Gabriela Shirkey ’13 (BS Scientific and Technical Communication) | 2019 NSF Graduate Fellowship Recipient

Gabriela Shirkey

I‘m really excited [about the National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship]. The key to NSF applications is stressing how your pursuit of science and contribution to the scientific community is going to have a broader impact, particularly those not involved in your immediate research. You write a personal statement on how you build community and demonstrate leadership, as well as a research proposal, three letters of recommendation, and your transcripts. Thanks to Tech, I had STEM outreach examples from the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers’ Noche de Ciencias and prior research experience as an undergraduate in the social sciences department. With the NSF fellowship, I get three years of full funding and opportunities to have internships, so I am thinking of connecting with the Department of Energy or Argonne National Laboratories to work on biofuel research. Continue reading



Jamal Palmer (MF Forestry ‘19)

Jamal Palmer

I started learning about alternative energies in high school through a program that also had us do a garden restoration. And that kind of sparked my interest in urban forestry and it kind of got me on the path of saying, “Hey, maybe I can pursue this path.” I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me that were pursuing this path. So I said, “Hey, let me be a trailblazer in a sense and start this.”

When I first started college as an undergraduate, I didn’t do urban forestry because I didn’t know my school had a program. I did the closest thing to it, which is environmental science, but then I found out from the agriculture department that they had an urban forestry program, but it was still in the development stages, so I said, “Hey, let me get back to what that spark was.” And as I started taking the classes, I realized that this was really what I wanted to do, it was something I could see myself doing for years to come.

I applied to Michigan Tech because it is one of the few schools in the country that has its own experimental forest area. I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m from New York City, but I spent my undergraduate years in a small town at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Being there helped me understand how small towns work, like the sense of community that’s there is much stronger than it is in a city.

For my master’s thesis, I did a canopy assessment of the trees on campus—looking at the canopy to see how it changes over time. I did two tree tours on campus. I really like telling people about the different types of trees we have on campus. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked the campus looking at trees and saying to myself, “Okay, that’s a northern red oak, that’s a sugar maple, that’s a buckeye…” I have a big passion for this and I really want to try to set a precedent for people like myself. I want to show that you don’t have to be pigeonholed in certain areas. You can pursue careers in natural resources. Continue reading


Sarah Calvert (BA sound design)

Sarah Calvert

I’m a sound design major and I’m minoring in music composition. This is my third year at Tech; I transferred from a community college downstate. My grandfather is an alumnus, and I saw the visual and performing arts department and thought, “These are the careers I want to do.” I applied, I was accepted, I drove up here in the fall, I saw an apartment, signed a lease, drove through town, and drove back home. I moved in December during a snowstorm. A nine-hour drive took us 12. Continue reading


Maneet Singh (BS mechanical engineering)

Sometimes my name tag says Taylor 2.0. It’s a running joke with one of my coworkers; basically, we were arguing about who is better at their jobs, and I said, “You’re Taylor and I’m better, so I’m Taylor 2.0 now.” So that’s been my name tag ever since. It’s a fun joke at work and everyone says, “You don’t look like a Taylor.” And I say, “I don’t look like Taylor, but I’m Taylor 2.0, so that’s a different person.”

Continue reading



Tyler Shelast ‘08 ‘15

 

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Michigan Technological University, National Strength and Conditioning Association-certified strength and conditioning specialist. Professional Hockey Player — 2008-2013.

During the school year, my job is more like 6 to 6 instead of 9 to 5. Sometimes teams work out four days a week, sometimes they go to two or three, it depends on the season. Getting to work with Michigan Tech athletes is the best part of my day.

My job allows me to teach and educate young athletes on the shortcomings I experienced when I was an athlete. I had a tough road and went through a lot of pain and suffering. My goal is to help these athletes learn and understand that they can take anything that’s thrown at them. I learned more from my downfall than I did from my success, and ultimately, those are the lessons I want to share with Michigan Tech athletes — to help them grow out of darkness.

In a week it’s groups, office time, more groups, practices, and then during the hockey season, I go on the ice for hockey practice daily and am there for the team at all the games. I can’t coach, but I play an integral part in hockey due to my former playing. I really like to work out, that’s probably my favorite thing, so I try to work out once a day.

I have a lot of pride in everything I do that is Michigan Tech because I want it to excel. I want us to be the best at everything. We’re kind of like a hidden little snowglobe type place, but we need to embrace that because it’s what makes us special. Michigan Tech’s a very proud school, so I feel lucky to have a hand in shaping our culture. There’s so much that goes into seeing student-athletes grow, I mean, that’s ultimately why I’m in it, why I love being here. I’m very fortunate to work with great people.


Emi Colman

Emi Colman with rocket

I’m super into rocketry. In high school, I was the captain of one of the rocket teams and was on the team for three years. Actually, Mr. Ratza, our advisor, also recommended I do the women in engineering Summer Youth Program (SYP), so I attribute a lot to him. I came for SYP the summer into my senior year. Michigan Tech is the only school I applied to. I’m studying mechanical engineering, I’m outreach coordinator of the Keweenaw Rocket Range student organization, and I’m staying over the summer to take classes and be a SYP weekend counselor. In the fall, I’ll be an orientation team leader. I’m a very sociable person, so it’s not hard for me to be outgoing. Just genuine talking—I’m good at that.

The way I got the job (as outreach coordinator) was by raising my hand at the info session. No one else raised their hand. I’m actually really enjoying it. We’re going to New Mexico for a competition in June. Even though I’m really heavy into rocketry and this leadership stuff, I think it’s important to not get focused solely on those things, but rather, be flexible and versatile. I’m also interested in videography. Because mechanical engineering is so broad, I don’t want to specialize myself in the beginning of my college career, I’d rather be open and see where it takes me, and if rocketry doesn’t end up being my career, I can just make it a hobby because I like it; so that’s my advice—flexibility.

 


Jarett McClanahan

There are going to be times where you are going to need to try to figure out how to make ends meet financially, or figure out how you are going to save time to do homework, or just take care of your own mental health and well-being. One of those things you always have to put on the back burner and it can get really exhausting. But if you remember it’s only a couple of years, it can be hard in the moment, but as long as you work through it, it will be okay. I work as a student custodian in the ME-EM. I really like my job. I work 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. I don’t have to clean bathrooms. I just go around and vacuum rooms, wipe whiteboards off, and other stuff. Other than that, I TA a few classes and I’m the vice president of the Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists club. So when I get home, I make food, shower, go to sleep, wake up, and start it all again. I have to wake up super early, but I have weekends and nights off. And I get to listen to music and podcasts while I’m working. I also do work study for the biology department, so I work on average about 30 hours a week.

My degree has a required fifth-year practicum, if you want to take the board exam to be certified to work in a hospital. I’ll be doing my practicum in July at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in my hometown of Iron Mountain, Michigan. Then I can sit for my boards and go on to work in a hospital. For our senior capstone, we meet twice a week to prepare to take an old version of the board as the final exam. Jobs for my major after graduation typically entail working in a hospital lab, doing research, or working for a corporation in the private sector; but it’s mostly doing patient sample testing to diagnose diseases. A lot of microscopes and machines.

I remember my senior year of high school, I was looking around at different schools and there was nothing super specific about Tech that drew me in, but I liked the location (two hours from home), and I had heard that it was a really good school. A lot of my friends told me it was too expensive and too hard, which made me want to go here even more.


Darnishia Slade

Darnishia Slade stands holding the Bayard Rustin award.

I’m still floored about winning the Bayard Rustin award. Ya know that phrase, do what you would do when no one’s looking? For me to get the award from the students was the highest compliment and really powerful for me.

I currently work in Pavlis Honors College, and it’s a lot of fun. In my 13-plus years at Michigan Tech, I can’t remember the last time I worked. There are long days, hard days, and difficult days, but I can’t remember the last time I worked. It never feels like work for me. I get all of my energy from students. I feel like I secretly get more than I give (laughs). I learn so much, and I’m always challenged in new and different ways. Higher ed is my calling in life; I love being on a college campus. There’s always something going on, something to do, something to think about, something to dialogue about. I’m also one of the advisors for the Society of Intellectual Sisters (SIS) and I was a member when I was a student here. I’m very passionate about it, so I continue to serve in that capacity with the young ladies.

I’m working on a degree, studying mental toughness and persistence. I’m living it and studying it (laughs). A lot of mental toughness and persistence has been studied in top performing athletes or the military. Bringing it into an academic context is pretty cool. The big juicy question is how can we get away from “oh, they have the right GPA or the right SAT score.” There’s just so much more to people that causes them to be successful and I think we just need to look at that a little more. The reason why I am getting the PhD is to be at the table, to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice at the table; so it’s bigger than me. I do believe there’s a level of influence that happens from being at the right table.

I always say “you don’t go through Michigan Tech, Michigan Tech goes through you,” and it is truly an experience. I want to pay it forward every day. The experiences and the support I had as a Michigan Tech student transformed my life. #mtuhumans #mymichigantech #pavlishonorscollege #phdlife