuring, anything Marvel, duck hunting, and running.