Honors Summer Snapshots: Natalie

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior biology student Natalie Vance has some travel advice for you if you’re headed to some national parks out west:

The best way to experience the world is go see it for yourself. Don’t put travel plans off for later in life, do it now! Grab a friend or two and hit the road. This summer my friend Noreen and I did just that. Disclaimer: I have been productive this summer writing what feels like thousands of essays for medical school applications and working full time as a research assistant at the USDA National Animal Disease Center in Ames. Although building your resume is important, it’s also equally important to relax a little bit and do what you love! In my case that means travel!

We decided to stop by the KU campus and remind them who the Big 12 champions were, you can never go wrong with a little Hilton Magic. #Kwho?


Arches was our first national park stop, we hiked 10 miles that day and told ourselves it would be the longest day we did…. Ha.


We stayed in a teepee, which was awesome, if you don’t mind the sound of lizards running around in the middle of the night.


Canyonlands was beautiful and not very crowded!


If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, go. If you have been, go again. It is simply incredible. We did exactly what everyone told us not to do, hiked rim to river to rim in one day. To our credit, we didn’t plan on doing that, but we reached our stopping point by 8:00 am and didn’t have a plan for the rest of the day. Plus a couple of guys sort of challenged us, and our type A personalities wouldn’t let us pass it up. So, 16.5 miles and 11 hours later we emerged from the canyon sweaty, dirty, and hungry. I can’t wait to do it again!


Zion: really cool, lots of varying terrain, but lots of people. We did some free climbing that caused some minor bloodshed, but it was worth it!


Bryce Canyon is one of my favorites because the rock formations are so different and the colors so vibrant.


Capitol Reef was our last national park stop – no entrance fee, and hardly any people! We went on another 10 mile hike to cap off the journey.


I took another week off of work to spend the Fourth of July at our family’s cabin in northern Minnesota. The weather was great, and my friends set up a projector in their tent for movie nights. Not exactly roughing it…


My friend Becca and I (we met through the Beatles honors seminar our freshman year) went to the Paul McCartney concert and had a blast. Our seats were terrible, but Paul was amazing!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Ewan

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Ewan is spending his second summer with BNSF, and can’t decide what is a better sight: the Argentine yard, or a plate of Venezuelan food:

Hello, my name is Ewan Shortess and I am a senior studying Supply Chain Management and minoring in Sustainability. For the past 7ish weeks, I have been in Kansas City, KS with BNSF Railway as a Transportation Intern. This is my second summer with BNSF and I am incredibly glad that I came back!

Since railroading is completely different than any industry, I have spent a lot of time learning during my internship. Every yard operates differently, so I had to learn how Argentine Yard in Kansas City operates. This includes things like the track layout and numbering system in the yard, but also saying “Here We Go” instead of “bye” when hanging up the phone. Argentine is a “hump” yard, which means we push cars over a hill and they switch into different tracks automatically, rather than pushing them into tracks. This yard is also the largest on BNSF’s system and is along the “Transcon,” which is BNSF’s premier route from Southern California to Chicago.

Unfortunately, I am limited with the photos I can post, as the railroad takes the security of its operations very seriously. I definitely have taken some other cool railroad photos, I just cannot post them online for public viewing.

I have also been keeping busy outside of work. I live with two other BNSF interns, and know several people in the Kansas City area. I am doing my best to enjoy my remaining three weeks in Kansas City, but am also looking forward to being back with everyone in Ames.

Kansas City is an incredibly beautiful and cool city. This is looking north toward Union Station, the crossroad district, and downtown taken from the World War I memorial.


One of the coolest things I get to do is ride trains! However, taking pictures while trains are operating is illegal, so this will have to suffice. This is inside BNSF’s 10th Street Yard Office in North Kansas City, Missouri looking out the window toward our locomotive. I spent the day riding with Job 142, which services industries on the southern end of North Kansas City.


In addition to riding with jobs, I also shadow and work with the trainmaster team. Trainmasters are the front-line supervisors for my department, who directly supervise crews, create switch lists, and ensure the operation runs smoothly. At Argentine, we have 5 trainmasters on duty at any given time. Trainmasters work 12-hour shifts, one on days and one on nights. Here I am working the Transfer Trainmaster position, which supervises trains and crews that go to other railroads in Kansas City such as Kansas City Southern, Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Terminal, Kaw River Railroad, and Union Pacific. It is just after 0030 (Midnight 30) at night and I have 4.5 hours until I get off work at 0500 in the morning.


This is my workstation, which is up in the terminal tower at Argentine yard. I can pretty much see the entire yard from the tower, which is awesome, but not always conducive to being productive.


My radio is by far my favorite piece of equipment at BNSF. Of course, mine is complete with speaker and reflective speaker cover.


The railroad pretty much hauls everything that you use every day, from soybean oil to iPhones, but we also haul some unusual cargo. Every Boeing 737 has travelled from the fuselage assembly plant in Wichita, KS to Renton, WA for final assembly on BNSF. It is really cool to see a full-size airplane fuselage riding the rails! The crazy thing is that the airline buying this plane has already started selling the seats for the plane’s first flight, so ensuring this plane keeps to schedule is essential.


Outside of work I have been hanging out a lot with other Iowa State people in Kansas City. This is during Riverfest, which is a big 4th of July festival down by the river complete with fireworks of course. Pictured from left is: (me), fellow Honors student Logan Heitz, former Honors student and Iowa State Alumni Nick Seymour, and Iowa State Alumni Alex Williams. We are eagerly awaiting fireworks!


This is actually the best food that I have had in Kansas City (do not get me wrong, the BBQ is also very good). The restaurant is called Empanada Madness and serves South American food. It is on Southwest Boulevard just outside the Crossroads District. While the meal looks simple, the plantains (on top) were cooked perfectly to sweetness, the shredded beef was perfectly seasoned, and the beans tasted like the fresh authentic ones my dad makes at home. It was absolutely incredible!


Working high up in the tower yields some pretty good sunset views over the yard (as well as I-635 in the foreground). This is looking west over the bowl towards the hump. Argentine may be a 24-hour operation, but my day has come to a close.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Emma

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Emma is a Camp Adventure counselor in Italy this summer, a role that has given her lots of practice with patience and a lot of weekend adventures:

My name is Emma Chizek, and I am a sophomore majoring in marketing and international business. I am spending my summer in Vicenza, Italy, interning with the United States Department of Defense through the Camp Adventure Youth Services Program. For ten weeks, I am living on an army base and working at a Child Development Center on an army base fifteen minutes away. Camp Adventure Headquarters is located at the University of Northern Iowa and offers multiple program types (CDC, Day Camp, Teen Camp, and Aquatics) on military bases around the world. Before going out in the summer, interns must train for an entire semester. We are also required to wear a uniform, which consists of khaki shorts, a white “Camp Adventure T-Shirt” t-shirt, tall white socks, and white shoes.

One of my roommates from Martin Starbuck, Katie, and I at a training in April. She is a Day Camp Counselor in Japan this summer.

On a normal day, I wake up around 0700, eat free breakfast at our hotel, and bike two miles through the Italian countryside to get to the center by 0830. Once I arrive at the center, I sign in and check my assignment for the day. I move around a lot between infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Lately, I have been working the most with toddlers. This age group is fun because the kids are cute, and they say the most comical phrases. We spend most of the day doing different activities – singing songs, reading books, playing outside – in which everything is basically under control. A few times a day, however, the kids get crazy, and it ends up being exactly what you would expect when you hear the term “toddler room.” My shift is over at 1730, so I leave the center and bike back to the hotel on the other base.

How I feel at the most chaotic times of the day

When I am not negotiating with toddlers to try their vegetables, I spend time on the weeknights with the other fourteen Camp A’s at my location. We go to the bowling alley, eat gelato, explore Vicenza, and plan our weekend trips. Getting to know the other counselors has been an amazing experience because they are from all over the United States (Iowa, Oregon, California, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota), attend different colleges, and are majoring in completely different subjects.

Most of counselors at the 4th of July Celebration on base

On the weekends, we split into smaller groups and travel. So far, I have been to Venice, Murano, Burano, Verona, Lake Garda, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Vicenza in Italy. I have also been to Munich, Dachau, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany. We still have four full weeks until the internship is over, and we have trips planned in Croatia, Switzerland, Austria, and Rome!!

The bright houses on the island of Burano, near Venice


Touching Juliet’s left breast for good luck in Verona


Spinach and Cheese Tortellini ~ yum!!


Manarola, one of the beautiful towns that makes up Cinque Terre


Visited Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in Germany – “Work Sets You Free”


Incredible view of mountains at Lake Garda


Can’t even fit the Florence Cathedral into a picture because it is so big and beautiful


Found a little bit of Iowa downtown Florence


Delicious German Spätzle (essentially Mac n’ Cheese but 100x better)


Hiked Höllentalklamm, which translates to “Valley of Hell” in English, in Garmisch, Germany

Because of this experience, I have gained so many personal, professional, and problem-solving skills. Traveling has truly given me a whole new perspective on life, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my summer has in store.

THANKS (Danke = Thanks in German) for reading about my summer adventures!!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Brooklyn

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. When she’s not wearing a red polo as a Cyclone Aide, Brooklyn is attending absolutely every concert in the midwest with a giant Ed Sheeran head:

“My name is (what)
My name is (who)
My name is (chicka-chicka) Slim Shady”

Hi all! My name is Brooklyn Treinen. I am a sophomore double-majoring in Supply Chain Management and Marketing from Marcus, IA. I have been spending my summer working for Iowa State as a Cyclone Aide. Yes, I give many tours. Since you’ve all seen Iowa State University’s beautiful campus, I will give you a tour of my summer instead!

As a Cyclone Aide, I am 1 of 35 student ambassadors for Iowa State University’s Orientation and Welcome Week Programs. In order to best serve new students, each of the Cyclone Aides completed over 100 hours of leadership training related to public speaking, academic success, cultural awareness and customer service.

Left to right: Jamila, Brooklyn (me), Tiffany, Sarah, Isabella

By the end of June we had officially welcomed around 8,000 students and 12,000 family members during 20 2-day orientation programs and 9 1-day orientation programs (If you are interested in working with people in the future I HIGHLY recommend applying for the position in the future!).

Left picture: Caroline and I jumping off the Fountain of the Four Seasons Right picture: Cyclone Aides making ruckus while waiting for an Orientation Student Session to start

Through my position, I also had the opportunity to be a volunteer at the 2017 Special Olympics Summer Games. We met hundreds of athletes from across the state!

Left to right: Sarah, Sarah, CY, Brooklyn (me), and Michelle

When I wasn’t welcoming new students to ISU, I became a concert junkie. My best friend convinced me that life was too short to not buy the concert ticket.

She didn’t convince me just once.
She didn’t convince me just twice.
She didn’t convince me just three times.

I ended up attending 6 concerts, including: Chainsmokers, Justin Moore & Lee Brice, Chance the Rapper (favorite), Jesse McCartney, Saint Motel, and Ed Sheeran (also a favorite).

Left to right: Jen (my mom), Brooklyn (me), Naomi (best friend), and Dana (Naomi’s mom)


Left picture: My sister Madison Right picture: My mother Jen


Picture of the crowd at Chance the Rapper’s concert in Omaha

Now that orientation has ended, life has slowed down (some). Recently, my family and I went to the Yankees vs. Twins game in Minneapolis at Target Field, Go Yanks!

Left picture: Madison (sister), Tori (sister), Mike (dad), Brooklyn (me) Right picture: Madison and I smiling right before it started to downpour on us


Aaron Judge at bat as he hits a homerun (just kidding, he didn’t and we lost)


“If you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph” – Unknown. As you have seen, I value experiences, memories, and most of all, my people. What do you fear to lose?

Honors Summer Snapshots: Courtney

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Courtney Smyth is in Tennessee this summer, creating prosthetic limbs:

Hi! My name is Courtney Smyth, and I will be a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering. This summer I decided to move away from home and take an internship at a prosthetic manufacturing company in Nashville. I’ve spent the summer working at Amputee Associates, which has been such a great experience that I’m sad I only have a couple of weeks left!

Here’s a picture of all the goofballs I got to spend the summer with! It’s such a fun atmosphere that it’s surprising work gets done, but we actually produce close to 200 sockets a month. Amputee Associates primarily manufactures leg sockets for both above knee and below knee amputees. After a few days of shadowing, they really showed me the ropes and let me start working on some sockets.


These pictures show some of the steps and techniques used to make the sockets. In the top right is a plaster mold of a patient’s below the knee limb. The bottom left photo shows AJ and Jacob (being silly per usual) laminating a socket. This is done by layering carbon fiber, a fiber glass material, and resin to make a final sturdy socket. In the right side picture some of the guys are using a hot plastic sheet to form to a hip mold in order to create a plastic test socket. After the socket is done it’s off to the grinding room!


A bunch of different grinders are used to grind down the trim lines on the edges to match the ones the prosthetist drew on the mold. It’s a really dirty and loud job, which means I get to wear all of the fun safety gear!


You know you work with really cool people when the memento they make you is an Iowa State prosthetic leg lamp!


While my job is super fun, getting there isn’t quite as much. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a difference between Nashville and Iowa traffic.


When I’m not at work I’ve tried to do some fun stuff in the Nashville area. Since I was here while the Predators were in the Stanley Cup, I went to lots of watch parties and am starting to became a hockey fan!


My family came for a weekend and we walked around downtown, ate some amazing (and I mean really amazing!) barbeque, found some murals, and listened to great music. We also did some white water rafting where I managed to take a little (involuntary) swim in the river.


Nashville has been such a great place to call home for the summer, and I’m beyond thankful for all of the experiences I’ve had here!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Hannah

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Hannah Astarita is zipping (albeit slowly) around campus in a golf cart:

Hello! My name is Hannah Astarita and I am a Junior in Event Management. This summer, I have been working on campus as a conference manager, and it has kept me very busy. No day looks the same, and that’s the way I like it. My job is to work with conferences who come to Iowa State and need somewhere to stay. I collaborate with sponsors to meet the needs specified in their contract. Then I arrange all the details with our staff, custodial, facilities, dining, Residence Life staff, and more. Our staff includes a Conference Coordinator, a Conference Clerk, 6 Conference Managers, and 18 Summer Conference Staff. The other Conference Managers and I interviewed, hired, trained, and supervised the 18 Summer Conference Staff. Being on the other side of an interview gave me a very interesting perspective, so if you ever need some pointers, let me know! 🙂 I have worked with all kinds of conferences from sports camps to research groups, and anything in between. Some other big conferences that our team works with are Special Olympics Iowa, 4-H, and Orientation.

Other than working with conferences, I have some specific lead positions that I am in charge of. The most time consuming lead I have is working with keys on the UDA side of campus. Every guest who stays with us needs a keycard and a key. We had to prep it all at the beginning of summer just like we will tear it down at the end of summer. In between I have to handle key problems such as lost keys, broken keys, lock changes, etc. Other lead positions I have are supervising the Martin Conference Desk, cash accounting on the UDA side of campus, and working with Long Term Academic Programs in Eaton.

My three favorite parts about the job are the people, the flexibility, and the golf carts! I have gotten to know so many new people and have even made a new best friend out of it. I get excited to go to work because the atmosphere is so positive and the staff is excellent. Being a manager, I get the flexibility to choose my hours, and I have a lot of freedom to doing things when I want. Lastly, I love the golf carts we use to get around campus! They may be slow and loud, but it’s a nice break in our day and is just a fun way to get around. I had never driven a golf cart before, but somehow that became my job to train all the staff on how to use it. I think it turned out well…

Since I ride golf carts around campus, I still need to get my exercise in other ways. I have really been into biking this summer. My mom and I ride all around the trails in the Slater area, and I go to cycling classes at the gym. I have also been trying to train for a half marathon since my sister has that on her bucket list. It’s not something I really want to do, but my sister and I always run together, so I might as well! I’m hoping that saying this publicly will keep me motivated, but we’ll see!

The other CM’s and I. From the left: Ha, me, Kelsey, Mary, Emily, and Amanda. We all get along really well and are willing to help each other out. Ha and I share an office and have become really good friends.


This is our 18 Summer Conference Staff. I work with them on a daily basis and have had fun getting to know them all.


This is my messy desk. I decided to leave it messy for this picture so everyone could see my natural habitat. I’ve really been into yellow and pineapple this summer, as you can see! My office is in the basement of Friley.

I am writing this in the car right now on the way back from Connecticut. We do this 21-hour road trip to Connecticut every year to see family since that is where my dad is from. This has been my one vacation of summer, and when I get back, I will only have one more month of work/summer. Below is a picture of some me with some cousins who I only see once a year.

Before classes start again, I still want to rent a canoe or kayak from Rec Services because it is only $10 for the whole day! I can’t believe I didn’t know that, so I am ready to take advantage of this great deal. I also still want to go to the drive in movie theater, so hopefully I get that done! Some other things that I have done this summer include going to the Des Moines Art Festival, shopping at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market, and attempting an Escape Room.

My mom, me, my older sister Molly, and my dad at the Art Festival. It was my first time going, and I loved it! It felt like an outdoor museum, and it was beautiful outside!


Jim, me, Matt, and Rebecca all tried an escape room. We got stuck on the last part, but we think if we weren’t paired with four other random people we could have made it…next time!

Lastly, I told my friend, Ellen Meis, that I would give LeMars, Iowa a shout out since her hometown is the ice cream capital of the world. For those of you who don’t know, LeMars is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream, and it’s great. I went there to visit Ellen over spring break, and then I went again this summer because I was going to a friend’s wedding in Sioux Center. The parlor was a great pit stop for a pre-wedding snack. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend going! If not, you can do what I normally do and stock your freezer full of their ice cream. 🙂

Mary and I at my friend Taylor’s wedding in Sioux Center. We all became friends in my event management orientation class freshman year.

Well that’s pretty much my summer! Is anyone else ready for the fall on campus? Because I am…see you all soon!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Jessica

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Jessica Riojas is participating in a summer research program through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Michigan:

Hi! My name is Jessica Riojas and I am going to be a junior in Environmental Science with a minor in Geographic Information Science. This summer I am working as a research assistant in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Michigan! I am working in the Tibbetts Lab, where I am researching the social intelligence and memory of three different species of paper wasps. You can check out Dr. Tibbetts’ lab website here: http://sites.lsa.umich.edu/tibbetts-lab. I get to spend my work days handling, caretaking, and training wasps! I am absolutely loving my job – I mean… how many people get say they are wasp trainers? I am also presenting a poster at the end of the summer on my research findings, which I suppose will be good practice for my future honors project… 😉

I spend my days here in the Kraus Natural Science Building!


This type of wasp is a Polistes dominulus. We train all of our wasps using negative reinforcement mazes and it is so amazing how they can learn! Wasps are so smart!


In the wild, paper wasps use chewed up wood fibers from trees and their saliva to create their paper nests. In the lab, we give our wasps pieces of construction paper to build their nests – the results are absolutely fascinating!


Another really exciting part of working with wasps are when workers emerge from the nests! You can see a worker here getting ready to come out into the world!! New worker emergences are fun to watch because the workers are always a little loopy for their first few minutes outside of the nest.


In addition to the Polistes dominula, I also get to work with Polistes fuscatus and Polistes metricus. These wasps tend to be a bit bigger and more aggressive. This one in particular in the photo is a fuscatus. These wasps awesome because they are able to recognize the faces of other wasps!

As another part of my job, I also had to collect wasps out in the wild in the beginning of the summer! We would go to different parks and apartment complexes and search for and collect wasps with their nests.

In addition to working in the Tibbetts Lab, I also have gotten to do a lot of exploring in Ann Arbor and other various places in Michigan such as the University of Michigan Biological Station, Battle Creek, Warren Dunes State Park, and Flint.


One of my favorite places was the U of M Biological Station up north. I got to stay there for a couple of days and learn of a few research projects they have going on and take some tours of the station. The station is right on Douglas Lake, where I got to take a couple ice baths after morning trail running!


I get to start off every day with a run before work, and thankfully the Huron River goes through Ann Arbor so I always have a beautiful view on my runs!! The river is great for swimming and kayaking too!

I am loving it here up in Ann Arbor, but I am so excited to come back to ISU in August! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer, and thanks for reading!!!