Senior Year Changes

by Hannah Astarita

Senior year has been full of many changes. For starters, I don’t have a job this semester because I am completing my gerontology practicum instead. It’s been such a joy getting to know each of the residents, and I am learning so much from the Activities Director I work with. I love what I do, and it makes me happy to know that I am in the right place. This weekend we had a group go to the Alzheimer’s Walk to show our support.

Another new thing for me this semester has been being a part of the Ambassadors Committee for the Student Alumni Leadership Council (SALC). My committee has been planning CyMazing Challenge which is coming up on November 4th. I have included a link as my shameless plug if anyone wants to sign up 🙂 It’s a race incorporating ISU traditions and a variety of activities aka it’s going to be a lot of fun!

And then of course, there are some things that never change: family. Last weekend we were able to get over half of the family to celebrate some birthdays. I love spending time with them and can’t wait for Christmas to roll around for another reunion.

Now, I leave you with my new favorite quote…


*Last* First Days as a Cyclone, 2018

We shared some FHP students’ reflections on their first weeks as Cyclones here.  Our seniors have a lot of feelings too!  What is it like for them to start the end of their Cyclone careers?


While it seems surreal that I’ll graduate this semester, I don’t have any bittersweet feelings about finishing school because I am so excited to finally have my own classroom and students. In comparison to my first day of classes as a freshman, my “last first day” was from the point of view of a teacher rather than a student and it’s so awesome to finally be on the “other” side of education.
The first class I ever went to was Philosophy 201 and I remember thinking how crazy it was that a kid that I went to high school with was also in the 20 person class. I’m an English Education major so math isn’t my thing, but I think the odds of that are slim. Over the past four years, my first weeks have changed from knowing no one in my classes, to eventually progressing through my major and knowing everyone in my classes right from the first day.
Working for the Intramural program is definitely what I miss about Iowa State the most! It was so fun to spend time working with other people interested in athletics, and I also loved meeting new people through Intramurals–a team that I randomly joined freshman year became some of my close friends and we played an intramural sport together almost every semester for the next three years!

Ruth Grace, English


I remember my freshman year, I wrote in about my first-first week in 2015! Some things haven’t changed; I still live with my best friend, and I still arrive a little early on the first day to get a good (unassigned assigned) seat in class.
Some things have changed, like my major and my student organizations. I can happily say that I no longer have to speed-walk across campus to make it to my huge lecture classes full of strangers. All of my classes are nearby and with people I have gotten to know over the last few years.
The best contrast from my first year to last year isn’t really about my first week, but is my connection to one of my FHP leaders, Cody West. If you told me freshman year that I would spend the summer after my junior year in rural Uganda with one of my FHP leaders, I would have called you crazy. I went from being super nervous about college and a little intimidated by Cody (who was then a scary sophomore) to traveling the world and eating lunch by the Nile River together!

Megan Kemp, Agronomy/Global Resource Systems


When I started my freshman year, I remember being scared to take multiple science classes in the same semester. In the last three years I’ve nearly completed my degree requirements, I’ve held three research positions on campus, and I even founded a club! Though it seems crazy that I will be applying to medical school in less than a year, my time here at Iowa State has prepared me for my next adventure.

Scarlett Eagle, Genetics


It is so bittersweet to almost be done with my time at ISU. I’ve definitely been reminiscing about what it felt like to look forward to my entire college career as it was starting! Since I’m in the marching band, the first day of classes doesn’t seem so difficult after going through multiple full days of band rehearsal before school even begins. Compared to my first-year first week, I’m much more excited for football season to start, since our team has been doing better than my wildest dreams! I remember being really frazzled my first year, since I had 8 am Chem 177 and my days felt so busy. Now I have a lot less to worry about 🙂

Shakira Stowers, Animal Ecology


Oh wow, how time flies! As more and more people ask me how I feel about being in my last year of school, the more and more real it becomes. Honestly though, I feel like right now I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I’m sure I’ll feel similarly out in the workforce after graduation. The next two semesters will hold many lasts for me: the last intramural curling match, the last midnight run to Mr. Burrito, the last orchestra concert, etc. It’s helpful to recognize that each of these lasts wouldn’t be possible without their firsts, and every iteration in between. All I can say is that I hope in some way I’ve left the Iowa State system a little bit better than I found it, as it will have left me. Cheers y’all.

John Hoelzer, Mechanical Engineering


As I started my fourth year (uh what?) here at Iowa State University, I realized how quickly time goes by.
When I was a freshman, I was terrified of college – the people, the classes. I was convinced I would never learn where my classes were, and I would never get to all of them in only 10 minutes. My first class ever was Biology 211 in Hoover hall at 9am. I had class with my roommates, so we would walk and sit together. I lived on Starbuck North in Martin Hall and had randomly assigned roommates. Despite not knowing them before college, they are currently my best friends! This year, my first class was Stat 341 (Theory of Probability). I have changed my major twice and picked up a minor and a certificate throughout my four years here. While I deviated from my original path, I am still going to graduate on time and am happy with my degree.
Senior year has come far too quickly, and it is indeed bittersweet to know that I will no longer be a student here come May 2019. But on the other hand, I will get to be alumna. To quote my favorite show, The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” So live it up, stay up until 2am every once in awhile with your roommates while you eat pints of ice cream, take the class you think is impossible (because you can do it) and enjoy every single day in college before you have to do the adult thing.

Lucy Schneekloth, Business Economics


My last first day was actually Tuesday! I got lucky enough to not have Monday classes this year. I was sitting in my first class of the day, GEN 462, and when it started I realized I was in the wrong classroom in the wrong building. In my four years I have never been to the wrong classroom, but there’s no time like the present!

Bailey Mooney, Biochemistry/Genetics


In my first week or so college, I joined a curling intramural team with some of my new friends from my floor in Martin Starbuck. We soon became champions of the broom and brought home the elusive intramural t-shirt. Every year after that, the same group has gathered together to try and sweep our opponents away for another victory. My team plays the first of our last games later this week, and I’m looking forward more fun nights on the rink. I remember as a freshman, this intramural gave me a huge sense of belonging here at Iowa State, and every year that feeling is rejuvenated from the support and company of my now old friends. I’m certainly going to miss the people I’ve met this past few years, but I’m glad I’ve had their company for this adventure.

David Bis, Software Engineering


As president, I coordinated booths at DIS, AfterDark, and Clubfest for the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity.

My first week of my senior year was packed with coordinating the organizations for whom I am on executive boards. The first few weeks of my freshman year, I was so unsure of what groups I wanted to join and how to find my new friends. Now, I am so comfortable with my friends and leadership positions. I am going to miss all the great organizations I work with after I graduate!

Katie Fleming, Biology


My first day as a freshman was definitely filled with a loud hydrogen bang in Troxel Hall for chemistry class, but as a senior, I am more appreciative of my professors who say “This class has no tests”.
My first week as a senior consisted of my mom asking when commencement is; I was not ready for that question emotionally.
I will miss Iowa State’s enormously large central campus, sometimes I don’t understand how I have never stood in a certain part of it.

Courtney Beringer, Mechanical Engineering


My “last first day” brought a mix of feelings. This was my 5th first day, so the whole move-in, DIS week, and first day have become a little mundane. The week before classes started, several of my roommates and I actually headed out to Colorado for a few days to partially to escape the chaos of move-in! Overall, I’m still quite excited for this last semester because Iowa State is a lot of fun, and I’ve had to opportunity to make a lot of friends and do some really cool stuff! But, as with any graduating senior, there’s some built up pressure to get a job lined up (and not fail any required classes, knock on wood).
To any new student, I’d highly recommend getting involved with something, challenge yourself. Clubs are great, and study abroad is awesome! I’ve been a part of the PrISUm Solar Car club since I was a freshman, and that has allowed me to enhance my engineering skills, gain leadership experience, and make new friends. I even spent 8 weeks abroad in Australia and New Zealand with the club! No matter your major or background, just try to get involved with something outside coursework!
I hope everyone has a fantastic year! Cyclone! Power!

Jeremy Rurup, Mechanical Engineering


My last semester. It’s hard to believe that it’s already here. It seems like just yesterday I was waking up in Maple, eating breakfast at Seasons, and heading across campus to my first class: Food Science and Human Nutrition. Now I live off campus, ride the bus to class, and arrive significantly later than I used to- how things have changed! Like everyone says, college really does fly by, even when you stick around for an extra semester. I look forward to enjoying my last fall here at Iowa State!

Allye Bodholdt, Management


As a soon-to-graduate senior, my last first week was a fun-filled and a nostalgia-filled one.  I remember starting four years ago and being all worried about moving into my dorm and finding my classes and having enough stuff to do and all that typical freshman stuff — but this last first week as a senior I didn’t finish moving in until a half-week after school started… looked up where my classrooms were 15 min before class… and boy, did I have more than enough to do!  I spent a couple evenings gluing giant molds with PrISUm Solar Car, playing board games with friends, and even went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival!  It’s great to now be familiar with and comfortable at ISU, so I’m both sad and excited to almost be done!

Matt Swift, ex-E2, ex-J2 leader, ex-Harwood, Materials Engineering


First Days as a Cyclone (2018)

We asked First-Year Honors Program students to tell us a little about their first official week as Iowa State students…here’s what they said! Here’s what they said in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013, too.


My first week of classes was good! I had to use Google Maps to get to all my classes, but I found them all! I felt a little overwhelmed with my course load, but I know that the Honors Program will always be there for me when I need help.
Anna Tystahl, Biology, F2


My first week at Iowa State was one to remember! It started off well bright and early Monday morning when I got off at the wrong CyRide stop for my 8 am class right as the MyState app on my phone decided to crash! But hey there’s no better way to make new friends on campus than hysterically asking upperclassmen for directions to Curtiss Hall! While my adventure to my first class was memorable, the real highlight of my week came Tuesday afternoon when the fire alarm went off in my dorm… while I was in the shower. Needless to say I had my 15 minutes of fame after rushing down the stairs in nothing but a bathrobe! While this week was a little crazy and unpredictable, I wouldn’t have it any other way! College is all about having fun and making memories and I can definitely say my first week was a blast and most definitely unforgettable!
Lizzie Tecklenburg, Journalism and Mass Communication, H3


I have had a great first week as a Cyclone!! The FHP kickoff was really fun and I enjoyed being able to meet the people in my group before class started. The downside of the first day of class was the rain, but I was excited to get back to school and a steady schedule. So far, I’m really enjoying hanging out in Jischke and doing my homework because it is both air conditioned and quiet. I’m also excited to go to some of the Honors salons and definitely the ice cream social.
Fallon Beck, Engineering Undeclared, G3


The first week was great! ISU already feels like home. I know the people in my FHP seminar are going to be some great friends. My favorite place to study this week was the comfy chairs looking out the big library windows. I am super excited to see what the rest of the year holds!
Danielle Elliott, Event Management, C3


The first week is going great. FHP kickoff was a blast to get to know everyone in the group and have great food and fun games with them. The first day of class was great getting started and meeting all the professors. My favorite spot on campus is some of the tiers in the library where it’s very quiet and you’re surround by a crazy amount of information on so many topics. I’m really excited for the honors connection for the opportunity to start research with a mentor next semester.
Karter Krueger, Computer Engineering, B3


My experience at Iowa State so far has been wonderful. I’ve already met some amazing students, and faculty, who truly care about learning and a sense of community. The FHP kickoff was a great opportunity to meet my fellow Honors students, and an even better opportunity for some tasty treats!
My first day of class was a great introduction into time management, planning routes to class, and learning at the higher level. My favorite class so far would most likely be French 101, even though I had never taken it before this week! (Also, the first day of school photo IS NOT cheesy. Your family will love it.)
By the way, explore campus! One of my favorite spots here is near the MU parking ramp, actually. It’s a great place to “get off the beaten path” and surround yourself in the vegetation and little streams.
As far as Honors goes, I’m just thrilled to be in the program. Though I’m unsure about my future plans, doing it the first year has certainly not been a waste so far.
Meg Grice, Journalism and Mass Communication, G3


My first week as a Cyclone was a little overwhelming, however I really am starting to get the hang of things now. It is exciting to start seeing familiar faces around campus as I am walking around. My favorite spot on campus is definitely the library… it is nice to have a spot solely dedicated to studying with minimal distractions. One of my favorite things so far were the bagels in the morning in Jischke for the Honors program members. I look forward to the coming weeks and what they have to bring for me.
Alexander Thayer, Engineering Undeclared, E3


I definitely enjoyed my first few days at Iowa State. I’m interested in architecture, so I really enjoyed getting to see all the cool buildings. Out of all of them, the MU is by far my favorite.
Jack Strait, Pre-Architecture, C3


My first week was pretty good! I love walking between classes and enjoying the beautiful campus.
Chinar Kaul, Computer Engineering, J1


I really enjoyed the FHP kickoff– it was great to get to know my Honors section, and free Hickory Park is always a bonus! My first day of class as an Iowa Stater was very overwhelming, but after the first week I’m feeling much more confident that I’ll survive the semester. I’ve had the chance to explore campus a bit, and my favorite spot so far is the Lagomarcino courtyard. I am also pretty likely to be found at Jischke or Horticulture Hall. The lack of air conditioning hasn’t been too terrible, but having a fan is definitely non-optional. I’m very excited for the FHP Retreat, and I’m already enjoying HON 121.
I’m really looking forward to all the opportunities opened up through FHP!
Leah Henderson, Horticulture, C2


It’s going good! I had a wonderful time at the kickoff. I love my peer mentor group leaders. They are super nice and awesome! I am very thankful for the honors program and how it has made me feel more welcomed. I appreciate the respect that we have for one another at Iowa State and I can’t wait to  have fun at FHP events in the future! I am very thankful to be a first year honor student.
Nourah Abusada, Animal Science, F1


My first week was pretty good, I miss the air conditioning but it hasn’t been too hot to complain…. yet. I haven’t really taken many photos but my time here has been fun hanging out doing whatever I want.
James McGonegle, Engineering Undeclared, G2


Yes, I had a fantastic first week as a Cyclone! The first day of classes was a bit rainy, but that definitely didn’t stop the excitement from buzzing around campus. I’m extremely excited about my Honors English 250 class, and I’ve loved getting to know everyone already! Also, admittedly, my favorite spot to study on campus is definitely Jischke — no lie 🙂 I attached my obligatory first day of school picture before the rain got to me!!
Elizabeth Pals, Public Relations, K2


My first week at college has been pretty great. There have been a few things, like class sizes, that I thought I was prepared for, but was still a bit put off by, but overall, college doesn’t see like that big of a change. I think my favorite spot on campus would either be my dorm (thankfully I live somewhere with air conditioning) or the convenience stores in general because they are something I’m more used to. I look forward to figuring more out about college.
Alicia Klimesh, Open Option, L1


So far so good. I applied myself throughout the week, and only have a little homework left to do.
Sam Clement, History, D1


They always recommend for first year college students to stay for one month before heading home to avoid any bouts of homesickness. At Iowa State, you can rest almost completely assured that this will NOT happen. The campus is completely gorgeous and the people you meet are unbelievably open to  getting to know new people. The Honors community at ISU not only assists in any educational need but also helps students get to know one another and make friends (usually by using food for motivation).
“Home is where the heart is,” and my heart has fully committed to Iowa State University – sun AND rain.
Kinley McIntosh, Biology, H1


I have found Honors to be a relaxing break from more difficult classes. I am also very glad I live in a dorm with air conditioning.
Dan Johanningmeier, Engineering Undeclared, C2


My first week at ISU was amazing! The FHP kickoff was a great way to meet my group and have a few familiar faces around campus before class began. Before classes started on Monday, my sister, Abbie, took a first day of school picture with me to send to our parents. Because I had my first Honors class around lunchtime on Monday, some of my new Honors friends and I went to grab lunch together which was so nice! The whole first week was pretty overwhelming, but in a really good way. I really like hanging out in my dorm because I can leave the door open and say hi to friends who pass by (and to get some air flow from the air conditioner-less Helser hall). I’m actually really excited for building my future resume in Honors because I think it was make me even more excited for my future! After my first week, I can say without a doubt that Iowa State is the place to be.
Lydia Schafer, Apparel, Merchandising, and Design, C3


I have been having a great week with the start of classes & getting back into the routine! No outrageous anecdotes yet:)
Elisabeth Balke, Advertising, E3


The first week of classes was great! Although I am still navigating through the many platforms to locate homework, syllabus, etc., I am loving every second of it. I like living on campus, close to all my classes and activities, as well. Although Linden (my dorm) doesn’t have air conditioning, I can tolerate it quite well.
Classes have generally gone well, but m biology lab was the only exception. My experience was one to remember, seeing as how my lab computer would not work and there were only as many as there were students in the class. So I ended up sitting and waiting for an opportunity to use another one until I only had 45 minutes left. I am really hoping for a better second week!
My favorite place to study would have to be at the library. It is quiet and I can usually find a nice spot to do my work.
So far, I love being a Cyclone!
Lauren Bilek, Biology, E1


It’s been such a great week. I love being able to go to events that have free food. The Hickory Park at the FHP Kickoff was amazing!! I’ve been to half a dozen events where they provide pizza and beverages and great food. I even went to an event where they made pancakes at 11 pm. That’s a picture of some of my friends in front of the house. These events are probably the best way to make friends.
Thu Tran, Economics, G3



Honors Summer Snapshots: Ryan

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Actual mountain man Ryan Burgett (sophomore in Computer Engineering), spent his summer REALLY FAR above sea level:

Hi, guys! My name is Ryan, and I’m a sophomore in Computer Engineering. I spent my summer guiding backpacking, climbing and mountain biking treks through the Rocky Mountains around Salida, Colorado. Those of you who are still paying attention to these are in for a quick look into my summer through the lens of my camera.

My summer started as soon as school ended, as most do. But I had the joy of starting mine off with a fifteen-hour drive to Colorado. Luckily, I got to take a quick break and climb around the Garden of The Gods to stretch my legs.


In case you hadn’t realized it yet, this whole thing is basically going to be beautiful pictures that I have been lucky enough to capture. These moments started the first morning I was at Rocky Mountain High Adventure Base, the base camp where all of us lived. This picture is of the sunrise I got to wake up to every morning.


One of the treks I guided over the summer was a three-day backpacking trip up Mount Antero, one of the 14ers in Colorado. A 14er is a mountain that reaches an elevation of at least 14,000 feet at its summit. This picture is of one of the waterfalls along the trail up to the summit.


As we made our way up to the summit of Mount Antero we had to stop for the night. We decided to camp at Brown’s Lake, which as you can see is a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains on all sides.


Our next day consisted of waking up at midnight to start hiking so we would make it to the summit in order to see the sunrise from 14,000 feet. As we were hiking up a sea of clouds began to form below us making for an amazing sunrise.


Another hike that I got to guide quite often was to the Water Dogs lakes. They are a pair of alpine lakes that are right below the continental divide (the line across the US that splits which ocean rivers will flow into). They also show how weird the weather is in the mountains, since in this picture was taken in June and it was about 40 degrees and pretty snowy out.


I finally found a picture of myself, now you can kind of put a face to whoever would be crazy enough to do all of this. This one is from one of my days off, I decided to hike four 14ers in one day while carrying a bunch of ridiculous and useless things in my backpack. One of these props being a six-foot tall white-water rafting paddle, as seen in the picture. Throughout the summer I carried many more fun items up summits including: multiple frisbees, a whole watermelon, a gallon of cheeseballs, and a unicycle.


As my summer came to an end I had one more adventure left. Instead of heading straight home I ended up road tripping through South Dakota and hiking and climbing around the Badlands. Coming back was a strange experience; having to deal with humidity and actual heat made for a great welcome back to the real world.

If you made it this far you now have a brief glance into what I did this summer. If you enjoyed some of the pictures I have about a million more, feel free to stop me and talk about the mountains or pictures if you see me around. That is as long as you have quite a bit of time to spare.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Phaedra

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Phaedra Lipsey (senior in Global Resource Systems) spent a summer prepping for optometry school, both via standardized tests and volunteering as an optometry intern in Ghana:

Hi! My name is Phaedra Lipsey, and I am a senior majoring in Global Resource Systems and minoring in Microbiology. This summer I did a lot of optometry related activities and volunteered for a nonprofit organization called Unite for Sight. The beginning of my summer vacation was spent studying for my Optometry Admission Test which I took on June 1st. One week later I left for my summer internship with Unite for Sight in Ghana.

Studying for my Optometry Admission Test right after finishing the spring semester was not super fun. I studied at track meets, in my hammock, at coffee shops, in bed, at my sister’s graduation, in the library, etc. Despite all of the time spent studying in May, I am glad I took my exam early on in the summer.


Global Resource System majors typically spend the summer before their senior year participating in an international internship which is a graduation requirement for the major. Since I am interested in eye care, I chose to volunteer for Unite for Sight. This nonprofit organization partners with local eye clinics in Ghana, Honduras, and India to provide eye care to underserved communities.


One of my jobs as a Unite for Sight volunteer in Ghana was testing visual acuity. I used a Tumbling “E” chart to assess vision before sending patients to see a doctor. Each day the clinic team and I traveled to various hard-to-reach communities where people lined up to be examined by the optometrists. The eye clinic I worked with treats 700-1500 patients each week and distributes glasses and medication.


When I wasn’t participating in vision screenings with Crystal Eye Clinic, I was helping out in the operating room with Friends Eye Center. Unite for Sight pays for cataract surgeries for patients who cannot afford them. This is a picture of the surgery team in Tamale, Ghana. In five days this team completed 155 cataract surgeries.


One of my favorite jobs in the operating room was washing the surgery tools. The other two tasks I helped with were patching eyes after surgery and recording patient information and number of surgeries performed.


At the end of my time in Ghana, some of the other volunteers and I had time to explore. One of the coolest places we went was Kakum National Park. My favorite part of Kakum was the Canopy Walk which was about 40 meters off of the ground.


After volunteering in Ghana, I returned home to see my family/friends and relax a little bit before starting senior year. I spent a lot of time the first few days laying on the couch and watching Netflix, but I got my energy back pretty quickly and found some fun activities to do.

My family went on a photo shoot for my parent’s anniversary. We spent an evening at Ada Hayden walking around and taking pictures. I am the oldest child in my family, but as you can see, my little brother is the tallest family member.


Another fun family activity was watching my brother compete at the AAU National Track Meet held at Drake University. We left the house before 7 am and spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon watching the nation’s best young athletes compete.


My friends and I spent some time walking around Des Moines and finding new places to eat. We started off at the Des Fresh food truck; I got the ‘rainbowl’ with purple potato spring rolls. Ames needs some more food trucks because they are amazing!


Summer is coming to an end. I spent my last weekend of freedom at Okoboji with my best friends from honors housing, but now it is time to return to campus. I had quite a crazy summer, and I’m ready for anything this semester throws at me (hopefully)! See ya in Jischke!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Abby

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Abby Mankins (junior in Political Science, Communication Studies, and Environmental Studies) has spent her summer all over the midwest, based out of Fiji (the fraternity, not the island):

Hi Honors! My name is Abby and I am a junior majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies. This summer I have spent most of my time in Ames taking a class and working at the Writing and Media Center, but I have definitely made time for a few road trips and concerts in between!

Practically right after my last final of spring semester, I hopped in the car to drive to St. Louis, Missouri to see a Cardinals baseball game with my boyfriend, Sam. We saw three games, visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and explored the city.

This was the first time I went to St. Louis when they weren’t doing some sort of construction on the Arch, so I had to capture a picture.


I honestly never thought I would be a big baseball fan, but being about 20 feet away from Dexter Fowler’s walk-off home run against the Cubs was enough to make anyone an avid Cardinals fan for life.

After returning from St. Louis, my summer class and work schedule commenced.

I took an environmental politics class (Pol S 383), which I greatly enjoyed. This class was six weeks long and consisted of reading and discussing novels about human’s interaction with nature and how that relationship can be viewed through a political lens. This was easily the best course I have taken at Iowa State, and it led me to change my primary major from Communication Studies to Political Science!


After class, I would go to the Writing and Media Center (WMC) in Carver to start work! Here’s Conner, the Administrative Assistant and welcoming friendly face to all WMC-goers. I am a Communication Consultant at the WMC, so I tutor undergraduate and graduate students on different modes of communication (primarily written communication).


Once I finished a day’s work, I would head to my home-for-the-summer, Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity (Fiji). I have realized that I have to clarify that I lived in Fiji the fraternity and not the island when explaining my summer, so keep that in mind. Although a lot of people laugh when I say I lived in a fraternity, living in Fiji was a great experience. Not everyone can say they lived in a fraternity for a summer! Full disclosure: I did not take this picture, as my antique iPhone SE couldn’t take a picture of this level of quality…

After my class ended in late June, I headed to Waupaca, Wisconsin with Sam and his family. They have a condo on the Chain O’ Lakes up there, so we spent the week relaxing by the lake and celebrating the 4thof July!

Technically we weren’t in Wisconsin over either of our birthdays, but we had a birthday celebration with cake anyway!

The day I got back from Wisconsin, most of my friends were home (Des Moines) to go to the annual 80/35 music festival!

80/35 was easily one of the highlights of my summer. Not only did I get to see a lot of my good friends (Kate is the pal pictured), but I also got to see some amazing performers and bands (Courtney Barnett, Phantogram, and Kesha included)!

After returning to Ames for another month, I headed to Breckenridge, CO with my family. Going to Colorado in the summer is somewhat of a tradition for the Mankins family, and it was great to spend some time with my family after being away for the summer (40 minutes away, if that counts).

We went on a few hikes in Colorado, which basically consisted of getting winded on the way up and then enjoying the amazing view at the top.


This picture depicts what was probably the biggest highlight of my summer. For my birthday, I got tickets to see Foster the People and Paramore at Red Rocks Amphitheater. If you know me, these are two of my all-time favorite bands performing at what is now my all-time favorite venue. To top it all off, this was the last show of their tour together and I’m pretty convinced I got the last two tickets of the sold-out show. The concert was amazing — easily one of the best concerts I have ever been to! P.S. Again, I must admit I did not take this picture, but it’s from the show I was at and it’s much better than any of the pictures I took 🙂

I am now back in Ames for the rest of the summer and just moved into my very first apartment! This has definitely been a summer to remember, and I am so grateful to have experienced all that I did! Until next summer…

Honors Summer Snapshots: Katie

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2018 summer routines via photos. Katie Neilson (senior in Materials Engineering) headed west to find food delivery robots, Star Wars symphonies and…her old peer mentor?

Hi everyone, my name is Katie, and I’ll be a senior majoring in Materials Engineering with a minor in Physics. This summer, I was able to do an REU (research experience for undergraduates) at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Here I am in a TOTALLY NOT STAGED picture with the graduate student I’m working with. It’s a small world, because I was paired (completely by chance) with Honors alum Jake (MatE ’16), who even happened to be my peer mentor back in the day.


One interesting thing about Berkeley was all of the strange graffiti I found around campus. Here are my favorites.


We did some touristy stuff while we were here, which included biking across the Golden Gate Bridge… it felt like I was Mario on Mushroom Bridge in real life, though (like a good scientist, here’s the source for that picture:


We had the opportunity to go down to LAM (semiconductor equipment manufacturer) in Fremont and got to wear cool bunny suits. Here I am with all of my new friends from this summer from every corner of the country!


Another thing I got to enjoy in the city was SF’s Star Wars in concert. They played the movie on the screen but the orchestra played all the music. It was just as amazing as you can imagine.


Berkeley has these cute little food delivery robots called kiwis. THESE TWO CAME UP THE HILL TOGETHER. THEY’RE FRIENDS!!!!!!!!


We also went to a computer history museum in Mountain View, and guess what I found there?? It was a little weird seeing things I recognized from when I was a kid in a museum, though.


The bay had some nice mountains (well, hills, but they’re mountains to me) we were able to climb and catch a good view at. It was extremely windy at the top and much colder than down in the city.


This is a nice view at sunset of Berkeley. The weather in the bay area was beautiful this summer.

I was able to meet lots of cool people and do a different style of research than I’m used to, which has been such a joy… I’m a little sad to be going back to the Midwestern heat. Alas, ready to finish up my final year of undergrad!