Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SRAP Alumna Mariah Strike: Seeing the Big Picture

The girls from SRAP 2010. Mariah is in the middle on the right.

Sometimes seeing the big picture is easier said than done. In the middle of a lab project or sitting through a seemingly unnecessary class, it’s hard to believe that all the pieces will come together. But, as previous SRAP (Summer Research Apprentice Program) student Mariah Strike learned during her experience, everything does come together in the end. 

Mariah participated in SRAP in 2010 between her junior and senior years of high school. Originally from Pinedale, Wyoming, she is now a sophomore at UW majoring in International Studies and Environment and Natural Resources, with a minor in Spanish. This year she is not studying at UW however. She is spending the entire year abroad, studying in Spain. 

Despite the distance, we had the opportunity to talk over email. Our virtual interview not only showed Mariah’s passions for SRAP and her education, but showed how science can be combined with so many diverse interests.

What was your SRAP lab experience like? Did it help prepare you for college?
 My SRAP project had to do with soil respiration in sage brush. My professor was Dr. Kiona Ogle and my mentor was Colin Tucker. The best part of working in Dr. Ogle's lab was that I actually felt like I was accomplishing something. While I may have done a lot of lab work that didn't seem important at the time, by the time I was done with my project I felt like I had added to their research. I think this helped me to realize that in college it might not always seem like my classes are super important, but in the long run, they will contribute to my future. I think that SRAP prepared me for college in that I became accustomed to campus life as well as interacting with professors and graduate students.

What was your favorite part of SRAP?
My favorite part of SRAP was meeting so many incredible new people. During our 7 weeks in Laramie, I made so many great friends. A few of the friends I made also go to UW. In fact, one of my two closest friends from SRAP also goes to UW. We're still friends to this day. 

You have a unique combination of academic interests. What interested you in these fields?
I came into UW declared as an International Studies major. I had chosen this because I have always had a passion for traveling and learning about other cultures. Within my IS major, I have to choose a global track (culture, politics, economics, or environment.) I chose the environmental track which led me to my first ENR (Environment and Natural Resources) class. After taking this class, I knew that I also wanted to be an Environment and Natural Resources major as well. The majors actually fit together rather well, as does the Spanish minor. For my IS major, I have to take so many credits in a language anyway, so I decided I might as well get a minor. Besides, I love learning Spanish, and I always enjoy my Spanish classes. 

What has your college experience been like so far?
My college experience has been incredible so far. As of right now, balancing everything hasn't been too hard. However, I only had my freshman year at UW before I left for my year-long study abroad. Therefore, I'm not exactly sure how hard it will be to balance everything when I get back. However, I am confident that I will be able to do it. I had a great first year in Laramie, and now I am spending my entire sophomore year in Granada, Spain. To say the least, it is an opportunity of a lifetime. 
Mariah (second from the left) with some new SRAP friends

Mariah will return to UW in the fall to finish her degrees. Her experience abroad will undoubtedly add to the lessons she learned from SRAP and will continue to help her succeed in all aspects of her academics and life.  

To learn more about SRAP, please visit: http://www.uwyo.edu/epscor/fellowships-and-student-programs/srap/index.html. Applications for the Summer 2013 program are due March 15th, 2013.

By Kali S. McCrackin
Photos courtesy of Mariah Strike

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